Re-Engaging Your Customers

When you are working with a client on a long-term relationship and they are not as engaged as they might have been, here are some steps to take to ensure they re-engage.

• Arrange for a special discussion in a different venue than your normal meeting place.

• Go back to their vision of success and why they want it.

• Connect your activities to the desired head and heart outcomes.

• Revisit the gap between where they want to be and where they are now.

• Given all the activities that must take place, re-prioritise and or re-sequence the activities and get a new commitment to proceed.

• Re-establish an agreement as to what you and they must do, and how you will manage a degradation of commitment.

 

How to Get Your Sales and Marketing Teams on the Same Page

company culture

Just how well do your sales and marketing teams interact? Can you point to tangible achievements as a result of close sales/marketing collaboration? Or is the situation more akin to military platoons advancing with little or no contact with one another?

In fact, many businesses are still chasing the elusive goal of optimum sales and marketing alignment. Even in an era of advanced marketing automation, “marketing technology and processes have yet to turn the sales and marketing boxing ring into a night of candlelit dinners,” observes B2B marketing expert Laura Ramos.

As we all know, today’s consumers (both B2B and B2C) are far better informed about your products or services than in times past. This has substantially affected what we consider the sales cycle, since it’s rare for a salesperson to address a prospect who has no idea who they are or what they represent.

But it’s important to point out that what prospects do know is largely based on materials (in print and online) generated by a company’s marketing team. So if the sales team isn’t kept up to date on these materials, they can enter the sales conversation at a disadvantage—either looking unprepared or out of step with the latest marketing message your business is promoting.

Either way, that lack of alignment can mean the difference between closing a deal or losing the prospect to another, more closely aligned competitor.

Here are tips on getting sales and marketing on the same page, thus benefiting both your business and your customers:

  1. Always be communicating! A renewed emphasis on cross-departmental communications is a great first step in achieving proper alignment. Select an individual from each department to meet regularly (at least once a week) to keep each other informed on new lead generation, updated marketing materials, suggestions for new initiatives, and so on. Quarterly meetings between the entire teams is another potentially fruitful exercise.
  2. Review the marketing message on your website and in your collateral materials. It’s vitally important that everyone be “in sync” on the message you present to the target audience. When branding inconsistencies occur—between sales hand-outs and digital messaging, for example—the sales team may emphasise a range of features and benefits at odds with what the marketing team is pushing.To offset potential customer confusion, closely review all the material that represents your business in print, on the web and in social media. Ask the sales team for input on how to better frame a branding message that genuinely connects with prospects (rather than just makes your company look good). Get sales involved in the actual creation of materials, thus reflecting their own experience in the field.
  3. Align sales and marketing metrics. It’s likely your sales and marketing teams are tracking different information and employing different analytic models. If so, confusion is likely to ensue. The key is devising a system that both teams can use to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of a sales campaign or marketing initiative, how best to nurture a warm lead and the numbers of leads that convert per month and quarter. Collaborative analysis can also point to any gaps in data that may be contributing to a decline in sales.

Sometimes a friendly rivalry can spring up between sales and marketing teams. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as everyone understands and agrees upon the final goal—acquiring new customers and retaining the ones you have. Closer alignment of these two necessary departments will tilt the odds of future success in your favour.

 

Tips on Improving the Quality of Your Written Sales Pitch

help with written sales pitch

When did you last look at the email pitch written by your sales team? If the level of new sales isn’t what you’re expecting, it may be related to the quality of these emails being sent to prospective clients.

Here are tips for enhancing the message that compels prospects to take action:

First, recognise the difference between a verbal and written sales pitch. Your sales team may be outstanding in the realm of a verbal pitch, utilising all the “soft” talents of the tone of voice, appearance, body language, etc. None of that applies to the written sales pitch, so it’s important to be clear on the differences and focus solely on the choice of words and appropriate style (formal, informal).

Do the homework. Prospects are a lot smarter now than “back in the day.” They can tell by the opening line of the sales pitch whether your salesperson knows something about their company or is just winging it. With all the available resources at hand these days, there’s no excuse for not researching the prospect’s current executive team, annual sales figures, social media profiles, company website, corporate initiatives, and so on.

Whether or not any of this information makes its way into the written pitch (and, in most cases, it probably shouldn’t), this knowledge will affect the quality of the email pitch.

Get to the point. One common mistake with writing a sales pitch is thinking some sort of preface or introduction is necessary. Not at all! Busy prospects need to feel you’re getting to the point or they’ll simply click out of the message. Be concise. Let the recipient know only what’s absolutely necessary to know before moving forward.

“The only purpose of a prospecting email is to elicit a response,” notes sales strategist Marc Wayshak. Any “excess information in your email that does not support this intention is actually hurting you.”

Engage the prospect. Pay attention to the flow of the sales pitch. Avoid hopping around from one topic to another, or one tone to another. The trick to engaging a prospect is by moving them from one sentence to the next. And the best way to achieve this is by emphasising—always emphasising—what’s in it for them.

Stress value and benefits, not features. Your product or service likely comes with an impressive range of features, but unless you clearly demonstrate how those features offer value to the customer, you’re wasting your time (and theirs). Examples of value to communicate in an email include:

  • Brief description of how your product can boost sales
  • Offering to send an informative white paper or case study
  • Invitation to a value-added webinar

Another approach involves specifically identifying a problem or challenge your prospect faces. By naming this problem (which implicitly recognises how well you understand their business and industry), you can then “tease” them with a concise description of your proposed solution and then invite them to learn more.

