Today we have a guest post from Russ Hill, Founder and CEO of Ultimate Lead Systems.
With a couple of decades of experience helping companies with their B2B sales lead management and CRM programs, 6 Best Practices have revealed themselves that I would like to share. I’ve witnessed companies succeed and increase sales by diligently applying these practices. I’ve also seen organizations waste thousands of marketing dollars and lose thousands of dollars in sales opportunities by ignoring these practices. If you are serious about improving your sales and marketing ROI, these practices will lead you to some big wins.
1. Get your sales and marketing teams on the same page
First of all, Sales and Marketing need to re-think how they fundamentally interact. They frequently operate in their own “silos.” They need to learn how to support each other to release their inherent synergy to increase sales. Customers are rarely ready to sign a purchase order when reps first call. And reps are usually not present when the purchasing decision is made. Thus, today’s marketing programs need to nurture buyers throughout their buying process and notify the rep when a buyer is ready to engage. Marketers must send the right messages out at the right time that appeal to all of the buying influences. And the sales person must make multiple calls on the right people to further cultivate the relationship. It is a team selling approach. Everyone has a role and responsibility.
Industry research shows that buyers are 60% into their buying process before they engage your company or sales person, so it’s crucial to have sales and marketing working together.
When generating leads from various sources, how do you qualify them to see if they’re ready to buy? Not all leads are ready to buy, and it’s important to have a process in place to sort them out. According to Russ Hill from Ultimate Lead Systems:
- 67% of all leads are legitimate prospects.
- 34% have a need that must be satisfied in the next 6 months.
- 70% of those prospects didn’t know you made that product.
- It takes on average 5-6 sales calls to close a sale.
- 80% give up after the first call and 90% plus give up after the second call.
Doesn’t it make sense to have a process in place to monitor and track?
Most capital equipment purchases, for example, have a buying team in place to make recommendations. You need to identify them through your initial contact (or at least the job functions) so you know what areas you need to cover. We’ve found that a quick survey along with what they asked for can help you find out if they are in the information-gathering stage or the PO stage and you can act accordingly. If you know what other type of information they may want to see, or if a demonstration would be in order to better show them the product, that would help you prioritize your salesmen’s efforts.
As you can see in the following chart, people at different stages in the buying cycle need different things. Once you understand where they are in the process, then you can start asking the appropriate questions about budgets, timelines, etc.
What kind of process do you have in place to qualify leads?
B-to-B marketers, especially those in the manufacturing sector who are targeting the professional tradesmen, are slow to adapt to new things and social media is one of them. I’ve seen it in our business that clients (manufacturers) are aware of social media, but don’t know how to use it to get business. Yes, social isn’t about getting business (short-term), it’s about branding and thought leadership roles, but in the real world and especially in this economic climate, companies are also identifying new potential customers and taking them through the selling cycle to see if they can be converted to a sale. If B2B folks would have a better understanding of how to use social, then it would be easier for them to incorporate it into their other marketing efforts.
I recently read a post by Kipp Bodnar from Social Media B2B, 7 steps to building a B2B social media lead generation pipeline. Kipp outlines ways to identify and take leads through a system just like any other lead. Here are some highlights from his post:
- Understanding online analytics – You need to understand what the data is so you know what to do with it. There are several tools available, both free and paid. Google Analytics is probably the most popular free one. But it’s important to have analytics across social platforms and a simple data collection tool like Bit.ly would work just fine for Twitter and the built-in Facebook Fan pages.
- Develop a strategy – I’ve said over and over that content is king. So you need to develop a strategy to communicate the type of information your target audience wants and then overlap its content distribution platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs and Forums.
- Build a mechanism to gather leads – What good is it to generate leads if there is no place to identify next steps? What do they want—literature, demo, a salesman to follow-up?
- Integrate leads into a CRM system – Leads don’t matter if you don’t get the right info to the right person. There are several out there and the one we use is called Ultimate Lead Systems. It can track leads by source, type of product or service they are interested in, and track any kind of correspondence you have. It also helps you monitor your sales forces activities as it relates to new business.
- Set up a social sales follow-up program – You need to find where a potential lead is in the selling cycle and then nurture them down the sales funnel. I wrote a post, Where do your prospects fall in the sales cycle, that will shed more light on the different stages.
A social media lead generation program isn’t really different from a traditional one other than the issue of speed. Responses can be immediate and you need to be able to support them appropriately.
These, by no means, are all the steps. What are ways you’re dealing with this issue?