Category Archives: Lead generation

4 top SME marketing tools

There are several Marketing strategies available to SME’s, both online and offline, but it is important to decide which ones are best for your business. To do this you need to think carefully about who you are targeting. This in turn will determine what tools and tactics you should use.

In this article we looked at some digital marketing options. Of course, you don’t need to consider them all at once, but it is a good idea to have several marketing activities on the go to ensure a steady stream of leads.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to make it easier for search engines to crawl or “read.” By making small changes to your site and developing content that focuses on relevant keywords, you can work to rank higher on the search engine results page and therefore increase opportunities to drive new traffic to your site.

Improving your SEO will help improve your visibility online by ensuring that new buyers can find you on search engines like Google.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the process of creating and publishing quality content that is relevant to your target audience and provides value to them. It is important to know your audiences, challenges, needs and desires to develop good content marketing.

Content marketing focuses on the long-term, it helps build trust with your audience, promote a positive and foster powerful relationships with your leads and customers.

PPC Advertising/Facebook Advertising

PPC, or pay-per-click works just like it sounds, it is an online advertising model where you pay each time a consumer clicks on your ad content. Google AdWords is the main search engine for this as that is where most of your potential clients will be searching. PPC advertising works as a great supplement to your organic search efforts, allowing you to drive relevant traffic to your site immediately.

Facebook ads are a very effective and inexpensive way to advertise your products to nearly any niche audience, no matter what business you are in. Facebook allows you to target your audience very specifically.

E-mail marketing

Email marketing is a great way to stay top of mind within your customer base and send triggered communications to relevant customer segments.

Most consumers are not going to buy from you on their first visit to your website. So, it’s important to find ways to keep in touch with these potential clients. Once you have captured your visitors’ contact information, you can nurture these leads with e-mail marketing. E-mail marketing is also essential for keeping in touch with existing clients.

webinar invitation, or a special promotion.

I hope you found this useful though one of the main problems we come across when it comes to SME’s is the fact that they don’t do enough testing and measuring and spend their marketing budget looking for a magic bullet. If this resonates with you, we would like to invite you to attend our taster session for our new marketing workshops designed for SMEs. You can find more details and register here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/understand-improve-your-marketing-tickets-77266354747

5 top SME’s Off-line Marketing Strategies

Earlier this month, we looked at digital marketing strategies for SME’s. This blog details five additional marketing offline tools.  As before you need to consider what’s best for your business and think carefully about your target audience before deciding what may work best for you. Consider the following:

  • who is your ideal customer? 
  • How old are they?  
  • Where do they live? 
  • How they would look for your product/service?

Direct Mail

Direct mail marketing can still play an important role in your marketing strategy as online However you can’t just spam people and expect a return on your investment. Just like you need to compel people to click your blog post headline, you need to compel mail recipients to open your letters.  Be creative with what you send, make it standout. A coloured handwritten envelope for example is more likely to be opened than a standard typed envelope.

Telemarketing

Integrating telemarketing into the marketing mix especially in B2B marketing can be a highly effective means for generating leads and increasing sales. By integrating telemarketing before, during or after a direct or e-mail campaign, or digital project, you stand a better chance of creating a better impression, developing longer-lasting relations and gaining invaluable sales opportunities.

Business Networking 

Join a local business group. This is a great way develop relationships with like-minded business people. You can talk over ideas/issues, share referrals, find talent, and identify new opportunities and form strategic partnerships.

Referral Incentives

Referrals are one of the best ways to find new customers. Offer incentives to existing customers and staff to encourage them to get referrals for you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary, get creative!

Distribute Printed Materials

Physical advertising can still be an excellent way to promote your businesses. Flyers and leaflets are a lot harder to ignore than banners and ads on the computer. Also consider including discounts or offers on them to encourage people to try you out. It’s a great way to encourage a customer to make that first purchase from you.

