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Lead Management Fundamentals: How to close more leads? Part II

 How to overcome the marketing-sales gap and how the latest technologies help you close more deals with minimal effort.

From a marketing perspective, we are looking for ways to close or alleviate the marketing-sales gap.  The problem is that we are not making a distinction from a 1 O’clock lead (long term close lead and an 11 O’clock lead (the short term, quick close).  A lead that closes tomorrow or one that closes in six months are both valid leads.  Sales does make the distinction. They want the quick close leads and tend to abandon the long term close leads.     

Studies have shown that 85% to 90% of your prospects do not close immediately.   Many won’t close for 6 months or more.   95% of all sales reps stop contacting a prospect after the 3rd attempt to get the sales process moving forward.  75% of all sales are made after the 4th contact with the prospect.[1]

Large companies with big budgets and long term strategies get this.  They can afford to wait and often times do.   This is one competitive advantage they use over their smaller rivals.  They can collect and nurture leads for long periods of time.

Your average sales agent and sales team are under constant pressure to perform to make their monthly quota.  What usually ends up happening is that the long term leads get dropped in favor of the low hanging fruit.  These turtle leads get called infrequently if at all after a few weeks.  The sales manager might send an email or two every other month.  This haphazard approach to lead management typically leads to a situation where the sales agent warms up the buyer only to be closed by a third party.   

My company audits our leads about every 6 months. We have discovered that about 30% of the leads that closed were not closed by our clients.   This is frustrating.  Our clients pay us for good leads and then complain when they don’t close.  In many cases, the fact is that the leads are closing, they are not closing with our clients because our clients abandoned the leads too soon. 

A lead is not just a phone number or an email or a contact name.  A lead is a person representing a business.  When your sales team abandons a lead, business for the merchant does not stop.  The merchant does not stop buying, and entertaining offers.  He will buy.  He will just buy from someone else.  To avoid this scenario, you have to do all you can to continue to work that lead for as long as you can. 

The most common excuse we hear is that it is too time consuming, too labor intensive to follow up constantly on all of these leads; therefore we have to pick and choose which leads to concentrate our time on.  We are going to work on the hot leads or high commission leads. 

There are two things wrong with these excuses.  First, there are productive and efficient ways to stay in contact with your prospects over a long period of time.  Second, most sales agents pick the wrong prospects to concentrate on.   For example, most reps will focus on closing those prospects that pay the highest commissions for no other reason than the high commissions. 

The latest lead management technologies offer viable solutions to bridge the marketing-sales gap.   A good Drip Marketing Automation program can keep your company in front of your prospects for the long term without being labor intensive and time consuming.  Secondly, a drip marketing automation program gives you insights to how your prospects are reacting to your offerings. 

What is drip marketing?   It is “a marketing strategy comprised of sending out a continuous series of well-articulated marketing campaigns via phone, email, letters, newsletters, and press releases.”   (For the purposes of this report, we will cover the online aspects of drip marketing, email campaigns and social media.)[2] 

The key to drip marketing is to remain relevant but not intrusive over the long term.  In other words, the goal is to remain in front of the prospect so that when he is ready to buy; your company is the first one that comes to his mind.  You can even take this further.  You want to make such a positive impression on the merchant that when a competitor calls your prospect, your prospect will contact you before going with a competitor. 

As you can see, Drip Marketing is a powerful sales tool.  There is an even a more powerful tool associated with the drip marketing technology called,  Sales Intelligence.  Like military intelligence, sales intelligence is a systematic way of applying the latest technologies to collect information on your prospects behaviors, activities, and buying decision processes.  A thorough analysis of this information provides you with the appropriate strategic approach and proper timing to close each prospect.  In other words, sales intelligence will tell you which prospects are most likely to close and what their hot buttons are. 

As mentioned earlier, most sales agents pick the wrong prospects to target, because they are operating in the dark.  There are making educated guesses and emotional guesses.   Sales intelligence can correct those mistakes.  Sales Intelligence also allows your sales team to cull through large lead lists and helps you identify your real prospects.

Let’s say you have a list of 10,000 prospects and you have 10 agents.  The old school solution would be to give each agent a list of 1,000 prospects and have them start calling and emailing.  This process is labor intensive, time consuming and inefficient.  You want to be more productive.  The best way to achieve higher productivity would be to know whom to contact first.  This is the beauty of drip marketing and sales intelligence.   A good drip marketing program tracks the online activities and behaviors of your prospects.  You will know, which prospects are opening your emails, clicking on links, visiting your website, downloading your white paper, liking your social media sites, following your company on twitter, and commenting on your blog.   The drip marketing program will score all of these activities.  The theory goes that the higher the behavioral score the greater propensity that the prospect will buy from you. If that is the case, then you know which prospects to concentrate your time on. 

To finish our example, you would run your list through your drip marketing program.  Let’s say 500 out of 10,000 prospects score highly, meaning that they are reacting to your emails, clicking on links, going to your website and social media pages, watching your videos on youtube, liking your posts on facebook etc.    Now, the drip marketing program has culled the list down for you.  Instead of your agents making thousands of calls, you’ve lightened their work load.  Each agent can now concentrate on 50 hot prospects.   Now, your sales operation is much more efficient and productive. 

What do you do with the other 9,500 prospects?   You don’t discard them.   You continue to nurture them in your lead nurturing program.  You do have a lead nurturing program, right?   (If not, wait for future reports).

The benefits of Drip Marketing Automation with a coherent strategy can be significant.  Sales teams have seen their sales increase by 200% or more.   From a marketing company’s perspective, this is exciting because we know that our clients are happy.  They become sustainable clients.  It’s a true win-win.

In summary, we are a B2B lead generation company and we became involved in lead management technologies and strategies for our own use and for our clients’.   We firmly believe that we have developed and can develop long term sustainable relationships with our clients if we help provide them with the tools and the knowledge they need to close more deals.   In our humble opinion, drip marketing automation is an indispensable tool for any sales organization.  This is why our company has partnered with Act-On, one of the top drip marketing online platforms.  We offer a turnkey solution to our clients.  There are many other great drip marketing companies like Hubspot, Marketo and infusionsoft.  These programs are much different than Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.  The key enhancements are the automation, which saves time and sales intelligence reporting.   Our recommendation is that you try out one of these programs.  You will see a significant impact on your sales. 



[1] Fallavollita, Gary  Drip Marketing : A Powerful New Marketing Strategy That Gets Prospects To Buy From You 

 

[2] Ibid


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