Lead qualification can be a point of tension between sales and marketing teams. Sales reps often claim the marketing team doesn’t give them high-quality leads, while the marketing team argues that sales simply isn’t following up on the best leads they’ve been handed. Sometimes the problem is simply that these departments’ definitions of what makes a qualified lead are misaligned. On the other hand, the problem could be a misunderstanding of what qualities can predict a lead’s likelihood to buy.
Cut Down On the Noise
Some established companies have more leads than they know what to do with. By finding a better strategy to weed out the most unlikely leads, business can significantly improve sales productivity. Imagine a world where you can easily identify the junk before you devote too much time nurturing a lead that has no chance of converting. This world is possible, but will take some time and research.
Turn on the Lights
When your teams are stumbling around in the dark, it’s impossible to coordinate marketing and sales effectively. With a customer analytics platform, these departments will have access to the same intelligence data, including market events, mergers and introduction of new technology. Once the two teams are looking at the same information, they can gain a better awareness of what qualities are good predictors of a qualified lead. B2B Lead Blog suggests doing research to determine a correlation between leads and current customers to further identify the signals that your company has a good chance of making a sale. Once these two teams have a more complete picture, they can start coming up with better definitions for sales and marketing-qualified leads.
Learn Who Your Customers Are
An article from Forbes demonstrates how big data analytics can improve the performance of marketing automation software by telling marketers not just what qualities will predict a conversion, but who the customer really is. What analytics actually enable marketers and sales reps to do is develop an understanding of a company’s attributes outside of just the numbers. By collecting intelligence from across the Web, including viral social media posts, sales reps and marketers can really construct a picture of what it’s like to work in a specific industry. Customer intelligence allows marketers and sales reps to go deeper. When marketers are able to look at their leads’ markets through their perspectives, they can create marketing campaigns that really target the right companies.
A customer intelligence platform can deliver the In-depth information marketers and sales reps need to improve their collaboration and increase sales productivity.
When it comes to landing a sale, there’s just one concept that sales reps need to know. Make it easy for your prospects to say yes. Henry David Thoreau got it right when he famously wrote these three words: “simplify, simplify, simplify.” Although that’s technically only one word, and if Thoreau was really following his own advice, he wouldn’t have repeated it three times.
According to Executive Board, making the decision process easier for customers makes them far more likely to buy. Brands that simplified the undertaking were 86 percent more likely to close a deal, and more than 100 percent more likely to be recommended. All because these brands removed any elements that distracted clients from their main goal: determining if the product would solve their problem. How is This Achieved?
Essentially, being a resource for this information reduces the amount of thinking your potential customer is forced to do. It makes it easy for them to say yes. And, of course, you’re doing this through completely honest means, and not trying to dupe them into buying your product when it is not, in fact, the best choice for them.
Use these tips to make the sales process more straightforward and increase sales:
If you’re truly making the sales funnel easier to navigate, you are going to have to do a lot of research on behalf of your potential customers. Research customer markets using sales intelligence software and get a better idea of what’s going on in their industries. Use this information to empathize with your customers. Why are they seeking your services? What problem are you going to help them solve?
As Michael Boyette puts it on Salesforce Blog, simplifying things for your prospects does not mean being condescending. Buyers are usually very smart people, and highly intelligent individuals tend to get bogged down in details, which can be overwhelming. One way to reduce the noise for potential customers to get rid of jargony language. Don’t speak with it and don’t include it on any materials. This may be a good exercise for salespeople, as well. How many words does your sales pitch take? Are all of these words truly necessary to get your point across? Do any of them have more than four syllables? Try to use layman’s terms that are comprehensible across different fields.
Streamline Your Online Materials
Prevent sensory overload by having an easily navigable website with an obvious call to action. According to Ellie Mirman on Hubspot, this could mean actually getting rid of a few calls to action. They don’t need to jump out on every page. With your website, you should provide a clear pathway to the information users need. Once again, a little customer research goes a long way here. Use customer intelligence analytics to understand your customer. Rather than telling your potential buyers what you want them to know, try reversing the equation. If you were a decision-maker seeking your services, what information would you be looking for. Reorganize the website based on this perspective and you will have made the research process easier for prospective customers as well.
