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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.

Post Sales Follow Up

Post Sales Follow Up ProcessAre you searching for a post sales follow up process to implement at your company? This article provides suggestions. Don’t forget to use marketing automation technology to pre-configure a post sales process like this that automatically schedules tasks for your sales people in your CRM such as Salesforce.com. You’ll be well on your way to a systematic approach for post sales follow up.

This document covers a proposed process companies could follow with a new customer after making the sale. Being proactive about your customer relationships is not only beneficial for cultivating referrals, it’s preventative medicine when it comes to client defection. Most clients defect to a competitor due to perceived indifference on the part of their current solution provider or vendor. Experts estimate defection rates are over 70 percent. Defection due to price or finding superior product generally occurs at a much lower rate.

Create a Referral Kit

To support your post sales follow up process we suggest creating a Referral Kit. Shall a customer agree to your Referral Program send them a Referral Kit. The Referral Kit includes essential documents and links they can pass on to other companies.

Benefits of a Post Sales Follow Up Process

Following this process provides your company with the following benefits:

1) Up-sell and cross-sell opportunity
– New products
– Edition upgrades
2) Stronger relationships
3) Referral opportunities
– Customer’s partner network
– Customer’s competitors
– Individual’s personal network
4) Public Relations (PR) opportunities
– Press releases
– Testimonials/quotes for our website
– Displaying logo on our website
– Video testimonials
– Reference letter (which we can include in our standard Proposal)

Incentives for Client Referrals

If a customer is interested in a Referral Agreement you should provide some incentive to them. Every use case will be different and may require a different offer. An offer should only be valid for an opportunity that closes as a result of a referral. Here’s a list of possible offers to consider extending (primarily for subscription-based businesses):

1) Reduction in annual subscription for the next Contract Year (5% or 10%) for every referral that closes.
2) 5% to 10% commission on a sales resulting from a referral.
3) Free upgrade for every two (2) referrals that close.
4) AMEX gift card for $500 for every deal that closes.
5) Discount on first year subscription license for referred customer (5% up to 20%).

Example Post Sales Follow Up Process

An example post sales follow up process that spans a period of 12 months is below.

Day 1

Thank them for being a customer.

Send standard Thank You email that is already created using Lead Liaison’s platform.

1 Month

Assess the overall experience.

1) How was the On-Boarding experience?
2) By the way, when is your birthday? Note, get birthdays for the key folks
3) Send Thank You note
4) How are things going?
5) What are you unhappy with?
6) How can we do a better job?
7) Does anyone need personal training?

3 Months

Elicit product feedback. Ask them to be a reference.

Feedback Questions
1) What improvements in our product/service would you like to see?
2) What feature(s) are you using the most?
3) What feature(s) are you not using at all?
4) What new feature(s) would you like to see and how would you prioritize those?
5) What’s different now compared to your expectations going in?
6) Is there anything that you don’t understand or anything that doesn’t make sense to you and/or your team?

Reference Questions
1) Would you be willing to act as a reference for us?
2) If yes, could we also add you to our Referral List which we hand out to prospects who request it?
3) What’s the best way to work with your company on PR opportunities (see #4 above under “Benefits”)?

6 Months

Secure referrals. Invite them to share experiences on blog.

1) Who do you know that might appreciate knowing about our company’s products/services?
2) After you get the first name, say, “Who else do you know?” Repeat the process until your client runs out of names.
3) Would you be interested in establishing a formal Referral Partnership with us?
4) Would you be interested in ghost blogging on our blogging platform (asked to head marketer)?

9 Months

Express gratitude. Warm them up for renewal.

Send key employees a company a T-Shirt.

11 Months

Secure critical feedback to prepare for renewal.

Send customer survey (using Lead Liaison’s software). Update of any contact info – new people, phones, email, office location.

Repeat Cycle Every 3 Months

Keep the relationship warm.

Schedule phone calls every 3 months after the first year. Look for referral, reference and up-sell/cross-sell opportunity

Need a copy of a Referral Agreement? Want to take a look at our Referral Kit? Ping us.

