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Why Lead Nurturing is Essential to Sales

Why Lead Nurturing is Essential to SalesNot all leads are created equal. Some are one-off sales who buy as a result of direct response marketing. Others research available options and select their choice. And there are some that require a little hand-holding in order to get them to buy. Lead nurturing provides a way to cultivate those buyers into sales-ready prospects. It’s important to understand why lead nurturing is essential to sales.

According to marketing studies, only 3% to 5% of all inquiries are sales-ready. That means 95% to 97% are not sales-ready. Moreover, 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to purchase at the time they are first engaged through marketing content. The duration of a buyer’s decision-making process can take days, weeks, months and sometimes years and many products engender multiple marketing engagements and sales attempts before a commitment to purchase is made. This means your marketing efforts must engage leads multiple times to move a prospective buyer through the buying cycle. Experts estimate B2B buyers need approximately 7 to 9 touches before they’re ready to buy.

This is why lead nurturing is essential to a productive sales department.

Surveys show 80% of leads passed from marketing to sales gets lost, discarded or ignored. If half of that 80% were nurtured to the point of accepting a sales engagement, how many leads could be retained instead of slipping to a competitor? For example, if a marketing campaign generated 100 leads then 40 qualified prospects could be engaged to a point where they are more likely to make a purchase decision in your favor. And with a marketing automation system, it becomes easy to maintain engagement and prioritize leads as they are nurtured.

Lead nurturing doesn’t mean beating prospects over the head with promotions; it requires a thoughtful communication strategy that provides prospects with a non-intrusive way to explore your offer. Email messaging can be effective (if used appropriately). Free white papers or newsletter subscriptions are also productive lead nurturing techniques. If used effectively, the process should persuade prospects to make their own decision through their internal buying processes.

If a qualified lead is lost, a business must often work harder to regain that lead with future marketing activities. If they have already expressed interest in your offer, it makes sense to maintain a connection until they are ready to buy.

Get in touch with us to learn more about how Lead Liaison can re-invigorate your lead management and lead nurturing processes. We welcome the opportunity to further explain why lead nurturing is essential to sales.

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.

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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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.

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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Increase Sales Productivity

Increase Sales ProductivityWould you be surprised if you knew your sales people were only selling 11.5% of the time? CSO Insights, who surveyed over 1,800 companies, found this to be true. As a best practice, business should increase sales productivity by focusing sales on selling instead of spending their time traveling, training, researching, prospecting, servicing customers, and handling administrative tasks. This article quantifies the impact of an unproductive sales force and provides suggestions on how you can increase sales productivity.

Sales Productivity

Quantifying the impact of inefficient sales

Let’s say you were a vendor with twelve sales people. Let’s assume the average, fully burdened (benefits, vacation, training, salary, bonuses, stock, etc.), cost of a sales person is $100,000. The total cost of your sales force would be $1.2M. If 11.5% of their time is spent selling, that’s only $138,000 of the sales budget spent on selling and $1,062,000 spent not selling. You’ll never get to 100%; however, what if sales could focus more on selling and less on doing other things to increase sales productivity by a minimum of 8.5%? With 2,080 working hours in a year, 8.5% of that is 177 hours. With a sales force of twelve people that’s another 2,124 hours (177 hours x 12 people) that could be spent selling. That’s a full year! Would you be interested in bringing on a new sales person, at no charge, who will sell 100% of his/her time? You can by improving productivity of your existing sales force.

How you can increase sales productivity by 8.5% or more

Revenue generation software as well as other handy tips will help you increase sales productivity. Here are our suggestions:

1. Prospect more efficiently. It’s usually not a best practice for sales, especially outside sales, to invest time in prospecting. However, it’s an essential part of any lead generation strategy. Use a solution that provides a database of millions of professional contacts and companies to find targeted prospects in a single-click and spare the expense of digging through contacts not knowing who to call. If possible, refrain from buying lists and identify your target individuals. Who are your influencers, technical buyers, economic buyers, and users and what are their roles?

2. Pre-package presentations optimized around the context of a sales meeting. Sales people spend a lot of time customizing presentations to fit their meetings. Build presentations for specific industries, solutions, or audience levels (engineering, executive, etc.). Lowering preparation-oriented tasks will increase sales productivity.