If you want help implementing some marketing strategies to increase leads in your business, Your Business Development Team can help.  In particular, this month, we would like to invite you to attend our taster session for our new marketing workshops designed for SMEs. You can find more details and register here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/understand-improve-your-marketing-tickets-77266354747

Three key tips to a healthy sales pipeline

Here is an interesting quote from my favourite American author, salesman, and motivational speaker, the late Zig Ziglar:

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days”

Of all the ways that a manager can use to provide direction to his sales team, pipeline management is key for two main reasons:

  1. Managing your pipeline will have a direct effect on improved conversion so it’s time well spent
  2. Having a clean and accurate pipeline, makes reporting on new sales much easier and safer

But how do you go about ensuring your salespeople are managing their pipeline well? It might be an idea to consider the issues they are facing first; as I see it these are the main ones:

  • Poor time management.  Salespeople are not always the most organised and spend many hours of unproductive time on the road
  • Lack of clarity and strategy.  Salespeople are often bombarded with new tools, information and training but do not necessarily spend any time building their own strategy and plans.
  • Self-preservation.  Many salespeople use their pipeline as a shield to hide any issues they might be having. Many assume that if they can claim to achieve a ‘mega deal’ this year, all will be well.

So, what can you do to help your team then? Here are my key tips for sale pipeline management:

Tackle the busy fools in your team:

  • Review their schedules and help them develop a regular weekly plan or a default diary
  • Ensure they include productive office time in their week
  • Make them accountable through weekly reporting 

Introduce individual quarterly strategies:

  • Provide some planning training and mentoring
  • Create a unified template
  • Share good examples across the team
  • Make the weekly reporting session based on their plan 

Stop the fantasy culture in your team:

  • Pay higher bonuses to timely signed deals
  • Ensure they have other opportunities which they can prioritise in case the big one is delayed
  • Introduce a ‘no fear’ culture where everyone can come clean and get help
  • Celebrate failure as a key way to learn and move on

I realise these tips are not actually referring directly to pipeline management but in my opinion, these are the key behaviours that, managed well, can make a difference across the board. YBDT can help you consider how to train your sales team and provide them with the right tools. Click here for more details or get in touch.

What does a healthy sales pipeline look like?

According to research by Vantage Point, 60% of sales managers say that their company does a poor job of managing their sales pipeline, how do you rate yours?

A sales pipeline is a visual snapshot of where prospects are in the sales process. Sales pipelines show you how many deals salespeople are expected to close in a given week, month or year and how close you are to reaching targets.

If you have a pipeline worth £100,000 in contract value and your conversion rate, from lead to sale, is 10%, then you can expect to close £10,000 worth of new business.

If your sales target is £20,000, then you will need to convert twice as many leads.

This is where pipeline analysis comes in. If you can identify improvements within your pipeline that will help you move more prospects from one stage to another, then you’re going to be more successful in your business.

For B2B sales in particular, having a healthy sales pipeline allows you to:

  • Improve your sales process
  • Forecast future business results
  • Analyse different sales strategies for your business,
  • Review your progress for the current financial year
  • Know how far you are from your targets.

A sales pipeline plays a key role both in closing more sales deals and indicating the overall health and future direction of your company. Here are a few tips to manage your sales pipeline.

Follow up, follow up, follow up.

Buyers today have more choice than ever before and with it, they need more help to make the right decision and choose your product or service. The best sales people will make sure they keep following up with leads and keep following up.

Focus on the best leads

Concentrate your efforts on the best, most sales-ready, high value leads.

To help, you could sort your sales prospects from high to low, instead of by date so you can instantly see which leads are most valuable. Also, if you view your sales activities for each lead, you can identify which prospects are the most engaged.

Let go of the dead leads

It is important to know when to let go of a lead. A lead is dead when they clearly tell you they’re not interested. If you can’t contact them, or you’ve spoken to them repeatedly but have not been able to move them forward.

Recognise these dead leads quickly so you can move on. 

Regularly monitor your pipelineYour sales pipeline is changing all the time so you need to monitor the key sales metrics. This includes things like:

  • The number of deals in your pipeline
  • The average size of the deals in your pipeline
  • The average percentage of deals that you win (close ratio)
  • The average lifetime of a deal before it’s closed (sales velocity)

These metrics give you an ‘at a glance’ view of the health of your sales pipeline and your business.

Review pipeline processes

The best sales organizations regularly review their sales pipeline and techniques to make sure things are optimized to ensure maximum efficiency and success.

When it comes to the sales process, each stage can be looked at and adapted/improved over time. This can be done one bit at a time!

