Lead Nurturing - It's Not Just for Marketing.

Lead nurturing, as a sales function, is highly underrated.  Once leads are qualified as sales ready, sales reps have a short time frame in which  to connect with leads before they move on. Because of the limited window of opportunity to engage prospects at this stage, many leads are lost just short of the final stage of the buying process. Therefore, sales reps must engage in lead nurturing activities from a preliminary stage to avoid these situations.
In this post we discuss some key strategies that sales teams should consider for lead nurturing:
1.       To tap into leads
Lead nurturing programs provide you with the opportunity to tap into leads that may otherwise be pushed back on the priority list. Usually, the onus of lead nurturing rests with the marketers. But, maybe it’s  time to get your sales teams to indulge more in the nurturing process. They can take over from the marketing team at mid-level instead of waiting until the last stage. This will help to eliminate the loss of leads that don’t get the attention they need to covert.
2.       Acts as a link between demand generation and a closed sale.
Lead nurturing drips create a process linking demand generation and the close of a sale. This process acts as a perfect bridge between your sales and marketing teams. From the marketing roles of demand generation and prospect tracking to the sales roles of prospecting and cold calling, ensure that every stage is well defined and there is less ambiguity as to who takes over when.
Lead nurturing drips also clearly set parameters for MQLs and SQLs and your marketing team is encouraged to forward the right leads to sales.
3.       Educate your prospects along the way
Sales reps know first-hand what your leads need at a given point of time. You can use this knowledge to engage prospects with useful bits of information. Build trust by educating your prospects. This will help convince prospects that your organization is most concerned about meeting their specific needs and interests.  
4.       Lead nurturing eliminate the costs associated with generating leads that fail to result in a sale
Every year your company spends a sizeable amount on demand generation efforts. You spend on email campaigns, promotions, attend tradeshows etc. yet, not all of these leads are converted to sales. Chart out an effective, personalized nurturing program and engage the failed leads with it.
A good nurturing program carefully guides your leads through the buying cycle, thus reducing the number of lost leads.
5.       Lead nurturing for channel partners
Lead nurturing need not be limited to new leads/customers alone. Of the many ways, one way to make your channel partners happy is by providing them with educational programs that guide them to sell better. Lead drips can also be used by companies to educate channel partners and independent sales reps about the company’s offerings, enabling them to sell more, faster. Get your sales teams to collaborate with your channel reps and create a drip campaign that is like a training program for your channel partners.
6.       To increase user engagement
Sales reps can use this platform to interact more frequently with your future customers. Nothing (yes, not even automating processes) beats the impact of a human to human interaction between you and your leads. Create drip campaigns where your leads are encouraged to interact with you. Enable your sales reps with a system that’s alerts them when a prospect shows interest so that they can  lead them further down the sales funnel.
7.       To get maximum ROI
Lead nurturing campaigns can help businesses generate revenue from existing customers through cross-selling and upselling. As sales reps have interacted with your customers in the past, they know very well what customers will find useful in the future. Train your reps to combine customer experience with analytics to track customer activity so you can upsell and cross sell better.

Have more questions on lead nurturing? Download our article here.

7 Ways to Lighten the Sales Team's Workload

Sales teams play a pivotal role in the organization.
They are responsible for making your business work. Without an effective sales team, an organization cannot function efficiently. As a sales leader, you need to try to make life as easy as possible for them so they can focus on sales.  
Here are 7 ways how you can do that:

  1. Onboarding and training guides
Sales reps need to be fed with regular training content. Onboarding is the first step towards getting your sales reps to know how your company operates. Also, providing them with handy training material ensures that they can always refer to them as they transition into your company and their role as an effective salesperson. Sales playbooks are ideal for this.
  1. An interactive dashboard
Ever gone shopping for a new car? When you slip into the front seat, the dashboard is the first thing you pay attention to. Depending on its design, it can determine whether you want to test drive that car or not.  An ill-designed, uninteresting dash can kill a sale at the outset.  Likewise, a fun, interactive and easy platform for your sales reps means that they are not turned off at the thought of using it. Ensure that your sales platform is exciting and easy to use.  
An interesting dashboard will be one that has a dynamic, intuitive design that they  can customize depending on the data they need to see.
  1. Mobile accessibility
Sales reps are travelling most of the time. By giving them mobile access to assets, playbooks or lead data you can ensure that they are worry-free when they are in a meeting or travelling.   They can stop fearing that they're letting a lead slip away due to slow follow-up.
  1. Lead generation roles
“Sales reps on average have to generate 70% of their own sales leads if they want to achieve their goals.”- If that’s the case then why not let them be in charge by giving them the tools for effective prospecting.?
Your sales reps are as equally qualified as your marketers to generate the right leads for your business. However, what they lack is the tool for effective lead tracking and lead generation. You can give them a sales enablement tool that’s supports lead generation and prospecting activities for sales reps.
  1. Simplify the asset personalization process
Give your sales team the tools that make personalization easy. Personalization requires three key ingredients to work effectively
  1. Collection of prospect information
  2. Availability of this information in real time
  3. Ability to act upon this information so it adds value to the prospect/customer
Once your reps have easy access to these three key aspects, on a platform that cleanly integrates all three, they will be able to personalize their assets better.
  1. Automate social posting
Companies are waking up to the fact that it is essential for a sales reps to be active on social sites. However, their schedules may pose a problem, since social media requires more time than sales reps can really invest. The solution is automated posts. Your reps can schedule posts well in advance. Also, if you have a system that includes a social listening feature, your reps can get ahead of your competitors by reacting quickly to customer and prospect needs.
Sales reps are used to their CRM systems and find it difficult to adapt to an entirely new system. In this case, you can opt for  automation software that integrate with your current CRM. This way they can get access their contacts from the old system and carry out automation activities with the sales enablement system.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add to this list? Let us know in the comments section..

Think Social Media Isn't a Sales Tool? Think Again.

I thought that sales reps must be the most frequent and ardent users of social media since they likely see it as a natural extension of their job, until I came upon this statistic. 55% of B2B sales professionals believe that social media has no effect on their sales efforts. However, the fact is that social media can be a crucial sales prospecting and networking tool. For many sales reps it is the first point of contact with prospects.
Why should sales be concerned about social media? Isn't that for marketers?
Wrong. Its not just marketers that benefit from using social media. Social media has become a critical sales enablement tool. In every part of the sales funnel, salespeople benefit from social media. Here are a just a few ways that salespeople can benefit from using social media
  1. Help develop their own leads
Sales reps are usually in a better position to understand the right kind of leads for their business. Social media is an ideal tool for sales reps to find and prospect their own leads.

  1. Stay in tune with their leads all the time
Lead tracking and real time updates from leads means your sales reps are always in tune with what your prospects are looking for. As a result, they can be there to provide solutions to their problems.   

  1. Guiding buyers throughout their journey closes more leads
By staying in tune with leads, salespeople  can then guide the prospect along the buying cycle--without coming across as too pushy. This greater knowledge means they are responding with more relevant messages.  This creates a valuable rapport between your reps and prospects.

  1. Create their own following
Contributing on social sites and engaging in industry-related conversations will ultimately lead to sales reps creating an identity of their own. This way your prospects will have  real and consequential reasons to connect to them better.  

To get the best out of social media, you just need to follow these basic best practices
Social selling best practices
  1. Communicate in real time: Did you know that 88% of customers say unanswered complaints on social media sites deter them from doing repeat business? Responding to people’s interest or grievances in real-time is a sure way to catch their attention. Brands that talk to their prospects in real-time see a higher conversion rate than those that don’t.

  1. Be consistent and timely: Social media is not a one-time effort. It is about building a relationship, and relationships take time. Also, be sure you publish your tweets and blogs around the same time of day. Automating your social media activities is the best way to do this.

  1. Choose the right social network:  You don’t have to sign up for every social platform under the sun. Some basic research will give you a fair idea of where you are most likely to find your prospects. A few niche social sites should give you enough exposure and save you the headache that 20 different social accounts will create.

  1. Be a part of peer groups: Peer groups are a great way to network with people. You get to discuss or be a part of discussions about common concerns and shared experiences. I am part of this LinkedIn group for people in the same field as I, and I love it when veterans share nuggets of information from their experiences.

  1. Keep track of trending topics: Trending topics are a fun way to be a part of a larger conversation. At any given time be sure that you keep track of trending topics in your industry, and contribute from your end (not without reading up on it first, though).

  1. Personalize your interaction: Personalization is key if you want to hit the right note with your prospects (check out how these brands personalize). It's advisable to personalize your interaction with your audience on social media. Inquire about an event or occasion posted on a Wall, such as a recent trip, or "like" their vacation pictures on Facebook.

