Until recently, sales lead management was purely a numbers game – call enough prospects and if you spread enough chips across the table, the roulette table of sales will uncover a golden opportunity.
But in today’s digital age, with so much information available at your fingertips, the game has changed. The modern sales exec is like a honeybee on a summer day — which flowers will attract what bee at that particular moment? It’s all in the timing.
The first imperative to be successful in sales today is to have a CRM data powered website. This provides instant knowledge about each visitor. Here are the three most common digital personas:
- Competitor / Researcher
- Prospective Buyer
- Loyal Customer
By understanding which persona is visiting your site you can respond intelligently with personalized follow-up.
Inside Sales Job
Let’s be honest. Most field salespeople love the hunt and are too busy chasing new business to be concerned with delivering personalized follow-up at the early stage of buyer interest. You won’t find them in the office staring at screens in marketing mission control looking out for ‘inbound’ leads.
This is where your inside sales team comes into the play. These folks are deskbound and can respond instantly, especially when ‘bot assisted’ to start the engagement process. There are at least three different tracks of automated follow-up for each type of inbound visitor, including:
- An existing customer who can be referred immediately to their account manager and/or sales support for personal handling and follow-up;
- A returning prospect who can receive an automated “welcome back/good to hear from you” email, and again be passed urgently on to their salesperson for personal handling; and
- A new inquirer who can be fully qualified by appropriate bot managed questions, and then automatically passed on to the appropriate inside sales specialist to commence the sales process.
For grins, let’s talk about old school selling, which continues in many companies and represents the worst horrors of the sales profession. Consider these three real world examples of horrible selling behaviour:
- Make up stories to bypass gatekeeper who could be an ally. When duped gatekeeper will reveal the blatant, fabricated stories that are told to get through to the decision maker.
- Bombard prospect after he/she has communicated not ready to purchase.
- Request a canned web demo when prospect has expressed interest in a specific area of your business – GAG!!
I mention these three behaviours because they are so contrary to what makes buyers purchase, yet sadly they prevail.
Like waiting for your investment portfolio to mature or long-term currency positions to improve, the winners of the sales game are those who are patient. Ironically, this is the antithesis of the old style, roulette approach.
To be successful, salespeople must take a long term investment approach:
- Be ready at tradeshows to handle visitors in the same way you handle those on your website. i.e. respond according to the three types of inbound visitors identified above.
- Supply engaging and relevant content until the prospect is ready to move down the funnel.
- Provide sales with the tools needed to communicate in a relevant, authentic way, via face-to-face, web meetings, social media, email or text messaging.
The ability to generate revenue from sales leads demands a strategic process to handle inquiries based on a personalized approach. Take a long-term market position and don’t rush the process with generic messaging, which is the ultimate turn off. Remember to have an integrated martech and salestech stack and the right people internally to manage the jobs. While not an easy recipe, this sales strategy is proven to deliver generous dividends over time.
Peter Gillett is CEO of Zuant, where he’s responsible for driving product development and client roll-outs of the company’s award-winning Mobile Lead Capture app across US corporations. An entrepreneur and innovator, Peter created the world’s first web-based CRM system funded by Lucent Technologies in the 1990s. CRM, lead generation and follow-up are still the focus for Zuant and its network of NACCENT call centers around the globe.