Are you looking for a cookie-cutter inside sales process you can implement in your company without changes? If so, you’ll be disappointed. No such thing exists. That’s because you need to tailor your process to your market, target audience and product or solution.
Most importantly, how you approach the sale has to be in sync with your buyer’s journey. How do they make the buying decision? What questions do they ask along the way? How can you help them choose the right product or solution?
To illustrate an inside sales process, let’s take a fictitious example — a company, Zippy, Inc., which offers a marketing automation solution.
You purchased a list, and John Smith is now in your database. He has not, however, expressed to your company any interest in your products or services. As such, he falls into the category of “suspect.”
A call to John is cold.
And, understandably, whether they are the initiator or recipient of such a call, most people prefer not to engage in this activity. Luckily, today you can use LinkedIn to warm up the call and make the experience more pleasant and fruitful to both parties. Here are some tips to get started.
What are the most effective B2B lead generation tactics? How about social media, content marketing and search engine optimization?
These shiny new tactics have their place, but according to research depicted in the chart, they pale in comparison to some good old-fashioned tactics. Ranking in the first, second and third spots for B2B lead generation are inside sales, executive events and telemarketing.
We all love the sales funnel…at least in concept. Visually, it’s the perfect model: Our leads pour into the top of the funnel. As they move through the middle of the funnel, marketing and sales both qualify the leads. And buyers flow out the bottom.
Or do they?
With the increasing complexity of B2B purchases, sales cycles are becoming longer, and more decision makers and influencers are involved in the buying decision.
It’s time to stop playing a numbers game and just pouring leads into your sales funnel. Now’s the time to flip the traditional sales funnel on its head and create a new model. The image of a sales and marketing pyramid helps you understand that you need to be more responsive to buyers’ needs throughout the sales process. You must assist them as they climb the pyramid and reach the pinnacle—a decision to buy from you.
Where once sales were relatively linear—prospects came into your sales funnel and decided either to buy or not to buy—today’s buying patterns have changed. The buyer’s journey is more complex, more fluid and increasingly self-directed. Above all, we know that leads don’t naturally convert into sales. Left to make the journey on their own, buyers easily stray off course:
A sales pyramid presents a more accurate model of today’s sales process. It’s a reminder that buyers and vendors must climb several significant steps to reach the top of the pyramid. You need to help them because there is no natural gravitational force downward, drawing them to a decision to buy from you. Instead, leads and prospects need assistance up the pyramid.
As a result, you need a well-defined lead management process that reflects an understanding of each step to the pinnacle. That’s how you’ll be able to transform prospects into customers.
The process includes:
The days of just playing the numbers are past. Today’s marketing and sales teams need to work together to target their best leads with a series of carefully crafted messages and activities that help them climb the sales pyramid. Leads alone are not enough. It’s the ability to convert prospects into customers that raises ROI and increases the bottom line.
Sometimes it seems that for every technological advance, there is a counter-force at work. Take the telephone. It’s a strategic tool for B2B lead follow-up, telemarketing and telesales. But with the ascendancy of voicemail and its handy helper Caller ID, it has become increasingly difficult to get a live prospect on the line.
For the sales rep, the question becomes: How do I break through the voicemail barrier, beat the technological gatekeeper and deliver my message? To leave a message or not to leave a message? That is the question you must answer. Here are some B2B phone sales tips to help you.
As a B2B marketer, it’s easy for you to get caught up in lead generation. After all, you often get measured on the number of leads you generate and even the cost-per-lead. But the truth is, none of that matters unless the leads convert. Inbound leads without a strategy for conversion are like kindling and logs without a match. One won’t ignite your sales. The other won’t start a fire.
The leads, however, are the starting point. If you have them, that’s great. Now you just need the match that ignites leads and transforms them into sales. You can find it in these inbound lead conversion tips.
“More than 60 percent of companies plan to invest in technology for ABM to better align sales and marketing over the next twelve months.” — Sirius Decisions, 2015 State of Account Based Marketing
Account based marketing (ABM), a term coined by ITSMA in 2004, is not new. As shown by Sirius Decision’s research, however, it is gaining traction. Companies are voting with their wallets by investing in technology to support the strategy.
Account based marketing recognizes that large organizations have tremendous sales potential, and each should be treated as its own market. Instead of fishing for business with a net, this strategy is like fishing with a spear. There is no waste.
Vendors identify their targeted large accounts and focus on each holistically. With some Fortune 500 companies reaching revenues higher than the GDPs of some nations, there’s a strong rationale behind this approach.
The funeral for outbound marketing took place several years ago. Friends and relatives celebrated its life and moved on, letting inbound marketing fill the void. But now, what was old is new again. Outbound marketing is coming back to life. This begs the big question, “Why?”
Don’t get me wrong, I like lead scoring. It’s highly effective in increasing the efficiency of generating qualified leads. There is, however, a caveat. It does not do the whole job.
What does lead scoring do? You score leads based on their engagement level with your content as well as on the strength of demographic criteria that qualifies them. When you do so, you’re able to spot the hottest prospects, narrowing down the list, so you know who to call. In this way, it increases productivity.
Effective digital marketing and automation make outbound marketing more efficient. They do not eliminate the need for it. That’s because you need a two-way conversation to answer all the qualifying questions.
Some of your leads, for example, could be opening your emails, reading blog posts and downloading white papers. But how do you know if they can afford the product, service or solution you’re offering? You may have captured your leads’ titles, but every organization is different, so how do you know if they have the authority to buy? You can’t even start to guess who else is involved in the buying decision.
In his newly debuting book, “The Human Brand,” Chris Malone and Susan Fiske talk about how human beings developed the split-second ability to judge people on their intentions and capabilities. It was a matter of survival for our ancestors. Today they write, we still judge people based on “these same two categories of social perception, which are known as warmth and competence.”
When someone exhibits both qualities, trust develops. If warmth is lacking, suspicions and envy take over. If competence is not evident, we feel sympathetic. In the worst case, when someone is neither warm nor capable, there’s little chance for a budding relationship.
The research presented in this book goes beyond the human-to-human relationship to the human-to-brand relationship. We judge brands by their warmth and competence too. Those perceived to have both attributes are more likely to develop deep, enduring relationships with their customers.
Now that’s something to aspire to.
No one said that tech marketing was easy. After all, you’re trying to reach IT leaders — some of the busiest people on the earth. Not only that, other companies are hot on their trails too. Naturally, they’re seeking cover, doing everything they can to avoid vendors and stay focused on their never-ending to-do’s.
Given the challenges of reaching your target audience, you need to have your marketing and sales ducks in a row. Where are marketers going wrong?