Anything related to sales tips, strategies, best practices and more will go here.

Five Things to Consider When Buying Visitor Tracking

Five Things to Consider When Buying Visitor TrackingPeople often ask me ‘What should I look for in a visitor tracking solution’?  Here are five things to consider when buying visitor tracking that will help you eliminate inadequate providers:

  1. Does the program have active or passive visitor tracking capabilities (or both).  Active visitor tracking will allow your sales and marketing teams to directly engage high value targets and identify their visits nearly 100% of the time.   Passive visitor tracking relies on people wandering onto your website and someone being identified (more on that later). Active visitor tracking offers the following advantages over passive visitor tracking:
    • Track prospects that you met outside of the website
    • View ongoing interest of existing customers
    • Understand the potential buyer’s true timing (as opposed to what they told you) and availability
  2. Is the program relationship based vs event based?  That means that someone that returns to your site 3 times in a week will appear to be three different people.   I don’t know about your sales strategy, but a client that comes to my “store” on a regular basis warrants a lot more attention than three lurkers that show no further interest. You should always select a program that gives you relationship based data.  Event based systems are way behind the curve, and will cost your company sales.
  3. Is the individual/company that visited your site provided?  It seems unbelievable, but there are still visitor tracking companies that won’t give you names (or company names) of your visitors.   If your goal is just to track generic traffic, use Google Analytics.  If your goal is to learn about individuals whom you hope to cultivate a business relationship with then use a platform like Lead Liaison.
  4. Will your data be shared?  The majority of visitor tracking companies use your data to help your competitors build a correlation between IP addresses and names.  We think that this is a dirty practice that results in errors and potential legal problems, let alone losing business that your company might be entitled to, to your competitor.   It’s a lazy approach to visitor tracking and we would never recommend using a company that shares data.
  5. Integration and reports:   Daily reports are a basic necessity of every company.  Real-time alerts are important to companies with high value sales opportunities.  I would also survey potential vendors to learn about how they can help you interface with your CRM and marketing automation visions. 

It also doesn’t hurt to explore what other solutions the vendor has to offer. If you go with their solution just for visitor tracking will you be “trapped” and not have a broader-based solution offering marketing automation that you can grow into? We’ve seen several companies spend thousands of dollars on visitor tracking to find out they still need marketing automation; then they find themselves investing in two disparate platforms. Costs sky rocket as companies pay for two separate solutions and have higher total cost of ownership managing two separate platforms. Why not have both visitor tracking and marketing automation tightly integrated into a single software platform?

The bottom line:  Visitor tracking programs can be an incredible asset for your sales efforts.  These tools are affordable, super easy to use, produce results day one, and show the most rapid ROI of any marketing investment that I’ve seen.  Make sure to remember these things to consider when buying visitor tracking and be sure your vendor gives you the right answer to all five topics above. If you do, then you are on your way to making one of the best sales & marketing investments in your company’s history.

Why Small to Mid-Sized Businesses Should Use Marketing Automation for Prospecting

I Love Prospecting with Lead LiaisonProspecting is a headache for most sales reps. Sales people get pressure from leadership to sell faster and meet the demands of the current quarter. As the day-to-day pressure mounts salespeople get distracted and lose focus on prospecting as they concentrate more on closing existing deals in late pipeline stages. What salespeople wind up with is more business at the bottom of the funnel but a very non-existent top and middle of the funnel. For small to mid-sized businesses these issues compound as smaller companies have less resources to work with.

It’s vital salespeople close deals and prospect at the same time. However, it’s unrealistic to think most salespeople will be consistent with their prospecting efforts. Using sales automation, salespeople can be ultra-efficient, almost like an assembly line, with a systematic and scalable way to prospect. Marketing automation software for small to mid-sized businesses helps salespeople use automated workflows to “chase” prospects once they’ve identified their targets. Prospect communication happens in the background using multiple touch points, something that’s imperative when prospecting, to connect with your prospect. Executing such a process looks like this:

  1. Add the contact to your CRM
  2. Add the contact to a Lead Liaison Workflow
  3. Boom! A series of 2-week communication automagically chases your prospect by sending them personalized communication
  4. When prospects engage, you’ll know about it in real-time and remove them from the Workflow

The flow chart below depicts a sample Chase Workflow that a small to mid-sized company might build to automate sales prospecting. I promise, we can make you love sales prospecting!