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Prospecting Lists

Prospecting ListsA few times a week I get calls from businesses asking if I can provide a contact or prospecting lists for them to buy. They usually want the list to include specific criteria based on demographic, industry, title, revenue and email. I don’t sell lists, but I love this question because it gives me an opportunity to ask: “If you have a list of 1000, what do you do with it?” Most tell me that they split the list up based on state or territory then hand it over to their sales people. Some tell me that marketing will load them into their CRM and then they send out an email blast. These types of answers allow me to ask the most important question: “After that first step, what do you do with the ones that didn’t respond to your outreach?”

Just last week I had this exact conversation with a Director of Marketing. She was honest enough to tell me that most of them fall into a black hole. As much as we hate to admit it, this is not uncommon. It doesn’t matter if you purchase a prospecting lists, obtain lists from tradeshows and conferences, the most important thing is to make sure that you get the best results out of this investment and turn as many of those leads into revenue as soon as possible.

A CRM system alone cannot manage your leads and contacts effectively. It’s important that you have complimentary technology that can do what your CRM cannot do for sales and marketing. Lead Liaison’s Revenue Generation Software™ is a cost effective solution that will compliment your CRM and help you shorten time to revenue with key features such as; sales prospecting tools, real time lead capture, lead qualification, lead nurture and much more.

It doesn’t matter where your data comes from – cold calling prospecting lists, conference lists, email lists, or working from referrals – it matters most how you manage the information for maximum results. Lead Liaison is the solution to improve revenue generation and bring together sales and marketing synergy which you need for increased revenue.

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How to Get More Sales

Identifying how to get more sales is often a struggle for many companies. Whether you’re an early stage start-up trying to meet the pressing demands of your board and/or venture capitalists or a seasoned company stuck in a rut; every business could gain from more sales. Too many businesses put the cart in front of the horse. To get more sales, you’ve got to drive revenue by converting more leads. Our mission at Lead Liaison is to help your company focus on better lead conversion and get your business generating 4X more qualified leads. In the graphic below we highlight five main activities (vertical sections across the bottom row) that identify how to get more sales by nurturing leads, capturing more leads, having better lead follow up, personalizing communications and improving sales effectiveness. The horizontal sections layered on top of the main activities are supportive activities. How to Get More Sales Let’s dig deeper into the main activities. Here’s a short summary of how Lead Liaison’s Revenue Generation Software technology can help your business get more sales by focusing on five key areas: 5 Principles to Get More Sales

Nurture Leads

Nurture Leads to Get More Sales How many times has your sales staff disregarded a potential lead or an inbound inquiry? Go ahead, be honest. Experts estimate 70% to 80% of all inquiries are latent demand that will buy within a few years but are lost, ignored or discarded by sales. What’s worse is that 73% of all companies have no process for revisiting leads. That’s a lot of lost revenue and a goldmine of more sales for your business. By using smart technology to intelligently nurture leads via relevant, personalized communications businesses can keep prospects top of mind and accelerate time-to-revenue.  

Capture Leads

Capture More Leads to Get More SalesIt doesn’t take a wiz-kid to know that more leads results in more sales. Use several landing pages across your business and embed forms with a minimal (no more than four) amount of fields. Use progressive profiling technology to intelligently identify what information you’ve already collected from a prospect and either hide the field or replace it with a new field that will help your business build a richer prospect profile. Also, use pre-filled form data to keep your database clean. For example, have a “job role” field that only had C-level, VP-level, Director, Manager and Assistant/Coordinator as the choices. When you need to profile your database (how to do database profiling) you’ll be happy you pre-filled forms. Do the same with company names and locations. Lead Liaison can help with that.

Lead Follow Up

Better Lead Follow Up to Get More Sales It’s imperative companies quickly distribute leads and respond to leads within five minutes to increase lead conversion rates. Research shows that responding within the first five minutes greatly improves the chances of getting the sale. Use automated technology to send email responses from a lead owner. See our article on automatically distributing leads for more information.

Personalize Conversations

Personalize Communication to Get More Sales Use marketing automation technology to deliver marketing messages that match a prospect’s interests. Furthermore, make sure to create a marketing content map that maps marketing content to industries and buyer personas. Send them material they care about. Don’t generalize your audience. Read our article on email automation to learn more about personalizing communication. Make sure you also close the loop on your nurturing. Traditional email marketing systems do not have the ability to tie in past and future online body language with email activity. Tracking email opens are metrics of the past.