Keep your pipeline updated

Don’t let your sales pipeline can get messy and confusing.

It is important to keep details up to date on every single lead by adding regular notes and information for each stage of the sales process. This does mean more admin time, but if you use this time to remove dead leads or update outdated contact information, then it’s time well spent.

Above are just a few good practices for managing your sales pipeline, there are more!

If you would like to discuss ways of improving yours Your Business Development Team would be happy to have a chat and see if we can help.

And please share this article if you’ve found it useful.

Staying in your comfort zone might not be an option

I recently came across a great quote which might offer some comfort to those of us who might find the unknown a little daunting: Today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky, Scottish proverb

Whatever your opinion on current events, it is clear that we are dealing with the unknown. This is a difficult situation for businesses to face, hence the sheer number of planning guides popping up all over the place from everyone, including the Government’s latest PR campiagn. The question remains, 

what do you do to prepare your business for the changes afoot?

The answer to this depends very much on your company and who it trades with, which can prove complicated indeed. However, there is one thing every business can do at times like this: developing your new business sales and growing your pipeline with qualified opportunities. You might say that I am bound to say this given what we do but I think you will agree that it is a logical move.

Growing your new business sales, as we all know, is not particularly straightforward. Indeed, there are many reasons why not to: here are a few prime ones:

  1. Hiring or developing the resources required is expensive
  2. There are no guarantees that you will get a return on your investment
  3. You might have to make concessions or changes to your product to make sure it fits
  4. Developing new business takes a lot of time and effort

This is all true but at times like this you need to ask yourself what alternatives you have, ensuring you maintain your sales revenue. If you have other ways in which to develop business then use them but if not, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone – you never know it might prove to be your making.  

Talking about comfort zones, the picture above shows our tent whilst camping on Mull in August. I have included it here because it’s a prime example of me being out of my comfort zone. Camping is not my thing, especially not in Scotland where it rains very often. But on our recent holiday we decided to go for it, and it did rain indeed.  Still, I found that the view from the tent every morning was worth every drop and I gained a lovely experience which will stay with me. I can therefore say, from experience that I would strongly recommend both getting out of your comfort zone, and camping.

As always, if you are looking to discuss your options or just for some advice do get in touch.

What is your favourite B2B marketing strategy?

This week I have discovered that there is definitely something about the North Sea air that really clears your thoughts. I assume it’s the cold wind that hangs around even on a lovely sunny day. I am sat writing this during our summer holiday to the Scottish Island of Islay, a very peaceful and beautiful place indeed. We have just had a picnic and as you can see from the picture, I am ready for the Scottish summer. This means that my family can run around and enjoy the rock pools whilst I stay warm enough.

This brings me to the point of the Blog today which is all about diversifying and working with the conditions you are faced with. We all have a favourite marketing strategy which we tend to believe works for us. For some people it’s e-mail marketing, for others it’s Blogging and for quite a number of SME owners it’s repeat business and referrals. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with this. If you have been in business for sometime you must be doing something right. 

Having said that, I believe you need to consider two important elements besides whatever it is that you think is working for you:

  1. Market circumstances do change and being able to foresee this in advance can help you prepare and diversify to ensure you are ready for the new situation.
  2. Measuring your results is very important as there is often a big difference between what you think a tactic is generating and what you actually get.

Just in case you haven’t considered the above before, here are a few things you can do going forward:

  • Changes to the market: None of us have a crystal ball but we can still react to change and create a plan B using a variety of tools such as:
  • Developing possible scenarios and analysing how they might affect both growth and business retention
  • Identifying some low-hanging fruit which are relatively straight forward opportunities you can capitalise on
  • Considering new products or services 
  • Considering new markets to tap into
  • Increasing your reach in your existing market 
  • Measuring your results: This is never an exact science but its is important nonetheless. Here are a few things you might want to consider:
  • Get to know how to use Google Analytics better
  • Learn how to use digital analytic tools for your Social Media activity
  • Make sure you and your team are using a CRM system to record any sales activity 
  • Run some surveys with existing clients 
  • Ensure you always ask new people where they heard of you

These are very broad ideas and I am sure that you and your team can come out with much more specific strategies. When you have, we will be very happy to support you in taking your new ideas to market. Click here to get in touch.

How long does your summer holiday really lasts?

