Category Archives: Sales

Here, we discuss our opinions on sales in telemarketing and business development services.

Change for Success

Over the summer we have been talking in our blogs about reorienting your sales and marketing effort to suit the changed business landscape of 2021. Thinking strategically, and planning for future achievements is a critical path to success.

Identifying and exploiting new opportunities requires quick, decisive actions. Your Business Development Team have worked with Sentinel Group Security (SGS) for several years. Over that time as the market for effective, personalised security services has shifted, YBDT have kept pace with the changes, and provided solutions to support SGS’ priorities. You can read the case study on our work for SGS here. YBDT worked with them on the creation of their contracted manned security division which has seen them grow into one of the premier suppliers of officers to the security industry.

Relationships are key to success in the security industry, so YBDT’s proven lead nurturing service was invaluable in creating the foundations for the ambitious targets set by the client. Running targeted campaigns aimed at specific industry sectors using direct mail and the trade press to establish the SGS brand in the minds of potential clients were carried out. As new products such as security workforce management software were introduced, and carefully planned launches were implemented. When unexpected developments, such as the need for additional manned guarding brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, occurred, the strategy was flexible enough to accommodate a sudden switch in the priorities of the industry and allowed SGS to respond positively to their customers’ demands.

“Expect the unexpected” is a good maxim to live by in business generally, but the last year and a half have shown this to be truer than ever when planning a sales and marketing strategy. The construction industry has had a lot of change forced on it by the requirement for remote working. Entrepreneur JB de Lartigue had recognised an opportunity as far back as 2018 to support businesses in the construction sector who were struggling with the new area of Building Information Modelling (BIM). He created Driving Vision as the vehicle for this drive. With contacts and leads built up through the application of YBDT’s sales and marketing strategy, JB and his team were in an ideal position to exploit the heightened interest in the online collaborative approach to building design of BIM. JB said of our work for him that: “YBDT helped us to have a marketing strategy in place, all the sales, and marketing tools and materials necessary to get our first key prospect just three months after entering the market.” You can read more about our work for Driving Vision here.

Being in a position to embrace a rapidly changing market place for your products and services requires a business to have laid the groundwork. Sales and marketing strategies, relationship building and lead generation and nurturing processes actively seeking your ideal client, and above all a team of professionals ready to support your salesforce in capitalising on opportunities as they arise, promptly. We can be your business development team. Get in touch to learn more about how we can support your success.

Selling creatively creates success

Last month we discussed two companies which successfully utilised our established experience in business development support in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. As we pointed out, these are industries that have not previously needed to rely on active sales and marketing strategies as they could expect to see sufficient repeat business from regular customers.

There are many business sectors currently finding that they need to find new ways of putting their product and services in front of potential customers. The “new thing” can be very simple, here are a few examples:

For SVR Plastics, a long-established business selling into the Civil Engineering market, YBDT provided email and telemarketing services to raise awareness of their product specification guide. The campaign focused on ensuring that SVR’s products were on every merchant trade counter and the desk of the main estimator at each major contractor. A straightforward awareness raising campaign has led to a significant increase in enquiries and orders.

For businesses that do not have a culture of proactive sales, a “soft touch” approach can still bring benefits, as in the case of SVR, regular emails highlighting specific areas of their range supported by calling to key decision makers kept the company’s name in front of buyers with regular requirements.

When Tom and Teddy, the successful man and boys’ swimwear designer brand, came to the UK in 2018, they looked for support in getting them in front of retailers. As part of their marketing effort, they hired YBDT to research and call independent retailers and department stores and invite them to attend their stand at a key fashion exhibition in London. Founder and Director Michelle L’Huillier said: “As a result of this I have had some great conversations with retailers including Harrods, one of our key targets”.

Thinking creatively about what would generate leads for your business, in the distribution channel or when selling direct to the end user, helps your business stand out from the clamour of competitors jostling for the customers’ attention. For Tom and Teddy, the careful research and targeting of the best contacts, in the right companies lead to growth in the U.K. building on their previous success in Australia and the USA.

Creative thinking about sales and marketing comes from our experience of working with companies in many industries. Our expertise, built up over years of creating B2B strategies that support clients’ goals and objectives, means that we can tailor the services we offer to your expectations. Raising awareness of your presence in the marketplace, developing a clear strategy for sales growth, or generating and nurturing leads to the point that your sales team can take them on to orders all form part of our support to help you progress in 2021. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you realise your goals.

