Category Archives: Strategy

Blogs under this category explore strategy in lead generation and the many marketing methods that fall under this term.

Post lockdown working environment: has the sales process changed forever?

As we are living in times of tremendous change and uncertainty, I thought I would look for a quote from Deepak Chopra, My favourite change and transformation man. Hope you like this one:

“Simply with a change of mind you can change your life.”

One of the big changes we have all had to adapt to in the workplace, is the lack of face to face meetings. As a result, most people are now used to managing their meetings on virtual platforms. In many ways this has been a revelation showing that travel can be reduced making our working week much more productive.

This change has had a big impact on the sales process, particularly for high value sales. Salespeople typically spend 2-3 days of their week on the road, networking and meeting prospects to build strong relationships and promote sales. Face to face communication is considered an important factor in most sales processes offering great opportunities to get to know people. The tactile feeling you get from having lunch with a client or visiting a prospect’s site is hard to duplicate online.

Another element that differentiates sales activity is that it is not necessarily meant to be productive from a tick box perspective. Whilst your salesperson might be working long hours and running around, a lot of what they do is prospective as that is the nature of the job, particularly if they are developing new business. Current limitations mean that most of this activity is either postponed or undertaken online and that takes getting used to.

A lot has been written about how to adapt your sale style to suit online meetings and I think it is important to spend some time reading and reflecting about this. Here are a few important elements to consider when preparing for a virtual sales meeting:

Preparation:

  1. Make sure you have a reliable Wi-Fi connection at your office
  2. Consider what people can see in the background
  3. Dress appropriately
  4. Do your research
  5. Prepare slides to manage the meeting
  6. Be clear on your goals

In the meeting itself:

  1. Always appear engaged, smile and nod
  2. Look at the people you are talking to
  3. Allow time for questions and feedback
  4. Agree next steps and book the next meeting

After the meeting:

  1. Email all information required
  2. Send the next meeting invitation
  3. Follow up with the key decision maker for their feedback
  4. Make sure you are all on the same page

Going back to the quote from Deepak Chopra, the most important thing to manage now is your sales team’s mindset. If you can maintain a ‘can do’ attitude, you will get better results quicker. I do not see the sales process changing forever but I do think that, in the post pandemic world, virtual meetings are going to be more popular so learning to manage them is time well spent.

Where do you see selling going in the near- and long-term future?

Just in case you need support with your sales operation, we have a new service designed to support your sales kickstart as you are bouncing back from lockdown. You can read more about it here then give us a call to arrange your free target market workshop to kickstart your sales strategy.

Crisis Lead Generation tips from YBDT, round two…

In the past few weeks since the UK has gone into Lock-down, we have been posting tips to help companies consider their marketing during the Coronavirus crisis. Here is a summary of the latest tips in case you missed them:

Tip # 5: Test and Measure

Once you are clear on your message and campaign tools, start experimenting to see how you get your message across best. This will ensure that you get a better return from your campaign. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Try a number of platforms to promote your message
  2. Segment your data and send smaller campaigns to see which get better engagement
  3. Try to use new tactics you have not used before

All of the above are great ways to test but the key thing is to measure your results carefully to ensure you understand what works best at the moment. One more thing to remember is to be realistic and give it time and some repetition to ensure you are being heard.

Tip # 6: Follow up, follow up, follow up

I hope that our previous tips have helped you put together a winning marketing campaign that is appropriate for the current climate. Our tip today relates to what you should do once the dust has settled behind your campaign. To ensure that you are maximising on your return, follow up with every lead you generated and keep following up until you get a definitive answer.

One of my favourite quotes demonstrating this is from Wanda Alan who wrote Follow Up Sales Strategies. She said that 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact, yet most salespeople only make three follow up calls or less. The numbers of contacts are irrelevant, what matters is that you make as many as it takes to get a definitive answer.

Against popular belief, prospects normally appreciate your follow up as long as it is done in a polite and appropriate manner. Timelines will depend on your product and sales cycle but I have been known to keep in touch with people for several years before they eventually became clients. Don’t give up, believe in your product and remember that you are talking to people who expressed an interest in your company.