Let us know if we can help you build this awesome process into your sales organization.

Marketing Automation for Prospecting

2 Week Chase Workflow

Marketing Automation: You Still Need a Sales Strategy

Marketing Automation: You Still Need a Sales StrategyAnyone running a business comes to find out they need some type of sales strategy. While marketing automation executes a lead to sales flow seamlessly for many businesses, others find that the one-size-fits-all solution they were looking for simply isn’t present when employing their marketing automation.

As a small business, how can you make sure using marketing automation software benefits your operation at a higher level? The key is found in your strategy. Think of it this way – many business owners employ a CRM and find it absolutely necessary to the growth and success of their companies. Organizing the information and having an agreed-upon method for continuous and optimal use of the CRM isn’t something that necessarily happens overnight – it takes a deep understanding of the software and a willingness amongst team members to use an agreed-upon operations method.  Without these things, onboarding a CRM would be pointless.

Sales Strategy Development for the Small Business

Many small business owners develop their companies themselves and get caught in the undertow of change as the company grows. Small business owners can find their staff increasing by a dozen people in a year. Suddenly there are many workers without a clear sales strategy for how information will be collected and employed in marketing campaigns.

This is why growth strategy is crucial before growth even happens. Knowing where to allocate resources, how businesses will collect information and how the information informs marketing and development processes is 100% critical to keeping this organized and manageable. Starting out with tangible business goals based on calendar years or quarters is a great way to figure out what resources are needed and who will perform what task.

Using Marketing Automation for Sales Strategy

Many business owners are finding that sales strategy and marketing automation processes are inseparable. Marketing and directional decisions should be made on concrete data – and the right tools are necessary to ensuring any data collected is on point. Even the most advanced marketing automation systems may return data that’s incomplete or doesn’t work for the business. This is where good training and human monitoring come in – sifting through data in an easy, manageable way is possible. This allows companies the opportunity to work on data that is incomplete or isn’t really helping the business achieve end goals.

In order to sift through that data and make good decisions based on overarching business goals and sales strategy, the right marketing automation company and training for staff have to be in place. Lead Liaison offers training and marketing automation solutions for businesses of all sizes. Connect with us for a consult to determine what would best serve your business!

5 Ways Lead Management Automation Reduces Your Sales Cycle

5 Ways Lead Management Automation Reduces Your Sales CycleB2B sales teams look for ways to reduce the sales cycle with the goal of faster revenue generation (which, in turn, leads to higher annual payout). The challenge for many salespeople is to manage tasks in an efficient way so more time can be devoted to selling which should be expected to reduce time-to-close. Lead management automation provides the mechanism to shorten the sales cycle.

According to Gartner Research, B2B companies see a 10% or greater increase in revenue within 6-9 months of implementation of a lead management automation platform. Part of that increase is due to efficiencies that allow your salespeople to close deals faster.

Score Leads for Quality and Relevance

When sales agents are occupied with the most-suitable-and-potentially-interested prospects, the chances for conversion are greater. Through LMA, leads are automatically scored according characteristics that indicate suitability for your solutions and digital behavior that reveals how a buyer does research and how well-informed he is about your solutions.

A lead’s score will automatically update when new qualifying information is received or when a new online engagement has occurred. By automating lead management, your sales team can prioritize its focus on leads with the potential to close the earliest.

Distribute Leads Effectively

Do you want your fastest closer working on leads of the same quality as a new hire? Do you want your tech industry specialist getting leads from the manufacturing industry? NO! With LMA, leads can be distributed according to parameters you set. This way, once leads are properly qualified, they can be assigned ownership according to which agent can best convert the lead efficiently thus reducing the sales cycle.