Build a sales pipeline that is fit for the future

One of the areas that Your Business Development Team have been working in over the last couple of years is supporting companies in engineering and construction. As these are industries where the focus is inevitably on production, sales and marketing activity can sometimes take a back seat, potentially resulting in gaps in the order book as the pipeline runs dry. Planning for production often needs long term thinking. If raw materials and components have extended deliveries, then the sales pipeline becomes of critical importance. Knowing what orders may come along in the next three, six or twelve months can have a considerable impact on ordering parts and recruiting staff.

Many companies in engineering and construction are well established and have depended on long term customer relationships for repeat business. In 2020 however nearly 30% of construction businesses and 22% of manufacturers stopped production either temporarily or permanently. As many SME companies supplying the construction industry rely on fewer than ten regular customers this represents a major problem, as the work they have come to expect may simply not be there anymore. Your Business Development Team have a suite of services that are ideal for helping engineering and construction businesses rebuild their sales pipeline, putting enquiries and orders in the bank for 2021, 2022 and beyond. Here are a couple of examples.

Recently we supported a manufacturer of cement additives who were looking to expand from their very narrow customer base into supplying the industry distribution channel and directly to large contractors. By researching and contacting the key decision makers in the major builder’s merchants we were able to present the sales manager with appointments at 3 out of the top 4 builders’ merchants, giving our client access to sales in over 1,000 stores. At the same time, our lead generation and nurturing team were working to create understanding of their product at the end user, stimulating demand both directly and through the merchant channel.

YBDT has worked with Harrier Pneumatics over the last couple of years to help them prospect for new customers for their compressed air services. As well as targeting new customers with product led campaigns that open up new markets for Harrier, YBDT have developed a strategy for contacting existing clients to expand the range of services that they take. As with many engineering companies, most of Harriers customers were using them for only one or two of their services, simply because they were unaware that Harrier had other products available that they needed. This is a good illustration of how outsourcing these initial lead generation conversations to us, rather than relying on an already stretched sales team can produce great results, extending your reach with those who already know and like your business. You can read more about our work with Harrier here.

YBDT’s long experience in all aspects of sales and marketing support makes us the ideal partner for manufacturing and engineering business. We can help you create and implement a clear business development strategy and generate and nurture leads to the point that your sales team can take them on to orders. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help.

Buying leads V outsourcing business development

If you are in sales or looking to grow your company, you must have read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill who also said that ‘Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle’.

Whilst we would all like to make sales and acquire new customers with minimum effort on our part, this is not a realistic expectation. I agree with Napoleon that growth comes from continues effort, but I would add using a strategic approach to that. Whatever tools you use to generate leads and develop sales, you need to put effort into it to make it work. For example:

  • Referral partners: Many companies only sell through referrals and that’s a great strategy. A referral from a trusted partner means that you are much further down the line to getting the sale converted. However, to get a good referral partner on board you need to have spent a lot of time in meetings and networking with them first.
  • Content Marketing: Some companies use content marketing as a key inbound strategy. Often, it’s hard to tell if you get any results from this but when people have read your communication and spent time on your website it’s often easier to convert them into customers. Obviously, getting to the point where your content is both engaging and selling takes a lot of time and hard work.

I have spoken before about magic wands and silver bullets; in lead generation we often come across people looking for these. I am still taken aback when I get asked if we get paid for results only but I understand why people ask for this. When Pay Per Click (PPC) was introduced by Google in October 2000, it disrupted the lead generation market, as good products often do. As a result, many companies now expect to only pay for results, which is understandable from their point of view. However, any good lead generation campaign requires a good strategy, testing and measurement as well as lead qualification and nurturing to work. Which brings us back to the first point.

When you buy leads or pay for results you are only actually getting a part way in the sales journey and will still need to put a lot of time into qualifying and nurturing the opportunity in order to convert it. So, it is just a different way of going about your lead generation process where more of it depends on your own resource.

Next time you are considering a lead generation campaign, remember these three things:

  1. Generating the right leads from scratch takes a comprehensive understanding of your marketplace. You will need to consider your strategy and find a good partner to support you
  2. Whatever tactics you use to generate leads, they will need to be qualified and nurtured as part of the process
  3. Your campaign is only the start of the journey as developing new business takes time so be realistic on both your time scales and conversion expectations.

