Maven Sales Group
Unleash A Sales Person’s Potential: Embrace Social Selling

Unleash A Sales Person’s Potential: Embrace Social Selling

social sellingSales is a challenging field. Only those who are determined, persistent and consistent survive and thrive in such a demanding, high-pressure role. The highest-performers understand they must adapt to changing environments and continue to learn ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Savvy sales managers are always on the lookout for ways to increase sales and efficiency, and drive goals. The old “work smarter, not harder” adage holds true as ever, especially with the new buyer’s journey beginning online.

One of the ways to accomplish a more concise, targeted approach is by getting your salespeople to embrace social selling.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

No, it won’t be easy. Salespeople are notoriously nestled happily into their sweet spots of what has worked for them in the past. Taking the time out of their selling activities to develop a new way of doing things is never high on their list.

So, how do you disrupt the status quo and push them past their objections? Here are seven ways to help unleash a sales person’s potential by getting them to embrace social selling.

Present Social Selling Positively 

If social selling is presented as just another task you expect sales to slog through, the initiative is already dead in its tracks. Sales people function best when they are motivated and understand how an action directly relates to reaching their goals and making more money. Before encouraging a social selling strategy, think about how to present it to the reps to get them excited and revved up. Some ideas are to announce it during a high energy sales meeting, or at the yearly meeting. Show excitement about the adventure, and explain it as something they get to do, not that they are required to do.

To sell social selling and gain buy-in, it’s critical that you…

Make An Indisputable Case 

A simple email telling your seasoned sales rep Linda she needs to use social selling won’t fire her up or get her on the bandwagon. Give her hard facts. Do your research on how many customers begin their purchasing process online. Show statistics on how social selling success creates a wider audience, builds engagement, and forges connections to high-quality prospects that other sales techniques would never achieve. Explain how it works better than the traditional cold calling methods. Show Linda examples of how other salespeople have gained more business through social selling.

The process won’t be instantaneous, but if you continue to talk up social selling, you will eventually inspire some of your sales reps to try it. A third key way is to make sure you…

Provide the Tools to Help Them Get Started 

Shifting sales’ way of gaining customers starts with proper training. If Linda, for example, isn’t internet-savvy, she may be intimidated by trying to connect with prospects through social media channels. This wariness will make Linda balk, others could follow her lead, and your social selling plan might get derailed.

Bring in a person who has been successful with social selling, who can offer real-world tips on how to structure the process, and stories about the types of gains they made when they embraced it. Seek out book and videos on the topic, share them with your sales team, and discuss them on your sales call. The more you integrate social selling into your team’s day-to-day process, the greater likelihood they will embrace it as a selling tool.

 

Make It An Ongoing Initiative

Telling and encouraging salespeople to embrace social selling once won’t move the needle. It needs to be a consistent message from you and other leaders in your organization. One good way is to lead by example. Make sure your social media profiles are top notch, and your posting is relevant and timely. Also, give them time to work on it. Perhaps set aside a couple of times every week for them to work on their profiles, connect with their audience, and share information that answers a question or addresses a need potential prospects have. Frequently ask about progress during sales calls.

Get Marketing In the Game

Bring the marketing department into the mix. Tell them about your strategy, and ask how they can help. Marketing may be writing blogs, sending out press releases, and developing additional content that sales could easily share. Content that packs a punch is essential for social selling to work. Marketing and sales alignment with product rollouts,  specific campaigns, and sales promotions are productive ways to blend both departments’ efforts into successful social selling.

Measure and Track Results

You don’t need to sway the entire sales team. Just get one! If one person adapts to this type of selling, he or she WILL see results. Make sure you track successes, with Hubspot if possible, and talk them up to all the other sales people and recognize the effort they put into making it work. Over time, there should be a good amount of new business you can directly track back to social selling efforts. And, once the holdouts see this, they will be more likely to jump on board.

And, finally, never forget that money talks, so you should…

…Add An Eye-Catching Bonus

Show you are serious and committed to leveraging social selling to get results by offering up cold, hard cash. Bonuses and ways to make extra money speak most sales people’s language. As is good, old-fashioned competition. Smart ideas are the extra commission for accounts that come from social selling efforts or a contest for whoever opens the most accounts by using social media. Be sure it is specific and measurable, and attractive enough that it gets the participants’ attention.

