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Become a Follow-Up Fanatic

Far too many businesses lose valuable sales through a lack of consistent follow-up. Here’s how to do it better.

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It’s time to shine. Targets have been set, marketing activities are in full swing, and sales collateral is hot off the press. Like a bull in the chute, your sales team is clawing the ground, frothing at the mouth, hungry to corner and close prospects. Time for one last pep talk…”OK, everybody,” you say, your voice rising to a crescendo, “let’s get out there and…nurture.”

You are surprised; the word ‘nurture’ is not exactly a word that a salesperson expects to hear from the sales manager. But given the prevailing mindset of B2B and B2C prospects today, it’s just the kind of tactical advice a fire-breathing sales force needs to hear to set the tone for a successful sales campaign. There’s a perception – often a valid one – that salespeople tend to be hunters, not nurturers. But some experts feel that if you go through a nurturing process with your prospects, you will have a competitive advantage over the hunters, and your margins will improve.

Resist the easy sale

This attitude is great, as long as that energy is properly channeled during the sales process. What plagues many lead-conversion efforts is an over-emphasis on low-hanging fruit – ‘sales you can close the same day’. Findings from a recent study by international lead-generation firm Resource Nation support this. The study finds a direct correlation between the speed at which a company’s sales force follows up with leads and the company’s lead-conversation rate; yet, it also reveals that many companies are surprisingly weak in their follow-up with prospects.

For example, only 33% of companies followed up with prospects within an hour of prospects submitting a request online for more information about products or services; a larger portion – 47% – followed up within the second hour after contact by prospects; 14% didn’t follow up at all. What’s more, 37% of companies failed to follow up with a second phone call if their first call to a prospect went unanswered, while 33% didn’t even bother to leave a message if they couldn’t reach the prospect. Lurking between the lines of those findings is a compelling, encouraging message for business: If they stress responsiveness, resourcefulness and relationship nurturing during the sales process, they’ll put themselves in a position to beat their competitors – even the most entrenched ones – to the deal.

It’s follow up or die in today’s competitive landscape. Here’s how to get it right:

Be first to respond

There’s no substitute for timeliness. The first person to respond to the client is usually the person who’s going to close the deal. Waiting even several hours to respond to an Internet or phone lead leaves too much room for competitors to gain traction. Prospects that make the effort to contact you are likely to do so with a sense of urgency and they expect a similar urgency with your response. This is a very directed behaviour. They’re looking for something very specific from you, and most likely, they are looking to make a decision quickly, even if a long sales cycle is involved.

Take it personally

While Web-based vehicles certainly can play an integral role in advancing prospects through the sales process, there’s no substitute for person-to-person contact, either by phone or face-to-face. People respond well to warmth and human contact from a salesperson who actually speaks to whoever they’re considering doing business with. Having meaningful personal conversations is what closes the sale.

Track your touches

As vital as timely follow-up is in the sales process, it’s critical for salespeople to track their touches with prospects during the process. While customer relationship software is viewed by some as a luxury, others see it as essential for their growing businesses. Keep good, detailed records – how the prospect found you, what they did when they visited your website, who the decision-maker or decision-makers are, and the contact you had with them.

Be the prospect

Salespeople gain a distinct advantage by making the extra effort to understand their clients’ businesses and the problems clients are trying to solve, or the need they’re trying to fill, with the product or service you offer.

Follow-up Tips to close the deal

1. Be an information source
Find an article you think would interest prospects? Send it to them. It’s a non-salesy way to keep yourself on the radar screen and shows them what it would be like to partner with you.

2. Shoot straight
Stay away from ‘wishy-washy’ language. You want to drive a clear future, where you tell prospects exactly how you plan to go about following up with them.

3. Give prospects space
You want to let them feel like they’re dictating the pace of the process, and that you’re there to help them make a decision.

4. Don’t fear mistakes
Be cognisant of your weaknesses. You can often learn more about sales from your failures than your successes.

David Port is a freelancer who writes on small business, and financial and energy issues.

Techniques

10 Tips For Web Design That Drives Sales

If your website has a lot of traffic but few conversions, it’s time to figure out the problem.

Michael Georgiou

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Every business owner wants a website that encourages visitors to take the next step: buy or contact. This step is called conversion, and it’s the moment your lead converts to become a customer. If your website has a lot of traffic but few conversions, you need to identify why.