Research into wellbeing points out that levels of burnout are increasing, work-life balance is getting worse and many of us experience stress like never before. If you look at it in this light, having some time off in the summer seems like a really good idea.

Most people must agree, which is why July and particularly August tends to be a quieter time at work. So far so good but the problem is that many take this to mean that they can have a break from marketing too. Go off line for a bit and save some money on on-going campaigns. Good for them. There is nothing wrong with some cost and time saving exercises, no one is listening anyway, right?

After all this build-up I am sure that you understand that I don’t quite agree. Before I am accused of being a sad person and a party pooper, let me explain why: I am all for going on holiday, in fact some people might tell you that I have more holidays than most. But that does not mean I stop looking for new business and working through my marketing plan. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Because of the level of exposure to content and easy access to work stuff, most people don’t switch off. Even if they don’t read work e-mails on their holiday, they will be thinking about the problems they need to solve when they get back in the office. Your Blog might just get in front of them at the right time.
  2. I have said this before about December but it’s also true about August: people don’t take the entire summer off, unless they are teachers, but when they are in the office they have less meetings so they are more available to take your calls. You never know, you might just be able to get hold of that prospect you have been chasing for months.
  3. Most importantly, a new sale does not start with the crunch, it starts with a load of other work designed to identify interest. This takes time and you always have to go through it first, unless you just want to sit tight and wait for sales to come to you that is. So if you stop all of the interest creation and new business activity you may well find that you don’t write any new business until January 2020. Can you afford to do this?

So, by all means, have your holiday and enjoy it. Try to switch off and leave all the worries and stress for when you get back. Before you go, make sure you schedule the Blogs to go out as normal, keep paying your marketing company and make sure someone is following up on all of this activity. This just might help with your stress levels when you get back.

If you need help augmenting your resources this summer, check out how we can help here.

Entering new markets can be a real challenge – Why do it?

One of my big bugbears is the saying, ‘Better the devil you know’. My esteemed colleague Google tells me that the proverb is of Irish origin and has been traced back to the 1539 collection of proverbs by R. Taverner. The main point of this saying is, of course, that a new thing is unknown and therefore should be avoided as it may be even worse than the current.

Not surprisingly, this is an approach we come across a lot when dealing with business. I have written before about the fact that most established businesses rely less on new business sales and more on customer retention and referrals. This is as it should be because these are key factors in the development of any company contributing to its stability and profitability.

So why invest in opening up and developing new markets?

Indeed, there are many reasons why not to, here are a few prime ones:

  1. Hiring or developing the resources required is expensive
  2. There are no guarantees that you will get a return on your investment
  3. You might have to make concessions or changes to your product to make sure it fits
  4. Developing new business takes a lot of time and effort

However, unless you are a big believer in, ‘Better the devil you know’, there are many reasons why you should consider new markets. Here are some of my favourite ones:

Over-dependency on your current client base. Depending on your industry your clientele may be very specific and limited or it might have a wider reach. Like everybody else, some of your clients might be great and others less so but any company can change direction, fold or

  1. decide to hire someone else. If you have a healthy pipeline of new opportunities this might be less of a blow.
  2. Over-dependency on specific industries. You may well be an expert and a brand in certain industries which is great. However, as economic circumstances change, some industries may experience a decline which can put you at risk. Adding diversity to your sales can put you a step ahead of your competition and keep you in profit. Diversity does not have to mean a different industry all together but also improving your reach within your existing one.
  3. Limiting your own growth. If you only operate within one target market, you may well reach a saturation point which hampers your growth efforts. A new market can provide you with a fresh opportunity to grow and develop.
  4. Becoming a bit stale. If you always do what you have always done you cannot really expect change, even Einstein said that. Going for new markets will force you to update your products and consider how you do things which is never a bad thing.

I hope this is useful and will support you in including a plan to enter a new market sometime this year. If you do, be sure to contact us to see how we might help. We have introduced some very specific products on top of our lad generation and lead nurturing so you may want to visit our site and have a browse.

Who is your end client?

The very knowledgeable Brain Tracy once said, “Keep your sales pipeline full by prospecting continuously. Always have more people to see than you have time to see.” I agree but before you throw a lot of resources into filling up your diary and pipeline, you might want to consider who, actually, is your end client?

