Category Archives: Sales

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

New leads versus new sales what is the difference?

To some of you it may seem a rather obvious thing to say but a lead and a sale are two different things and accordingly need different treatment. I often come across businesses confusing the two and ending up losing a good lead that could have turned into a sale or spending too much time working on an unqualified lead because they thought they had a sale they didn’t!

A lead may eventually turn in to a sale but there is a process it needs to go through to get there.

Typically, you communicate to leads en masse, a lead could be a contact on a bought list, a card you picked up from a networking event, referrals, respondents to advertising/social media campaigns or someone who has filled out a contact from on your website.

Trying to sell to a lead too early can lose you a potential sale. For example, collecting business cards at a networking event then going back to your office and contacting them as if you have spoken to them and know them and their needs and trying to sell to them is a big no no! 

The simple but necessary process to turn a lead in to a sale means your leads become prospects, which can be turned into an opportunity and then finally closed in to a sale. Below is a brief outline of what needs to be done at each stage:

  1. Leads need to be treated with a care and respect, they need to be nurtured. You need to communicate with the lead on a one to one basis and encourage them to engage with you so you can learn more about them. You can do this with e-mails or telemarketing for example. If a lead engages in two-way communication this suggests they have real potential to buy from you. The lead then becomes a prospect. 
  2. A prospect has the potential to become an opportunity, to make a sale. So next you need to determine if they have a challenge you can help with and whether your product can bring them any value. Therefore, when handling a prospect you need to determine 
  • How much do they know about your product/service?
  • What do you know about their specific challenges?
  • What do they understand about how your product/service could help them?
  • Do they have a budget?
  • Would they appreciate a proposal?

If a prospect decides to consider your proposal or solution to their challenge they become an opportunity and are one step closer to becoming a new sale and a new client. An opportunity is a qualified prospect you have made a detailed proposal to with a specific cost. If the opportunity you present is accepted and agreed you now have a SALE and a new client. Now is the time to start providing them with your product/service!

So, in summary leads, prospects, opportunities and sales are all different but all part of the same process. It is important to differentiate between the stages so you can make sure your marketing and sales strategy is doing the right thing at the right time! If you would like help understanding the stages and developing your sales process please get in touch with Your Business Development Team. We are here to help and be a part of your team. It’s what we do! E-mail me at yafit@yourbizdevteam.co.uk 

Lead generation and selling: what’s more important?

One thing that has stood out for me in the recent Corona Virus scare, is an interview with the Chinese ambassador to the UK in which he said that the Chinese word for crisis is made of two symbols, one meaning ‘danger’ and the other ‘opportunity’. Famously used by JFK in a speech in 1959, this idea is often used in motivational speeches. However, having done some research, I learnt that, strictly speaking, the above is not actually true but like many other marketing slogans, it still works as an inspirational idea.

Sales are often connected with opportunities and risks which, whilst exciting for some, can be confusing at best and a headache at worst to others. This is why many companies stay away from new business sales and focus solely on developing existing business. As a whole, this is not a bad strategy but it can be limiting in terms of potential growth. If you have decided to dip your toe in new business sales however, there are two different elements you need to consider in order to make it happen;

  1. Lead generation
  2. Sales

In our previous Blog this month, we explained why the two are closely connected, yet very different processes. In this Blog, I wanted to look at the process and how you should approach it for best results;

Three things are very important to consider when it comes to setting your sights on new business sales:

  1. Target markets’ strategy: Understanding who you are targeting and why is key for a successful campaign.  Just making a start and going to market is easier but almost certainly not better. I would definitely recommend that you spend time considering and planning before you start. 
  2. Budget, expectations and time scale: New business development, particularly in B2B environments, takes time. You need to be realistic about how long it will take to get meaningful leads and convert them. This needs to be reflected in the budget you set for the project. 
  3. The quality of your sales operation: If your lead generation strategy is working, your conversion rate will almost certainly drop. This is absolutely not because your leads are no good, though you should always test and measure them. This is because when you have more leads, your sales process and techniques come under strain and reveals problems and bottlenecks. Make sure you review these and make changes when required.

As a lead generation agency, we are often at the sharp end of new business sales and we have seen many campaigns succeed and almost as many fail in our time. This is why we understand how important are the above factors to the success of your growth. 

So next time you get worried about your new business sales make sure you look for failures across the entire process, then implement new tactics, check again, change and so on.  Remember what Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina; ’If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content’. Celebrate your success and learn from your failures and most importantly, apply patience.

Click here to see how we helped one of our clients, Driving Vision, to achieve the right blend of lead generation and sales which contributed to their growth in their first year of operation. 

How to create a successful campaign plan?

Trial and error is a great tool for learning anything and that goes for your marketing too. We all spend a lot of time looking for lead generation tools that work for our business and when we find one, we hold on to it. At the same time, if we try something and it does not work, we strike it off our list forever. I think that it’s a good way to ensure you are spending your budget wisely and getting results.

So far so good but let me ask you two further questions:

  1. How much of your knowledge of success is based on your preference and comfort zone rather than on testing and measuring?
  2. When was the last time you reviewed your tried and tested lead generation methods?