Faster Response

Using an automated lead management platform, customized response and/or follow-up messaging is delivered according to a schedule that can be set once (theoretically). While a sales agent is busy with other tasks, an email can be sent immediately following a request from a lead. By eliminating delays associated with a busy sales team, the cycle can be reduced.

Better (and Faster) Intelligence Collection

An LMA collects, organizes, and segments digital lead activity faster and to a greater degree than your salespeople can do manually. As the article in the link above suggests, salespeople spend only 35% of their time actually selling. Often the non-selling time is consumed with business intelligence collection. With LMA, when a lead fills out a form or clicks on a certain link, your salesperson is provided with actionable intelligence immediately. Agents can use the intelligence to engage with prospects in a way that supports the digital path the prospect has taken when researching for a B2B solution.

More Efficient Lead Nurturing Across Media

LMA provides several channels of communication that can allow a lead to become familiar with your company and its solutions more quickly. As a lead moves through the marketing funnel, customized information flows that target specific needs can accelerate the lead advancement to a sales-ready status. Once the lead has become suitably educated and informed about your solutions, you sales agents can get involved and convert more quickly.

Increase Sales Productivity with Lead Management Automation

Increase Sales Productivity With Lead Management AutomationWe’ve been frequently asked by our prospects: how does marketing automation/lead management actually increase sales productivity? Here are a few ways your sales team can become more productive through the implementation of an automated lead management platform.

  1. Sales agents are more efficient because the best leads are being distributed to the most appropriate salespeople. Lead distribution can be managed so the best closers are given the highest revenue accounts or agents with the most experience in a specific industry receive leads within that industry.
  2. Lead scoring provides measurement of lead qualification, interest level, and. Sales agents can prioritize their focus on the most relevant and well-informed leads first.
  3. Automated lead management puts business intelligence in your sales team’s hands without the need to routinely pore through industry sources, websites, and other resources. When leads respond through an inquiry, request, click-through, or web form submission, the information provided is stored and can be organized, sorted, and segmented to optimize lead assignment to sales agents.
  4. Leads and agents can be aligned according to specific parameters. For instance, leads can be segmented by industry so that salespeople who are industry specialists can work on leads within their area of expertise.
  5. Your sales team can send emails, social posts, surveys, and other digital assets without continual interaction. Customized forms, emails, and other assets connect automatically with leads as they proceed through their buying cycles. By using effective content delivered through an automated lead management system, your leads can get educated about your solutions without sales engagement.
  6. With our link tracking function, sales can understand what pathways leads have taken to your digital assets. This makes the team more effective at not only engaging prospects through the right channel but how informed leads are.
  7. Lead management automatically delivers content that can be customized according to criteria such as job title, industry, or location. Leads are then nurtured through behavior-based triggers which indicate specific interests and help determine what content should be delivered as leads move through the marketing pipeline. This strengthens the lead qualification process and prioritizes lead distribution.
  8. Sales agents can engage with a lead earlier in the buying process while the lead is still researching solutions. (Early engagement with today’s buyers should be minimal, such as an introduction with contact information.) When salespeople contact leads, instead of spending time uncovering needs and qualifying prospects, leads will reveal what they’re interested in, whether they are suitable for sales engagement, and, in some cases, when they are ready to buy.

The strength of a lead management automation system like ours lies in its agility. Marketers can adapt campaigns to minimize irrelevant messaging and deliver content that prepares leads to be sold more efficiently and effectively.

Automatically Nurture Leads on Behalf of Sales

Automatically Nurture Leads on Behalf of SalesLead nurturing is the process of advancing leads from suspect status to sales-ready buyers. In the past, lead nurturing was the responsibility of salespeople who received homogenous contact information from the marketing department. There was no process of determining which leads were preparing to buy and which leads were “kicking the tires”.