Unleashing a sales person’s potential with social selling poses challenges, but those can be overcome. With thorough planning, consistent training and reminders, measuring results with Hubspot, and following up on successes, you will be able to help your sales team evolve into successful performers who target the new style of the buyer at the right time. The effort is well worth it in terms of more prospects, a greater percentage of closed deals, and higher revenue.

hubspot crm sales tools

7 Ways Hubspot’s New Growth Stack Can Grow Your Business

7 Ways Hubspot’s New Growth Stack Can Grow Your Business

HubSpot growth stackWe have seen it happen hundreds of times: a business owner comes to us for advice when they discover that trying to solve one marketing challenge ends up hitting brick walls due to a tangled spiderweb of systems or spreadsheets. Sometimes the problem involves attempting to get more people through a lead generation form, and sometimes the problem is the lack of a CRM tool for unified contact management. So often, business systems grow organically as user needs grow, but when do you stop and take the time to evaluate your marketing stack? Fortunately, HubSpot has created a free solution that leverages HubSpot CRM, HubSpot Marketing, and HubSpot Sales to keep your organization moving forward quickly. Here’s 7 ways you can leverage the new HubSpot Growth Stack to supercharge your business results.

1. Seamless Integration

If you’re spending time on integrating your marketing stack, then that’s time you are not selling. When you have a series of systems that starts with the powerful HubSpot Marketing free edition, rolls through the CRM platform, and then delivers direct customer interaction through HubSpot Marketing, you don’t have to waste time making systems speak to one another. Instead, you can look for ways to optimize the user experience — ultimately resulting in higher sales.

2. The Future is Digital

Tracking customers across the web as they interact with your brand can be a real predicament, especially if you’re still using old-school techniques. Understanding your customer’s behavior across a variety of platforms — mobile, website, email and even social — isn’t handled well by some applications. HubSpot engineers have nailed it, allowing your brand to gain top of mind presence in the split second that you have a customer’s attention.

3. Optimize for Humans

The days of writing simply for SEO is dead, because search engines are getting too smart for marketers. We leverage HubSpot’s Growth Stack to provide transparency into your customer’s felt needs in a way that hasn’t been possible for non-enterprise scale businesses in the past. Providing valuable and interesting content that your prospects want to engage with is the first step in moving them through the sales funnel. Instead of looking at how to stuff as many keywords as possible into a piece of content, think about creating content that adds joy to your reader. Expand beyond Google – Facebook, Amazon, and YouTube are massive search engines that can be leveraged to creatively deliver product recommendations or comparisons.

learn more about hubspot

4. Flawless Lead Handoffs

It takes time to manually score your leads as they come in, so why not create business rules that will allow software to do the heavy lifting for you? Correctly implementing HubSpot’s Growth Stack makes handing off leads from marketing to sales simple and flawless — every time. Marketers can keep the lead funnel full, and your sales can work on converting them to paying customers. Instead of tension between the teams, you’ll find that your teams enjoy being able to trust that customers are being nurtured no matter where they are in the sales cycle.

5. Personalized Conversations

Marketing is no longer a “push” business, it is more of a conversation between a lead and a brand. Technology now allows this delicate dance to be a highly personalized journey instead of a single series of messages that may fall flat. Gain a deeper understanding of the path customers tend to take in order to bring them to a decision point at the appropriate time. Meet people where they are in their decision cycle and customize messaging based on their specific needs.

6. Expand Your Team, Digitally

Don’t have room in your budget for additional team members? No problem. We can help you integrate additional tech that automates ongoing tasks so you can focus on adding extraordinary value, A/B testing and developing captivating content. HubSpot’s Growth Stack natively integrates with Gmail, G Suite, Outlook and Office 365 plus platforms such as Zendesk, PandaDoc and Wistia. Why spending time researching tools and trying to determine if they’ll work together? HubSpot has done the difficult work of integration your marketing stack for you.

7. Reduce Frustration, Grow Sales

When your sales, marketing and service teams are able to focus on their core competencies, beautiful things can begin to happen for your business. Remove the frustration that teams feel when creating workarounds that pull time and energy away from their passion for serving customers and growing the business. When you have the right tools in place, data sharing is seamless and reporting becomes much easier. Product creep happens when you’ve got multiple systems duct-taped together — forcing team members to waste time entering data in multiple systems or hacking together a fix to get the metrics that they need to make good decisions.

Contact Maven to learn how HubSpot’s industry-leading digital Growth Stack can be paired with a strategy tailor-made for your business. We work with organizations of all sizes to implement Lead generation strategies that drive deeper customer awareness, engagement and sales. HubSpot now offers their Growth Stack for free, and we can work closely with you to ensure that you are able to focus on what’s important: your customers and finding more just like them.

Five Actionable Ways A CRM Can Increase Your Sales by Next Quarter

Five Actionable Ways A CRM Can Increase Your Sales by Next Quarter

No self-respecting sales development rep (SDR) has ever said, “I have enough business.” Even those crushing their sales goals crave more, and it would be nice if it came faster and easier than most deals do.

