How to Fix a Leaky Sales Pipeline Fast

You have efficiently and effectively filled the sales funnel with fresh leads by gaining insights and improving opportunities, movement and action using tips from references such as this one from Tellwise. You have a process to quickly engage your customers and your sales reps are in the field making contact with new and old leads, but before these leads reach the end of the pipeline, the flow steadily slows until only a few of those leads trickle out and turn into real sales. The problem is not related to clogs, as you have already reviewed the process and removed any roadblocks using tips from articles such as this one in Forbes. You know your salespeople are not wasting their time on unproductive leads and they follow-up with customers and for those that will buy, they help them move along and close the deal. The problem is those customers who just disappear and leak out of the pipeline not heard from again.

What are some steps you can take to plug the leaks and keep these customers coming back?

  • Make sure you are staying up on current leads and avoid letting leads age. Having leads delivered to your inbox every day. Know what companies in your area are ready to make a move. Assign and prioritize the leads, then set reminders to follow-up regularly. If you don’t forget about them, they will not forget about you.
  • Quickly contact provided leads. Harvard Business Review reports that firms that make initial contact after receiving a lead within one hour were seven times more likely to get the sale, than those who waited after receiving the lead. Assess at this point if this will be a productive lead and allow your sales team to make that decision with the understanding they will own those leads they qualify.
  • Keep in contact. Make the process simple for the customer to follow through and decide to go with you. You have removed the hurdles for your sales team, now is the time to remove the hurdles for your customer. Invite your clients, current and future, to events. Invite them to engage with you over social media. Share information with them that is relevant and assists their decision-making process.

At Lead411, we want to help fill your sales funnel with current, qualified leads so your sales team can work around the clogs and plug the leaks.

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In the B2B world, it’s easy to assume that every lead you go after is going to think alike. It’s risky to make assumptions the B2B industry is overly uniform and businesses automatically gravitate to products like yours. In truth, every business customer is different. Your sales and marketing team could end up wasting time going after leads that don’t even qualify based on your criteria.

It’s time to learn how to engage highly qualified leads to avoid wasting time you could spend on more important things. What’s important is to give your sales and marketing team the right tools to land those leads. As top marketing blogs point out, too many sales professionals aren’t equipped with the right assets or resources to do this.

Getting Your Sales and Marketing Team Together

Many B2B marketing analysts note that out of all leads sent to B2B sales departments, only 27% of them fit being qualified. This means a lot of wasted effort, perhaps because your sales and marketing departments work separately. Without having a conjoined effort, neither one will know whether a lead is truly qualified or not.

As another benefit to aligning sales and marketing, they’ll both know where a lead is within the sales funnel. Every lead needs nurturing through this funnel, and it can tell you whether the prospect is worth the extra push through to the conversion phase.

Tools like Lead411 can help you identify the best time to contact a prospect or company based off of sales triggers, like recent funding, new hires and even what other products that company has purchased. This is an incredibly valuable time saver, and alerts can notify you and your sales team on when new prospects enter into your filtered criteria.

How Engaged is Your Lead?

By studying how many page views, interactions, and redeems your lead compiles with your marketing content, you can immediately tell which ones are worth going after. The key factor here is those who engage more than once clearly have more interest in your products or services than if visiting once or twice.

Be sure to use analytic tools to study just how engaged your leads are with content before engaging them further. Real-time metrics help considerably with this so you can take quick action to get ahead of competitors.

Answering Some Other Key Questions

Engaging leads early, you’ll find some ways to get some questions answered by either having direct conversations, or sending them surveys in marketing emails. Ask four key questions you need answered before proceeding.

The most crucial question is: What is the prospect looking for, or need to help their business grow? Plus, you want to know how long it’s going to take for the lead to make a buying decision.

Next, find out what their budgetary requirements are. Then ask whether they’re the authority figure on making the final decisions to buy.

All of these tell you everything you need to know to personalize your future communications.

Don’t forget about putting together B2B customer personas so you can fully understand pain points of every lead. This means everything in making the sales funnel journey more personal.

Visit us at Lead411 to learn more about how to best approach and engage B2B leads.

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While the holiday season is boom or bust for retailers, B2B email marketing requires some extra thought ensuring that the season remains strong and leads do not cool while customers focus their efforts elsewhere. Steve Denner wraps up a few tips in his article “4 tips you cannot ignore this holiday season” to help keep your email marketing campaign focused and in front of your business partners.

Beware of spam

As businesses and retailers turn up the heat to boost sales, email inboxes stuffed full of goodies, may often go unread. As receivers become overwhelmed, rather than read every email they may spend their time unsubscribing and reporting emails as spam. Apply strategy to your holiday email campaigns ensuring the topics are clearly stated, emails on point and provide something of value to the reader.

Dress it up or not?

For some businesses and retailers, adding holiday colors, flashing lights and falling snow is the key to getting their emails to stand out in the reader’s inbox. For B2B emails, however, low-key is frequently more impactful than flash and glitter. It is okay to add a little cheer, but keep it subtle.

Keep prospects warm

If your business is one with a longer sales cycle or subject to constraints of budget cycles, you will want to keep your prospect interested and intrigued throughout a holiday slowdown for their business. Many businesses who are not directly marketing to consumers may settle in for a long winter break. Be attentive to their schedules, paying attention to their needs and answering those needs with targeted reminders and communications that keep your company in the forefront.