It’s true that many factors may contribute to the problem. Believe it or not, web design can have a powerful impact on buyers and their choices. Studies show product assessment takes about 90 seconds. Users grant websites a fraction of that time: Less than eight seconds. Those first impressions are about 94 percent design-related. What’s more, about 75 percent of users will judge your brand credibility based on your website design.

Most first-time visitors to your site are not ready to buy. They’re investigating options and comparing you to others. Do you know how you stack up to the competition? Take a look at websites for leaders in your market space. Then, turn your critical eye inward.

Here are 10 aspects to consider when evaluating your website design and deciding which changes will yield the greatest results.

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Techniques

5 Ways To Drive Leads And Double Your Profits

Data is the secret sauce to grow your business and dominate your marketplace.

Entrepreneur

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As a marketer, the right digital strategy can drive leads, increase profits, and eliminate the competition. But in a crowded marketplace, how do you cut through the noise?

Enter Joshua Harris, entrepreneur, master marketer, and member of The Oracles. His company, Agency Growth Secrets, teaches entrepreneurs how to grow highly profitable digital marketing agencies and win their clients unmatched results.

What’s the key ingredient to his secret sauce? The right data. “The data we use plugs into Facebook and Google, slashing the cost on these platforms by 25 percent to 75 percent,” shares Harris.

Here are five data-driven strategies that Harris uses to drive leads — and generate insane profits for his company and clients.

1. Eliminate non-buyers from your targeting

To get the biggest bang for your buck, eliminate non-buyers from targeting. “In Chet Holmes’ famed market pyramid, he showed that only three percent of people are ready to buy immediately. So, any money you spend on the remaining 97 percent of people is a waste,” Harris explains.

“Current ad platforms don’t have a way to eliminate these non-buyers, so marketers leave money on the table with the standard pay-per-click model,” he adds. Instead of using the “spray and pray” method of broadcasting your message to everyone, Harris recommends using precision targeting to identify people who are ready to get out their credit cards now.

“If you know who’s right for your offer, you don’t need to pay $10 to Google for a click. You can put your offer on The Google Display Network. You can send the prospect a postcard. There are multiple ways to reach someone when you know who they are.”

Related: For Vusi Thembekwayo, Focus Leads To Big Wins

2. Implement a closed-loop attribution tool

To prove your value proposition to marketing clients, show how your work has influenced sales. The right big data technology has the power to do just that.

“The platform we use shows metrics on a consumer’s browsing history, where they encountered our ad, and how that ad influenced them to buy,” Harris shares.

With closed-loop reporting, cookies and other tracking codes (such as UTM parameters) are used to flag a URL to identify specific visitors. These codes are then used to track where a visitor encounters your ad and how that interaction informs a sale.

What you can’t measure, you can’t manage. By using closed-loop reporting, you can measure success and manage your business.

3. Embrace people-based marketing

People-based marketing means being able to recognise the name of who you’re dealing with. “Website traffic is mostly anonymous and fraught with fraudsters and bots,” Harris cautions. “With people-based marketing, you track channels to ensure your ad or message is getting delivered to a real person.

“We track URLs, buy data from publishers, and use paid subscriptions to create profiles of our target customers. When we reach out, we know we’re communicating with an actual client.” If you want real results, you need to verify that each person you’re targeting is an actual person.

4. Predict a path-to-purchase

By analysing data correctly, marketers can predict who is going to do what next. “With our platform, we feed a hundred potential buyers into our system,” Harris explains. “Then we examine all the different online behaviours of prospective buyers before they purchase. Their searches leave a trail of breadcrumbs, and we connect the dots.”

When analysing data, Harris advises focusing on what signals potential customers give off before they buy. “If you put the pieces together, you can anticipate a client’s next move by their online behaviour before they do.”

Related: 5 Tips To Generate Sales Leads Through Social Media

5. Advertise across channels

Once you’ve targeted the right client, reach out across channels. “Instead of spending $1,000 on just Google AdWords, use content management software that works across mobile and desktop platforms,” Harris advises.

“Use Facebook, Google, YouTube, Pinterest, Display, direct mail, phone calls. The point is not only to use the best channel, but to use all channels. In other words, become omnipresent. If a prospective buyer sees you everywhere, they’re more likely to buy from you than an obscure competitor.”

