Monthly Archives: July 2006

Tip that is Guaranteed to Close More Deals

Your product or service is great. There is no question in your mind, otherwise you wouldn’t be selling it. Unfortunately, when we are this passionate about our product we sell it to ourselves. We use the points in our pitch that WE would want, that WE find valuable, or that WE find compelling.

Oops! Back-up. Read that last sentence again. WE, WE, WE. We had better get the prospective buyer’s opinion into the sell equation at some point.

Here is the moneymaker: Ask them what would make them a buyer!

Here is the technique I use in all of my sales:

      Okay, and are those the same things that are most important to your decision in selecting a lead management system
      Excellent, well icoSales definately meets those requirements (of course it does because it is the best product on the market and we built the product specifically to meet the needs of our market) and I will make sure that I highlight them specifically as we go through the demo.
      [Proceed with your sales process]
      [Move in for the closing…]
      Buyer, we have been through the demo and you saw where our product met you needs on 1, 2, and 3. Was that clear in the demo?
      Buyer’s reply: Yes, Yes, Yes
      Excellent, we are looking forward to increasing your revenue and conversion rate. What date would you like to schedule your implementation?

Ask your prospects what they want. Show them how you meet and exceed those needs. Get them saying Yes. And you will close more deals!

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Sales Leads Are Too Valuable For Sales People Alone

Brian Carroll definately gets the closed loop that has to exist between marketing and sales.

Each has it’s role and lead management ties them together:

Sales is Experience, Perception, and Trust

Because the sales team is responsible for much of the customer’s perception of the company, concerted care must go into developing the ongoing, relevant communications that the sales team will employ as it builds relationships with customers.

Marketing is Awareness, Education, and Information

Marketing should nurture leads via a relevant and consistent dialog with prospects, regardless of their timing to buy.’ A key aspect of lead nurturing is the ability to provide valuable education and information to prospects up front, so that you become more than an expert; you become a trusted advisor.’

Lead Management is integration, feedback, analysis, and accountability

Kate Maddox’s article in BtoB Magazine, ‘Integration Key to Lead Generation,’ emphasizes the need for close sales and marketing integration. The article is based on a recent white paper, as well as research by CSO Insights.’

(Via B2B Lead Generation Blog.)

CRM v. Customer Acquisition Management

When I introduce the concept of lead management to people the first response I often get is, “isn’t that what my CRM software does?” Well, let’s ask a few questions and find out:

  1. Marketing is hard at work generating leads.

    Does your CRM solution receive those customer inquiries as soon as the prospective customer responses?

  2. You have now received a response and the customer has taken some action to show interest–you have their attention!

    Does your CRM solution dynamic allocate that response to the sales person or process most likely to meet the customer need?

  3. The customer inquiry is finally in the queue of someone that can potentially meet there intentioned need.

    Does your CRM solution make sure that the sales person makes every effort to contact each customer?

  4. Okay, now we are way out on the edge of probability (are you seeing how your conversion probability is dropping off rapid through each step?). We are going to assume that the sales person contacts the customer.

    Does your CRM solution track what the sales person did with the lead after initial contact?

  5. Now let’s assume all of this went well and the lead turns into a sale and a customer with which you want to manage an ongoing relationship.

    Does your CRM solution get this information from the sales person/process?

If you do a little investigation in your sales organization you will probably find out that most of what I described happens on legal tablets and Excel spreadsheets not in your CRM solution. That is because I described the step before CRM–Customer Acquisition Management–and that is what Lead Management solutions do!

Is CRM Killing Your Lead Generation and Lead Buys?

Is CRM killing your lead generation and lead buys? Mitsu Fisher seems to think so on the Inside Sales Professional Blog.

There is a significant distinction in the sales process and interaction between a prospective customer and a customer. It is a distinction that often lowers a sales person’s probability of acquiring a new customer.

Here is a good overview and graphical depiction of the difference and boundaries between CRM and Customer Acquisition Management (CAM).

Push v. Pull Lead Management Methodology

Jeff Solomon, CEO of our competitor Leads360, has an interesting post on push v. pull methodology of lead management. Since our system is a “pull” system I thought I would share why we elected for this methodology and have shown through client successes that it directly affects conversion rate.

Sales/Organizational Tempo
I debate with Jeff that a push system more quickly gets a lead to the right person. In fact, if the organization is managing their lead to sales capacity the timeliness in getting to a lead should be equal on both systems. I have always maintained, even when I was running high performance mortgage sales teams, that throttling the lead distribution based on productive performance (taking action on leads) and ensuring that leads don’t drop into “dead” queues was the key to my success. So, in selecting a push v. pull lead management system is typically a commitment to a certain sales tempo. A push methodology will lend to sales people expecting leads to be “given to them” and in my experience a lower regard for aggressively responding to customer inquiries. While, in contrast a pull methodology creates an expectation that every lead is “earned” by meeting the last customer’s needs or at least responding quickly to their request. So, I think in the category of tempo and creating high velocity sales teams–the pull methodology is superior.

Time to Initial Contact
Although I conceded that in sales organizations where the sales velocity is high there should be no difference in push v. pull in time to contact. There is still, in the push system, the opportunity or the dreaded “dead” queue. Inherently, the push system allocates each lead to a user on the system. However, is that user logged-in, is he or she on that well deserved two week vacation, or do they even still work at the company? In a push system you had better be very active in user management or you may allocate valuable leads into “dead” queues and once allocated they can be very difficult to see–this can be a very expensive mistake. The last mortgage sales shop I ran we had thousands of sales people and a push system. Managing users in any mortgage shop can be daunting with the generally high turn over, but as the organization gets to that size it can be nearly impossible. We were routinely finding hundreds of leads in “dead” queues–that equals thousands of lost dollars and hundreds of disappointed potential customers.