This is an interesting question as most people look to identify their target markets but don’t necessarily consider who their end client is in those markets. This question specifically relates to which entity you sell to and the answer is one of three:

  1. Your end client is a company, an organisation or a person who purchases your product for their own use.
  2. Your end client is a distribution channel, such as a building merchant or a department store, which sells your products to its own clients.
  3. You have a variety of products and target both clients directly and distribution channels.

Not sure? Here are some examples:

  • Which companies typically sell directly to their clients? Most companies who provide a service like IT support, insurance, telecom and marketing.
  • Which companies typically sell through distribution channels? Most companies who provide a product like manufacturers, engineers, artisan food and drink and small clothes and shoes brands
  • Which companies sell through both? Larger companies who have a variety of products, suppliers of outsourced services like security and cleaning, retailers who sell online as well as through shops

 Why is it important to understand this then?

Understanding who you are trying to reach is a key to your lead generation and overall marketing strategy. If you miss this parameter out, you might find it very hard to engage your target market. Here are a few examples of where this might affect your decision:

  1. If you are trying to reach out to companies or people who buy from you directly, you will need to assess them directly. Find out what target markets they are in, where they go to look for data, who do they trust and use this information to build visibility and trust.
  2. If you are selling through a distribution channel, you need to take into account a whole set of challenges that affect branch and product managers in this industry. Of course, distribution channels vary enormously so you will need to identify the different segments relevant to your product.
  3. If you are selling to both, you need to reflect that in your strategy and ensure that whilst promoting your product online, you are also opening doors and building relationships with the relevant distribution channels.

Sounds complicated?

That’s because it often is, putting together a sound strategy takes some brain power, knowledge and expertise. We now operate a B2B lead generation service supporting you if you sell directly or through a distribution channel. Take a look and get in touch to discuss your requirements further.

 

Why are funnels key to your sales success?

Just in case you wanted to know, here are a few fascinating facts about funnels:

  1. The word funnel came into use in 1400 and originates from the wine making region of southern France.
  2. The word was shaped from the Latin word fundibulum which means to pour.
  3. It can be used both as a verb and a noun.
  4. Synonymous words include mouth, pipe, siphon, tornadoes, tote and transmit

If you were ever involved in a discussion involving marketing or sales, you would have surely discussed the sales funnel. The correct definition of a sales funnel, also known as the sales-process is:

‘The buying process that companies lead their customers through when purchasing products.  A Sales funnel is divided into several steps, which differ depending on the sales model’

 The reason we liken the process of selling to a funnel has a lot to do with this brilliant quote from my favourite salesperson, Zig Ziegler:

‘Every sale has five basic obstacles:

  • No need
  • No money
  • No hurry
  • No desire
  • No trust’

This means that in order to complete a successful sale, one has to take a lead through a series of qualifying steps which eventually enables them to confirm their interest in buying our product thus becoming a customer. This process can take anything from a few hours, a few months or even a whole year depending on the complexity, cost and nature of the product.

Many books have been written about the sales process and how you should manage it through using qualifying questions, regular follow ups and trust building activity. However, the point I wanted to make here today is that the type of funnel you choose to apply, makes a very big difference to how many opportunities you identify and most importantly, to your conversion rate. To further illustrate this, let’s consider funnels more carefully. Don’t worry, in my experience, there are two main ones:

  1. A short funnel, or a sieve, is one that only goes as far as one campaign. For example, you might send out an e-mail campaign, or put out a Blog and leave it there. The problems with this funnel is that you either don’t stick around long enough to make an impact or you end up speaking to people with no real need, money of more commonly, no real desire.
  2. A Long funnel, or a marble run, is one that follows the process closely through various stages. For example, you might send an e-mail campaign, send people additional information, re-target them through additional adverts, connect with them on LinkedIn and follow up on the telephone.

In other words, you are following the funnel down, uncovering interest and desire then developing trust to ensure that budget is found.

You might have already guessed what my favourite funnel is… Short funnels are easy to create and they give lead generation a bad name. Long funnels, on the other hand, are harder to create but they are much more effective in the long term. Watch this short video to find out more about our lead generation funnel and get in touch to discuss how we can create a tailored funnel to support your sales success.