Ultimately, with the right data tools, you can consolidate your marketplace and eliminate the competition. As Harris points out, “a competitive advantage is either operating cheaper or commanding a premium price. Our platform allows you to operate at a lower cost with your ads. Because your costs are lower and your frequency is higher, you can convince your customers that you have a better offering, set the buying criteria, and drive profitable sales.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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The 5 Best Actions You Can Take To Improve Sales Calls

Ditch your script. Record your calls. Analyse your patterns. There are new, non-conventional ways to approach calls. Have you tried them?

Anna Johansson

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We’ve all got a ton of digital tools to help us boost brand awareness, attract subscribers and followers and ultimately convince people that our brands have something to address their needs. However, closing the deal still usually depends on a one-on-one conversational interaction – or series of interactions – the traditional sales call.

Your top salespeople work tirelessly to track down leads generated by your marketing team. They reach out to previous customers to renew interest. And they work to convince interested buyers to finally take the plunge.

You can improve those close rates by: 1) asking your top performers to train your newcomers; or 2) sweetening the pot by offering more to your prospects in the first place.

But if you want to get even more out of your sales strategy, you’ll need to optimise your and your salespeople’s calls themselves. So, how, exactly, do you improve those calls?

Related: Have We Lost Our Face-To-Face Sales Ability?

Here are five ways:

1Ditch the script

First, let’s be clear: Sales scripts can be helpful. They’re a useful rubric for guiding the conversation in the direction you want to go, they’re a useful resource for training new candidates; and they’re a nice crutch for anyone who is shy or anxious about talking on the phone.

But there are two big problems with sales scripts on calls: First, they have a tendency to sound fake (especially if you’re using a template). Most customers can tell the difference between a sincere conversation and one that’s been over-rehearsed or pre-planned, and you’ll lose sales if you always sound insincere.

Second, scripts lock you into a single routine. It may be a decently effective routine, but you’ll never know if there’s something better out there.

2Record your calls

Have you ever experienced that phenomenon where the sound of your recorded voice is alien compared to what you’re used to hearing? This happens because of the vibrations we pick up in our own head, but it represents a bigger idea; we don’t know what we sound like until we listen.

Accordingly, your underperforming salespeople may be making critical mistakes they could pick out in an instant – if only they realised they existed. Start recording your sales calls, and make your sales staff listen both to their own calls and those of others. You’ll become collectively more acquainted with proper sales techniques, and be able to isolate some of the most egregious mistakes your people are making.

Related: Click-2-Call: Securing Sales By Retaining The Customer’s Attention

3Analyse your patterns

Unfortunately, there’s only so much the human mind can pick out in a single episode of listening of a sales call. That’s why artificial intelligence (AI)-powered speech recognition and analytics tools are starting to grow more popular. These tools automatically transcribe your sales calls, then analyse the text, looking for specific keywords that can tell you how the conversation is progressing, and where (for better or worse) the turning points are.

It’s an automated way to dissect how your sales calls develop, and a perfect tool for brainstorming new angles and tactics.

4Control your progress with goals

You should also make sure your progress remains steady and measurable by setting goals for your salespeople. These need to be both short-term and long-term, so your salespeople can see steady progress and feel motivated by their own efforts. Your goals also need to be both individual- and group-focused, so you can keep your team working together while still inspiring a bit of competition and individual improvement.

5Experiment and observe

Finally, don’t let yourself get too comfortable with any one set of tactics – even if your phone-call recordings guide you in that direction. Just because a strategy is good doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best, so if you want to keep improving, you’ll want to experiment, sometimes with drastically different approaches.

Related: 8 Tips for Dominating Online Sales

Observe how these experiments develop, and scrap whatever doesn’t work. Inevitably, you’ll find something worth exploring.

A note on conventional tips

You’ll notice that I haven’t included any conventional tips to directly make your calls better, although there are plenty out there that seem to work. For example, there are no recommendations to start the call with a positive anecdote, or to make calls while standing and walking around to bring more energy to the meeting.

These can be helpful, but they’re short-term fixes, and they aren’t going to fix any glaring problems with your strategy. They’re also limited in how much value they can deliver.

Instead, the strategies listed, in contrast, are methodologies that can be applied indefinitely. They’re tools to help your team members learn and improve on their own. Accordingly, they won’t give you an instant boost in productivity or effectiveness, but they will yield the most powerful results – especially when applied over the course of months or even years.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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