3. Stream real-time web visit alerts to sales. Lead tracking technology exists to identify and surface, in real time, known and unknown leads. We posted a previous article on tracking website visitors that explains this concept further. Not only is this a new source of leads, it tells sales who is interested and when. If a prospect opens an email and clicks a link to your website sales can be notified in real time. This intelligence tells sales a prospect is online and engaged. If a sales person’s outbound call capacity is 30 calls per day and an email campaign to 1,000 prospects shows when 30 of those prospects are interested and thinking about your solution at that very moment, it makes sales highly efficient and they’ll chalk up a productive day. The ancillary benefit is a happy sales person. With less voicemails, calls, and brush offs sales will feel like they’re making an impact.

4. Have sales focus on qualified leads only. Sales analysts report 80% of marketers send unqualified leads on to sales. How can this increase sales productivity? Use lead qualification technology, also known as lead scoring, to automatically send qualified leads to sales. By splitting up a sales pipeline to form a revenue cycle shared by marketing and sales you’ll increase sales productivity. First, start by creating a service level agreement between sales and marketing. Define the ideal customer profile, what makes a qualified lead, and establish a lead scoring program. Make sure to include activity levels (online behavior) and recency of interaction/response of your leads as part of your scoring program.

5. Consider hiring a lead qualification specialist, sometimes referred to by companies as a demand generation team. A lead qualification specialist is an intermediate resource, or liaison, between marketing qualified leads and sales. The concept is that the lead qualification specialist intercepts a marketing qualified lead to further qualify it as a sales qualified lead before handing the lead to sales. On average, about 10% of “sales-ready” leads are sales qualified leads and 16% of those will eventually buy. Try to optimize sales’ time on the sales qualified leads to increase sales productivity. Technology will only go so far to help qualify a lead (the marketing qualified lead). Human intervention allows further qualification that technology typically does not provide such as budget, authorization, need, and time line.

6. Formulate a closed-loop lead nurturing system. Lead nurturing is the process of developing a positive long-term relationship with leads/prospects through meaningful dialogue, and then tracking their development into sales opportunities. Have marketing and sales collaborate to create a lead nurturing program, document it in your service level agreement, and build it using a drag and drop graphical user interface, available in some marketing automation packages. Effectively, you’ll build a formal lead flow system for leads to travel from marketing to sales and back to marketing if necessary. Make sure to use lead nurturing technology that allows sales to pass leads that are not quite ready to buy back to marketing to avoid “lead leakage”. This is a fantastic way to recycle your leads and increase sales productivity.

7. Use offers that setup appointments for sales. When sending out email marketing messages as part of a lead nurturing campaign, make sure to include offers that keep sales busy with sales-centric meetings. For example, offer free consultations, a personal demonstration, or personalized ROI analysis. Having your email marketing program act as an admin will decrease sales administrative tasks and increase sales productivity.

8. Get more out of your purchased lists. At Lead Liaison, we don’t recommend buying lists since the people on the list most likely have no idea who you are. A better practice is to build up your own database of interested prospects or folks you’ve had relationships with (at some level) and nurture your database, thereby leveraging your existing assets. The result is a lower cost per lead as marketers don’t have to pay for new leads. However, if you must buy a list then consider your approach to marketing to that list very carefully. Don’t just send a single email message asking for an appointment or the sale. Focus on building a longstanding relationship with your contact. Start by sending them educational material and increase product-related content as the contact expresses interest in your solutions through their interaction with your website. Over time, you’ll be able to surface who’s interested and who is not and increase sales productivity.

9. Have marketing send personalized emails on behalf of sales. Always, always, always (is that enough) personalize your emails by sending them from the sales person or a marketing contact. Never send a generic email blasted to your entire database. It may work, but you’ll get a much higher hit rate if you personalize your messages. Try incorporating the recipient’s name and company in the message to increase click-through rates. Limiting the number of emails sales has to customize and send manually will increase sales productivity.

10. Reactivate your old leads. As mentioned above, a great strategy is to re-market to your database. First, start by creating a breakdown of the age of the contacts in your database for a period of 3 months each. For example, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, and so on to get a snapshot of the age of your database contacts. As a suggestion, re-market to leads 1 year or older then 9-12 months old, etc. You’ll help reduce the 18.7% of time your sales people spend on lead generation and allocate more of their time to sell.