Be an Open Book
Pricing information shouldn’t be a secret. This is a key piece of information for people looking to buy a product. As has already been noted, you’re dealing with smart people here. If they can’t find the answer to this question, they will probably assume the number isn’t obvious because it’s unattractive.
Unclutter the sales journey, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results
By Penny Herscher
Your sales team is the backbone of your company, but how do you get stellar sales reps to stick around? Turnover is an issue everywhere, but one of the secrets to sales success is finding a way to maintain rock star salespeople.
Costs of turnover
Aside from losing top talent, whenever a salesperson departs, it leaves human resources working overtime to find new talent. Recruitment can drain precious resources. In addition to onboarding and training, you will be paying significant salaries to employees who have yet to achieve full productivity. On the other hand, there are less obvious costs. When a valued team member leaves, it can cause ripples among other employees, according to Christina Gomez for Executive Board sales blog. Losing a trusted colleague can cause decreased morale and sales productivity. As a result, clients can receive gaps in continuity, and sales can be lost. Suffice it to say, you don't want to lose salespeople, but how do you get them to stick around?
1. Hire right the first time
Do an impeccable job of hiring from the beginning. Hiring can be difficult process at the best of times, but putting in maximum effort will give you greater returns. Don't be lazy about recruitment. Realize there are different types of salespeople and no one personality type creates the ideal salesperson. What kind of seller does your team need right now? Asking candidates to take a personality test can help to guide you in whether they'll be a good fit, as Brittany Griffin suggests on Inside Sales. Even if a candidate seems like a winner, delve deeply into their background. Be sure to actually check references and ask follow up questions to find out if there's anything they aren't telling you.
2. Provide incentives for top sellers
A big problem with some companies is that they quickly advance salespeople out of vital roles. According to Griffin, a lot of businesses use appointment setters as sort of a training pool before salespeople move on to other more prestigious jobs. These valuable employees specialize in finding sales opportunities for closers and every month they remain, they become 40 percent more productive. Instead of making this an entry-level position, provide incentives for workers to remain there. Every time you advance someone from appointment setter position, you have to replace them, and you're starting over at zero productivity. Make this a job to aim for, not just a rest stop on the way to something better.
3. Find the right climate
A good company culture can encourage salespeople to remain. According to Gomez, a judgment-oriented culture results in about 15 percent less turnover than other types of management systems. A judgment-oriented culture is defined by an organic environment that is geared more toward building relationships than a sales agenda. Such businesses are innovative and open, with guidelines but no strict rules. Give your employees space to be creative and develop their own methods and they will reward you by sticking around longer.
4. Build leadership and community
For businesses across the board, relationships among staff are the prime drivers of happiness in the workplace. Strong salespeople value good leadership and a staff that can work effectively as a team. According to a recent survey from TINYpulse, transparency is the No. 1 factor that influences employee happiness. Workers want managers to clearly outline their expectations and be open with them about what works and what doesn't in the sales setting. Even more than that, employees value openness from supervisors, they want it from co-workers. In fact, co-workers were the single most-cited reason employees were happy in their jobs. To make sure sales teams are working together optimally, schedule frequent team-building activities.
By Daniela Barbosa, Director of Business Development
It's no secret that companies of all sizes are adopting tablets in the office. According to this poll of 610 professionals by CDW, more than half of the American workforce have used a tablet at work for more than a year. From being able to take a presentation on the go to accessing vital information outside of the office, tablets are the perfect gadget for today's professionals. But if we are talking about revenue enablement, there isn't anyone that benefits more from tablet use than salespeople.
Salesforce.com recently pointed out that 40% of sales teams use a tablet, according to the Sales Management Association, and they outlined six ways how tablets are transforming sales. How? For example, portable devices allow you to conduct B2B market research when you're about to head into a client meeting and even to optimize your product pitch based on the sales intelligence you gather. Yet these aren't the only reasons tablets are ideal for sales reps.
