Why doesn’t my B2B new business activity work?

Many marketing folks we meet have tales of woe about how their B2B new business activity is ineffective or stop-start. As a result, growth is unpredictable, or any growth that occurs is organic – people call them, old clients come back, clients move and get their trusted old mates in.

This means growth for most businesses is reactive and largely beyond their control.

Cracking a repeatable cold new business acquisition model is a bit of a holy grail for most B2B marketers – one which few achieve. Yet, look outside marketing services (our clients come from further afield these days) and you see a different model. One of completely predictable revenue. Professional demand generation.

Why is it then that tech and business services, and hosts of other industries have more success than B2B marketers? Let’s explore a few reasons:


Most B2B marketers invest small amounts of money in growth. In most industries a 5:1 return from sales & marketing activity is considered good, while 10:1 is reserved for high growth markets.

Apply this to most B2B Businesses. If you want to create a million pounds of revenue and you’re offering a service which is more established (advertising, design, PR, etc.) then you need to invest £200,000 in marketing and sales. If you are in the hot end of digital, then £100,000 should do it, as you should get more inbound enquiries providing you spend your money in the right place and on the right things.

Spend for most B2B businesses - if you take out pitch spend and people - is way below this threshold.

Reliance on only outbound methods for your B2B new business activity…

The world has changed, people self-educate and want potential B2B partners to educate them and add value, yet they don’t want to be sold to or even liaise with a potential partner until midway or further through a selection process. This leaves production of great content delivered across social media, your website and events as the only option to do this really.

Cobblers children

As a super bright B2B pro, you know the point before, and you are trying to do something about it plus you don’t need to spend a 6 figure sum because you have internal resource – designers, planners, writers all with brains the size of Ayres Rock who can create magic, yes?

This is an all too familiar situation, and on 95% of occasions, this superstar resource works on client gigs. You churn out a single whitepaper a year; your website has been in development since flash went out of fashion and you blog once a quarter, which isn’t enough I’m afraid.

Just get me in the room

Can’t I just call people up and get a meeting? Because once I’m in the room, marketing magnetism takes over and the client chequebook opens. This may be the experience, you may win 60% or even 70% of the business you go for, but this belief comes from experience selling to leads brought in by referral and recommendation. The client has a brief, you have some trust already, so close rates are much higher. With a colder start, it will be lower but it doesn’t mean somehow creating new relationships from a standing start is wrong.

Remember the cold new business of today are your referrals and recommendations of the future.

We can help advise you on how you should approach your B2B new business, how you can build a repeatable process to bring in new clients for your business.

Jonathan Burns

Written by Jonathan Burns