For sure, increasing sales productivity is a good thing. Marketing organisations are putting in place systems and tools to generate and score leads, so that reps can focus on more qualified prospects.
However, even in the best case scenario reps will not close every opportunity. Some customers may not have a need to buy now. Others may have a need, but they may select another alternative.
A CSO Insights study found average win rates of about 45% in 2011, a five point drop from 2006.
So the key question is: What kind of sales experience are you delivering to all of your prospects – including those that weren’t qualified or didn’t buy?
This is important because, whether a prospect buys or not, their experience interacting with your company will create a lasting impression. A good experience means they may return another day, when they have needs that match your solutions. Or, they’ll recommend your company to a colleague. Either way, that helps increase revenue productivity.
For example, last year I was looking for software to support my online community CustomerThink.com.
Over the course of a couple of weeks, I searched for solutions, interacted with vendor web sites and engaged with several sales reps by email and phone. To most of the vendors I was just another not-very-valuable small business buyer. And I was treated accordingly, no doubt thanks to some nifty lead scoring algorithms that have become de rigueur for B2B marketers.
Unfortunately, these vendors probably didn’t factor into their scoring that my posts on CustomerThink reach an audience of 80,000 visitors per month. Or, that I have colleagues in the publishing business that are also potential buyers. And what do you know, shortly after my buying experiences, an industry colleague asked me for advice on similar tools, and I was only too happy to share my recommendations. Privately.
Bottom line: While I may not have been scored or treated as a valuable prospect, I was valuable in other ways—as an influencer. And many of your prospects are, too.
The point of lead scoring is to assess the value of the prospect to you—the seller—so you can make the best use of your resources. Let’s flip this idea around. What I’m advocating is that you spend time to really understand how your prospects—all of them—perceive their experience with your brand. From the initial web search to interacting with your web site to engaging with inside or field sales reps, all of these touchpoints form an impression and influence their likelihood to buy or recommend.
Start by assessing your current customer and prospect experiences. Look for opportunities to get prospect feedback using web analytics and feedback solutions. You could even hire “mystery prospects” to take on different personas representing buyers, influencers, researchers, etc.
The prospect experience used to be mainly face-to-face interactions. Then it moved to the phone, and now it’s going digital in a big way.
If you do a buyer “journey map” you’ll probably find that more and more buyers start their journey online and are rapidly adopting mobile technologies such as smart phones and tablets. In the US, Nielson reports that in 2012 about half of all mobile subscribers are using smartphones.
Ultimately, a great prospect experience is about interacting on their terms—giving them the information they want, in the form they want, where they want, at the time they want it, on the device they want. Whether prospects buy immediately or not, a positive experience will become the “gift that keeps on giving” in the future.
Realise that as you’re scoring prospects on their value to yours, they are also scoring their experience with your company. Delivering a great prospect experience can help you differentiate and become a B2B brand that businesspeople talk about like consumers rave about Zappos!