Jun 15, 2018 3:02:45 PM
It feels like an impossible situation.
Marketing managers are hired to create a long term strategy that builds a steady, consistent pipeline of leads that understand the value of your services and are willing to pay for it.
Then two weeks later, the CEO and Sales Manager are standing at the door, saying: “Show me the money!!”
It’s a frustrating position for Marketing because, on one hand, no one likes to cheapen the brand by spamming the list with sales offers. At the same time, your company needs to sales today – not tomorrow when your long-term strategy starts to pay off.
The good news is YES, you can find ways to boost sales while building your lead generation funnel for the long term. However, you need to understand two things:
Skipping steps might get you a fast buck, but you could end up with unhappy customers who never should’ve been sold in the first place. Don’t beat up on your marketing team if the leads are no good.
Not we’ve got that out of the way, here are few things you need to give sales a good shot in the arm while the team is hard at work on long-term plans.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many growth-starved companies keep terrible salespeople on staff.
Your team should be self motivated, hungry, accountable, and constantly experimenting with different approaches at winning business.
If you have high performers like this on your staff – do everything you can to keep them, because I can tell you as a former sales manager they are not easy to find.
I’ve worked with many clients that have undertrained and unmotivated reps who send a few emails when a lead comes in, and if the prospect doesn’t respond in a week or two, they give up and move on, following up every six months with a “just checking in” email.
You cannot allow this to happen.
It takes an average of eight touches to get a response from a prospect. That may sound like a lot of intrusive outreach, but again, if every message is personalized, relevant, and helpful, you will find success.
If the marketing team is building a lead generation funnel for the long term, you need a rock solid salesperson or team to make cold opportunities warm, and warm opportunities hot.
Now is the time to take a close look at your CRM and see how your current sales qualified leads are being managed. If the closing rate is below 25 percent (even that is low), your company will struggle to find wins in the short term.
The short and long term success of your sales efforts depends on the data you have about each prospect. The more insights Sales has about the contacts in your CRM – including buyer persona, industry, company size, and challenges – the better they will be at closing deals.
This is where close collaboration between Sales and Marketing becomes important. Sales knows the criteria that makes a prospect an excellent fit, and Marketing needs these insights to attract the right people to the sales funnel.
A marketing automation platform can help you gather this data about leads and channel it to their records in your CRM. Here are a few ways to capture data you need:
Use “smart fields” on forms – Smart fields enable you to hide fields you already have data for. Once your lead enters a phone number or website domain on a form, for instance, the last thing you want is ask for the same information again on another form. Instead, you can hide those fields and replace them with ones that gather new information.
Analyze click rates on your calls-to-action – Do some A/B testing with your CTAs and see what offers get the highest click throughs. After enough people have cycled through the sales pipeline, you can filter a list and see which CTAs were most popular with your new customers.
Monitor social media and forums – Use hashtags to keep a close eye on conversations related to your core products or services. You never know when someone will ask a question that gets a lot of likes or upvotes, indicating that others are having similar challenges. Your teams can then write a post or shoot a video that helps people solve the issue, and your sales team can use it as a conversation opener with new prospects.
As Marketing plans out the editorial calendar for lead generation, they should be carefully selecting topics based on a variety of criteria:
These attributes are important for ensuring a productive long-term inbound campaign, but how can you boost short-term results?
That really depends on the length of your average sales cycle and your willingness to offer incentives.
For instance, we’ve marketed Office 365 solutions that take up to 12 months to close a sale, and nutritional supplements that could take an hour or less. Every business and industry is different.
If yours is a B2B company, chances are good your average sale takes at least a few months, as most buyers do considerable research before investing in a solution. Your best chance of creating urgency is by putting CTAs in your content:
Freemium business models and free trial offers are a staple of SaaS marketing today, and they are highly effective.
Giving people a chance to experience your products without having to make a financial commitment upfront is a fantastic way to get short-term sales.
It allows them a chance to see if your solution is right for them, while letting you gather feedback that will help the company improve and grow.
Even though this model is best suited for app developers, other businesses can make good use of this approach with a little bit of creativity.
Chatbots are another tool that’s accelerating the sales process for many businesses. People like the option of chatting with sales or service reps right off the bat, rather than poke around for information.
Answer their questions quickly and efficiently, and send them a link to your pricing page if the they express interest. Think about how much faster this is than making people explore your site on their own, fill out a form for information, and then nurturing them with emails until they are finally ready to talk.
You can pass Go and cash in simply by making it easy for new visitors to get what they are looking for quickly. In addition, you can integrate some chatbots with your CRM, so any interaction they have with your bot will live with other insights you’ve collected about them. Your sales team can use this data to have better quality interactions with new prospects.
There will always be tension between Sales and Marketing. If there isn't then you have two teams that don't care about what they're doing. When the need for fast revenue starts to eclipse the bigger picture, try to find ways to fold your short term plans into the long-term strategy. By keeping the two aligned, you will maximize growth, and keep your teams from paving the road in one direction and then wandering off on another.