Last week I gave you a small song to sing at the end of the quarter as the inevitable fingers seek to assign the inevitable blame. I hope that saw you through to this, the shiny new quarter. So full of promise, so full of hope, so full of time. Uh oh. Here come the Sales Squirrels. They’re digging in the flower beds trying to remember where the heck they left that really hot lead you gave them. They’re shaking all the bird seed out of the funnel. And they’re asking for more leads, more content, more campaigns, more programs.
So while you wait for your Overlords to approve the creative they’ve had for weeks, and for the product roadmap you know will be revised, and for the three price promos stuck in legal, here are four quick and easy things you can do to help the squirrels.
Recycle Some Content
Go find a really old piece of content that is still relevant and re-release it as a “classic”. Chances are even the people who read it the first time around won’t remember. Harvard Business Review does this all the time. In fact, take a page from their rather brilliant playbook and bundle three or four related bits of content into a “Must Reads” package like this one:
Getting customers and experts to commit to speaking on a webinar takes forever and often falls through anyway. But sales people love to talk. Grab three of them and get them to swap customer success stories, without names of course, while you moderate it and record it. Ask general questions like:
- What are the top issues or challenges your customers are facing?
- Are any of your customers having success with supply chain cost management (or whatever it is you solve)?
- What best practices are your customers implementing that others could learn from?
And just to make it interesting, because squirrels are inherently competitive, offer some kind of spiff for the rep who gets the most customers to attend. And offer a prize to one lucky webinar attendee.
Nuts Aren’t Just for Squirrels
Need to get sales in front of prospects? Offer an incentive to your customers to let the sales guys in the door. I’ve had success with books, mugs and even golf balls. Here’s how to do it: Blast some or all of a territory with an email, post card or door-hanger offering the gift in exchange for a meeting with your squirrel. Set up an email address and a toll-free to book the appointments (and track the responses). Ship the items to your sales team and tell them to deliver them when they go for the appointment. If it’s a heavy item or you just don’t trust them, ship it directly to the customer to have it arrive the day after the appointment. I had a nine percent response rate to a direct mail piece on one of these and a 20 percent close rate on the appointments themselves. This is also an excellent way to get rid of leftovers crap in your Cupboard O’ Crap.
When All Else Fails, Do A Survey
Long-time readers know I’m a huge fan of research-as-content so why not do some completely random, off-the-cuff inquiries with the statistical validity of a gum wrapper? Survey Monkey, among others, makes it both free and simple to deploy and tabulate a quick survey by email. Send one to everybody who downloads your content asking for top issues and challenges on the topic. Hit your customer base with three to five questions about their industry’s prospects for the next 12 months or their level of confidence in the economic recovery or their deployment of a swell new solution that looks a lot like the one you sell. Here’s the kicker: you can turn the results into more content next quarter. Just to make it more fun, ask customers to name their account representative then offer a prize to the squirrel with the most completed surveys.