A lot of effort and expense goes into procuring sales leads. In fact, the entire advertising and marketing industries could be said to exist solely to create them in one form or another.
As sales professionals, we could do a lot better for our companies and our own personal financial futures if we could manage our leads more effectively, and thereby improve our closing ratios and revenues. Too many leads are mismanaged, and this costs our economy billions in waste and lost business.
Here are five essentials I believe every modern sales professional needs in his or her arsenal for the coming year. Get all five implemented in your business for managing your sales leads, and you can’t help but see a dramatic increase in your closed deals next year.
Sales Essential #1: A consistent sales process
When everyone has their own system for working leads, it is nearly impossible to determine what is driving results and what is not. You simply cannot build and manage a sales team if everyone randomly “does his own thing.” While you do want salespeople to create their own successes, you also need to ensure protocols are in place for managing sales leads from intake to fulfillment, lest you lose a majority of them to negligence or forgetfulness.
This requires a formal sales process to spell out who does what with each lead, from prospect research to data entry into the CRM (see point #2 below) to strategizing closing approaches. The more complex your offering is, the more important the formal sales process becomes.
Sales Essential #2: A CRM your people will actually use
What is the use of investing in a fancy software suite with all the bells and whistles, if those bells and whistles are never used? A CRM software platform is definitely a sales essential, but perhaps the true “essential” here is to provide training on whichever CRM software your company chooses to invest in, even if it happens to be a proprietary one made in Excel.
The takeaway is to ensure that the software is actually used and made part of the sales process for every deal. Audition a few with free trials to find one that matches the computer literacy levels of your staff and can grow with you as you expand.
Popular solutions include:
- Zoho CRM
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Once you buy one, train your people on it, or you will waste money and lose business as well.
Sales Essential #3: Sales intelligence
Understanding where prospects lie in the buying cycle is important when scoring leads and determining where best to invest sales team efforts. Solutions like InsideView’s sales intelligence inform of significant business events on a macro level, while technologies like the RAMP behavioral modeling tool, which we developed in partnership with The Pursuit Group and WSI B2B Marketing, provide user-specific intelligence by tracking online behavior and interaction.
Sales intelligence is providing the data needed to pursue the most fruitful leads first — while simultaneously allowing firms to get “top of mind” presence much earlier in the buying cycle.
Sales Essential #4: Social selling solutions
Social selling, meaning the use of social media technology in sales, has largely been the province of B2C salespeople. B2B sale organizations are catching on, however, and many have developed rather sophisticated prospecting and lead management methods using LinkedIn, Twitter, business forums, and the like.
What is the keynote to all social selling? It is that overused and overhyped word: “engagement.” It means getting involved in online conversations and adding value rather than just pitching. Managing your sales leads with social selling affords an opportunity to find out much more about their pain points and lead them along the sales cycle in an unobtrusive way.
Some social selling tools to manage sales leads:
- Blogging about relevant topics
- Infographics with industry information
- Content curation from other sources, (including your competition when applicable!)
- Invitations to groups & forums that address their pain points
- Informative YouTube and Vimeo videos
The point is to keep talking with your leads, and they will eventually give you the buying signal. Social selling makes this easier.
Sales Essential #5: Mobile access
This one, like point #1, a consistent sales process, is a “blanket” essential which covers your entire operation. You have to provide mobile access to your salespeople of their pipeline, CRM software, sales intelligence, and social selling tools. With tablets being so affordable, there is no excuse for each member of the team to not be able to manage leads remotely, even during a meeting with a prospective client.
For certain industries, I would go one step further and develop a mobile access platform for your prospects which provides information and nudges them along the buying cycle, and then bridges into relaying order and delivery status from their smartphones once they place an order.
Want a great 2014? Then invest in the above tools for managing your sales leads, and contact us here!