The following is a guest post from Frank Belzer, a sales development expert and Senior Sales Strategist and VP of Corporate Training at Kurlan and Associates. Frank is a regular contributor to the sales and sales management training curriculum at Kurlan and Associates and is the host of the weekly Internet Radio Show, Sales Talk Live.
Like many companies, you see the importance of adapting to the changing world of business. One of your most significant investments has involved the way you market your company. Given the fact that people now shop differently, you have adjusted your approach to a more “inbound” focus. Perhaps you have invested in some exciting tools like HubSpot software to help you do that, and chances are, if you are really serious about trying to improve and grow your business, you have started to get help from the outside – experts like those at LyntonWeb that will help you turn your web presence around.
As you track results and invest your energies in inbound marketing it is pretty normal to see the quantity of traffic increase over time, and then the number of leads starts to increase as well. Strangely enough, many companies that have done an excellent job on the marketing side and have witnessed and exponential increase in leads find themselves with a dilemma – as one client expressed to me:
“Leads are through the roof but business is down!”
How does that happen?
Clearly a problem like this is not the result of poor marketing. Your team has done a great job improving the quantity of leads, and yet you are hardly happy or satisfied if those leads are not converting into meaningful revenue. Where is the problem?
If leads are up and sales are not, then we obviously have to look closer at salespeople and sales process. What is going wrong after the lead is given to someone to follow up on? What mistakes are you or your salespeople making that could account for this problem?
- They assume too much – just because someone completes a call-to-action doesn’t mean that they have a need or that they understand what you or your company can do for them.
- They skip steps – like asking questions. Sales people usually jump straight to presenting a solution rather than uncovering the actual needs of the client.
- Failures to sell consultatively – great sales people are adept at converting even minor curiosity into business. They do this with a consultative approach to sales that allows the client to feel extremely comfortable. Unfortunately, only 24% of the sales population has those kinds of skills.
- They use email as the only approach – email is great to reach out or follow up but eventually your sales people need to get on the phone and interact with the prospect on a human level.
- They don’t consider the competition – the great thing about inbound marketing is that customers find you. The bad thing is they often find others, too. Rather than viewing a lead as a slam dunk, salespeople still need to address competition and work at differentiating themselves from it.
- They don’t understand the rule of 8 – new studies show that even after raising a hand, it will require an average of 8 attempts to actually reach that person. It's not because they have no interest, but because most people are busy. Salespeople often give up after an average of 4 attempts.
- They don’t do some of the things they would do for a traditional lead – do they research the account before calling? Do they identify the decision makers? Or do they just call and hope that it works out?
Given the fact that you want to grow, doesn’t it make sense to look at the last part of the lead generation process?
My advice is to look very closely at the hand-off from marketing engine to salesperson and to track all of your leads very carefully. Expect your salespeople to offer a better explanation of failure than a simple “that lead was no good” – expect an explanation as to why it was no good.
It might be interesting and worthwhile to use one of our free tools that will give you a clear picture as to the current abilities of your sales team. Why not take a few minutes to Grade your Sales Force?