Tip # 7: Identify your clients’ buying personas

Last week my tip was all about ensuring you follow up with your prospects until you get a definitive answer. If you have followed up on this advice, you might be feeling rather frustrated with some of your leads by now. This is why this week’s tip is all about making some sense of buying personas which in turn will help you follow up more effectively.

When I get frustrated with following up, I take a deep breath and remind myself of a piece of research undertaken by DISC which identified that only around 35% of the population make decisions quickly, the rest still like to take their time but, importantly, do make buying decisions eventually. To help you use this in practice, consider your prospects’ buying decision, of which there are four:

  1. The Decisive: These buyers have a clear picture in their mind of what results they want. They value rapid action so will typically make quick decisions if they feel your solution is right.
  2. The Interactive: These buyers want to shape events and enjoy “getting their way” when it comes to negotiations or buying something. They typically make quick buying decision particularly when they feel a sense of connection with you.
  3. The Stabiliser. These buyers are more passive and introverted and interested in the how and why of a solution. Their primary interests are in maintaining stability so prefer to “take their time” and weigh up all options and outcomes before making a decision.
  4. The Conscientious: These buyers are also more passive and introverted. They too take a much more detailed and accuracy-based approach to their buying habits. Without sufficient data to prove any statements made to them, you will fail to achieve their buy-in.

Now you are aware, I suggest that you take some time considering your pipeline opportunities and dividing them up into buying personas where possible. This will really help with setting expectations and probable timelines. It might even help you to get rid of some dead horses too.

I hope this is helpful to your current thinking. As always, I am happy to have a chat and share the insights we are gathering from the campaigns we are running for clients at the moment.

Crisis Lead Generation tips from YBDT

In the past few weeks since the UK has gone into Lock-down, we have been posting tips to help companies consider their marketing during the Coronavirus crisis. Here is a summary of the latest tips in case you missed them:

Tip #1: DON’T STOP YOUR MARKETING ACTIVITIES

As part of ‘doing my bit’ in the current crisis, I have decided to share some daily insights and tips to help your thinking and plans regarding marketing. My first tip is simply to keep your marketing communication channels open.

 I know that everyone is looking at cutting costs and stopping your marketing can be very tempting in this context. However, I think it is useful to remember two things:

  1. If you want to carry on trading, you need to let people know you are working and able to support them still.
  2. This is a time-bound situation, whilst we don’t know how long it will last, we know it will finish. Trust me, once this happens you will want to have a sales pipeline.

Tip #2: FIND YOUR PARTICULAR CRISIS MESSAGE

I see a lot of online conversations about whether you should mention Covid 19 in your marketing content or not. In my opinion, the crisis is so whole-consuming that you have to make reference to it. That said, you will need to find your own voice and decide how you approach it. A few examples I liked today:

  1. Our client, Sentinel Group Security are looking at ways of supporting front line organisations free of charge
  2. My colleague, Adam Young from Fine Young Films, offering a home-made video editing service
  3. Here is our special offer to support companies in the transition to remote working: https://www.yourbizdevteam.co.uk/telephone-services.php

Tip #3: SET SOFTER TARGETS TO YOUR LEAD GENERATION CAMPAIGNS

I often have to manage my clients’ expectations at the best of times let alone in the middle of an unprecedented crisis. Most companies are not in a position to make any purchases right now. This does not mean you should stop all lead gen activities and focus on existing business only. Ask yourself two questions:

  • What can you do which is relevant and helpful right now?
  • Who will benefit most?

There is nothing wrong with offering free of charge or reduced cost services in the spirit of supporting each other. Make sure it is done strategically and within a framework you are happy to support. Then let your prospective clients know what you are doing and target your team to start some useful conversations with new prospects they have not spoken to before.

To let you in on a professional secret, this kind of target is a good one to have anytime. in my experience, all sales start with a useful conversation so make sure you are having lost of them now. This will definitely put you in a better place to develop new business when we are back to normal trading again.