Great news! Help isat your fingertips. A Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) acts as a sales assistant in a variety of ways. Utilizing a CRM amplifies the efforts of an SDR, maximizes time, and increases productivity. All of those positives add up to closing more deals and building greater revenue.

If you like what you’re reading,read on forfive simple, actionableways a CRM can help increase your sales by next quarter.

Generates More Leads On the Front End

If your sales teamonly has a few leads, chances are good there will be few new customers, adding up to paltry new business sales dollars.A CRM helps manage your lead generation initiative. By integrating your CRM with your marketing software, such as Hubspot,your SDR team has access to theprospects whohave been reading your content, signing up and attending your webinars, engaging with your social media posts, and surfing your website. These insights point them in the direction of who to start a conversation with and thetypes of products that piquetheir interest. The higher lead generation tactics perform,and the more your sales development rep teamwork them, the quicker you will see your sales grow. All of this begins with a CRM.

Increases Sales Productivity

A robust CRM is similar to a magic wand;it seems to add hours to an SDR’s day. When sales teams have leads qualified forthem, they save time on research and cold calling. When they already have information on the type of products a prospect is interested in, they save time on drilling down into their target’s needs. When a lead is already familiar with your brand because they have digested your content and perused your website, the reps save time establishing their reputation. Finally, when each SDRneeds to report their performance to their manager, a much-detested task for most sales people, they can generate the information they need from information already in the CRM!

All of this time savings results in a surge in productivity so greatyou will think each memberof your sales team has asecret twin.

Hubspot Crm Sales ToolsPrevents Sales fromFalling Through the Cracks

See if this sounds familiar. During a sales meeting, you ask Tom for an update onthose two big prospects. Tom stares at you blankly, then stammers that one went with a competitor, and the other, uh, he hasn’t called in a month. Why,you might ask? Because, even though Tom won’t tell you this, he forgot. This is a potentially lucrativedeal that fell through the cracks.

A CRM is priceless in making sure this situation never happens. By setting up an accessible timeline of information, your sales team has all of their hot prospects in one secure place, and can easily follow up as needed. There is no losing their card, misplacing their email, or forgetting the decision maker’sname.

So, don’t fire Tom. Just give him the tool he needs to work every single lead as hard and consistently as it can be worked until it comes to fruition.

Creates A Data Nirvana

Most people don’t get excited at the mention of data, but they should! Information on leads and their needs and pain points is a treasure map to the chest of gold! Territory management is a breeze with a CRM’sability to search and segment prospects based on geographic location, industry, size, or positionin the sales cycle.As we mentioned above, gaining access through lead generation tacticsto knowledge about the prospect’s interest sets up each SDR with a game plan of how to approach them, who to talk with, and what to say.

Hubspot Crm The important note here and a common misstep in using a CRMis to make sure your sales team is properly trained on and comfortable with your CRM. If they feel they don’t understand how to input or extract information, they will say it takes too much time or doesn’t help, but that’s not the case. It’s vital to provide thorough and ongoing training on how to get the most bang for your CRM’s buckand help them see the value it offers in closing more sales, faster.

Facilitates Proactive Communication

Customer relationships are built on loyalty and trust, and this begins with communication. From direct client communication to behind the scenes relay of information from sales to marketing, IT, and customer support, a bridge for proper communication is essential. A CRM provides a single place where all parties can stay abreast of the sales cycle. Everyone involved in the process can view and log information to make sure they are doing their part to land the account. Addressing prospect questions and concerns and following up promptly is key to establishing loyalty, and closing the deal.

While some CRM’s may seem expensive on the front end,there is no other option available to sales teams that directly support their efforts from so many angles. This is why we love what Hubspot is doing for the sales professionals. They are offering a free CRM to any business that wants to increase their sales, define a process, and create efficiencies. Sales leaders who implement this sales tool into their strategies and use them properly will see productivity rise, lead generation become more successful, and sales success grow.

3 Ways to Tell if Your Business is Ready for Marketing Automation

3 Ways to Tell if Your Business is Ready for Marketing Automation

Consider for a moment that companies who contact leads within the first hour are 7 times as likely to qualify the lead than those who wait just one more hour before initial contact. Shoppers today are accustomed to businesses that respond to their requests promptly and marketing automation can be a fantastic tool for businesses interested in streamlining their marketing efforts and efficiently answering queries.

How does marketing automation work?

A common concern among business professionals is that marketing automation will detract from the personalized experience that they are trying to create with the rest of their business practices, but that does not have to be the case. When marketing automation works correctly, it will involve sending the right email to the right person at the right time.

