How to Sell More in the Current Economic Climate

It's not the economy that's in charge of your sales results - it's you. Here's our take on how to sell your way through the current climate

How to Sell More in the Current Economic Climate

Digital marketing should be the cornerstone of your lead generation efforts. As leads generated online cost less than those generated through outbound methods and because you can cast a wide net, you can grow your sales in an efficient and effective manner. This is great for your business!

Read on to find out why digital marketing is so awesome!

Digital Marketing Rocks

“Businesses that generate 40% or more of their leads online grow 4x faster than those who don’t.”

Hinge Marketing Study, 2011

The importance of this study to your business is clear. You may not want to grow at a very fast pace, although the principle still applies: having an online leads generation process in place can only be a good thing if it gets you ahead of competition.

Imagine a constant stream of inbound leads flowing into your business – it takes time and effort, but it’s a scenrio you can definitely achieve!

Note: Leads generated online have a short lifespan – you need to make contact within the hour for optimcal results

(Harvard Business Review)

Furthermore, when you consider that leads generated online cost less than those generated offline on average, the case for digital lead generation becomes evern stronger.

So, not only can you cast a wider net and reach a wider audience, it’s also more cost effective to do it this way.

Sounds like a big win all around!

“Leads generated online cost up to 62% less than those generated through outbound methods”

Hubspot, Dec 2011

So How Do You Start on Digital Marketing?

Well, there are a handful of ways in which you can start to build a winning digital presence for your business. For example, you could focus on the following:

  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Google Places Setup
  • Social Media Presence
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising

And don’t forget that great content is absolutely king, so make it your aim to focus on some or all of the following:

  • Weekly/Monthly Website Blogging
  • Content Marketing (eg. e-Books, Infographics, Guest Blogging)
  • Engaging website and social media content

The trick though is to make sure that everything is tightly integrated – you want to have your sales and marketing processes working in harmony. We’ll discuss this in more detail going forward.

The process of lead nurturing is incredibly powerful. It can mean the difference between a successful sales year and a terrible one. Most businesses don’t engage with this though – make sure you are not one of them.

Lead Nurturing is Awesome

“An average company will lose between 40% and 80% of all leads as they move through the sales process due to poor management”

Yankee Group Study

You wouldn’t just through away between 40% and 80% of your sales, would you? Well, any business operating without a lead nurturing process in place is doing effectively just that. It’s no wonder that hitting annual sales targets seems so hard when there is so much waste.

To make sure that you are working toward your full potential, it’s so important to set up a lead nurturing process. This can’t be stresssed highly enough.

Note: Once set up, lead nurturing processes can be mostly automated, leaving you to focus on other important parts of your business.

This can also be expressed in other terms: only around 20% of the prospects you talk to are actually ‘sales ready’. In turn, this means that the other 80% aren’t quite there yet. However, they will be a bit further down the line.

Therefore you need to make sure you are on their mind when they re-enter the market. How do you do this? By lead nurturing!

Only 20% of prospects are actually ready to buy when you talk to them – the rest will re-enter the market within 24 months.

Eloqua, Grande Guide To Lead Nurturing

So How Do You Start on Lead Nurturing?

Ideally, you want you lead nurturing process to be as automated as possible. Many of the mainstream CRM systems can help with this. The idea is that you set up ‘tracks’, which leads are moved along until they are ready to make a purchase.

Along this track, you will set up different points of interaction, or ‘touches’. Different tracks will be appropriate according to urgency of sale, although an example of a long term nurturing process may be as follows:

Step One: 2 weeks after initial contact, an automated follow up email is sent.
Step Two: One week after Step One, a follow up phone call is automatically scheduled and prompted.
Step Three: 1 month after Step Two, a complimentary ebook is sent.
Step Four: 3 months after Step Three, a follow up call is automatically scheduled and prompted.

And so on…

The idea is that you are automatically staying in contact with information relevant to the individual prospect. That way, you stand good chance of gaining their future business.

No Matter What You Have Heard, Direct Sales Can Win the Game

At the end of the day, the only reason any of the processes we have discussed so far are engaged in is so that sales can be made and increased. So, far from being obsolete, your sales skill and activity is vitally important.

“The £14 billion direct marketing industry is expected to grow by 7% in 2012″

Direct Marketing Association

The direct marketing industry is huge, and it continues to grow because of the the fact that it works. Now, I am not advocating that you simply get on the phone and start cold calling as many people as you can – I think that telesales, as with all direct marketing efforts, should be done intelligently and with care.

Essentially, there is no getting away from the fact that people do business with people. Even if you have the best online lead generation process in place, there will come a point where you have to deal in person with your prospect. So, it stands to reason that if you can learn to sell effectively, you will find yourself head and shoulders above your competitors who maybe aren’t focusing as much as they should on their direct sales process.

“Response rates from outbound telesales campaigns are still highest, with results of more than 5% being reported.”

Direct Marketing Association

As you can see, telesales response rates are still high, beating those of paid advertising and direct mail according to the DMA.

In addition, we find that if a telesales campaign is used in tandem with a great digital marketing and leads nurturing campaign, the results can be staggering. This way, you are not cold calling at all, you are calling people who have already interacted with your business.

Much more appealing to both parties!

So How Do You Start on Direct Sales?

Of all the skills discussed so far, learing the art of telesales is perhaps the most difficult. If done correctly and intelligently, you can come across as someone who is very professional, trustworthy and potentially a great business partner. However, if it’s not done properly you risk coming across as spammy and therefore damaging the reputation of your business. Here are some pointers that can help you succeed in telesales:

  • Learn to use questioning techniques properly. Ask open questions that can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’
  • Learn to handle objections as best as you can – understand that they will come up in almost every sale and be prepared to answer them intelligently
  • Research every prospect before you call. Knowing a bit about them and their business can work wonders. It can also help you to understand exactly how you can help them.
  • Be disciplined – successful direct sales takes time and effort. Your efforts will pay off handsomely if you stick at it.

In sum, if telesales is done properly, there is no better way to convey your own value to your prospect. Just be sure to avoid the stereotypical call center approach!

Putting It All Together

So, we’ve discussed three areas now that can be used to really take charge of your sales and marketing success. As mentioned previously, the trick here is to make sure that they each complement each other and are working in harmony.

A very basic example would be along the following lines. You could use an online lead generation campaign in order to encourage sign-ups for a whitepaper download relevant to your business or industry. Rather than promoting your website homepage with Google Ads or Social Media work, you could promote your download landing page instead. As it’s a freebie, your conversation rates would likely be higher.

After a period of time, you will have a great database of leads that you can begin ‘nurturing’ along your sales funnel. You would do this by way using the led nurturing tracks we mentioned earlier.

Finally, as the leads mature into prospects, you can begin your direct sales process, using your new-found telesales skills. This way, all three processes are working together and you are making the most of every opportunity you have. That way you take control of your sales results, showing the climate who is really in charge of your business success in the process!

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