Contact Lead Liaison to learn how we can help your business with lead scoring, lead nurturing, sales prospecting, lead generation, activating old leads, personalize email on behalf of sales, get more from purchased lists, and track leads in real time with our revenue generation software. After all, we want you to “sell more, do less” with an increase in sales productivity.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What have you done to increase sales productivity?

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Service Level Agreement

Service Level AgreementFacts support a widening gap between sales and marketing teams. Read our article on sales and marketing alignment to see what we mean. Businesses must focus sales and marketing teams on common criteria; in particular, revenue generation. The first step in brokering alignment of sales and marketing teams is to establish an agreement, a set of rules, defining how sales and marketing will interact with each other. Many businesses are creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing to serve this purpose.

“Sales and Marketing must collaborate on defining leads and marketing objectives. You can make a huge impact by focusing first, on creating an Ideal Customer Profile (company-wide, for each product, service or solution). Then, create the Universal Lead Definition of a ‘sales-ready lead.’ Finally, connect the marketing/sales process to customer’s buying process.” Read more here. – Brian Carroll” company, http://blog.startwithalead.com

What should a Service Level Agreement contain?

As Brian Carroll highlights, companies should agree to definitions of leads, ideal customers, and adapt to customer’s new buying habits. These are just a few examples of items that should be included in a Service Level Agreement. In addition, businesses should include:

  • Purpose of the Agreement
  • General definitions
  • Lead scoring model
  • Lead response process and timeline
  • Lead nurturing program
  • Metrics / goals
  • Sales and marketing responsibilities
  • Review period
  • Term
  • Acceptance

Complementary Service Level Agreement for sales and marketing

Lead Liaison’s revenue generation software provides the technology to deliver many of the components of a Service Level Agreement; however, it’s a best practice to first develop a guideline for your lead management in the form of an Agreement. We understand every business is different. Small business, large businesses, different products, different markets, etc; but, we can agree most businesses are similar in a few regards. They lack efficient lead management processes and have misaligned sales and marketing teams. As a result, the “framework” of any Service Level Agreement is similar.

We took an opportunity to create a Service Level Agreement template to get you started. We will be posting the template shortly. The template will be accessible via this post. Please check back shortly.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What else should be included in a Service Level Agreement between sales and marketing?

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Sales and Marketing Alignment

Sales and Marketing AlignmentThe CMO Council sited 38% of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) say sales and marketing alignment and integration is a top priority. However, only 30% have a clear process or program to do something about it. With only 38% of CMOs making alignment a top priority, we can assume approximately 1 out of every 3 organizations recognize the issue but few take action. How about the other 2 out of 3? Are they not aware of the problems between sales and marketing? This article highlights common problems prohibiting sales and marketing collaboration, summarizes reasons one group thinks the other is the antagonist, and suggests solutions to narrow the divide between sales and marketing.

Unfortunately, inadequate solutions and uninformed executives have only perpetuated the problem. Sales and marketers have developed a terrible misconception of one another culminating in an environment filled with friction and dissonance. Brian Carroll, CEO of InTouch, attests that “communication breakdown affects nine out of ten companies”. Here’s another one of our favorite quotes from Brian:

“The unrealized potential [of sales and marketing alignment] can be likened to the batteries in a flashlight. If the batteries aren’t inserted in the right direction, or are otherwise out of proper contact, their power is unusable”. – Brian Carroll, http://blog.startwithalead.com

Do any of these examples typify your sales and marketing groups?

  • marketing complains sales never follows up on their leads
  • sales complains marketing never provides any leads, just contacts
  • marketing thinks they are the only people who are strategic thinkers
  • sales thinks they’re the only people worried about the quarter
  • sales wonders why they always have to generate all their own leads
  • marketing complains sales criticizes or ignores everything they generate
  • marketing thinks salespeople will say anything to get a deal
  • marketing wonders why sales isn’t cranking out deals from all their leads

Problems with sales and marketing alignment

C-level executives must recognize problems standing in the way of sales and marketing alignment. We took an opportunity to pull together five major problems impeding sales and marketing collaboration. Each problem is backed by data from industry experts.