Many businesses will establish marketing automation sequences to contact visitors during key parts of the buyer’s journey. For example, when someone visits the pricing page but leaves without buying anything, it might trigger an email that invites them to download a free case study that invites them to learn more about how the products or services at the company can help them accomplish their goals.

The key to sending the right email will be to personalize them as much as possible. Marketing automation software will help collect key data about the page visitors, including any information they have entered, such as name, company name, or title. Other information can be gathered from how the professional operates on the website, their geographic location, and other insights. Use this information to create an automatically generated, personalized email. The email can address concerns that the person might be having about their company and offer solutions, such a new download, an invitation to a product demo, or the chance to participate in a webinar.

Hubspot has done a great job building their tool that started out as a marketing only tool to what I would now call a very powerful “all-in-one” sales and marketing tool. Hubspot is focused on building a tool that eventually all sales and marketing professionals will want to execute sales and marketing campaigns in.

Hubspot

Does every company need marketing automation?

Marketing automation works best when the company has a high enough stream of website visitors so that they can monitor the actions of people on their website and gather information about who they are and what they might be looking for as they browse.

Here are a few factors that should be considered before investing in marketing automation software.

1.) Does your website receive regular, organic visitors that are turning into leads?

The website should not only be receiving regular traffic, but there should also be a steady stream of visitors who provide the brand with information about themselves, typically through opt-in forms, that can be properly counted as leads. The behaviors of the leads should be tracked at each touchpoint throughout the website so that an accurate picture can be painted about what they might be seeking. This is the information that is needed to produce marketing automation emails that still have enough of a personalization side that customers appreciate their content.

Hubspot Crm Sales Tools

2.) Are the marketing and sales team on the same page?

The entire purpose of the marketing automation process is to help alleviate some of the pressure on the marketing and sales teams to contact every potential lead within a reasonable time frame. In order to do this successfully, however, both teams must be on the same side about what types of communication should be coming from each department. There should also be a well-outlined digital marketing and content strategy that describes the communication and goals for each stage of the buyer’s journey. When everyone is on the same page about the marketing and sales plan, it will be easier to see if marketing automation software can help with communication at certain points of the sales process and when these emails should ideally be sent.

3.) Does the sales team feel overwhelmed?

Marketing automation can be a wonderful asset for those in sales when they struggle to keep up with the number of qualified organic leads that the marketing teams are passing along to them. The system allows them to make rapid and efficient contact in response to certain actions on the website. If the sales team feels as though they are performing fine with the existing leads, however, then bring in marketing automation software will do little good and can be a waste of valuable resources.

Marketing automation software gives brands the power to combine personalization and rapid response with high numbers of visitors and organic leads. It is a wonderful tool for competing in the fast-paced world of modern digital marketing. Those considering this software should carefully consider how well it fits with their goals and whether or not the organization will benefit from its implementation.

Hubspot sales partner Hubspot Sales Partner

Want to know more? You should ask us… we’re in the know! We’re also a Hubspot Partner focused on helping our clients to increase sales through better lead generation.

CRM, the Possibilities Are Endless

CRM, the Possibilities Are Endless

CRM Customer Relationship Management SystemFirst of all, what is a CRM? I had a new client recently ask me that question at which point I realized; maybe it’s not as commonly understood as I thought? Not only did I write this blog but we put together an Ebook, The Beginners Guide to CRM. Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that refers to practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth. CRM systems are designed to compile information on customers across different channels — or points of contact between the customer and the company — which could include the company’s website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social media. CRM systems can also give customer-facing staff detailed information on customers’ personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and concerns.

CRM was designed primarily to capture and report on large amounts of contact data to keep an organization in closer and closer touch with its prospects, leads, customers, and other contacts. The data collected can help you understand and score each lead’s interest in your products or services. The more you’re able to score your leads, the better you can use targeted marketing to nurture those leads down the funnel to a sale.

CRM software consolidates customer information and documents into a single CRM database so business users can more easily access and manage it. The other main functions of this software include recording various customer interactions (over email, phone calls, social media or other channels, depending on system capabilities), automating various workflow processes such as tasks, calendars and alerts, and giving managers the ability to track performance and productivity based on information logged within the system.

Common features of CRM software include:

  • Marketing automation: CRM tools with marketing automation capabilities can automate repetitive tasks to enhance marketing efforts to customers at different points in the lifecycle. For example, as sales prospects come into the system, the system might automatically send them marketing materials, typically via email or social media, with the goal of turning a sales lead into a full-fledged customer.

 

  • Sales force automation: Also known as sales force management, sales force automation is meant to prevent duplicate efforts between a salesperson and a customer. A CRM system can help achieve this by automatically tracking all contact and follow-ups between both sides.