Make your call-to-action specific and compelling. By “learning more,” we mean ending your pitch with a single call-to-action that’s clear and to the point. What would you like the prospect to do after reading your email—opt-in to your newsletter, watch a product-focused video, set up an appointment? Specify your desired goal, while reminding them of the value they’ll receive by taking this action.

Spend time on the email subject line. Sometimes, the best email subject line comes after you’ve crafted a concise, informative and compelling email message. Here’s the place to get creative (while remaining concise), something along the lines of “Game-Changing Idea for Your B2B Business” or “The Hidden Value You Could Be Adding to Your Business Right Now.” Any generic approach will likely end up in the prospect’s spam folder.

There is a definite art and style to winning email sales pitches. Now might be a great time for a thorough reexamination of how your sales pitch is being crafted and take these steps to dramatically improve its quality.

 

How to Create a Success-Oriented Sales Culture

success-oriented sales team

Success in sales remains an elusive goal for many companies, partly because the sales process can’t be configured or engineered in a way that guarantees closing a deal with every prospect. Too many variables are involved.

However, building a success-oriented sales culture within the organisation can tilt the odds in your favour. The key is paying special attention to sales management in a way that’s positive, instils confidence and rewards sales activity, not just results.

Here are action steps you can take to boost the success rate of your sales team:

Honour the role of salesperson. If you come from a sales background, you know first-hand what a difficult job it can be. Failure and rejection come with the territory and it takes a strong individual to bounce back from these challenges and start fresh all over again.

For this reason, it’s good to “promote how honourable it is to be a sales rep for your company,” notes small business expert Megan Totka. “Put the importance of their position on a pedestal, and highlight how pivotal it is to the success of your business.

Automate repetitive tasks. Salespeople thrive on high energy and welcome the unpredictable nature of their jobs. That’s why they often find repetitive sales-related tasks so draining and demoralising. It’s up to you to free them up to do what they do best—sales. Wherever possible, employ technology to handle routine customer relationship management tasks (such as sending customised messages to prospects), thus giving your team more latitude to focus on other key responsibilities.

Enforce a consistent sales process. Yes, we all know about rock-star salespeople who “act on a gut feeling” or otherwise go it alone. That’s not the path to a success-oriented culture. Instead, every business should establish a consistent sales process, says sales expert Alana Nicol, with “specific steps that everyone takes so each person knows clearly what it takes to identify, qualify and close an opportunity.”

Train for the results you want. Businesses do the best they can to hire talented salespeople who can get results out of the gate. But for the best results, sales training is the most effective strategy. Such training can emphasise a variety of techniques and attitudes, including how to:

  • Stop talking to the prospect and ask questions instead
  • Position yourself less as an expert and more as a problem-solver
  • Hone your company’s unique selling proposition
  • Focus on sales activity as much as on results

For sales veterans and rookies alike, it’s helpful for the manager and/or CEO to occasionally sit in on phone calls and/or face-to-face meetings with prospects, and offer constructive feedback afterwards. Most salespeople welcome such feedback, as long it’s framed in a positive way.

Offer opportunities for learning. Training is one thing, continuous learning something else entirely. As part of honouring your sales team, give them every opportunity to participate in webinars, attend sales conferences and engage in other learning activities that help them hone their skills and network on behalf of the company. When they can collaborate and share new ideas, they’ll come away re-energized and excited about incorporating new strategies into the sales process.

Avoid micromanagement. Perhaps the best way to instil self-confidence in your team is by not micromanaging them. Delegating responsibilities and leaving them alone to do their job is another way of saying you trust in their judgment and abilities, and that you expect them to give their very best with every prospect. Sometimes they’ll succeed and sometimes they’ll fail. It’s up to you to avoid casting blame but emphasise instead the value of learning from experience and doing better the next time.

By honouring their efforts and giving them the tools and responsibility to succeed, you can build a culture of sales enthusiasm and energy, unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Want to learn more about building a successful sales culture? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

Buyer Personas to Prequalify Prospects

Marketing Segmentation

Do you receive a lot of inquiries from potential customers that turn out to be unqualified? While sales is a numbers game, you need to make sure you remain focused on your core competencies. If you are spending too much time on prospects that aren’t qualified, then your marketing process isn’t doing its job. Make sure your website and other marketing materials are very clear about who you work with.

Every business person knows about target markets, and you have likely defined your target market based on demographic targets such as gender, age, location, etc. Buyer personas take that a step further to include psychographic information based on actual current client and target prospect research to focus on why your target customer makes a purchase decision.

Pro Business Tip: Start developing your buyer personas by asking these 20 Questions You Need to Ask When Developing Buyer Personas. Do not rely only on your own answers to these questions, but include your sales team, current clients, past clients, and people who have not become clients. Also, consider implementing a survey for leads who ultimately decided to purchase from a competitor or substitute.

By now, you may be wondering what buyer personas have to do with prequalifying prospects. It boils down to the cliché example of the buyer who wants a hole, not a drill. If you take the time to develop your buyer persona, you will have a deeper understanding not just of who your ideal customer is, but what they need.

Once you have developed your buyer personas and understand who they are, you can begin to craft your marketing messaging and communications around your ideal customer. Refer to one of our previous business tips articles, Business Tips from the Top: Websites That Attract & Convert to make the most out of updating your website. By targeting your message, you will find that your marketing is generating a lower number of leads, but a higher percentage of those leads will be qualified to move into the sales funnel, thus saving time and money in the qualification process.