Sales Effectiveness

Improve Sales Effectiveness to Get More Sales Sales definitely wants to know how to get more sales. They can do it, they just need to be more effective. Traditionally, sales people would have to keep constant reminders or wade through prospect upon prospect in a flat database. Use lead scoring, lead activities and lead grading technology to help prioritize leads for sales. Build richer prospect profiles by collecting a prospect’s buying behavior (keywords searched, pages visited, multi-visits, etc.). Use alerts to signal your favorite leads or notify lead owners of key buying signals. Help sales do their job by adding technology that takes the guess work out of sales. If you are interested to learn how Lead Liaison can help your company get more sales using the aforementioned approaches and a host of other innovative technologies let us know. We’re happy to give you a demonstration of our Revenue Generation Software platform. To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button.

Automating Business – The Buick Way

Automating BusinessOne of our founders recently bought a Buick Enclave. Most of the folks on our team are not car experts. Needless to say, we knew little about Buick Enclaves. When we heard she bought a Buick, we thought – “that’s an old man’s car”. Buick Regal, Roadmaster, Park Avenue, LeSabre – the list of old school Buick’s goes on. Why wouldn’t we formulate that opinion? Several of us got to take a spin in her new Enclave. Let’s just say this; it was a real eye opener. It reminds me how one can be so ignorant about new things. After all, you only know what you know. It got us thinking, if Buicks have evolved like this how has business evolved?

Business, in particular sales and marketing, has evolved considerably. Similar to what technology has done for Buicks, technology has given business a boost. For example, consider our founders Buick Enclave. The vehicle is OnStar equipped. Our co-founder showed us the OnStar iPhone app. We were amazed she could remotely unlock, lock and start her vehicle with the press of a button. And check this out – she remotely started the vehicle and it adjusted the climate control inside the vehicle based on the temperature outside. Wouldn’t it be nice if one could automate business with the press of a button?

Guess what, we can! Sales and marketing is no longer the old school Buick. Marketers have an opportunity to “OnStar-their-business”. Businesses can take advantage of software that automates common marketing processes. For example, with a few button clicks marketers can automate lead nurturing, or drip campaigns, lead qualification, lead distribution and alerts that highly benefit sales. Let’s draw from another analogy in the spirit of Buick/OnStar. While having the iPhone OnStar app up, our co-founder showed us how to find a place using Bing, say the closest Indian restaurant, and push that destination to the in-car navigation or turn-by-turn system. When she jumped in the vehicle her Buick asked her if she wants to go to the Indian restaurant.

That’s similar to configuring an automated marketing campaign and pushing it out to your business. With marketing automation software marketers can configure their prospects route, navigating them through your business and driving them forward along the revenue cycle. Marketer can send automated emails and other actions as part of an automated program and either run/activate the program or schedule it to start at any time in the future.

It’s time to harness technology and start automating business.

For a demo of OnStar and Lead Liaison ping us!

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Marketing Campaign Messaging

Marketing Campaign MessagingMarketing campaign messaging is important, but it’s more important to think about who you’re messaging to. When building a campaign, it doesn’t make sense to make a one-size fits all message. Sales and marketing people need to tailor messaging around the recipient. Similar to giving a presentation, before you present you’ve got to know your audience. You must know who you’re presenting to. Are they engineers or marketers, technical or business savvy? If you don’t know the exact title or role of your recipients then try categorizing them into organization levels. We suggest using three levels; C-level, Director/VP-level and everyone else (rank and file). Here are some tips on how to focus your marketing campaign messaging around these organizational levels:

C-level

Focus campaign messaging on outcome and results.

Director and VP-level

Focus campaign messaging on process and improvement results.

Rank and File

Focus campaign messaging on features and benefits.