 

  • Contact center automation: Designed to reduce tedious aspects of a contact center agent’s job, contact center automation might include pre-recorded audio that assists in customer problem-solving and information dissemination. Various software tools that integrate with the agent’s desktop tools can handle customer requests in order to cut down the time of calls and simplify customer service processes.

 

  • Geolocation technology, or location-based services: Some CRM systems include technology that can create geographic marketing campaigns based on customers’ physical locations, sometimes integrating with popular location-based GPS apps. Geolocation technology can also be used as a networking or contact management tool to find sales prospects based on location.

Hubspot Crm Sales Tools

This is where marketing automation software comes in. It was designed to provide interactive, targeted marketing campaigns. Marketing automation makes use of web forms and email marketing campaigns. Because the value of these two tools in many ways complements each other, they are often used in tandem. When you combine the power of CRM to handle personalization and lead scoring with the efficiency of marketing automation to deliver campaigns to targeted segments of your list, you suddenly have a robust sales and marketing machine. But that’s not all. Many small businesses use automation for processes outside of direct sales, adding efficiency and accuracy to other business functions that they hadn’t initially expected to improve when they adopted CRM, such as:

  • Automate collecting of W-9, 1099, or other important forms
  • To-do management by using automation, simple tasks can be initiated, tracked, and marked complete so that details aren’t lost in the daily fray
  • If your business works with vendors, automate your requests, delivery scheduling, and other details to keep the business humming

When you’re ready to take your small business to the next level, be prepared to implement a CRM tool. It’s the necessary evil that will help you break through your current sales obstacles as it creates organizational advantages, structure, process, and efficiencies. Here at Maven Sales Group, we, of course, have our favorites but you’ll have to talk to us in order to learn more about that!

Is Your Sales Playbook Truly a Modern Playbook?

Is Your Sales Playbook Truly a Modern Playbook?

Maven sales playbookTo sum up, you have a truly modern playbook if all of the below statements apply to you and are considered to be TRUE.

  1. My playbook is responsive and easily redistributive on mobile devices.
  2. My Sales Reps don’t have to download any of my playbook content.
  3. My Sales Reps can’t leave the company with some or all of my playbook.
  4. I get data that tells me how long reps are spending on various pages of my playbook.

If all of these statements are true, you are well on your way to building a successful, scalable, and sustainable sales team utilizing your playbook. However, if you answered NO or Not True to one or more of the above statements, then you should talk with us about using your current sales stack to build out a better sales playbook.

If you do not have the appropriate sales stack in place, no worries, we can provide the direction you need to identify the best apps and platforms that will increase efficiencies and effectiveness.

Take the time to answer all 4 statements honestly and then ask yourself, do I need help developing a better sales playbook for my business? Chances are… you probably need some help!

As mobile screens increasingly become our primary screens, a truly modern sales playbook goes a long way to ensuring that reps have the edge they need to succeed. Creating reflowable content that is searchable, interactive, and always up-to-date better equips your reps with the knowledge they need to sound credible and close deals faster. When you know what content is really resonating with your reps, you can easily hone in on relevant information and discard what isn’t being used.

Finally, a modern playbook ensures that your company can protect its intellectual property should reps leave. And when your playbook is intuitive and easy to use, your reps will be able to invest more time where it’s needed most: closing deals.

Want to talk about a better sales playbook for your business?

VIDEO- The New Face of Content Marketing

VIDEO- The New Face of Content Marketing

With each days passing, videos are becoming more and more compelling. For instance.. did you know that the equivalent to 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube each minute?? 300 hours worth .. in 1 minute!! Facebook now sees 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users, Snapchat users watch 6 billion videos every day.

US adults spend an average of 1 hour, 16 minutes each day watching video on digital devices. 78% of people watch online videos every week, 55% watch every day. youtube

Starting to get where we’re going with this?

According to 36 Fascinating YouTube Statistics for 2016 (Brandwatch)

  • 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • There are 3.25 billion hours of video watched each month
  • More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices
  • The average mobile viewing session lasts more than 40 minutes
  • The user submitted video with the most views is “Charlie bit my finger”, with 834,956,899 views
  • On average, there are 1,000,000,000 mobile video views per day
  • In 2014, the most searched term was music. The second was Minecraft (most likely all my 6 year old)
  • 9% of U.S small businesses use YouTube
  • You can navigate YouTube in a total of 76 different languages (covering 95% of the Internet population)
  • YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and third most visited site after Google and Facebook
  • On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any broadcast or CABLE TV network

And get a load of this….PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, is the highest earning YouTube star. He has over 43 million subscribers, and last year earned $12 million before tax in 2015……. My kids have been pissing themselves for years over his guy… 12 MILLION DOLLARS, PEOPLE!!!