Pipeline Management
This is a critical component to the conversion equation and one where push v. pull dramatically differ. In the push system leads are put into queues and it is entirely up to the sales person to effectively manage their pipeline. What happens in the average case is you hope the sales person calls the lead even once much less the 5-7 contacts it generally takes to close a lead. In contrast, the pull system continually forces pipeline leads back to the sales person until a final disposition is reached; compelling the 5-7 contacts. Add to this the power of a conversion engine like icoSales that is continually allocating the next highest probability to close and you have guaranteed conversion rate lift.

Sales Process
One final critical factor in increasing sales velocity and conversion is the consistent and disciplined sales process. The difference between the methodologies is once again one of enforcing tempo. The push approach puts a lead in a sales queue and hopes the sales person does something that acquires that customer (note the lack of accountability in the sales process). The pull system compels the sales person to annotate and disposition every lead in order to “earn” the next lead. This creates the consistency in the sales process and feedback for team leaders and marketing.

So fundamentally, the push v. pull debate is one of sales velocity. The pull method will always produce more sales and higher conversion if you maintain an accelerated sales tempo. The method inherently enforces this behavior in organizations committed to high performance sales teams.

My recommendation: If you want a push system use your email inbox. That is a push lead management system and has the advantages that your sales force already checks it routinely, you probably already have one, and it is probably more cost effective than buying and implementing a push lead management system, but I guarantee you will lose at least 3-5% off your conversion rate. Can you afford that trade-off?

Increasing Closings and Conversion with a Huddle

Brian Carroll releases some more critical information on maximizing the return on your lead generation dollars. He equates the critical feedback loop to the team huddle:

Closed Loop Feedback: The Missing Lead Generation Huddle: “

In team sports, the huddle is crucial to the success of the team. While in the huddle, the team looks at their performance on the last play, including: what worked and what didn’t, and then uses this feedback to decide their strategy on the next play.’

Those of us involved in the complex sale can learn a lot from the team huddle.’ Lead generation is an iterative process that requires consistent closed loop feedback. Closing the loop on a regular basis allows you to constantly learn from each interaction. Closed-loop feedback – the principle of eliciting a continuous flow of pertinent information from the sales team – tracks each qualified lead from start to end, whether to sales close or to rejection.’

He shows how closing that loop in a disciplined way has yielded big returns:

By using closed-loop-feedback, Nortel Networks, watched their revenues from sales leads double every quarter for six consecutive quarters. Also, their close rate on sales leads has increased by 500% since they kicked off the program.’

Check out Brian’s Closed Loop Feedback: The Missing Lead Generation Huddle to see the detailed step-by-step huddle plan to increase you conversion rate.

(Via B2B Lead Generation Blog.)

How do I increase conversion on Internet leads?

How do I increase my conversion rate on the lead I purchase? This is the top question I am asked on a daily basis. So, I thought I would post directly to that question.

These are common best practices and will be reiterated by any successful sales organization and lead provider; however, the difficulty is having the discipline (or the lead management solution) to consistently enforce these best practices.

Be Informed

Know what is going on. You need to know your market, your competitors, and what is causing people to have a need for your product(s). If you have a large number of products educate yourself and simplify your presentation by segmenting products by potential consumer needs.

In addition to understanding what you are selling make sure you read and watch popular culture. Consumers want to feel like their is a human on the other end of the sale. So, read the front page, the sports page, the entertainment page. People love to talk about the weather–make sure you know what it is outside of your cube.

Contact Quickly

Consumers, especially Internet consumers, in this age of high connectivity expect immediate responses. Unfortunately, on the sell-side of the equation consumers also expect to transact at their convenience.

Consequently, you need to immediately respond to each new lead receipt with an immediate message to the consumer that you are attempting to contact them. This is easily done with an introduction email and phone call (voicemail). This introduce your company, you, and your ability to meet their needs.

Be Diligent

Although we all want to be one call closers this is not a reality. In fact most consumers close somewhere between the fifth and tenth call. If you are only calling on those fresh leads each day–you are losing deals to the competitor.

This happens for a myriad reasons: people are busy, needs can be complex, final decisions may require a spouse, etc.

Ask Questions and Listen

This seems intuitive, but how many times have you heard a sales person so revved up on their canned pitch that they are talking past the potential customer. Make sure you start with questions and a needs assessment and close with confirmations of these needs. This is guaranteed to increase your closings!

Take Applications

An application and quote is free. Take and give them often. Consumers are looking for the price and commitment. Withholding the price so that “the customer doesn’t shop me” is bunk. If you don’t tell them the deal they are guaranteed to go to the competitor. Consumers want convenience, not games.

If you are still worried about shopping, use the application and quote process to build trust. Educate them on all of the tricks and hidden fees or gimmicks the competitor is going to pull and when they do they will run back to you and be a trusting customer and referrer for life.

Bottom Line: Follow-up, Don’t Lose Customers, Satisfy Needs

As your pipeline gets large it gets harder and harder to manage this bottom line. That is why I generally recommend a managed pipeline of no larger than 100-150 leads. This ensures that you are able to contact every consumer in your pipeline at least once every 48 hours, assuming you are hitting my recommended call velocity of 60-80 calls per day. The management of the pipeline, call backs, and annotating consumer needs all point to the need for a capable lead management strategy that keeps all of these best practices consistent, enforced, and managed.

Enjoy increased closings today!