As we reach the end of January and look ahead to what is likely to be another strange year of moving goals posts and yoyoing consumer confidence, those sales and marketing targets and indeed budgets we all laboured over back in November/December may already be looking challenging. Here are three things you can do right now to ease the burden and make it a whole lot easier to do more with less.
1) Make the best use of what you have already:
It is far easier to convert someone that already knows you than someone who is totally new to your business, which is why what is already in the depths of your CRM could and should be your best friend. If you have an account-based model then we have no doubt that your sales and account managers will be maximising the value in what you currently sell them, but conducting a detailed analysis of opportunities always yields results in our experience. Take a look at:
Lost sales: Take a look at what you marked closed lost in different time periods, if it was three to five years ago or whatever is appropriate for your industry’s upgrade cycle then they could be back in market. If it was 6 months ago, they may not actually have bought yet, or indeed may be regretting the decision they made after you last spoke. Building specific re-engagement campaigns based on appropriate segmentation is an easy win.
Ghosting: We all have those leads that were sounding great and all of a sudden they don’t pick up the phone and your emails go unanswered. You’ve been ghosted. Our advice, don’t keep trying the same thing and asking for an update. Adding this as a deal stage can help you trigger an automated campaign that meets the issue head-on. We like sending a personal note from the MD or the Sales Director say ‘sorry we couldn’t help’ this kind of finality often provokes a response that reveals the real reason for going dark on you.
Product gap: Perhaps you have a customer taking some of your range, that may be a good fit for another product or service you sell. Segmenting these opportunities and enrolling them in targeted marketing and sales campaigns can lead to quick conversions.
Defence: Perhaps you have an account coming up for contract renewal this year. The time to start your bid is now. Using the right marketing automation tools it is easy to target key decision-makers and stakeholder online, on social media and in their inbox to keep the flow of good news coming, reminding them exactly why they signed up in the first place.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but the one outtake is, don’t forget the role marketing can play after a lead gets passed to sales and after the contract is signed or not as the case may be.
2) Focus on efficiency:
When was the last time you properly reviewed your sales process? In a market where every lead can feel hard-fought, then maximising your conversion rates from enquiry to proposal and proposal to sale is paramount. Don’t just focus on closing rate, take a broad view of the whole funnel. The better these numbers are, the fewer opportunities you are leaving on the table. A good place to start is understanding the metrics that matter:
- Conversion rates through each stage in the funnel
- Average time to close/value
- Time spent at each deal stage
A good point to note is that if finding out these numbers is an issue then the first thing you can optimise is your CRM system. We love HubSpot, which as a CRM at least is totally free and will easily tell you these metrics.
Once you have this data then you should have a good idea how you stack up against the benchmarks for your industry. You should also see areas where the process could be improved. Too long at one deal stage, well look at the assets and processes used at this point in the journey.
Perhaps your conversion rate from proposal to sale is low, well there can be a multitude of factors influencing this and the easiest way to tell what the issue is, is to ask the prospect. Price is often the stated issue, but quite often what this really means is value, you may just need to explain it better, for instance, we love sending a video explaining the proposal and quote in detail.
Product may feel like a difficult one to overcome, but more often than not the issue can be a perceived lack of fit or a gap in product understanding. Fit should never be an issue - this can easily be identified earlier in the process and we would look at the process followed in those early stages of exploratory calls and pre-sales activity where needs are identified to ensure everything is captured.
We have a saying here - the exploratory call is the new closing call, don’t just focus on what they need, but spend time on why they need it, what happens if they don’t do the project? What does it mean to the decision-maker personally? Time spent here will pay dividends later.
Product understanding issues are often a direct byproduct of the issues detailed above, the more we understand about the problems they are trying to fix, the better we can zero in our technical proposals and demo activity to clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of our solution. It is also worth bearing in mind that sometimes it is better to just say no, if the product fit isn’t there and our chance of winning small it can be more efficient to bow out early and free up resource creating a better fit opportunity.
3) Stop focusing on lead volume:
More often than not when a new client approaches EnquiryLab, they are looking for help with lead generation, we just need more leads is the common cry. But of course, this isn’t true, nobody wants more leads, what they want is more sales or perhaps more accurately, to hit their sales targets.
We find this is often a direct consequence of what people perceive as the traditional (and often adversarial) relationship between Marketing and Sales. Marketing provides the leads, Sales closes them. If you are running any business with reasonably high deal values and reasonably long sales cycles fishing in a finite prospect pool then this simply isn’t true anymore. In 2021 effective marketing and sales is a collaboration.
By focusing on revenue rather than leads, you can take a holistic approach to achieve those goals. Rather than thinking about inputs and outputs think about opportunities, perhaps you have a number of clients that are ripe for growth through new products or services, well you can build a campaign around that. Perhaps there is one target account that you just know is a great fit, but the sales guys can’t get traction, well you can build a campaign around that. Perhaps one of your products is a great fit for a particular sector, guess what, you can build a campaign around that.
For many businesses, moving away from the approach of telling as many people as possible about your product, driving them to your website and getting as many of them as possible to fill in a form, is the key to growth.
Try focusing on marketing to a few high-value, high-fit prospects, understanding in detail what will make them buy and using the full force of your sales and marketing teams to make sure they know about it. This is proven to deliver a higher ROI than the traditional spray and pray approach to lead generation. To adapt the old expression about revenue and profit, well leads are vanity, revenue is sanity. Profit, well that really is up to sales!
EnquiryLab isn’t a marketing agency, we are a growth agency, this means we don’t just focus on lead generation, we consider how you marketing, sales and service activity can be optimised to help you achieve your goals. If you would like a consultation where we can discuss what you are doing now and how it can be optimised to drive growth, book one here.