With our Lead Management Automation™ platform, you can automatically nurture leads on behalf of sales without the man-hours that were typically required using traditional lead nurturing practices. Users can schedule messaging to prospects, create specific digital assets such as email messages, surveys, and landing pages, and move leads to a point where a sales contact can advance the relationship.

Using the Lead Management Automation platform, marketing can develop relationships with prospects without engaging sales agents by:

  • scheduling your marketing campaigns to be delivered sequentially without the need for staff interactions along the way
  • creating and delivering email campaigns with personalized messages
  • distributing surveys for existing customers to uncover up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
  • creating customized landing pages that provide specific responses to lead activities such as filling out an online form
  • creating customized web forms that can be added to landing pages to collect information for progressive profiling of engaged leads
  • assigning a lead score calculated by the number of activities a prospect engages in, such as opening an email message or visiting your website
  • nurturing leads through a digital “conversation” by automatically delivering a response email following an activity trigger such as a request for information
  • segmenting prospect lists according to response activities so sales agents can target engagements with leads that have shown interest in specific features or benefits of your products
  • automatically delivering leads that have reached a scoring threshold to an existing CRM program like Salesforce

Our customers find the user interface easy to manage when lead nurturing. Users start by creating a marketing program then adding a campaign for each marketing effort. Once responses occur leads can be targeted for nurturing based upon geographic, demographic, or behavioral criteria. Lead nurturing through our Lead Management Automation platform allows smaller sales and marketing teams to nurture more leads using less man-hours and allows larger sales and marketing departments to become more agile and effective in their lead nurturing practices.

Three Ways to Plug a Leaky Sales Funnel

Three Ways to Plug a Leaky Sales FunnelDo you have B2B leads that aren’t converting to sales because they are falling through the cracks of a poorly managed sales funnel? If your company’s lead management system isn’t preserving your marketing leads, you’re not alone. According to B2B experts, 80% of leads aren’t converted because of poor lead management. The good news is there are ways to keep your sales funnel from leaking.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation (MA) software packages provide a programmed method of maintaining a connection with leads while they are being nurtured towards sales-readiness. An MA program helps prevent funnel leakage through a reporting structure which exhibits the status for each marketing lead.

If you’re running a lean sales team, agents are likely balancing the management of existing accounts and new account acquisition. Agents can quickly lose focus on a lead. An effective MA program engages your leads until they are contacted by a sales representative.

MA also allows your sales team to determine a contact strategy for building new accounts; it helps manage leads through a process of qualification, interest building, and preparation for sales engagement. When a sales agent contacts a lead, she is aware of the marketing activities that lead has been exposed to.

Lead Scoring

Developing a lead scoring system helps to prioritize and cultivate leads – and keeps leads from dropping off the face of your B2B world. A good lead scoring model identifies worthwhile leads and classifies leads as they advance through the sales funnel. Once a lead achieves a score that warrants a sales contact, an MA program can alert the appropriate sales team member.

Not only does a lead scoring system reduce the likelihood of a lead being improperly dropped from the sales funnel, it also increases the efficiency of your sales team by allowing it to focus on the hottest leads, which are indicated by the highest scores. Meanwhile, cold leads can be removed systematically. For example, leads can be eliminated from consideration when they drop below a lead scoring threshold.

CRM Integration

By blending your marketing software program with your customer relationship management software, your sales team becomes more effective at managing its sales funnel. If a lead enters the CRM because of a high lead score, but it’s discovered by a sales agent that circumstances have changed, such as a change in budget or timing, a sales member can return the lead to the marketing pipeline for further nurturing.

The B2B sales cycle is long, and sales engagements can be mistimed. Through a CRM integration with a marketing automation platform, the risk of losing a sales lead when it is reclassified as a marketing lead is reduced.

Lead Liaison’s Revenue Generation Software platform provides marketing automation, lead scoring and CRM integration among other capabilities as three corner stones of preventing  a leaky sales funnel.

