Everyone knows the sales journey is not always a direct path from A to B. In fact, it may take weeks or months and several interactions via different channels (e.g. email, website, phone) for a prospect to progress to lead status. When you think about the various types of interaction you typically have with prospects, it’s clear there really isn’t a good one-size-fits-all way to follow up with them. Multiply this by the number of prospects out there and it’s challenging to keep track of each account, contact, and timeline.
Marketing automation tools streamline this process. They let you add, tag, sort, and mix and match prospects into structured lists you can work with easily.
Each of the following examples can be associated with a strategic nurturing activity to reinforce the relationship and encourage a prospect to take the next step, for example:
|Automated Nurturing Process
Scanned their badge at your trade show booth
Acknowledge their visit, send a link to a demo video
Spoke with you on the phone
Set a reminder task notification to call them again in two weeks
Last purchase was 6 months ago
Send an email thanking them for past business and a link to your new catalog
Attended your webinar
Send a download of the webinar slides and an offer for a consultation
Process engineer downloaded a whitepaper
Ask if they have questions on the whitepaper and send a demo or ROI calculator
Opened three or more emails from your drip campaign series
Email with directions on subscribing to your blog
Based on your defined sales processes, decide what categories your records fall into and how you want to handle each category, then let the database do the tedious work like keeping track of dates, tasks, and email addresses.
Sales reps need the ability to quickly identify those who are uninterested and shift their status to a lower priority category. Prioritizing in this way leaves more time to focus on the leads with the most potential. The first step is defining terms (e.g. can your team agree on what a lead is?) and advancement criteria. At the same time, identify the clear indicators that while a prospect may have some interest, they’re not worth pursuing actively.
These are the foundation on which you build your CRM database, not the other way around. You determine the stages and criteria that drive lead generation and the computer platform keeps things organized and managed. In sales or manufacturing, relying on a tool’s default settings, or failing to learn the ins and outs of how it operates, keeps it from working as effectively as it could.
All of this is especially important if you’re engaged in a time- and resource-intensive calling campaign. Building the stages, statuses, and criteria into your database helps you save time and call strategically: following up with those who have shown some interest, proactively gathering and documenting business intelligence, or conducting “voice of the customer” surveys. Update each record with your calling notes and status changes so you have the full backstory before you reach out again.
In part fabrication, your finished product is only as good as the components that go into it. Consider an automated welding workstation. Each component must be prepared to the correct dimensions in order to fit into the welding fixture correctly. If they don’t fit, weld placement and joint alignment may be off, resulting in a scrapped part.
Sales and marketing data work on the same principle. Data is everywhere, and while it contributes to objective decision-making, the quality of the data use is determined by the quality of the data you put into your CRM. Useful data has these characteristics:
Design and run reports and dashboards based on data in CRM or marketing automation software to quickly visualize progress, success, and sticking points in campaigns. These create pictures into the state of your pipeline to address questions such as:
Sales reps and management may have a feeling or a sense about these, but data shows you definitively, reinforcing some suspicions and correcting others. Reports and dashboards show you where to take a closer look.
How you approach filling and managing your pipeline is the difference between lost opportunities and getting the most out of your prospecting efforts. Computing power plays a big part, but if your CRM and marketing automation tools aren’t up to the task, you could be wasting time scrambling instead of selling. We can help – please contact us.
Sometimes in sales and marketing things go along great – until they don’t. Other times you know something’s not working quite right, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is.
Both are signs it’s time to take a step back and assess the situation. A closer look at your people, processes, and technology, and how they work together (or don’t) may reveal invaluable clues to problems and possible solutions.