Need to add business without over-strategizing or making a big "to-do?" How many of you are simply asking your clients and customers for a referral?
According to Dale Carnegie, 91% of customers say they’d give referrals. But.....only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals.
I've had a few conversations with people about this over the last couple of weeks and its surprising how many people feel comfortable asking for referrals -- yet most admit to not asking for referrals, or not making a formalized effort to seek referrals.
Check this article out: 25 Ways To Ask For A Referral Without Feeling Desperate, that ran in Entrepreneur Magazine. Try adopting just a small handful of these ideas on a regular basis. Could such an effort garner a 10% bump in increased revenue over the next year?
Everyone agrees that is important to establish target prospects to pursue. But once you've got that target list set, how should you prioritize your sales efforts? Which accounts or prospects should you go after?
In How to Figure Out Where You Should Focus, Sharon Tal, author of Where to Play, recommends setting pursuit priorities by viewing companies through two lenses: 1) the potential for value creation -- desirability, and 2) the challenge pursuing the business will present -- feasibility.
The "Attractiveness Map" below allows you to easily and visually gauge these factors relative to each other to help you evaluate opportunities and to prioritize your sales process. What you pursue, depends on your value set.
Are you keeping your sales toolbox well stocked? Are you integrating text messaging into your sales process or sales playbook? I recently had conversations with a few people who are standoffish about using messaging in their outbound sales effort. Some strategists think it’s too personal. If their team would use texting they fear their company will become a nuisance or turn people off. Indeed, one study I read shows that texting a prospect, before you’ve connected with them, decreases the likelihood you’ll ever connect with them by 40%.
But not all sales outreach is “cold.” Why wouldn’t you use instant-messaging once a prospect gives you permission to use that venue? Texting is the most ubiquitous mobile application out there. It is used more than actual calling on phones, (98% of all cell phone owners use texting). A text message is bound to be seen; its 97% open rate squashes email’s 22% open rate. And, it promotes lighting fast responses -- people respond to texts within 90 seconds of getting them. So your message is likely illicit a fast reply. (I’ve gathered some research in the accompanying infographic that may be interesting to you. Feel free to circulate it.)
Is SMS leading to real quantifiable results? You bet. When used after a first contact has been made, texting doubles the likelihood of converting into a sale. Are you struggling to get that golden first meeting? 20% of texts sent to businesses lead to calls or face-to-face conversations.
My guess is that when fax machines were first adopted, people were hesitant to give others their fax number. But facsimiles gradually became the norm for distributing written documents. Do you remember keeping your email addresses and cell numbers close to the vest for fear of people intruding on you? Now think of how ubiquitous those communications tools are. You probably use your cell phone for work more than personal reasons now. Anticipate the professional adoption arc for texting too. Get ahead of the adoption curve.
The first rule of even considering using texts in your outreach effort is to actually get cell numbers. As a matter of practice, your team should be acquiring client and prospect cell numbers and adding them to the prospect’s CRM file.
Avoid using texts without some acknowledgement or permission from a recipient. Casually asking if you can send out a text it you are running late, or to confirm a meeting is good enough. Explain to prospects how texting will be to the their benefit. You will find that many people welcome it and prefer it.
I would avoid using texting exclusively. Rather, use texting as part of a multiplatform approach.
Among the great uses for texts are:
Make your “notes” short. No more than 300 characters.
Respond to an email question or observation from a prospect with a text. Its faster.
Use texting to re-engage with past customers by messaging them about a new promotion or development.
The personal nature of texting and mobile phones make instant messaging a powerful sales tool. People tend to ignore phone calls, junk mail, spam, or advertising, yet they tend to read virtually every text they get. Sales teams that offer the option for prospects to text when they already have the option of email or the phone, generally increase prospect engagement.
According to the Annuities Group, businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified sales leads.
Wow - amazing number. So how come may of my clients engaging in an inbound marketing strategy have had disappointments with their results?
As best as I can observe, its because many companies have not taken a deep dive into planning their inbound effort's tactic-by-tactic approach.
Anyone who plays football knows that you have to draw up a play to gain yards and move the ball down the field. A winning football team needs a playbook so that each move is choreographed to achieve the objective -- scoring a touchdown.
A lot of companies engage in inbound without a plan. According to the Hubspot certification training that I am taking right now, only 44% of all B2B marketers have a content strategy. Only 39% of B2C marketers have a content strategy. People are not creating a series of plays to put in their playbook.