How your Company is Missing Valuable Sales Opportunities

How Your Company is Missing Valuable Sales OpportunitiesIn today’s uncertain economy, every company has to recognize and actively pursue every possible lead that crosses their path.  Every prospect that comes in contact with a company has the potential to be converted into a sale. The problem is many companies miss the connection or they don’t realize that the lead is part of their target market. In those cases, marketing automation and lead qualifying are essential for revenue generation.

These are the four most common reasons for missing valuable sales opportunities.

1. Not recognizing quality leads

If a company is not evaluating a potential lead’s online activity, then there is no way for them to know whether or not they would be interested in purchasing their product or services. It‘s impossible for one human being to monitor everyone’s activity. Marketing automation is necessary in modern business practices as it provides real-time B2B visitor lead tracking in addition to lead qualification. Every company needs a proven method for qualifying leads via lead scoring in order to establish which ones may benefit from a lead nurturing process or get passed directly to sales.

2. Not taking the time to understand your leads

Once you have qualified a lead the next step is to properly segment your database by analysing demographics and  interests.  First group them into categories and then rank them by their potential for conversion. A company can develop a specific approach for each segment.  By not taking the time to break leads into predetermined groups, it will be impossible to connect with each one directly and therefore many will end up slipping through the cracks. Tip: use dynamic database segmentation techniques such as Lead Liaisons Dynamic Target Lists to segment contacts using a “set-it and forget-it” methodology.

3. Not nurturing leads effectively

A lead will be persuaded by compelling and informative literature. If the information a company sends is irrelevant or uninteresting it simply won’t be read. A potential customer can also be turned off if they are being bombarded with articles, newsletters or obvious attempts at self-marketing.  There needs to be a reasonable flow that is not obtrusive or offensive in order to gain their trust and respect.  In the early stages of lead nurturing, focus on educating the prospect. Think like the buyer, not the seller.

4. Not monitoring the lead nurturing process

It is essential for a business to analyze and evaluate which campaigns elicited an immediate response and which ones did not. There is no point in repeating a plan that does not have a solid conversion rate.  The only effective way to plan future campaigns is by understanding which techniques created the greatest number of responses and how they can be adjusted to generate more revenue.

Missed sales opportunities are the greatest frustration facing companies today and it doesn’t need to be that way.  Through well planned marketing automation and lead nurturing, a company can increase their chances of turning leads into revenue.  The key to success comes from understanding why valuable opportunities are being overlooked and then learning how to prevent it from happening in the future.

Top 5 Socially Driven Sales Prospecting Sites

Top 5 Socially Driven Sales Prospecting SitesTop 5 socially driven sales prospecting sites. With social media interaction in full force, businesses are afforded the opportunity to harness leads targeted specifically to their needs.  Properly prospecting to collect potential sales, however, takes more than sleight of hand and quick email responses: it requires understanding what the socialites actually ‘like’ while matching their ‘likes’ with your product offerings.  While it would appear Facebook is predominantly the go-to source for sales prospecting, you’d be surprised where more specific leads can be found.  We disseminate socially driven internet sales prospecting using communities which are more specific for businesses that need something more intuitive or in-depth which Facebook may not have the proper facilities to offer them.  Upon completion of this article, find out the leading platform to handle everything your sales team needs to close the deals – no matter where they’re found online.

Last.fm

With over 30 million audiophiles tuning in, downloading skins and enjoying occasional streaming advertisements, utilizing this social music channel would allow your business to reach millions of targeted business prospects interested in music, guitars, rock memorabilia and other products related to music.  Since this is a specific niche, the prospecting possibilities are endless.

Hi5

Those who wish to incorporate advertisement into gaming could benefit from the third largest monthly volume of visitors in social media today by putting your message in front of millions of gamers.  Inside every gamer is somebody that still runs a business or works; prospecting leads from this niche should be easily accomplished with an aggressive marketing angle.