If you are a marketer who is trying to decide if online video is a good way to reach your audience, these YouTube stats should demonstrate the amazing reach that can be had using video.

bottle flip videoAnd listen ..no one cares that you think videos are haaaard and you don’t like making them, or you don’t feel comfortable doing them. Here is a video made by our 14 year old son and his friend, for fun. He did everything.. including background music, via his cell phone.

There is literally no excuse to NOT make videos. If you don’t like how you look..get better lighting. If you trip over your words…keep reshooting. Change the angle, change the backdrop, edit in some intro music, and for the love of all things holy….know your material. Do not B.S. your way through a VLOG just because you’re nervous. Did you see those statistics?? Your audience has seen some things.. Entertain them with knowledge..not bullshit.

You don’t have to become the next YouTube sensation…. Trust me, good ‘ol PewDiePie is NOT a sales and marketing professional. You are looking for new and interesting ways to engage with your audience. You and you alone possess a unique way to bring that information to your clients. Use that. Maybe you’re funny? Maybe you can you can analyze data better than anyone else in your company? Maybe you just have a great video presence and people like to listen to you? You will never know until you do it…and keep doing it. That water bottle flip video of our son’s did not happen in one shot …but the patience behind and the ingenuity of that video cannot be understated. Give yourself the patience and trust your ingenuity.

Lights, camera ……. ACTION!

 

Hubspot’s INBOUND16 isn’t just for Marketers anymore

Hubspot’s INBOUND16 isn’t just for Marketers anymore

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend Hubspots inbound conference for the last 4 years. There’s no doubt that hubspot has played a pivotal role in the way we look to generate leads. The entire inbound movement has really taken off and for us and our clients, it has proven to be a great way to generate leads as you can drive prospects to your business or website as a result of your content marketing efforts. So how does it really tie into sales? For starters, check out this video intro from last week at INBOUND…

 

I am fortunate enough to speak on a regular basis and one of the more popular topics among sales and marketing professionals is alignment. The divide between sales and marketing professionals is beginning to diminish. There has been such a focus on it as of late, from new sales tools, sales automations, marketing automation, and such that brings the two universes closer together. For years these universes existed in parallel but one seldom knew what the other was doing. This leads to the reasons INBOUND is no longer just for marketers.

Hubspot has done a great job in attracting, retaining and delighting sales professionals over the last few years. They have developed the CRM (which is free by the way!), the SALES PRO tool which allows users to design templates to be used in email, track sent emails, and make calls directly through their browser. All in an effort to increase productivity and efficiency of the sales professional, just as they have done for the digital marketer.

So why should sales professionals consider attending INBOUND17? Besides all the obvious reasons such as rubbing elbows with some of the top sales and marketing professionals in the industry, there are sessions now geared for the Sales Professional. That’s right! There is an actual sales track… you can learn about sales and marketing alignment, sales coaching, sales enablement, sales managing do’s and dont’s and so much more.

What a great way to create synergy amongst your sales and marketing teams. It’s not often that you can send both teams to the same conference. INBOUND now gives the sales and marketing professionals the opportunity intermingle and learn from one another. Let’s face it, sales and marketing have never been best friends as they often place blame on one another. At INBOUND, both groups have their own training sessions and then there are even a few that overlap.

I firmly believe the more a sales teams understands marketing and the marketing team understands sales, mutual respect for one another’s craft will begin to create the synergy and alignment needed to increase ROI much faster. That’s the goal anyway, isn’t it? We need to create value as sales and marketers and Hubspot is providing the platform and toolset in which it’s can begin to happen. So stop thinking of HubSpot as a marketing automation platform (MAP), it’s a much more powerful platform than that. It’s become so powerful that you can now develop websites on its proprietary COS Platform. There is not another MAP in the market today that will allow you to develop a new site that is integrated with your sales and marketing automation… that is RAW POWER that needs to be harnessed!

I think its clear that Hubspots INBOUND17 is for the masses… the masses of sales and marketing professionals far and wide. Whether a small business with less than 1MM in revenues or a mid-sized 100MM company, Hubspot is a solution that you need to consider. As I sit here in Boston Logan International Airport thinking about the week I just had here at INBOUND16, I can’t help but think of how many of my sales brethren are missing out right now. Whether you’re in sales, marketing, or you’re the owner of a business INBOUND17 needs to go on your calendar for next year.


 

 

3 Ways to Keep Inbound Leads From Getting Lost in the Funnel

3 Ways to Keep Inbound Leads From Getting Lost in the Funnel

You've Got LeadsFar too often, I hear about inbound marketing campaigns that have successfully generated leads but those leads haven’t converted to sales. There seems to be a misconception that inbound leads = SALES. Many business owners and sales and marketing professionals assume that the lead is ready to buy when they visit the website and download a piece of their content. In reality, many of those leads are just beginning their buyer’s journey. They need to be nurtured before they are ready to purchase.