80% of leads are typically lost, ignored or discarded (*1)

73% of companies have no process for revisiting leads (*2)

80% of marketers send unqualified leads on to sales (*3)

90% of marketing deliverables are not used by sales (*4)

90% of website visitors don’t identify themselves (*5)

30% of sales reps turnover each year, 7 months to ramp up (*6)

Solutions to sales and marketing alignment

There’s no single recipe for aligning sales and marketing; however, the first step is recognizing they’re not aligned (you already have a 38% chance). Here are some suggestions to align sales and marketing teams which will address the five major problems identified above.

1. Transform your sales cycle into an integrated revenue cycle. Create a new model (definition) for your sales pipeline to include sales, marketing, services and support. We discussed how businesses can split their sales pipeline into a marketing and sales pipeline respectively in this article. Once the sale is made, even more collaboration should occur between sales and marketing while pulling in support and services. We discuss extending your pipeline past the point of “customer” in this article. Working on a revenue cycle vs. a sales cycle allows sales and marketing teams to work together on a common goal; creating revenue, faster.

2. Define a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales. Include things like definitions/terminology, what makes a qualified lead, priority of lead sources, how leads are “recycled” into nurturing programs, where marketing collateral is stored and details of nurturing programs in your SLA.

3. Establish a closed loop reporting process for leads. Once marketing provides a lead to sales it’s crucial follow up is measured and tracked. Marketing automation uses lead distribution technology to disseminate leads based on pre-defined criteria. Automatic lead distribution reduces turnaround time and make sales happier when marketing responds quickly. Additionally, marketing automation technology can automatically schedule follow up actions. For example, scheduling tasks such as a phone call or email in a CRM system such as Salesforce.com. Advanced marketing automation schemes include the ability to ensure tasks are changed or closed; if not, the system will send an email to the marketer or management notifying them of the delay.

4. Foster a culture of respect and trust. To overcome common misconceptions, as highlighted above, foster an environment of collaboration, open communication, and mutual interest to develop respect and trust between marketing and sales.

5. Implement lead scoring. Lead scoring measures a lead’s interaction with marketing activities. It’s an automatic way for marketing to qualify leads for sales. When a lead is qualified by hitting or exceeding a certain scoring threshold, marketing can hand the lead off to sales. The hand-off occurs automatically and unobtrusively. Check out our lead scoring solutions guide for more information.

6. Implement lead tracking. For the 90%+ website visitors who don’t fill out a form, lead tracking captures the visitor’s information as well as their click pattern (digital behavior) as they traverse your site. This is invaluable information for sales. It helps sales better understand what their prospect is interested in. When sales communicates with the prospect they’ll know what they’re looking for resulting in a more efficient discussion. If lead tracking is not implemented sales loses out on more leads and marketing doesn’t get the proper return on their marketing investments.

7. Implement closed-loop email marketing. Typically, marketing will collect a bunch of leads from a trade show, send out an email blast, then hope for someone to call back. With closed-loop email marketing, any response to an email message is automatically signaled to sales or scored appropriately. The marketing system will “raise its hand” when prospects are interested. Closed-loop email marketing is built into most marketing automation solutions.

8. Implement lead nurturing. Don’t let 90% of your marketing collateral (major marketing investments) go to waste. Lead nurturing leverages closed-loop email marketing and enables marketers to setup customized nurturing schedules of 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, or any number of months to automate and personalize the process of staying in touch with your leads. With marketing collateral in hand, a nurturing program, and closed-loop email marketing you can automate periodic follow up. The nurturing system will automatically send email messages with attached collateral matching your prospects interest. Nurturing matures the prospects interest until they’re ready to buy. Lead nurturing also makes sure that the 80% of ignored leads are not ignored since marketers can drop them into a lead nurturing cycle right away. For the 73% of marketers that don’t plan to revisit/re-qualify leads, work with sales to establish a process wherein leads are “recycled” or added back into the nurturing program if the purchase period is farther out than the sales person is ready for.

9. Overlap payment metrics between sales and marketing. Sales people make most of their money off of bookings or revenue. Measure part of marketing’s success on similar sales metrics.