It seems that marketers believe that they can “score” without a playbook. Make sure you take an effort to create a topline strategy that feed into a plan or playbook that dictates specific activities and how those activities will be put into play.
Every marketing methodology starts with a plan – Corporate Visions, CEB, Bob Bloom, the list goes on forever. They all start with a plan.
Take time to figure out whom you are targeting and their needs. Understand the problem they are seeking a solution for. Then educate them with your inbound program. The stages of the strategy should focus on establishing your objectives, planning content that moves prospects through the buying cycle of understanding their own problem, understanding potential solutions and finally their effort to decide on which proprietary solution to use.
As you plan the tactics that your sales and marketing team will use to capture customers, make sure that you think like the head coach at half time. He reviews the team’s performance and adjusts the game plan based on the realities the team is going through on the field. If you are the “head coach,” plan to review performance on a number of levels and then adjust the plan/tactics accordingly. If review and resetting your bearings and tactics is part of your plan, then you will have built counter marketing against underperformance into your efforts. In this way, your marketing plan and efforts become a living, well-thought-out effort where change is built in to adjust to the moving mutations of the market.
If you have a good plan, you'll score a lot more touchdowns. Make your plan, work your plan!
So you are in the group of sales and marketing folks who totally understand how important a well honed sales message is. Your message has been crafted by a multifunctional team that includes sales, marketing, and subject matter experts. Congratulations!
Are you infusing that message into the field? Probably not. A recent Corporate Visions survey found that 35% of companies have an established message development process but don’t apply the message consistently.
Why create a provocative sales message but not complete the cycle of training sales staff how to deliver it, or not create the tools to support the message through thought leadership? Why pay a guy like me to bring that message to light if the message isn’t used?
20% of all companies think that everyone in their company just delivers any message that they think is best?
Think of your message that you have developed as a hub in a wheel. From it emanates all of the sales enablement tools to deliver the message to prospects (playbooks, presentations, collateral, whiteboards and proposals), and all of the thought leadership tools designed to position the company in a certain way and generate sales leads (blogs, publicity, web sites, and advertisements). Take your message and think about how you will translate it tangibly or tactically in each "spoke." Lets make sure that message finds its way into your sales infrastructure.
Focus on two things. 1) Tactical execution. 2) Change management.
You’re organization is resource-short. To make sure things happen tactically -- hierarchically plan which tools you need to develop first, one at a time, so that implementation really happens. “First things first,” as they say.
Getting your team to actually use your brand new shiny marketing tools is tough. People are inherently risk-averse. Change management needs to be thought through. Once your tools are made, take the time to create excitement around each tool and teach your team how the tool will help them close new business. Think through what steps you should take to reinforce use of the new marketing tool. Training, rehearsal of use, incentivizing use, and tracking of use are four good categories of change management that you should be thinking about.
Remember, tactically execute one item at a time so that it really happens, and plan to help your team utilize the tools.
Why aren’t your marketing efforts bearing fruit? You are trying everything. Creating brochures, developing mounds of content for inbound marketing, and slick sales presentations. Yet you are either having issues generating sales leads, or initialing productive sales dialogs.
My contention is that a wide majority of folks I meet have a disconnect between the needs of the sales team and what marketing is doing to help. In a recent Corporate Visions Survey of B2B managers, only 10% believe that they have complete coordination between demand generation and sales enablement.
“Marketing” has lost its way. When you pare everything down, is your marketing team actually working hand-in-hand with the sales team to fashion the actual verbal conversation that will make the sales staff effective when they speak to prospects? This is the foundation of leveraging creative and strategic marketers for the purpose of strengthening sharp sales hunters.
The marketing team needs to take a step back, reassess the purpose of the work they are doing. The real purpose is to help sales get leads and convince prospects to purchase. If you can get your marketing and sales professionals to reconnect and start from square one you may find that your sales engine will start to produce like a well-oiled machine.
By bringing marketers into the sales dialog planning process, you will integrate their ability to identify opportunities and create meaningful content – starting with the sales conversation.
Creating a sales conversation is not a creative process. It is a collaborative process that is highly strategic. It actually starts with working together to gain a clear understanding on product, prospects, USPs and conversation maps.
Once that strategy and conversation is created. Then the media ecosystem you create will truly support much of your sales efforts.