Simply put, lead nurturing is the process of cultivating leads that are not yet ready to buy. A successful lead nurturing program anticipates the needs of the buyer based on their buyer persona and where they are in the buyer’s journey. Nurturing keeps prospects engaged by providing the most relevant content such as e-books, whitepapers or slideshares, for their particular situation. When done properly, lead nurturing can build strong brand loyalty well before a prospect is ready to buy.

By cultivating this latent demand, companies can increase the conversion of unqualified leads to opportunities that ultimately creates more sales. Nurturing also helps accelerate active opportunities by giving prospective buyers the information they need to make purchasing decisions easier. Lead nurturing is about helping buyers along in their educational journey. However, it’s in this nurturing process where many inbound marketing leads get lost in the funnel.

There are things you can do to avoid losing any of your leads in the funnel. Here are three.

1. Align your sales and marketing efforts

Notice I said “sales and marketing professionals” in the opening? This is not just a marketing issue. HubSpot coined the term “smarketing” which is defined as the alignment and connection between sales and marketing. This very important component of the inbound marketing model is still hard for many companies to understand. This alignment has to exist in order for your sales and marketing teams to successfully convert inbound leads. Both teams must be equally invested in the program. There are simple things that need to be addressed to begin alignment including:

  • Who will conduct “lead triage” as leads identify themselves?
  • Who will handle lead scoring?
  • How are the leads handed off from the marketing team to the sales team?
  • How will your leads be classified and by whom?
  • Is the sales team familiar with the marketing content that generated that particular lead?

I saved the most frustrating for last. Far too often, the sales team does not pay attention to the marketing content that is being offered. The sales team doesn’t even read the blog at times! I have coached hundreds of sales professionals and have met very few who understand how they can use the blog as a selling tool on a daily basis. The best thing about blogs is they’re a tool that gets refreshed often. So if the latest blog post isn’t a good provoking piece for your prospects, maybe the next one will be.

2. Nurture by stage

The key a successful nurturing program is to focus on following your lead classifications and then nurture in incremental steps. If you have not successfully classified your leads, the appropriate content will not provoke or even educate your prospect. It will most likely turn them away.

For example, a welcome program that provides new inbound leads with helpful information about the problems your product or service solves, the kinds of companies you help, and where to find additional information sounds right, doesn’t it? IT’S NOT! An inbound lead is not looking to get bombarded with a bunch of “we do this and we do that” marketing collateral. When done properly, the inbound lead will receive offers for additional information that is closely related to what they have already downloaded. This will be well received and considered helpful by your new inbound lead, the prospect.

It’s important to understand what content fits into what stage of your lead nurturing program so you can offer the right content at the appropriate time. The wrong content at the wrong time leads to buyer confusion or resistance. Therefore, they are either getting lost in your sales funnel or abruptly exiting it. Again, the key here is taking small, incremental steps with the appropriate content.

Once your prospects are in the sales funnel, nurturing them with helpful, relevant content moves potential buyers through each stage of consideration at a natural pace until they’re ready to be passed onto sales. Nurturing is the “safety” net for every stage of the buying cycle, helping ensure that no revenue opportunity is missed.

3. Personalize your nurturing efforts

Assuming you have properly segmented your nurturing lists, this creates the perfect opportunity to reach out to your prospects with personalized and targeted content. Your drip e-mails should be tailored to the prospects interest, their job title, location, and most importantly, their buyer persona. As prospects get further along in the buying process and are about to be handed off to sales, simple plain text e-mails with a signature from the appropriate sales contact are most effective. This helps to make your contacts feel as if they are important to your company and you’re there to help them with whatever it is they might need.

I’m not saying you need to go as far as customizing your website visitors’ experiences through “likes”, preference menus, cookies, or any other tracking information that you can get from various website analytics. Although, through HubSpot and other available tools, it is possible and will one day be a part of lead nurturing best practices.

With the vast majority of leads failing to convert to sales, companies can’t afford to simply abandon prospects when they fail to become buyers within a designated time frame. In today’s buyer-driven marketplace where buyers are empowered to make informed business decisions more quickly than ever, marketers must cultivate a role in the discussion in a way that’s meaningful to their audiences.

By recognizing and anticipating prospects’ needs and providing them with the right information based on who they are and where they are in the buying process, marketing professionals can improve their lead nurturing success. Implementing a formal strategy for lead nurturing and following the guidelines I provided here will help you prevent any more leads from ever getting lost in the funnel.