These are really important questions to consider because,

  1. You should base your lead generation campaigns on your target market’s preference and comfort zone rather than your own
  2. New lead generation tools are developed all the time and trends and approaches are developed so reviewing your approach regularly is important

The beginning of the year is often when companies plan their marketing, so this month I thought I would share my approach to campaign planning whilst taking into account the above considerations:

Break your marketing into individual campaigns first and plan each one separately

Don’t go in all directions in one go; it’s much better to have two successful campaigns than five messy ones.

Set your new business targets by working out the following parameters of the sale:

  • Your average sale 
  • Your conversion rate 
  • Number of leads required 
  • Make sure your goals are SMART

Get a better understanding of who you are targeting. Consider things like:

  • Who is your ideal company and why?
  • What is the specific problem that you can solve?
  • Who do you want to speak to?
  • Where are they likely to go for information?
  • What questions are they going to ask?
  • What are your challenges in winning companies in this market?

Learn from your competition.  Do some research to find out:

  • Who are your main competitors in this market?
  • What are they doing to attract new business?
  • Can you offer something different?

Once you are clear on the above, look at tools and tactics:

  • What worked for you in the past?
  •  What can you do successfully using your own resources?
  • Are there any new tools you could use?
  • What is worth outsourcing?

There are many more things you can do but the above considerations are key to setting you off in the right direction. Many companies are set up to do their own planning successfully but if you lack resources or would like another pair of eyes and ears on the case, give us a call to discuss further. Find out more about our lead generation plans here.

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.

How do you know which half of your marketing is working?

I assume many of you have heard this before: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,” John Wanamaker (1838-1922).

Although this is an old quote, it is still very relevant and represents a source of great frustration for many companies. Marketing often seems like an endless pit which you must continue to spend on, regardless of the results you might get from it. Indeed, many companies I meet want us to provide guarantees that we can deliver results. To the marketeers and sales people that might sound problematic, however, not to an engineer who might spend 80% of their time ensuring processes deliver expected results.

This frustration leads many companies to decide not to spend any money on marketing and rely completely on existing clients and referrals. I think this is a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. The good news is that there are many things you can do to measure your marketing results. Here are a few examples:

  1. Use a CRM system which has an effective dashboard, providing you with an overview of your pipelines and sales opportunities. Make sure that you are including an accurate picture across your sales process, for example new leads, prospects and opportunities. This means that you will be able see an accurate picture of your sales funnel.
  2. Use Google Analytics regularly to evaluate your website performance. Although it takes time to get your head around it, you can find a wealth of information from traffic fluctuation, website usage and sources. If you don’t have the time to do this yourself, ask your marketing company to help or get training.
  3. Ask for reports on any marketing activity you outsource and set up reports for any activities you carry out in-house. From Excel sheets to sophisticated tools such as Keyhole or Hootsuite, find the tool that works for you and use it.

 This is all very well and might help with the initial discussion, but today, statistics and numbers are relatively easy to get hold of. The real question is what it means and whether it’s any use to your business. Let’s say that you have had 500 more people land on your site through Social Media in quarter two; does this mean you are going to hit your sales target this quarter? Of course, the answer is, not necessarily, which brings us back to square one…

What can you do then to understand if your marketing is working?

Here is what I recommend:

  1. Have a plan and a strategy that you update regularly
  2. Get close with your marketing and understand how it works and what results it brings
  3. Ask the right questions about your results
  4. Be patient and realistic about time scales
  5. When in doubt, bring in an expert

 Hope this is helpful. As always, if you are looking to discuss your options or just for some advice do 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.

How easy is it to buy a G&T?

We all either love a chilled glass of G&T on a summer day, or at least can appreciate the notion. This is why I was particularly delighted to discover that someone clever had organised a festival dedicated to sausages and gin in Portishead last weekend. The local butchers have advertised it for months wearing colourful t-shirts and promising to supply their lovely sausage creations. What else can you ask for?  We were signed up to attend SausageGin as we fondly branded it.

What happened next was unexpected, even if you attend more local events than I do. We turned up on time to see our favourite band, Three Day week.  It wasn’t raining and sausages were still sizzling. The gin tent was prominent and there was even a Pimm’s tent. All looked great and as expected so we headed to the gin tent and asked for our long-awaited G&T. It was then promptly explained to us that we needed to go to another stand to get a glass, come back to them to buy the G and then go to the Pimm’s tent for the T…. Guess what happened: we ended up with wine from the pub instead.

I have no idea how well the gin tent did at the festival; the overall event was popular and pleasant. However, as someone who promotes sales for a living, the convoluted G&T sale was a lesson I had to share with you. It is so easy to do this; we all have a story or two to tell about how we forgot an important small detail that made our campaign a disaster. I just think it’s worth reminding you that if you want people to buy, you need to make it easy to do business with you.

This means that if you are planning a marketing campaign, you need to make sure that all the links work, the landing pages download quickly and your contact details are nice and bold in case someone wants to contact you. It also means that if you can provide a ‘one click service,’ don’t make it three. People’s time is their most important asset so make sure you respect that.

Sometimes this means that you are better off working with marketing and business development experts who can help you consider the best way to take your product to market. This might save you some costly mistakes like the above. Visit our website for more details.

 

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.