Immediacy in sales is everything.
Yet, in my experience, many marketing funnels and the sales teams they support take their sweet time following up on their best opportunities.
This is a perilous decision to make as a business: according to InsideSales, “50% of buyers choose the vendor that responds first.” — so by failing to provide an immediate next step you are likely to leave serious money on the table for your competitors.Managers often blame “lazy” sales teams for not following up quickly enough on leads, but I think this narrative oversimplifies the problem. Good sales reps are not sitting around for the next lead to come in, they are out giving presentations, on demos, etc, and therefore are understandably not always able to follow up on a warm inbound lead within 5 seconds of their demo request. So, unless you plan on hiring Agent Smith from the Matrix, please explain why we are expecting them to be in multiple places at the same time?
(he would make Presidents Club at any company with that support team)
If we can’t chalk this one up to "lazy sales people”, then what is the solution?
I think every marketing org should be responsible for booking leads with the right sales person in the least amount of time possible, ideally without any human involvement on behalf of the rep.
This might be a lofty goal, but a key piece of technology is at your disposal to help reach it...
Introducing: Scheduling Applications
Automated scheduling apps are hardly ground breaking technology, and have gone through a number of iterations over the years.
These tools sync with your calendar, and using an interface and your typical work hours, show the prospect different time slots you are available to meet.
The premise and value is simple: let your contacts book with you on their own time, without the labor intensive back and forth that normally drags down your productivity when scheduling and re-scheduling.
This post’s intention is not to compare vendors, but I would recommend finding an application that is built natively into your CRM and Marketing Automation software (HubSpot’s Meetings tool is good option — and free to use!). You can hack this together across multiple tools, but as you will see in this post there is a lot of value you miss out on when they are not all in one system.
Using Scheduling Apps in 1-1 communications is an obvious use case, but the real opportunity for the marketing and sales team lies in incorporating them in your lead generation and nurturing strategies. Very few companies are doing this really effectively from what I have seen, so I want to walk you through three tried and true strategies we used at HubSpot to accelerate our team's sales process:
1. Embed Your Meetings App On Your Contact and Thank You Pages
The most glaring opportunity for this strategy is on bottom of the funnel offers like “Demo Request”, “Free Trial”, “Contact Sales” etc.
For far too many companies, this process presently is:
1. Lead fills out Request Demo form
2. Somebody in the office gets notified who helps route these requests
3. That somebody manually finds a sales owner and sends them the information
3. Sales Rep is preoccupied, creates task they may or may not remember to follow up later
4. Multiple hours have gone by, by the time rep gets a chance to place a call and gets VM
5. Rep sends manual email suggesting times — if they remember -- anywhere from 3-60 hours has now passed from the initial request
6. Rep goes back and forth with prospect to manually schedule time
Does this look like your process today? It so, its almost 2018, and its time to get out of the stone age. While you are going through your archaic process, your prospect is on the phone building a relationship with a competitor.
What should you do instead? Embed your meetings calendar link right on the thank you page and let the prospect book directly on the thank you page.
“But Sam, I have territories, how can I show the right calendar link?"
Use dynamic web content tool like HubSpot’s Smart Content to show a different calendar page depending on who the lead is and what they filled out on the form. At the very least, use a marketing automation tool to send the a follow up email based on their territory.
I call this the “1AM rule”: a lead should be able to fill out a form at 1AM in the morning and book a demo/next step within 5 minutes. If you don’t do it, someone else will.
2. Send Marketing Emails From Your Sales Reps, and Use Their Calendar Link
My next call out is for those companies that are still sending marketing emails to qualified leads from a generic email like “email@example.com”, or the marketing manager’s email address.
Once a lead a reaches a certain qualification or lead scoring threshold, every email should be from their account owner. Use dynamic content in your emails and marketing automation so that depending on who the sales owner is, the email comes from them when they hit this point.
This allows you to build up your sales team’s credibility in the eyes of the prospect, and develop rapport en masse.
3. Track Meetings Scheduled In Your CRM and Improve Your Funnel Reporting
Tracking the meetings you are scheduling via these tools is important to evaluating your marketing and sales team’s efforts. Some recommendations below:
- Track the meetings marketing books for sales directly via calendar links (hint: these are more valuable then your run of the mill “MQL”)
- Track the date and time a contact books via the calendar app, and use this to trigger email nurturing, lead scoring etc
- Track anytime someone books via calendar, and have it automatically create a deal for the rep if it is the first meeting booked
Keep in mind all of the above are lot easier when you use an integrated platform for marketing + sales.
In Conclusion: Self Service and Speed Win
Companies that strive to reduce friction in their sales processes, and allow real time next steps for leads are well positioned to out sprint competitors. If you are still booking all your appointments by going back and forth when someone can order a pizza, a driver, or even a bed with one click of an app you are asking to be left behind.