You Need Software To Manage The Complexity Of Today’s Sales And Marketing Effort
I get it; for the longest time, you ran your business based on gut. Then Microsoft introduced the spreadsheet and you had a place to put some numbers and some names. It helped you organize what you were doing and handle some simple calculations. But eventually it became a mass of spreadsheet farms and it was difficult to find anything. More importantly, it didn’t add any additional value, save you time or help you be better.
Then software took a quantum leap forward and you didn’t have to buy hardware, load software or burden your IT team with anything. You just purchased a subscription and the web did the rest of the work. Sales was introduced to the CRM system and you probably tried a couple of different options before you settled on one that wasn’t too complicated but helped your sales team be more organized and more efficient.
Marketing technology is getting the same treatment today. A variety of options are available. Some are simple and cheap, while others are more complicated and require a bigger investment. The way people buy today is making sales and marketing practices more buyer-centric. Data is key to understanding your buyers and data is resident in these software tools. Because marketing and sales management have become much more complex, marketing automation and CRM are no longer optional — they’re mandatory.
But you all know that. Almost everyone has some sales technology or a CRM system, and most of you have purchased or are thinking about purchasing marketing software, too. What you might not know is how to get full value from your marketing and sales automation, how to select the perfect tools for your company, and how to integrate those tools into your sales and marketing optimization efforts to produce shorter sales cycles, higher close rates and more leads for your sales team to close.
Today, we’re going to focus on how to take full advantage of that investment in software to improve your overall revenue performance.
Understanding The Data Behind The Buyer Journey
Back in the day, you knew if someone was interested in your product or service when they called your office and asked to speak with a sales rep. Today, you know based on their behavior. What pages did they visit? What offers did they download? How long were they on your site? How many times did they visit your site? What emails did they click on? What blog articles did they read? Who have they shared your content with? These attributions give you important insight into their buyer journey and what’s important to them.
You don’t have to guess anymore. If you use these tools properly, you and your sales team will know exactly what your prospects are interested in before you have your first conversation. It’s not creepy, it’s smart. It demonstrates that you care about their issues and challenges. It shows your company is easy to work with. It shows you’re progressive and want to be helpful. It puts you in a position to be their advisor and their guide because your message is “let me continue to help you on your journey to make a safe purchase decision” as opposed to “let me see what I can sell you.”
Having access to this data and using this data to continuously improve the marketing and sales processes means constant improvements in close rates and short sales cycles.
Automating And Personalizing The Air Cover
Another benefit of using sales and marketing software is the ability to make both sales and marketing more efficient by automating some of the reoccurring tasks required to help prospects move along the sales process. One of the most obvious tools is automating the contact requirements while keeping those contacts feeling personal for the prospects.
I like to think about the email aspect of sales and marketing like the air attack in a military operation. The better the air cover, the easier the ground game. If you can continually provide valuable, educational and pain-specific content to your prospects via email, when your sales reps reach out via the phone the prospect is going to take the call and be excited to continue the conversation. The emails are also going to help the reps continue that conversation without having to be involved in every touch point.
Or course, this must be architected correctly, personalized productively and optimized based on the performance data around those touch points. Are they opening your emails? Are they moving along and taking the action we’re offering in those emails? This is almost impossible to deliver without software and your goal should be to create an experience unmatched by your competitors. Let’s cover the experience next.
Creating A Remarkable Sales Process
Marketing and sales have a single mission: Make each prospect feel safe enough with your company to hire you. One way to deliver on that mission is to build a sales process that is so special, different and aligned with their goals that it’s remarkable when compared to all of your competitors.
This isn’t about software, but software helps make this easier. This is about knowing what your prospects need, what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Then it’s about delivering that in a way that is non-threatening, productive and solely focused on helping them make a safe purchase decision.
Once you get this process locked down, it’s about making it repeatable, scalable and predictable, so that every single rep executes it in a similar way every time. Not in the exact same way, because they will need flexibility to adjust based on a prospect’s needs. Once you get to this point, you can start applying the small changes that make it even better over time. The software provides the data and the ability to control the system. You’ll need both.
Looking At The Full-Funnel Analytics
Marketing typically looks at analytics around lead generation and sales typically looks at analytics around closing customers. But today, I think you want to look at the entire funnel at once and as one ecosystem.
Each stage of the buyer journey and the connected conversion rate provides insights into your prospects’ experiences with your company and the opportunities to improve those experiences, which will improve your ability to hit your revenue targets.
By knowing your conversion rates at each stage of the full funnel, you’ll get insights into adjustments you want to make at each stage of the sales process. For example, if you’re having trouble closing new customers, look at your paperwork. Is it too legal? Is it too long? Is it more about you than the prospect? Does it make it look like you might be difficult to work with? By eliminating this friction, you can improve your conversion rate from proposals/agreements/contracts submitted to new customers. This can be a major improvement toward helping you hit your revenue targets.
Changing The Sales Process And The Sales Rep’s Role
Once you start changing the sales process to match more closely with the buyer’s journey, you also have to talk about changing the role of the sales rep. The rep used to manage the sales process. Today, the buyer manages the process. The rep is along for the ride (if you’re lucky). By that I mean you want to design a process and a role that positions the sales rep as the prospect’s guide or advisor along the way. Instead of selling, they provide guidance, counsel and advice. This is how people want to be helped when they’re buying stuff. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $50 cell phone case or a $500,000 piece of software. They want to be helped, not to be sold.
The better your process and the better your sales team aligns with this new buyer behavior, the more you close, the faster you’ll close and the more money you’ll get from those new customers.
I still remember the old days when all the sales and marketing organizations were called into a meeting and informed that an entire new process for selling was going to be implemented. They trained us, sent us out and expected the massive changes to just happen. Marketing did its best to support the new process, while sales waited until the new process was forgotten about and then went back to the old ways. This happened every year or so. Remember that?
Today, it’s about iteration. Instead of big wholesale changes, it’s about small adjustments, upgrades and tweaks based on data. That data comes from the marketing and sales software. The access to that data helps us make smarter, more informed and more prospect-centric adjustments. For example, prospects are replying 50% more often when we include this new e-book vs. the other whitepaper, so let’s start using the new e-book all of the time. In fact, let’s build that tool into our new sales process, which the CRM supports automatically.
Or, prospects are closing two weeks faster when we use the reference reel video vs. when we give them references to call, so let’s build out a process in the CRM that includes this asset and let’s make sure everyone knows how to position it so it’s about their buyer journey, not our attempt to close them faster. This is how these tools can impact your business in dramatic and impactful ways. They have impact on business results like revenue, new customers and speed to market.
Square 2 Marketing – Innovating Marketing And Sales To Match Today’s Buyer Behavior!