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Automatically Distribute Leads to Sales

Automatically Distribute Leads to SalesMany businesses are able to generate leads and inquiries but have no way to automatically distribute leads to sales in a systematic manner. Companies make huge investments to generate leads from the internet, which warrants responses at internet-like speeds. An interesting article from Harvard Business Review highlighted the benefit of responding to leads quickly in a study of 2,241 U.S. firms. According to the report:

– James B. Oldroyd, Kristina McElheran, and David Elkington / Harvard Business Review

The article suggests three root causes of slow lead follow up:

Three Root Causes of Slow Lead Follow Up

1. Retrieving leads from CRM systems’ databases at one time throughout the day vs. continuously, in real-time, without a way to automatically distribute leads to sales
2. sales teams are focused on generating their own leads rather than reacting quickly to customer’s online behavior and inquiries, and
3. rules for distributing leads among based on geography and “fairness.”

Lead Liaison’s software platform solves the aforementioned issues with a simple solution that can automatically distribute leads to sales. Here’s a short summary of how we help our clients quickly respond to high priority leads:

Use Technology and Alerts to Automatically Distribute Leads to Sales

• Qualify leads using various lead qualification metrics including common buy signals, lead score and a measure of the prospect’s total activity.
• Distribute leads in real-time based on sophisticated lead distribution rules based on region, company name, number of employees and annual revenue. Distribute leads in round-robin or directly to a sales person and add leads to a “hopper” (a queue) if no rules match.
• Send real-time email and text message alerts to sales to urge response.
• In depth lead tracking and lead capture solutions to build complete profiles of visitor’s online behavior, a key indicator of a prospect’s interests.

What advantages or disadvantages do you see by automatically distributing leads to sales?

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Pass Only the Best Leads to Sales

Pass Only the Best Leads to SalesIf you’re a sales person then you’re likely one of the highest paid people in your company – no shame to that. However, if you’re in management then you know sales people are one of the highest costs in your company. Unfortunately, high costs are magnified especially when sales doesn’t produce results. One way to increase return on investment (ROI) in your sales people is to pass only the best leads to sales.

We queried fifteen top sales people across five different industries and asked them one question, “If marketing could pass only the best leads to sales, what would you like to see?” We compiled the top six replies and mapped them to Lead Liaison’s technology.  to help you better understand how we can improve your sales and marketing processes by passing only the best leads to sales.

What Makes the Best LeadsHow Technology Delivers
Highly qualified contactsLead scoring technology to numerically assign custom scores to leads as they engage with your company. Each event carries a score, or weight, defined by your company.  The higher the score the more qualified the lead will be.
Recently expressed interestBy using lead tracking to track the very first time a lead interfaces with your website even before they submit a web form or click a link in an email. Using a date/time stamp on the lead we’re able to determine how recent their engagement was.
Expresses behavior characteristic of someone ready to buyBuy signal technology that automatically looks for the most common buy signal patterns and alerts sales via text or email messages.
If the individual has the right roleBuy syncing titles with CRMs to map a lead’s online behavior with their profile and qualify them further using lead scoring.
Highly active leads who touch many marketing assetsTotal activities, a measurement of inbound and outbound activity.
Someone ready to buy in the short termLead nurturing to add leads not ready to buy into a nurturing process that builds relationships with the lead until they’re ready to buy.

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How to Get More Customers by Staying in Touch

Staying in TouchEarlier this week we posted an article on how to get more customers. This post follows up that article adding an additional suggestion on how to get more customers. Once you know who your customers are, focus on inbound marketing and adopt a revenue generation software platform such as Lead Liaison’s, you’ll be in great position to execute on another critical piece – staying in touch. Let’s highlight how to do that.

Staying in Touch Using Lead Nurturing

Some marketers call it drip marketing, others call it lead nurturing. Both are very different. Lead nurturing is aware of a prospects online activity whereas drip marketing is ignorant to a prospects online activity. Regardless of the differences, they both share a common underlying benefit – allowing businesses to stay in touch with their prospects and customers.

Let’s take an example of how important this is from one of our own recent experiences. We’ve been looking for a new IT-related solution for deployment mid-2012. About three months ago I told the sales person we’re about 12 months out from making a decision. I haven’t heard from him since. As a result, both the sales person and their company is losing my mind share. I’ve since looked at other solutions.

