Matt Hall, MD of Profunnel, looks at the importance of lead generation and management in the current climate.
Generating sales leads is like dating - you need interest, intelligence and rapport if love is going to blossom.
A guy asks a girl he has just met in a bar: “What are the chances of you going out with me. She replies disdainfully: “One in a million.” His face lights up: “So you’re saying there’s a chance!” It’s an old joke, but one that is played out in sales teams all over the world in the shape of cold calling.
There is no interest from the target company but the approach is made nonetheless. The sales person has no idea of what the supposed ‘lead’ is looking for but they make the call nonetheless. There is no differentiation to their approach.
Despite the competitive markets in which we all operate, this lack of ‘nurturing’ prospects continues to be common. ‘We don’t have the time or money to really understand our sales leads’ is a phrase commonly heard. But without this knowledge, how can any relationship flourish?
Undoubtedly sales is a numbers game but cold calling has to be adjusted for the modern era, refined and perhaps re-defined. If you take a look at your ‘cold’ calls that have turned into profitable business they are generally not totally cold.
There is typically some connection that makes that call more relevant to the prospect – be that a personal relationship or knowledge of the market.
If we could find a way to keep the high activity levels of cold calling but add some intelligence to help form a relationship, then we unlock the door to something very powerful. This is where marketing automation software is making its mark.
No longer solely the domain of the large corporations, it gives a more reliable method of lead generation that is measurable, methodical and affordable, allowing you to focus activity on the hot leads you need to secure business.
Most businesses today have a website, but when someone visits the site how do you start interacting with that individual and progress the relationship?
The good news is that there is now a subtle way to start building a profile on these contacts. Web forensics allows you to identify individual web visitors and tag and track their ongoing activity on your site, whether it be general browsing or downloads of items such as case studies and other website collateral, enabling you to understand where their interest lies.
By identifying the whole journey that your customers take you can interact with them more effectively, helping convert future business.
Sorry it’s a bad time at the moment
Traditional cold calling science says that persistence pays. But how do you know when enough is enough, while keeping the contact alive? This is where marketing technology plays a key role and integrates with CRM.
It can manage your on-going relationships, sending reminder emails at key times and building lead profiles to give you an automated marketing system that is capable of developing and maintaining relationships.
If a contact starts showing interest by visiting your website more often than usual or visiting new parts of your site the technology will flag up the change, triggering a personalised message to be sent and giving your sales team more information to follow up the lead. This comprehensive tracking of behaviour reveals when your contacts are in the mood to buy.
Why Waste Time On No Hopers?
We’ve all spent time chasing lost relationships, but the danger is that we miss out on people where there might be a spark. With marketing automation it is now possible to have the equivalent of a scorecard, providing you with more detailed information on those contacts where love will blossom.
The technology works by scoring visitors to your site on the way they interact. If they visit often and/or complete calls to action such as signing up for a newsletter or following your blog their score increases. You can set the criteria to assess this interaction, so the sales team is only asked to contact high scoring leads. The result? No wasted time on ‘no hopers’ and a more targeted approach to sales.
It Takes Courage
It takes a lot of nerve to approach a stranger with the cold calling technique and it takes some courage to move over to a new way of forging relationships. But in today’s business world the key to successful sales is to understand what works, when and for whom.
With tools such as marketing automation and web forensics you get clear results on which activities paid dividends in terms of developing a lead into a sale, and you’re rewarded with a better basis for building a revenue stream. You will still need to do the numbers but you will be an altogether more attractive and intelligent proposition.
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