Tracking your prospect activity will give you just the kind of information that you’ll need to personalize your communication

  1. Syndicate your social media content: Content creation takes time. So why not make the most of the content you have? Post your content on all popular social media sites and don't hesitate to re-use them. Turn a blog post into a link and put it on Facebook. Convert it into a video and add to YouTube and Facebook or turn it into a presentation and put it up on Slide Share. The aim is to get maximum exposure for your content.
  2. Advertise your social media presence: Advertise your social media profiles. Always provide links to your social media profile on your website, blog, e-mails and even print materials.
  3. Look for conversations where you can add value: Position yourself as an expert on Social Media platforms. But be sure that you know what you're talking about.
  4. Be engaged.  Have a voice.  Have a point of view: Do not just share or re tweet something without stating your own observation about it. In order to make an impression on your followers, you have to be engaged in conversations with them without compromising on your point of view.
Remember you are there to guide, not to pitch: Avoid using social networks like a direct mailer. Build a persona and an image as an authority in the field, so that prospects come to you instead of you chasing after them. If you just try to sell, sell, sell, don’t be surprised if none of your prospects show any interest in what you have to share.

Learning to Bat .400

Sports teams are learning that big data can help them reach that magic number and hit .400. There are fantastic new ways that teams are learning to market and post numbers that have rarely been seen. No doubt you've heard about big data, and have a general understanding of what its all about. Simply put, Big Data is nothing more than a term identifying the large mass of digital information that is being collected about individuals. In this blog, I will be talking about business-to-consumer sales: the data that businesses collect about consumers. The mass of data collected about a consumer from all of their interactions with a business on-line, in person, and through customer rewards programs. 

Today’s blog will discuss a real-life example of how major league American sports teams are using big data in their business-to-consumer marketing (b2c marketing) initiatives. 

You are probably aware of how your grocery store uses a rewards program to collect data about you. When you sign up, they get your demographic information and then can tie all that with every transaction at the register (POS.) And that data collection grows bigger with every new trip to the store. As a result, the grocery can begin to offer promotions that are directly relevant to your interests. 

Professional sports franchises in America are now taking advantage of the potential marketing windfall that may come from collecting and using big data. For example, in the winter of 2013, the Pittsburgh Penguins, a national league hockey team began “PensPoints ®. PensPoints is a rewards program using a smartphone app.

According to their website:

PensPoints is a smartphone app that tracks and rewards fan activity. Earn Codes for  points each time you attend Penguins home games, make eligible purchases, listen to broadcasts and more!

Fans are driven to sign up for the app and can earn points via activities that can then be redeemed for Penguin’s merchandise. Users earn points for a food or drink purchase at a concession, as well as for merchandise, during home games. Other promotions award users who watch pre-and post-game shows on TV and then enter an on-screen code. These promotions drive viewership to regional sports networks, enabling higher ad buys. Scavenger hunts are also used that send fans around the venue looking for specific displays. The primary intent here is to expose fans to as large an array of on-site concessions and merchandise as possible. Essentially, these hunts increase foot traffic.

Related to this, Major League baseball in February 2014 began installation of  IBeacon technology from Apple. This is micro-location technology that will be able to ID fans that have Bluetooth as they enter the park. Teams may offer coupons, perhaps, but at least initially, IBeacon will serve to make the fan experience smoother. One value will be helping fans find their seats via the fastest route. 

Another area in sports where the existence of Big Data is changing the landscape is the introduction of dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing has been used in the airline industry for decades. Essentially, prices for a product or service are dynamic, constantly changing as demand rises or falls over time in the short-term. Historically, performing arts and sporting events have maintained set prices for any specific seating area. Prime front row seats cost more; prices fall as the seat’s location becomes less optimal. This model doesn’t take into account factors that might be increasing demand at specific times. With that arrival of big data, sports teams have the potential to use all this data to identify when demand might increase and thus allow seat prices to rise. (It is a standard free market notion. As demand rises for a fixed supply of seats, there will be an increasing willingness by the consumer to pay more) Recognizing this, The San Francisco Giants were the first in Major League Baseball to introduce dynamic pricing. Data and new software devised pricing algorithms that allowed the Giants to factor in any number of demand altering situations. Weather, star pitcher, popular team rivalries as well as time and day of the week all combine to identify a demand pattern that could now be identified to create a fluctuating price schedule for each individual game, and seating section. 

How well this will be accepted by fans remain a major question, but this certainly is a growing technology that isn't going to go away by any means.

Visit Mindmatrix to learn more about how big data can be used to help your sales team bat .400