It’s a fact of business development: despite all your hard work, sometimes your sales pipeline gets low. You might be tempted to ride things out and double down on sales and marketing efforts. But does sticking with the same failing strategy ever produce different results? Over time things can really start to go awry and chip away at sales revenue: fewer leads, less prospect engagement, too many lost deals.
Your system might not be broken, but is it the best it can be? Retooling your entire sales and marketing system is a daunting idea, especially if you have a small team. But you probably wouldn’t settle for “good enough” on your production line in your manufacturing environment or in the services you provide to clients, and you shouldn’t settle for it when building your sales pipeline either.
In our experience, the best way to go from good enough to optimum is with an approach we call Omnibound®. It’s a holistic way of looking at sales and marketing and encompasses three key steps:
1. Assess what you do now.
Take a deep dive into your sales cycle from start to finish and look for consistent problems. Are handoffs between teams or departments smooth? Do marketing and sales reps define a sales qualified lead (SQL) the same way? Are all of your reps proficient with your CRM and other automation tools? Do you have easy access to metrics to measure success?
In the industrial and manufacturing space, you strive for continuous improvement: tweaking processes for efficient production, boosting product quality, reducing waste, and increasing volume. At Acadia, we apply the same concepts to sales and marketing, using time and money strategically and scrutinizing processes to optimize results.
It starts with creating a detailed picture of the current situation, for example:
- Instead of relying on “tribal knowledge” and tradition …
- Write out procedures and workflows (in detail!)
- Document changes as they occur
- Make notes about the rationale behind decisions
- Instead of wondering if efforts have really paid off …
- Identify key data and metrics that show the whole picture
- Create reports to quickly see what works and what doesn’t
- Instead of sending communications without a focus …
- Study how your prospects fall into segments
- Note how you have (or haven’t) tailored your message to those segments
- Use technology to track performance of targeted communication
2. Align your sales and marketing teams.
Create a list of the problems and needs identified in step one. Include everything from training, to workflows, to technology. Get input from sales and marketing team members. Now’s the time to compare notes on what’s working, what team members need to be effective, and how to improve communication and coordination.
Some examples of alignment in practice include the following:
- Instead of pointing fingers for not sending quality leads or not following up on leads …
- Communicate! Hold regular meetings to share ideas and prospect feedback
- Map out processes for following up, finding new contacts, advancement criteria, etc.
- Develop online dashboards and reports to study the facts from key metrics
- Instead of creating content and telephonic calling scripts in a vacuum …
- Incorporate input from inbound and outbound marketing, inside and outside sales
- Discuss what prospects ask, common pain points, and industry insights with content creators
- Agree on who your ideal customer is (sometimes called a “buyer persona”)
- Build a content library that addresses all stages of your ideal customer’s buying journey
- Instead of starting over from scratch with a new CRM or migrating to new platforms …
- Make sure the data in your CRM and other tools is clean, consistent, and accurate
- Study up on the tools you have in place – they may have tremendous untapped power
- Research marketing automation and other tools that help with key functions (e.g. content creation, email or social media management, in house video editing)
- Identify an in-house expert to help with training and troubleshooting
- Instead of relying on incomplete or outdated customer and prospect data …
- Make in-house rules for how and when to enter and update information
- Agree on segments and definitions to organize data meaningfully
- Commit to keeping your data clean, accurate, and verified
- Hold all users accountable to following rules for data entry
3. Refine and redeploy your strategy.
The truth is you probably won’t achieve perfection the first time, not entirely anyway. That’s OK because knowing what doesn’t work is nearly as important as knowing what does. In this step, review the procedures, workflows, and content you’ve developed – it should be far easier this time because now you’re documenting everything (if you’re not, circle back to step 1). You’ll most likely repeat step 3 once or more, but as you gain insight, you’ll be fine tuning instead of overhauling.
We encourage our clients to keep these points in mind:
- Instead of unleashing the new plan on all of your clients and prospects at once …
- Pick one segment you’re well positioned to penetrate and create a test program
- Watch for changes in customer and prospect engagement, sales rep and leadership feedback, and benchmarking metrics
- Instead of abandoning changes if the first attempt didn’t meet expectations …
- Look at big-picture numbers and individual cases for patterns
- Pinpoint the problem(s): are you asking the wrong questions? do sales reps need more product training? is there a lag in follow up and nurturing? is your data wrong or incomplete? does your content or message miss the mark?
- Instead of focusing exclusively on how the segment performed …
- Do an internal accountability check
- Keep lines of communication open between teams
- Verify that everyone enters their engagement notes right away and in detail, task reminders are used consistently, and data entry rules are followed (remember the old saying “garbage in – garbage out”?)
- Address any training needs immediately
- Make sure everyone follows procedures and workflows for following up/nurturing, asking for referrals, engaging prospects with email and social media, using marketing automation tools and “official” content
Omnibound® is systematic, custom and strategic – a true investment in your business development. If you’re ready to see how this collaborative approach can transform your sales and marketing, get in touch!