10. Bring in revenue generation software. Get your organization on a common tool set that provides lead generation, marketing automation and sales prospecting capabilities tied into your CRM system. Using a platform solution, not a single product, provides cost savings across the org while uniting your teams.

What happens when sales and marketing are aligned?

As evidenced by the data below, once sales and marketing are aligned the business will recognize considerable monetary as well as cultural gains. Your organization will begin to think as a team, as a single unit, instead of operating in individual silos with disparate agendas. Industry experts report the following benefits of aligning sales and marketing:

Businesses grow 5.4% faster (*7)

Reps close 38% more deals (*7)

Reps lose 36% less deals to the competition (*7)

Businesses have a better chance of retaining customers

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What do you feel the problems are between sales and marketing? What solutions do you have to achieve sales and marketing alignment?

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Sources:

(*1, *2) “Gauging the Cost of What’s Lost” by the Business Performance Management Forum and CMO Council.

(*3) Marketing Sherpa’s 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report.

(*4, *6) “The New Rules of Sales Enablement” by Jeff Ernst.

(*5) Marketing Sherpa.

(*7) Hugh Macfarlane, founder and CEO of MathMarketing, conducted an alignment benchmarking study by surveying 1,400 professionals in 84 countries around the world.

Extracting Value Post Sales

How can your company begin extracting value post sales? Britton Manasco published a post on Mastering the Customer Success Cycle. In the post, Britton stretches out the mind to encourage businesses to consider a different perspective on traditional buying cycles. Effectively, Britton splits up buying cycles into two larger phases, pre sales and post sales.

“Our attention must shift from product sales and delivery to customer performance and success.” – Britton Manasco

In our article on pre-sales phases of the sales pipeline we cover stages prior to the sale (customer phase). Most organizations would agree that sales, marketers and services operate in different camps, feel they have their set of goals, and move on to the next pre-sales opportunity in the pipeline. The fact is, the job is just beginning and businesses that fail to align sales, marketing and services with customer performance and success lose a gold mine of value.

Britton states there are three post-sale phases; implementation, performance, and advocacy. Implementation provides the proper guidance and support to help the customer get a solution up and running. Performance motivates companies to prove the benefits articulated in the pre-sales phase. Advocacy occurs once clients are delivering and achieving positive ROI. Only then, can your client become a proponent of your solution.

Pre-sales and Post-sales Phases

We concur with Britton’s way of thinking and would like to expand his thoughts, specifically around the involvement and benefit of sales, marketing and services groups in the post-sales phase. In the section below we highlight ideas each group can execute to gain organizational alignment and achieve customer success.

It’s imperative to note a few things. First, there’s no particular order for the execution of these ideas; however, it’s fair to assume services involvement is primarily in the implementation and performance phase whereas sales and marketing’s contributions are timelier in the advocacy phase. Second, collaboration across each of the business units is necessary to benefit from lessons learned and improve the likelihood of customer success.

Ideas for service/support involvement in post sales phases:

  • Training to help jump start adoption.
  • Consultation on best practices and lessons learned from other clients.
  • Further develop an understanding of client’s hurdles to adoption.
  • Iterative performance reviews.

Ideas for sales involvement in post sales phases:

  • Navigating client’s organization to identify PR contacts.
  • Asking for referrals to other companies that could benefit from your solution.
  • Asking client to act as a reference for future opportunities.
  • As Britton puts it, become a “business coach”.
  • Build the customer relationship further.
  • Identify additional opportunities.
  • Obtain feedback after the sale to help improve future pre-sales activities.

Ideas for marketing involvement in post sales phases:

  • Working with your client’s PR or marketing contact on joint press releases.
  • Obtaining quotes from senior level managers for inclusion in marketing collateral.
  • Recording video testimonials for inclusions in marketing collateral or websites.
  • Aligning joint speaking opportunities at industry panels, conferences and seminars.
  • Build a case study highlighting the client’s usage of your solution and extracted benefit.
  • Measure ROI and compare clients return to the ROI initially conveyed pre-sales.
  • Improve marketing collateral highlighting client’s favorite features and/or benefits.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. How do you feel sales, marketing and services/support can be involved in the post-sales phase?

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