Makes Multitasking Easy
Tablets are everything rolled into one—laptop, your product catalogue and even means of communication with the rest of your team. In the CDW survey, this ability to do many things at once provides us with more than 1.1 hours in gained productivity every day. According to the survey's info graphic, 84% of the respondents said tablets make them better multitaskers.
This is essential to sales reps who are driving revenue. It frees up time when you're able to add another slide to your presentation before entering a client meeting and take notes right on your tablet instead of having to transcribe them into the computer later on. With sales reps already pressed for time, salesforce.com suggested tablets provide teams with access to insights in real-time, which results in smarter selling strategies—and here at FirstRain we have many enterprise customers that are already seeing these benefits with FirstRain for Touch solutions.
Increase Customer Visibility
You always need to have your finger on the pulse of your customer's market, but this can be difficult when you can't access information when you're away from your desk. Apps from FirstRain and companies like salesforce.com provide teams with a way to collect customer insights, which can do more than just help you maximize sales strategy.
Salesforce.com suggested reps use tablets to boost customer engagement by loading the device with videos, slideshows and other types of media. When your client is able to see your pitch in action, they're often more willing to purchase it.
Stay Constantly Connected
One of the greatest advantages of tablets is the ability to always be connected with the rest of the team. According to the survey, respondents said they couldn't live without email access when they are away from the office—we all know how that feels! In addition to being connected, being able to communicate with co-workers can help sales reps improve their sales pitch and receive additional insight about their customer's markets.
In fact, salesforce.com says that being able to communicate with colleagues on the go is a great advantage to sales reps. With cloud-based CRM systems, professionals can access customer records and keep track of opportunities. There is no question that being able to connect with your team and your CRM system is essential to maximizing your time and ensuring no opportunity is lost.
So yes, tablets are transforming the sales environment—is your team ready?
On this day in 1984, the space shuttle Discovery took off on its maiden voyage.
And just as the Discovery launch was another important step forward for NASA, FirstRain made another big advancement today with the launch of our newest product, Market Insights!
Our sales-focused solution, Customer Insights, is revolutionizing the big data analytics market and has become a valuable part of the daily workflow at many Fortune 500 companies. But some of these companies are already finding that sometimes customer intelligence alone isn’t enough—in order to truly put their go-to-market strategy into action, their marketing teams need market-focused intelligence as well.
And that’s why we created FirstRain Market Insights. Developed over the last year in collaboration with two of our leading enterprise customers (both major, Fortune 100 technology companies), Market Insights leverages our powerful semantic analytics technology in order to provide relevant, real-time market insights that CMOs, strategic leaders and entire marketing teams need about their specific lines of business.
The combination of our new Market Insights solution with our already popular Customer Insights product (not to mention our recently launched FirstRain for Touch) now makes a powerful suite of enterprise solutions providing unmatched business insights into your target markets and your top customers, helping you grow revenue and (finally!) putting your go-to-market strategy into action.
As with the rest of FirstRain’s products, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the road, at a customer site, on your iPads, iPhones or Android phones, via email, or integrated directly into company CRMs or social enterprise portals such as salesforce.com—we can deliver insight wherever and whenever you need it.
We’re over the moon about our new product. In fact, it’s left us starry-eyed with wonder—and our early adopters are, too—we hope you’ll let us know what you think of it!
By Ryan Warren, Vice President of Marketing
Often, sales reps forget that everything comes down to what a product can do for the client. It's so easy for sales professionals to get caught up in identifying sales opportunities for the business and creating the perfect pitch that they lose sight of matching the right client with the right product. Sales intelligence software can get you halfway to closing the sale, but the rest comes down to remembering that clients interact with sellers all the time, so you have stand out. But how do you do that? You take your market research, start a dialogue with the client and actually discuss how the product will benefit them specifically.
Let the Product Speak
In an interview with Inc. Magazine, Kristin Zhivago, author and revenue coach, advised sales professionals to take a few moments to question if they are actually discouraging customers from purchasing the product without even meaning to.