Tip #4CHOOSE THE RIGHT MARKETING TOOLS TO SUPPORT YOUR MESSAGE

If you are looking at running some marketing campaigns at the moment, choosing the right tools to support your message is very important. I have already recommended here that you have a specific approach and message which is relevant to the situation. As part of this process, you will have decided who will be your target markets for this which puts you in the right place to choose your tools.

I am not suggesting that you have to choose one marketing tool only; you can run a number of campaigns using different tools and tactics. In many ways the tools and tactics you use are all relevant as long as they appeal to your target markets and convey your message correctly. Have I managed to confuse you yet?

Here are a few examples to make my point clearer:

  1. If your marketing message is all about reassuring your clients that you are here to support them and still open for business, you may want to choose a personal email with a telephone follow up. This will help you to convey a more personal message aimed at companies with whom you have an established relationship. You will also gain invaluable information through speaking to your clients and understanding their main challenges.
  2. If you are running a webinar to provide business support to companies which is open to all companies in a specific industry, you are better off using Social Media, and LinkedIn in particular, to appeal to decision makers in the relevant industry.

I hope this is helpful to your current thinking. As always, I am happy to have a chat and share the insights we are gathering from the campaigns we are running for clients at the moment.

Lead generation V selling what is the difference?

“Don’t count the things you do, do the things that count.”

I love this quote…too many people are rushing round being busy but achieving little. You have to work smart not just hard! This applies to your lead generation and sales processes too.

Lead generation and selling work hand in hand not against each other.  Lead generation tends to be sending out a message to many and selling is likely to be one on one. Your marketing & lead generation activity provides the leads, so your sales people can then take them through the sales process and make the deal!

The lead generation process:

  • Obtain Leads – Begin by attracting prospects to your website by generating engaging content that can be shared through various marketing channels, where ever your potential customers are active
  • Nurture Leads – Once you have captured the prospects contact information, you have a lead. it is now important to nurture them and build up a relationship with them.
  • Evaluate Each Lead – It is important to know which leads are more valuable, so you can focus more of your attention on the ones that are more likely to become customers.
  • Pass Leads to Sales – When the leads have been, captured, nurtured and desire created by the marketing team it is time to pass the lead on to the sales team to convert in to a sale.     
  • Review Lead Generation Process – Constantly review your lead generation process to ensure it is as effective as it can be.

When the prospect has been turned in to a lead, nurtured and qualified, it is ready for…

The sales process: 

  • Make contact – Get in touch and start building rapport.
  • Find the need/pain – Talk to the prospective client about his business, his issues, find out what problems he has that your product/service can help with.
  • Offer Solution – Show them how your product/service offers them a solution to the problem they have or how your product/service will benefit their business.
  • Overcome Objections & Close the Sale – Objections aren’t always a no, see them as a request for more information. 
  • Maintain your relationship – Keep in contact with the client, make sure they are happy. Happy clients will bring repeat business and referrals.

Businesses need a consistent flow of good quality leads in their sales funnel, so your sales team have plenty of opportunity to make deals, and increase sales revenue.

 A lead generation strategy is essential for a successful business. There are a number of ways to generate leads, some of which have been discussed in previous blogs. Take a look at 4 SME Marketing Tools  or 5 top SME’s off-line marketing strategies . What is most important is working out what works best for your business and having a plan in place to create consistent leads. 

However, don’t just think of leads in terms of quantity, quality is essential also! This is why it is vital to think long and hard about who your prospective clients are and the best way to reach them and what the right message is to send them. See my recent blog on being clear on who your target market is.

Once a prospect has been turned in to a lead, you can use them for various purposes such as data list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads. A good lead generation plan and quality leads will not only increase sales, it will help generate awareness of your product/service, target desired clients and collect important information about prospects.Why not take a moment and consider whether you have a good lead generation plan (or any) for your business? If not, don’t panic, we can help you put one in place or maybe make improvements to a current one that isn’t achieving what you hoped it would. Contact us at Your Business Development Team and we’ll help you work out what is best for your business.

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.

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 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.

 

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.