At YBDT we support you all the way from lead generation to selling, leaving less to chance. You can read more about how we do it here. As always, we are happy to support your lead generation effort so give us a call to discuss further.

Sales Performance – beyond the basics

In March we looked at some of the key drivers for sales performance where we made some suggestions in terms of guiding your thinking whilst selling to a changed market place. This month we are looking at improving your sales conversion by breaking down the points you need to address into manageable chunks.  This will make it easier to understand what support you need to progress in the new business world we are all operating in.

Focus: This builds on the “understanding” section of our previous piece. “Are we talking to the right people in the right organisations about the right things?” In 2021 we need to relearn everything about our potential clients. What we knew a year ago will not help us now. They are different, we are different. Focusing in on what is important to customers now will help you establish relationships with people who maybe were not on your radar in the old world.

Time: The one resource you can’t buy more of. As John H. Dean, Vice President at the Bank of America says; ‘just one hour a day used more productively adds up to more than six extra weeks of productive time a year’. By measuring every activity against its importance to your business goals, you can make every minute profitable. As we said in March, the first place to look are those goals themselves. Are they fit for purpose in 2021?

Ask, listen, and act: John H Dean explains it perfectly: ‘Better than any others, these three words summarise success in sales’. Making your questions relevant, and direct, listening to the responses and taking appropriate action are critical to converting potential to actual orders.

Ask, listen and act is also a good summary of how Your Business Development Team can support you. By helping you refine your goals through our business development strategy we can understand the right questions to ask your prospects. Listening to the answers perfects the nurturing and follow up process. Acting upon what we learn from each engagement with your potential clients enhances our delivery of your message to the people you need to buy from you.

The American general Creighton Abrams is credited with the rather dubious quote that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. While we certainly wouldn’t suggest this as a dining choice, the principle of taking a large problem and tackling it one piece at a time is sound business practice. Working with Your Business Development Team allows you to draw the resources you need from our team of professionals to solve the lead generation, sales nurturing, and conversion issues that are holding your business back. To learn more about how we can help get in touch

Sales Strategy and Sales Tactics – knowing the difference is the key to your success

Since Michael Douglas quoted it in ‘Wall Street’ back in the 80s Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ has been required reading in many business circles. While most of us would perhaps not approach our business life as a military campaign, Sun Tzu does have a lot to say about the difference between strategy and tactics that is helpful.

A sales strategy sets out your overall goals. With a clear strategy all those involved in the sales and marketing of your business can see and understand the objectives of a campaign. A sales strategy would usually be the first part of a creating a plan. This is because actions taken without a purpose or objectives are less likely to be successful. The objectives also dictate the content and imagery of the campaign as well as its target audience. Your sales strategy identifies which customers your business is targeting, it specifies how you will reach them, and it outlines the steps you need to take for them to buy from you.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.” – Sun Tzu

Once you have your strategy in place you need to decide how it will be carried out. Sales tactics refer to the specific actions you will take to implement the sales strategy. Tactics show the processes you will use to move your business objectives forward.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu

Some sales strategies can end up as little more than lists of tactics. It might be making more calls, sending more emails or planning special offers. These are all great ideas, but they are tactics, not strategies. Tactics are there to support a strategy. Poor tactical planning might succeed if you have a great strategy, but the best tactics will inevitably fail if they have no strategic framework to sustain them.  

YBDT create clear actionable sales and marketing strategies. Working with us to develop your strategy means taking advantage of our years of supporting clients in forming sales and marketing campaigns that deliver results. Once you have a plan you can take it in house to build the tactics needed to make a success of your strategy. Alternatively, you can continue to work with YBDT and use our team to generate leads and nurture them until your customer is ready to buy.

Sun Tzu has a lot more to say about planning your battles, encouraging those who are important to your plans, and taking the opportunities that come your way. YBDT can support your sales and marketing from planning strategies to helping you select the best tactics for your target market. Get in touch to talk to us about the best plan for your business.

Putting the right sales resource in the right place

Great sales people are a scarce and valuable resource, and they need to be put in the place where they can have the most impact on your business. I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) that really struck a chord and explains some of the mistakes done by companies when allocating their sales resources.

One of the key points made by HBR is that, while sales people can improve their results by improving the quantity of sales effort or improve the quality of sales effort by investing in coaching and training, the best way to improve sales results is to change how you allocate your sales resources.