Zhivago suggested reps take their customer intelligence research—since, let's face it, we can't get a look into our client's brains—to identify what aspects of the product are actually right for them. The customer wants to be wooed by what you're selling, so communicate the product's results and features.
Go beyond the benefits that are easy to see. Showcase how this client specifically can smoothly transition to using the product and the immediate results of doing so. You can center your efforts on one result or feature and work from there.
According to Salesforce, speaking with the client directly and genuinely about the product can ensure you close the sale. Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink, told Salesforce's director of social content marketing, Jennifer Burnham, that successfully selling a product is all about communication.
"Communicate, communicate and communicate," Kassan said. "You have the opportunity today as a company and as an individual to have the highest level of direct communication with your customer [...] Utilizing that capability to its fullest is the key to success in business today."
So, focus on the product: how its features have produced marked results and why it is perfect for them. You may begin to see a dialogue form between you and the client in which the product basically begins to sell itself—and all because you did your market research and kept your eye on the client.
By Nora Weintraub
It's hard to be productive when there are so many things eating up your time. A disorganized inbox, a cluttered schedule and distractions during times when you're motivated can result in lower sales numbers and revenue productivity. Optimizing your sales strategy relies on streamlining your desk and schedule. Even eliminating just a few things can make a big difference in your performance. You may even see a reduction in stress, which can lead to better client relationships. Here are just a few tips you can use to improve your sales productivity:
1. Spring Clean Your Inbox
You probably forgot to clean out your emails and to-do list in the spring, so do it now. Organizing your inbox and updating what you need to get done are often overlooked when things get busy and workloads increase simply because there isn't enough time. While it may take an hour or so to go through email, it can make a massive difference down the road when, instead of scrolling through hundreds of emails, you come across a desired message with no problem. An easy action to take is to make individual folders for each client's emails and then maintain the organization as you accumulate more messages.
In fact, many of those emails are often internal and may no longer be necessary to keep, especially those on which you were just CC'ed. Inc. suggested helping yourself by minimizing the length of your internal emails to keep clutter down.
2. Organize Your Desk and Computer
Your physical workspace is an essential aspect of your productivity, as a disorganized desk and computer may not only result in lost files, but even unnecessary stress. In an interview with Entrepreneur, professional organizer Jennifer Hofmann recommended professionals think of their desk as part of their workflow.
"Your desk says who you are, what you value, where you're going and what your dreams are," Hofmann said. "It's a litmus test for your life. If it doesn't portray an accurate picture, you need to change that."
3. Identify Your Most Productive Times
Do you work better at 7 a.m. than the early afternoon? Or do you need to eat lunch to really get your brain working? In sales you have a little flexibility with your schedule, but between all of the client communication and sales meetings, you have to get in other tasks when you can. Yet, if you know you perform better in the morning, organize your schedule so that you can actually get things done at that time. If a meeting time doesn't work for you, speak up and find an alternate time. Rearranging certain duties to other times of the day can help you stay productive.
4. Prioritize Your Responses
You don't have to drop everything to answer an email from a co-worker right away, no matter how much you feel like you must. Inc. suggested you think of your own time as valuable and realize that immediately responding gives others permission to continually interrupt you with unimportant things, even if they know you are busy. There are times when you need to focus on your own tasks—especially if it's during your most productive time of day—so others can wait awhile. So prioritize when you respond to a message or create a separate email account or alert where only the most important messages are received. Doing so can help others understand when you can talk and when you need to be productive.
By Daniela Barbosa, Director of Business Development
Utilizing social enterprise collaboration allows sales professionals to not only connect with customers on a regular basis but to continually drive sales. Investing in social enterprise platforms is a great customer intelligence strategy, but there is often a disconnect between what a sales team or a company wants to happen by bringing in a social business and what actually occurs. From disengaging with clients to not doing the proper research from the get-go, you may start to see your precious ROI go down the drain. But you can prevent that from happening by identifying the sales opportunities that will come from employing social enterprise platforms for increasing revenue productivity to ensure you are making the most out of your investment.