Using Sales Development Reps to Create Alignment Between Sales and Marketing

Using Sales Development Reps to Create Alignment Between Sales and Marketing

Sales MarketingNo matter where you go or what you read, if you are in the sales and marketing profession, you have heard folks talking about sales and marketing alignment. While there are different levels of alignment and even different definitions of alignment, it is something demand generation teams are striving to achieve.

Did you know that highly-aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% year-over-year revenue growth – while their less aligned competitors saw a 7% decrease in revenue? (Source: Sales Enablement: Fulfilling the Last Frontier of Marketing-Sales Alignment, Aberdeen Group, September 2013).

With stats like that, who wouldn’t want to create sales and marketing alignment?

You may be thinking that sounds well and good but HOW? How do you create that alignment?

Well, let me start with a story…

I recently attended a networking event in Boston. While there, I had the pleasure of speaking with a gentleman that started a SaaS company a little more than two years ago. In talking with him, I asked him a few questions to learn more about his business.

One of the things this entrepreneur shared with me is the struggle between his sales and marketing teams. They are currently dealing with the age-old problem… marketing thinks they are generating leads and sales is not doing a good job of closing them, while the sales team is frustrated with the quality of leads that marketing is providing. His sales and marketing teams lack alignment.

I share this story because it demonstrates a common struggle…one that I have heard about many times. The real issue here, as it is with many B2B companies implementing an inbound marketing approach, is not that the leads lack quality. The leads lack timing and some qualification. Addressing this issue is where sales development can play an integral part in sales and marketing alignment.

Enter the SDR

According to RingDNA, a Sales Development Representative (SDR) is a type of inside sales rep that focuses solely on outbound prospecting. Many companies (such as Salesforce) have experienced massive revenue growth by separating sales organizations into specific roles. Specifically, unlike quota-carrying salespeople, SDRs don’t focus on closing business. Rather, they focus on moving leads through the pipeline. In many organizations, marketing supplies the SDRs with lead lists. They then email and call prospects in order to further qualify those leads and determine which ones will be passed on to the quota-carrying sales rep. This enables closers to spend more time selling to qualified leads and unburdens sales executives from having to engage in prospecting.

So let’s connect the dots

If you’re like many small to mid-size businesses, chances are your marketing team is passing leads directly on to the sales team. But what if, you added a sales development function and the marketing team handed the leads to them instead?

The SDRs, through various outbound efforts, will connect with the prospects to learn more about their reasons for visiting the website and downloading your content. This conversation is what I’d like to refer to as the “discovery conversation.” The SDR will learn more about the prospect to determine if the prospect is qualified enough for the account executive or sales team to put time and effort into talking with them.

Not all inbound leads will enter into the sales team’s pipeline. This qualification process is designed to eliminate those that don’t fit your ideal client profile or buyer personas. Instead of unqualified leads that don’t fit being passed on to the sales team, only those leads that do fit will stay in the pipeline.

Are they now sales ready leads?

Let’s be clear here. If the timing is not right for the prospect, the SDR will keep ownership of the prospect and continue to nurture them through various touch-points until the timing is right. These are what we call marketing qualified leads (MQL). These leads fit the profile but the timing just isn’t right. There could also be other reasons that they are not sales ready leads. Since they have the potential to become a sales qualified lead (SQL), the SDR will continue to nurture the MQL until it’s ready to become an SQL.

This is the secret sauce to success for providing the alignment between sales and marketing. The SDR plays such an important role in allowing the two traditional teams to work better together. Through the discovery process, the SDR will qualify the inbound leads before the sales team even becomes aware of them. So the natural progression of your inbound lead looks something like this…

Inbound Lead Progression

Your leads can be eliminated at any step of the process. The SDR will spend the time required to learn more about the prospect to determine if it is worthy of the sales team’s time. Now that you see the natural progression of the leads, whether you’re a sales or marketing professional, are you wondering why we didn’t identify this sooner?

Where have you been all my life?

Well 15 years ago, I was the VP of Sales and Marketing for an IT Consulting Firm. I seriously spent 30-40% of my time in meetings defending marketing to sales and vice-versa. Back then, we didn’t have landing pages like we do today but we did have “contact us” forms on our website. Marketing was focused on getting leads to visit the website and fill out the contact us form. If this happened, marketing was celebrating the win while sales was complaining they had to call a “tire-kicker”.

So I hired a Sales and Marketing Coordinator that would call these incoming leads in an effort to qualify them but the conversations were inconsistent and not very efficient. I didn’t know if I was training her as a marketing person or a sales person. Today I know what I was doing wrong… she was neither sales nor marketing, she was an SDR… I just didn’t know it yet!

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