Working out where your existing sales force can have the maximum influence is quite straightforward.  You spend a lot of time and money building the product and client knowledge that enables your team to effectively close sales. The problem arises when they spend time inappropriately because they have diverse, and sometimes conflicting demands, placed on them. The best thing you can do to affect your sales results is therefore to consider whether your sales people are focused on the areas where there skills and knowledge will add most effectively to your bottom line.

Another key area to consider is consistent lead nurturing and relationship building. A stat I talk about frequently is “80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact yet, 90% of sales people make 3 contacts or less”. That often isn’t a failure in the quantity or quality of sales effort, it is more likely to be about those conflicting demands on their time.

That’s not to say that areas like lead generation and nurturing are unimportant, it’s just that there are more cost effective ways of handling them like outsourcing the operation to a specialist provider. 

Your Business Development Team’s three step sales conversion programme takes the time consuming process of generating leads, highlighting specific target markets to identify those potential clients with an interest in your business. We build on that with initial conversations to identify interest which we then nurture and pass on to your sales team when appropriate.

Allocating your valuable sales resources to the tasks that they best suit their skills and knowledge will bring the best return on investment. Placing your in-house sales team in front of the customers who have the biggest and most immediate need for you makes sense. Having Your Business Development Team working in the background to feed your sales pipeline is one efficient way in which you can achieve this. Get in touch to start identifying your growth opportunities and acting on them.

The Secrets to an effective follow up

‘You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.’ Zig Ziglar

Current market conditions make winning new business harder. With many companies choosing to defer any decisions until clarity is restored, planning a tailored approach and keeping in touch will increase your chances of winning the project later. What can you do to encourage your sales team to follow up more often?

Many sales managers and business owners conclude that their sales professionals must work harder but often they are stretched in lots of directions having to keep existing customer happy, while also prospecting for new business. In my opinion, an even bigger problem lies in the fact that many sales people are not sure how to follow up effectively.

To ensure that you and your team are following up effectively you need to consider a number of things:

Be clear on the value of following up: many people believe that if a prospect is really interested, they will come back to them. This is true in an ideal world, but it depends on your product, industry and their relationship with the competition. Whilst we want to strike the right balance, most decision makers are very busy and will need a few approaches to refresh their memory.

  • Top tip: Call it ‘Building a relationship’ instead of following up to help build the value and understanding amongst your team

Make sure you set goals: like with everything else, setting a goal each time you follow up with a prospect will ensure you ask the right questions and get a better idea of where you are. Just sticking with converting to a sale is not specific enough, a good follow up system will have a goal for each call.

  • Top tip: Understanding that what you are selling is not suitable or a priority to a prospect is a good step forward. Flogging dead horses does not take you very far

Ask good questions: these take some time and planning. Once you have a goal for the call, ensure you write down a few questions you should ask to find out more. Don’t try to find out everything at once but rather break it down to bite sized chunks. This will allow you to get to the real detail but also to build a relationship gradually.

  • Top tip: If you are not asking any questions that make you feel uncomfortable you are missing some key points

Find out more about their problems: what keeps them awake at night and takes up too much of their time? Remember the Status Quo Bias by Daniel Kahneman which predicts that unless people perceive an urgent reason to change, they will stick with the status quo. The more you find out about their pain the better your chances of selling to them, if your product is indeed relevant.

  • Top tip: Most people buy to alleviate pain and not to further their gain

At YBDT, lead nurturing is a key part of the support we offer our clients. We identified that having a clear sales process is a great way to ensure you have an effective follow up system. That said, we think that many companies fail to create an effective process that is used across the board. To support our clients and contacts, we are launching a series of quarterly seminars to cover key elements to creating a sales process and using it successfully.

If you want to learn more, sign up for our first lunch webinar: How to follow up effectively on Tuesday 23/03/21, 12:00- 13:00.

What are the key sales performance drivers?

The world has changed in so many ways in the last year and businesses have needed to adapt to the shifting situation to keep growing and thriving. Now that we are slowly making our way back to normality, it’s worth going back to basics with your sales and marketing and reviewing your approach to generating and nurturing leads as well as converting those into sales.

If you have been following the same sales path for years, then it is probably time to look at changing things up. Here are a few thoughts to start you on the road to sales success.