What is your schedule?

In today’s global economy, your customers may not celebrate the same ways and the same days. If you plan to close your doors for a day or more, communicate your schedule plans early and often. Likewise, if you will be open without a change to hours, let your customers know. Sometimes no surprise is the best surprise.

Calling various prospects on the phone can be intimidating. The sales pitch needs to go out the window because it’s ineffective. Research has shown that knowing more about the person you’re calling makes all the difference in the world.

Customize the Call

The old-fashioned idea of cold calling was hard because it was all about spewing information and hoping that the lead would stay on the phone long enough to learn something they found useful. Now, it’s better to customize the call. Ask questions and be sure that you offer a solution based upon their responses. You want to have a dialogue as opposed to a monologue.

Use the Information You Have

A prospect has already shown some kind of interest in what you have to offer. Forbes makes the suggestion of letting the prospect do the talking. This is absolutely true, though you also want to be sure you use the information you have to ask the right questions. Specify how you got their information and remind them as to what you have to offer.

Remember That People are Busy

You need to respect the potential buyer’s time. They are busy and don’t have time for a long and drawn out conversation. Focus on the issue you are calling about. Once you have hooked them, offer a follow-up so they can be prepared for your call.

Take the time to do some research regarding your target demographic and use the information you have about the person. Customize the call and you may find that you get better results.

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Your email list is growing, your content is on point, but wait…your delivery percentage is dismally low! How are your going to turn these emails into sales if you can’t reach your customers? These 8 tips to improve your outbound email deliverability will ensure your message reaches everyone on your list.

1. Clean Before You Import

Scan all lists before you import them, especially those from contests and trade shows. Remove duplicates and then vet all emails thru a service like Email Checker or Mail Tester. And of course, only import emails from reputable sources!

2. Keep Your List Healthy

Purge! Remove dead and bounced emails after every e-communication (ok, or once a month!) Then consider sending an annual double opt-in email. Ask your customers if they want to keep hearing from you. Survey format is the best way to do this. Ask them what they want to hear, but give them the option to opt-out too.

3. Segment

Keep emails received from different places in separate places. This is a good way to stop a bad apple new email from ruining your current list, and gives you the space to test content and other measurables with different groups.

 

4. Find the Copy/Image Balance

Graphics heavy emails are more likely to be sent to spam. But, copy heavy promotional emails are fussy and old fashioned. It’s all about balance. Depending on your brand message 20-35% copy is about right.

5. Be Consistent

Find a regular email schedule and stick to it. If you’re emailing more than once a week you better have a very good reason! Monthly limits keep your message focused but gives you some flexibility with timing.

6. If You Love Them, Let Them Go

Unsubscribing should be easy. Make it clear and simple. If customers don’t see where to unsubscribe they will just hit that dreaded spam button.

7. Send As A Friend

Don’t be anonymous. Use your customers name in the TO space and yours in the FROM space. Depending on your company voice this could be the company name, or CEO’s, or Social Media Managers, or better yet, mix it up depending on context. Oh, and set up an email for replies and then actually check it! It will help reach customers who have immediate questions and get you info on bouncing or dead emails.

8. Test and Watch Your Analytics

Your email service provides them for a reason. Test subject lines, TO and FROM copy, purge your list, and check the analytics to make sure your delivered percentage keeps crawling up!

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Big data is this generation’s telephone. It changes everything about our lives, from the regulations we live with, to the charities we support, and even the products we buy. Particularly, big data has revolutionized the way companies think of potential customers. Instead of trying to pull them to the product, companies can put the product where consumers are. Information is the most powerful force in advertising.

If you’re looking for ways to build your customer pool and convert leads into sales, you need to look at what Big Data practices can do for you. Think about how these three strategies could fundamentally revolutionize the way you market and sell.

1) Meet your customers where they are

Your customers no longer need to rely on your company’s advertising to learn about your product. A quick search can put them in touch with all the reviews, comparisons, and information they could want to know. They don’t have to worry about whether or not advertisement is telling the truth. They’re confident in the results of their own research.

Powerful predictive tools can show what customers who are considering your product will look for. Using search algorithms, you can know where your customers are getting information from, and then be there to meet them in those spaces. You can bolster your credibility with potential customers while ensuring they get accurate, honest information about your products and services.

2) See changes in customer behavior as they happen

It’s a nightmare scenario for business owners to suddenly start losing clients. Tracking down the source of the problem is like finding a leaky pipe underwater. Is it marketing? Is it service? Is it pricing? It could be anything, and there’s not time to tinker and figure out. It’s a guessing game where a wrong answer could mean the end of your business!

Big data aims to fix that problem. Seeing in real-time the changes that are occurring in sales patterns can help isolate causes. If a big jump in sales corresponds with a new e-mail campaign, you can see how much of it is coming from the e-mail campaign and how much is changing somewhere else. You can diagnose problems before they get bigger, and ramp up successful efforts before they lose momentum.

3) Build and train your team

It may be hard to isolate what parts of the customer experience are most or least successful at converting leads. Maybe your team has a weakness in retention, but excels in initial conversion. Big data can help diagnose where the weaknesses are with granular precision. If you have a few agents who aren’t “morning people,” but start rocking at 3 pm, big data can show you that.

The data revolution is coming to your industry, and the only question is if you’ll be leading the charge or playing catch-up. Ready to take the big data plunge? Contact us to start filling your sales pipeline, today!

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