Biznik

Another social media gem which could help create lucrative business connections and potential sales leads is Biznik, one of few that moderates individual profiles made so reputation management companies and excessive spammers cannot create automated profiles.  This beefs the potential for legitimate prospecting opportunities for all businesses while keeping things fair for all.

Manta

Business to business merchants can find loads of useful information using Manta, the authority in finding businesses to cold call or contact via email.  You can find local or national businesses using keyword searches and skim the results for suitable prospects.  Although you shouldn’t directly shill your products or services on Manta itself, you can definitely prospect potential customers quite easily.

LinkedIn

The epitome of sales prospecting is LinkedIn, perhaps the only site where finding contact cards to download has been perfected.  By joining specific groups related to your business, you can begin interaction with individual business entrepreneurs or large companies which can then be contacted to pitch your idea or sale to.  It would definitely be worth your while to pay the monthly premium cost as this allows deeper insights and contact information to be revealed.  Of all social networking platforms, LinkedIn takes the cake in terms of providing industry-specific individuals to cater to.

Before You Start

While jumping in head first seems viable, sales prospecting takes prior planning and some form of centralized lead software to handle nurturing, prospect contacting and sales campaign delivery.  Since Lead Liaison specializes in all-in-one lead solvency from finding the lead to closing the sale, let the professionals handle your social media lead prospecting quest.  The web-based software platform unveiled by Lead Liaison offers unparalleled support for your lead capture and segmentation needs.  This, of course, includes your quest to hunt down sales prospects within the social media world.

How Your Sales Department Drives Marketing Strategy

How Your Sales Department Drives Marketing Strategy

Learn how your sales department drives marketing strategy. Marketing and sales departments provide essential functions for company success. Marketing creates awareness and sales creates revenue. Each department has a distinct role, but in order to maximize effectiveness the two must operate in tandem.

So how can your sales force support your marketing people?

Through feedback from customers and prospects.

Certainly the marketing department can obtain feedback through focus groups, A/B testing, and other market research techniques. However, the feedback received by your sales force is invaluable, and should be used to shape your marketing strategy.

The marketing strategy primes the sales pump through the delivery of value-based messaging to your markets. The sales department operates under the umbrella of that messaging, but has a closer relationship with your customers and prospects, and has access to the real-world application of your products.

A reciprocal relationship exists that shouldn’t be overlooked. The reciprocal nature of the relationship provides opportunities for the sales department to support the marketing department. After all, without sales there is no product to market.

Your sales group can provide evidence of the success or failure of those messages. But what feedback provided by your sales staff can help the marketing department develop effective campaigns? There are five critical questions for marketing to ask sales that will help build a successful marketing campaign:

5 Questions Marketers Can Ask Sales

1. Is exposure adequate within each territory? – Ideally, the selected channels should reach targets frequently through effective channels in order to support the sales effort. “How did you hear about our company or product?” sheds light on whether the appropriate channels are being used effectively.

2. Do the markets understand the product clearly? – Messaging should express benefits, image, offer, and value. “Which features or benefits of our product are important to you?” can allow your marketers to understand if the messaging is clear.

3. What are the obstacles to closing sales? – Sales people receive valuable feedback from prospects about buying decisions during sales calls. “What can I do to make your buying decision easier?” often exposes overlooked objections that can be categorized for analysis by the marketing department.

4. How is the competition being received by your markets? – Your sales staff has the ability to determine how effective your competitors’ marketing activities have been. “Who else has a product like ours?” provides feedback about the competitive environment your company is working in. The marketing department can use this information to develop messaging that positions your product within the marketplace.

5. Are customers receiving the benefits they’ve been promised? – By checking customer satisfaction, your sales people can share with marketing whether the messaging is appropriate. “Is our product providing the solutions you need?” reveals how the product is being received in the marketplace. Sharing responses with marketing provides real-world feedback that will support or contradict your messaging.

By training your sales staff to generate feedback that will improve marketing, your company can develop messaging that is responsive, timely, and effective.