  • Clarify: Understanding where your business sits in the marketplace is key to this. What do you do best? Who needs what you do? How do you best approach them? How much are they willing to pay?
  • Goals: Every sales teams needs goals, both as something to strive for, and to give you, as their manager, something to measure your success against. When did you last review your sales goals? Are they fit for purpose in 2021? If they are the same ones you had in 2019 then you should certainly be looking at how your priorities have changed.
  • Results: Drilling down into your sales data will teach you how good your goals are. If your sales team are under-performing, is it about inappropriate targeting and goals setting than under achievement?  Reviewing the number of leads, conversion rates, and other KPIs will help you focus on the real problems and enable you to look for solutions.
  • Activity: Simply doing more is the best way to generate more leads. Talking to more of your existing prospects will connect them to your business more closely. Looking at the results will tell you what has worked, and what hasn’t, meaning you can start to establish a route to growing your sales pipeline.
  • Understanding: Knowing what your key prospects, and your existing customers, want and expect of you will enable you to strengthen your relationship with them. This will help establish a sales process and create workable and effective follow up routines which fit in with your overall process.

These are just the first few steps on the road, and we will look at other aspects of building your sales performance another time. The quickest way to building an effective sales pipeline is to work with a reliable established partner.  Your Business Development Team have a fifteen-year track record of generating and nurturing leads, and supporting our clients in many industries to build and refine relationships. Our “Improved Sales Conversion” process provides a clear roadmap to enhanced understanding, better follow ups and a sales pipeline that you can develop into profitable orders. To learn more about how we can help get in touch

Thinking of taking up some hard selling techniques? Think again

If you are as old as me you might remember Cameron Crowe’s 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, depicting the life a sport agent operating in a high pressure sales environment in LA. As part of their effort to get themselves into an invincible sales mindset, they use the famous words, ‘Show me the money,’ repeatedly. If you have ever worked in a high pressure sales environment yourself, you might remember other techniques used to get the team selling: a pint at lunch, take away pizzas and league tables are some of my memories.

Think what you like of these techniques, most high pressure sales environments belong to the past and were much more popular in the 80s and 90s. That does not mean that holding up a sales job has become easier but many companies have changed their approach. This is mainly due to the fact that the way businesses like to purchase has changed in the past 30 years. A few key changes to mention are:

  1. The internet allows people to shop around and research more easily. Most buyers prefer to get the information they need, download product features or run a software trial before they speak to your sales team.
  2. Centralised budgets, tendering and outsourcing of procurement to professional consultancies, has become commonplace to help quality and cost management.
  3. Many senior people hold very busy jobs and have less time to spare. They are therefore less likely to agree to meetings that do not carry clear value to their organisation.

To adjust to this, many companies have adopted a consultative approach which aims to understand and solve clients’ problems and add value to the organisation. Some of the new lead generation approaches taken up by companies include inbound marketing tactics such as:

  • Providing useful information through articles, blogs and e-books
  • Creating digital funnels based on users’ needs
  • Offering free webinars and workshops to develop interest

It is apparent that nowadays, many companies aspire to developing a helpful and knowledgeable reputation as opposed to hard-nosed sales tactics and lengthy contracts. This is all very well; I am a big fan of consultative selling and we use many of the above techniques ourselves. But what happens when the economy downturns and new sales are harder to come by? In my experience, some companies will pile pressure on their sales team to get in the revenue in any way they can. We may also see more sales professionals lose their job due to a lack of sales.

If you are a business owner or a senior manager looking at this situation and feeling unsure of the best next step, I would recommend that you stick to your guns and keep going with your plan and approach. That does not mean that you do not make any changes or respond to feedback but essentially, try to avoid making decisions out of panic and fear. Here are a few things to consider:

  • If prospects are not making a decision, there is a reason for it. Rather than getting frustrated with your sales people or ditching them, try to get to the bottom of it and see how you can adapt your approach to support this.
  • Jumping from one product to the other, or stopping and starting lead generation campaigns will only set you back. Marketing communication needs time to take hold, out bound lead generation needs a build up to be successful so be patient.
  • Silver bullets are for Westerns. To get the best value out of your sales and marketing, you should listen to the feedback from the market, make small changes and make the most out of every lead you uncover.
  • Having a clear sales process which is adopted across the team is essential to ensure that you keep up quality and conversion. Take our conversion test here to see how good your current process is and make changes if you need to.

In summary, remember that patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude whilst waiting. At YBDT we can help you build a pipeline and then ensure you convert a higher percentage of it. Click here for more information.