If lead follow up is poor, it makes me wonder what kind of service I’ll get if I become a customer. So, why does this happen? It’s simple. Sales people are paid to do what?…sell! If they don’t smell a sale, most often they’ll forget about you as they’ve got “more important things to focus on”. Unfortunately, the sales person and the company is losing out on a great opportunity to stay in touch with me. It doesn’t mean they’ve got to call me every week or email me every day bugging me to make a decision. They could focus on educating me; sharing use cases similar to mine, providing me with getting started material, sending me references and more. If their communication was brief, friendly and helpful I’d welcome their messages and most likely keep them top-of-mind. I’d probably also convince myself I don’t need to look elsewhere and this company has what I need, from great service to a great product. The bottom line is that lead nurturing helps businesses stay in touch with their prospects by “recycling” leads into nurture marketing campaigns until they’re ready to buy.

Furthermore, nurturing allows clients to receive personalized communications. In the example above, I’d probably think the sales guy is doing his best to keep me updated since the communications looks like it’s coming from him…and if I replied to the email he’d get my response. To sum it up, lead nurturing is a simple way to satisfy “The Golden Rule of Networking” – as Ivan Misner puts it.

To better understand how Lead Liaison’s revenue generation software can help you stay in touch with your prospects and customers contact us today.

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Sales Automation Software

There’s a lot of talk on the web about marketing automation; consequently, sales automation gets left behind. Although, it’s arguably the most important thing! Are you looking to provide automation for your sales team? If yes, you’ve found the right corner of the web. Sales automation software helps organizations improve productivity, relationships and employee satisfaction – all key contributors to revenue generation. Three core technologies make up a sales automation software package. We’ll discuss these three technologies and to help you understand how software simplifies a sales person’s life and can get your company on the fast track to higher revenue.

The Ideal Way

Sales Automation Software

Ideally, every business would fully automate their sales processes if they could. However, that’s not possible especially given the need for most B2B companies to personalize the sale. The “human touch” is often times a requirement, especially for B2B companies with transactional-based businesses. Regardless of your sales process almost every lead goes through the following lead management life-cycle:

Many of the pieces in the lead management life-cycle can be automated using sales automation software. Three key areas that must be automated to achieve an effective sales process are sales prospecting, lead qualification and lead nurturing.

Core Sales Automation Software Technologies

Automating Sales Prospecting

Sales automation software makes prospecting easy by integrating company, people, news, job, competitor, social media profiles and financials together in a single platform. Additionally, sales automation software natively integrates a professional contact database of millions of people making it easy for sales to find prospective buyers who match their target profile in a single click. With a second click, sales can import the contact along with their full contact information into their CRM.

Automating Lead Qualification

Sales automation software automatically qualifies leads by listening to a prospect as they interact with your marketing material. For example, monitoring a lead’s online behavior as they traverse your company’s website. When key buying signals are met and/or the prospect meets your qualification criteria they become a marketing qualified lead (MQL). At that point, the lead is ready for sales. Sales automation software quickly delivers leads to sales by sending a text message and/or email alert. Advanced sales automation software also pushes hot leads into a CRM such as Salesforce.com and automatically schedules a task for sales to follow up.

Automating Lead Nurturing

Sales automation software automatically nurtures leads to advance them through the sales pipeline. The majority of all sales people don’t have time to follow up with all their leads especially if the lead is not quite ready to buy just yet. Let’s say a marketing qualified lead is presented to sales via sales automation software, sales has a call with the prospect, but the prospect is in research-mode only. Nine times out of ten the sales person will take some notes, update their CRM and move on to the next hottest lead – the “archived” lead is forgotten. Lead nurturing automates the sales process by sending personalized (looking like it comes from sales and sent from one individual to another) emails over time to help sales build a relationship and connection with the prospect. More importantly, the prospect won’t forget about the sales person (and their solutions) either. When the prospect is ready to buy, sales will know.

Finding a great sales automation software package to deliver sales prospecting, lead qualification and lead nurturing is not easy. Fortunately, Lead Liaison has one. If you’re interested in sales automation software and much more let us know!

What part of the sales process not mentioned above would you like to automate?

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