Category Archives: Lead Nurturing

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lead nurturing is not a waste of time, here is why…

Cast your mind back to that magical time when you first met your partner or someone you had a loving relationship with. Now, relationships are not all about commitment but it is normally an important part of it. With that in mind, do you think you would have talked to your partner about getting married or having children on your first date? If you did, could you blame them for running to the hills?

I am sure most of you would have stayed well off the subject before you had established a relationship and got to know your partner better. So, why is it that in business so many people expect relationships to be formed within a few phone calls? I know some people think work and personal life are best kept separated, but to follow the words of my old manager at Yell, ‘a relationship is a relationship is a relationship…’

Many companies I come across divide into three categories:

  1. They don’t do any marketing or lead generation of any form and get all their work from existing business and referrals
  2. They tick boxes, do a bit of this and a bit of that but generally don’t keep to any lead generation activities for long
  3. They have a sales person, or a sales team and they delegate all things to do with leads to them

I am not about to criticise any of the above as I believe companies should do what works best for them but I think it’s important to remember that lead nurturing does not normally fall into any of the above. In other words, it is rarely done properly or at all. There are three key reasons to this:

  1. Many of us fear rejection or are worried that we may appear desperate. We therefore consider keeping in touch with prospects and leads, degrading and unpleasant.
  2. Sometimes people think that if someone is going to make a positive decision, they have to do it quickly, so if they have not done so, they are not buying.
  3. We are all very busy, so there are always more important and urgent things to do on our ‘to do’ list

Lead nurturing is indeed one of those essential but non-urgent activities that we don’t do enough of and it is a real shame. Here are a few reasons why:

  • According to DISC profile, only 15% of people make decisions quickly, which means that keeping in touch is definitely worth it
  • Many people like to see you working for their business and really appreciate your reminders and calls
  • The bigger the deal and the organisation, the longer it takes to make a decision so getting to know everyone involved and understanding the process is definitely beneficial

So, next time you come across a lead and they don’t buy from you within 60 seconds, don’t give up, keep in touch and make sure you are clear on their buying process. This way you can support it in the most appropriate way for them and you are much more likely to convert the sale.

In addition, if you have no time to do this yourself, outsource it and have someone else do the donkey work.  Here is how we can help.