The current sales environment creates multiple challenges for sales professionals. It is becoming increasingly harder to connect with prospects, let alone build a relationship with them. Additionally, purchasers are sticking to their current vendors in order to reduce the risks associated with switching to an unknown vendor in a tough economic climate. The average sales cycle length is nearly twice as long now as it was before the recent recession
Although difficult, companies are able to overcome these obstacles by breaking through the clutter and stepping outside of the box to take their sales processes to the next level. Here are five innovative ways companies can boost lead generation results in this complex sales environment.
1. Take a non-scripted approach to sales calls for casual, non-sales focused conversations aimed at opening the lines of communication with prospects.
- We’ve all been on the receiving end of sales calls when it was painfully obvious that the salesperson was reading from a script. This widely used practice makes the prospect feel anything but important. After all, if the salesperson can’t take the time to cater to a prospect’s needs, why should the prospect spend their time continuing the sales process?
- To get results, forego the traditional call script approach and customize the conversation by focusing on the needs of the prospect. Even better, instead of going down the path of a traditional sales pitch, focus on building a relationship with them in order to gain insights into their buying processes. Ask questions and let the conversation be interactive, not bound by a sterile script. Most transactions are not completed with one phone call or email, so use every interaction as an opportunity to build a relationship with prospects to ensure your organization remains top-of-mind throughout the sales process.
2. Segment and target messaging to the audience to ensure the message resonates, increase campaign effectiveness and boost sales.
- Segmenting an audience into smaller groups with similar characteristics allows a sales team to create different, targeted communications for each group with messages that are sure to hit home. By doing this, a sales team can effectively reach out to a large number of prospects with highly targeted information without coming across as a mass communication.
- Another way to effectively reach prospects is by personalizing communications to each individual. With the oversaturation of sales messages, people are becoming more apt to tune them out. In order to be successful, companies must stand out by delivering highly relevant and personalized communications. This not only includes customizing the language used, it also includes offering the audience items that are known to align closely with their interests (i.e. whitepapers, webinars, etc.). Research shows that buyers utilize relevant content to increase their confidence, and the amount of the purchase is positively correlated to the number of content pieces they review before purchasing. DemandGen Report, a prominent B2B sales and marketing resource, found in its annual Inside the Mind of the B2B Buyer Survey that 95% of companies that made a purchase in the past year said that the vendor they chose “provided them with ample content to help them navigate through each stage of the buying process.”
3. Have frequent, non-transaction based, interactions with prospects to nurture relationships, start a dialogue and capture key information to complete an insightful profile.
- Not every time a salesperson talks to a prospect needs to involve asking them to buy. Instead, to increase effectiveness, sales should focus on gradually building rapport with prospects and positioning themselves as an influential industry leader. Taking this approach will not only increase credibility, but also differentiate an organization from the competition.
- This process of lead nurturing has been proven to increase sales success. According to Marketo, an industry-leading provider of marketing automation software, nurtured leads, on average, produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities than non-nurtured leads, and companies that utilize lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead.
- To successfully nurture leads, sales should reach out on a regular basis to inform prospects about items of interest, upcoming events online or in their area, articles on relevant topics, etc. For best results and to help move them through the pipeline, offer only items of known interest based off of leanings from past communications or their stage in the sales funnel. For example, those early in the process might receive a relevant article while prospects further down the pipeline might receive an ROI calculator or free trial. Additionally, it is important to make sure every interaction is used to capture additional insight to help further tailor future communications.
- By maintaining a constant, line of communication, sales can stay top-of-mind with prospects and increase the likelihood of a future purchase. Eventually, conversations can begin to turn to furthering the sale, but only when the time is right.
4. Bridge the gap between sales and marketing for more effective internal and external communications.
- According to B2B research and advisory firm SiriusDecisions, organizations that integrate sales and marketing experience as much as a 24% growth in revenue. When internal sales and marketing teams don’t communicate, it tends to decrease the effectiveness of both departments. On the other hand, if these departments are bridged via open communication and collaboration, they are able to work together in a mutually beneficial fashion. Sales and marketing processes, offers and messaging can all be improved on an ongoing basis through successful coordination of the departments.
- Additionally, the goals for both departments should be aligned. Having a common goal increases the collaboration between the teams and ensures that both departments’ needs are addressed. The marketing department can ensure that their lead generation activities are generating quality leads and the sales department can be assured that they are only receiving quality, sales-ready leads.
5. Execute warm lead transfers to ensure a smooth journey through the sales funnel.
- Oftentimes, if sales reps handle early stage inquiries, they must pass the lead onto a second-level rep responsible for closing. If not done with finesse, the transition may be rocky, leaving the lead feeling abandoned. So instead of simply tossing the lead over the fence to the next rep, it is important to not only brief the new sales rep with the full history of the relationship, such as past conversations and insights learned, but it is also important to make the lead feel they are being smoothly transitioned and placed in good hands.
- Techniques for smoothing this transition include having joint telephone conversations with the prospect, conducting meetings together before a complete transition and allowing the initial rep to be available for questions or conversations even after the transition has occurred. It is essential that the trust established and relationships formed are passed over.
Unique Processes Drive Increased Sales
While it is a challenging time for sales, there are innovative ways to stand out from the competition and deliver off the charts results. Staying on top of industry trends and constantly striving to evolve sales tactics enables companies to be at the top of the sales game.
Building a relationship with prospects and providing them a smooth transition through the various stages of the sales funnel leads to sales success. These steps, along with effective internal communication, serve to help your company stand out and convert more leads into sales. The proof is in the process.
DemandGen: Inside the Mind of the Next Generation B2B Buyer
Marketo: The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing
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Contact Invenio Solutions to hear how we have used integrated marketing efforts to help multiple organizations grow sales, increase their lead pipeline and generate more revenue with lead generation and telemarketing programs.