1. Calculate Realistic Costs
According to data from Simpler Media Group, the social enterprise software market is set to reach $6.4 billion by 2016. Gathering exactly what your business or team wants to accomplish can significantly help B2B companies maximize their social enterprise investment and prevent finances from entering the digital ether.
In a piece for Entrepreneur, business writer John Patrick Pullen suggested companies develop an ROI formula before investing in social enterprise. Taking all of the data into account helps you create a social mission statement and set realistic goals. Assembling all of the information before entering a contract helps ensure you are not devoting more money into a social media campaign than you have to.
2. It's All About the Tech
In an article for Salesforce, Vala Afshar, CCO and CMO at Enterasys, advised companies to take a peek at the technology the social enterprise uses. Outdated software can hamper how the business connects with clients and collects customer insights. Afshar suggested sales professionals or team managers identify the specific set of parameters the enterprise employs. According to Afshar, streamlined technology that is built to easily adopt to changing preferences helps sales teams optimize their investment.
3. Go Where Your Clients Are
By ensuring the technology used is top notch, sales teams are better able to identify their customers' online activity. Afshar suggested taking clients' temperatures when examining social enterprise software. You might want to have a quick chat with your social enterprise contact to understand whether they are on top of the latest and greatest social platforms.
4. Plan Everything Out
In his Entrepreneur blog, Jason Falls, CEO of Social Media Explorer, advised companies to think beyond the benefits of entering the online world to drive their social enterprise ROI. Create a plan of action that the social business can stick to, but still provides room for change. Leaving things up in the air can significantly damper a social media campaign, so giving your enterprise contact as much information as possible about where your company is headed improves your chances of receiving a strong ROI.
Plus, no one wants to be left in the dark when they are trying to provide you with a service. If you want to be on Facebook verses Twitter, let them know. Plan everything out – you'll thank yourself later.
5. Follow Through
Don't just let things go after doing all this great work early on – you have to follow through on your plan, stay in communication with your contact and provide feedback on a regular basis. Frequent connection and follow ups can help you identify any changes right away instead of wasting time in the future. Guiding a social plan along the way is much easier than making a dramatic shift half-way through the relationship. So stay in contact, because not doing so is setting you up for disaster.
By Ryan Warren, Vice President of Marketing
Tapping into opportunities to improve sales productivity by gleaning insights derived from market intelligence help sales reps find ways to motivate clients and become top performers. But the sales superstars do more than optimize their customer markets – they are challengers. They get that understanding their client's industry – where its going, what's trending in it, how the product is the solution for the customer's specific issues – provides them with a means of not only engaging the client to make the sale, but how they supply a service.
According to research from the Corporate Executive Board, a sales rep's success comes from distinguishing the client's demands through customer intelligence. These professionals are the high performers, their team's go-to person, client challengers, and it is essential for senior sales leaders to give their reps the best shot at shaping their client's needs and providing a solution.
Not All Reps are Created Equal
CEB research found 85 percent of sales professionals do not have the required skills to become top reps. According to the study, salespeople who are able to find and employ customer insights have an increased chance of promoting their product to clients and clinching the sale. Approximately one in six sales reps are natural "challengers" and are able to see strong numbers as a result.
In an interview with Jill Konrath, a sales strategist, research authors Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon defined challenger reps as those professionals who are able to take control of a customer meeting, can identify and target their client's specific needs and can provide innovative solutions for their customer's challenges.
Challenger reps may be hard to hire for since some may not have prior sales experience – in fact, CEB found 15.6 million individuals with the traits outside of the industry – and numerous factors must be taken into account during the hiring process. Therefore, you need to develop one.
According to Salesforce's Brent Adamson, there are five types of sales reps. Challengers are one of the profiles, but a sales team can also have a hard worker, a relationship builder, a lone wolf and a problem solver. Creating an entire team of challengers may be a bit too much, but Adamson suggested more teams need to cultivate challenger qualities, such as teaching the customer, since that is where the industry is heading.
Fostering certain challenger aspects in reps can help you make sure your team has the abilities needed to make the sale well into the future. Cultivate customer insights, promote their debate skills and remind them to deliver the complete sales experience to clients, because doing so can produce stronger customer relationships.