Today’s post comes courtesy of Matthew Ranger of Maximizer Software How has the sales landscape changed and what does that mean for 2014?
The start of another year, and new targets are on the board. So just how are we going to hit those (increased) targets for 2014?
Once upon a time, sales teams were the gatekeepers of product knowledge. If a prospect wanted to know about a product, they’d ask about it. Now, the customer typically knows the answers to these questions even before talking to a salesperson. They’ve done their research and in many cases, they’re fully briefed and fully aware of your product or service set. It’s time for sales to shift into a new mindset and work alongside marketing to take advantage of this new situation and improve sales conversions – dramatically.
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Nurture the Leads
There are two “W”s to look at here – who and what. The question is – “who is reading what” – and this is for marketing to answer and analyze. Marketing produces a raft of content aimed at their target market, bringing people back to the website through landing pages, e-mail campaigns, organic search, paid search or paid social, and ensures that contact activity is logged.
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The key is to understand your personas – know who your ideal customers are in the first place, and build that content around what they like to read. For instance, if your ideal customer is the time-hungry Marketing Director, information about productivity and time efficiencies would be welcomed.
Define Who Is Ready and Who Is Not
This is where sales & marketing really have to sit down and define where this threshold lies between “ready” and “not ready”. It’s no use marketing defining what is sales-ready, or sales defining what is not. That threshold is a joint decision.
There is software on the market that helps define the quality of a lead. Obviously, someone who has read the above-mentioned article on productivity would not be primed for a sales call. However, if they came back twice, read a couple of product or service pages, and downloaded a White Paper, you may want to define them as sales-ready.
The opportunity is to define where these triggers lie – and therefore ensure that the leads that come through to sales are of the highest quality.
Track, Communicate, & Know Your Customer
The modern-day CRM is more than just a database with a few bells and whistles added on. It should be pumping out social information in a concise stream so that you can view & act quickly.
For instance, if you’ve got a sales lead that you’ve been working on for the last few weeks, but have been struggling to close – a social interaction from that client might be the trigger to start the conversation again. It’s good to know what’s going on outside of the sales bubble – and how you can be of any potential assistance.
Listening is the new talking. The trick is to learn how to listen for the right things. Your CRM should be the one doing all the talking.
Know Your Data
Let’s be honest. Sales have never been the best at handling spreadsheets full of data. For some reason, sales always looks at the bottom line first.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but knowing the ins and outs of the data is going to be essential as we move into the world of inbound marketing. Understanding which leads are most valuable is not the realm of one person alone, it’s a business view. Getting accurate, deep insight into the data allows you to cross-reference and measure more precisely.
We can even take this back to content and ask ourselves which pieces of content produced the highest value leads? It’s a good question to ask and it’s not one that will spring out immediately at you unless you’re good at creating pivot tables in Excel.
Know your data – know it inside out – and you’ll develop insight into the inbound marketing process that gives you a serious competitive edge.
Inbound marketing isn’t just about throwing out some content and calling people who’ll look about it. It’s all about having an informed discussion with the right people at the right time. The content is just the means to defining who is the right person, and what they might be interested in.
Your job is to use your sales skills – just like you always have done – but with significantly better levels of insight and information than ever before.
All of a sudden, those 2014 targets don’t look so far-fetched do they?