All sales reps and sales teams want to reduce their sales cycle and increase the amount of ACV or MRR they bring on board as a customer and a new addition to their active customer install base. Here are six sure ways that you and your sales and marketing teams can employ today to ensure you are creating more velocity in your sales process:
Identify Customer Persona
The science behind customer acquisition begins with truly understanding the persona of your ideal customer. Sales and marketing teams should be focused on identifying the needs and pains of their future customers in order to efficiently spend time with those who can purchase their product and be successful in using their product in the long run. Are they using software and data today to track key performance indicators? How are they currently justifying their existence at their current company? It's also extremely important to understand the demographics of your prospect and what they do outside of work.
Create Quality Content
If you understand the basics of fishing, you know that fish will only snack on something that looks tasty. The same holds true for luring in your future customers. When individuals do research online, it generally begins with doing a specific keyword search or by clicking on an interesting text, display, or video link that contains some description of what has yet to come. If you are able to really pin point what problems your prospects are facing or understand what they are looking for help with, you can tailor your blog articles, offers, and thought leadership accordingly. Content marketing gives the sales or marketing professional the ability to create their own signature bait to cast wide through the Internet and reel it in all the way toward the customer onboarding process to bring that big fish on the boat.
Once you've done the hard in creating your content, now comes the fun part of promoting the shit out of it in the right places. Since you should already have a great understanding of who your prospects and customers are by now, choosing the right social networks and discussion forums should be rather easy. B2B software companies should spend more time on LinkedIn than Facebook, while Facebook might make more sense for B2C. Don't discount Facebook completely, though, if you are 100% B2B. You can often find many influencers and future professionals within your industry on traditional social networks. Getting them into your sales and marketing funnel today presents the chance for you to create future personalized email marketing and social media campaigns. Try also automating your social publishing and set up a calendar to regularly post to those places where your prospects may not spend most of their time.
Develop "A" and "B" Bucket Lead Conversion Paths
Whether you sell $2 widgets or multi-million dollar products and services, your prospects do some level of research before they ultimately make a decision to become a customer. At any given period of time, your prospects will fall into one of two different buckets.
Your "A" bucket includes prospects who are sales ready. They are the inquiries who call the inbound sales desk, fill out the contact us form on your company's website, sign up for a free trial, or request a demo. These prospects have already done their research and are ready to talk to a salesperson. A recent article in the July 2012 "The Secret to Smarter Sales" issue of Harvard Business Review mentioned that companies and their employees are now armed to the teeth with information going into a sales process and have detailed RFP's stating what they believe are their exact needs. Sales and marketing teams need to treat these prospects, sometimes referred to as MQL's (Marketing Qualified Leads), differently than than those that are just starting out their research.
"B" bucket prospects have a tendancy to be the ones who download whitepapers or attend webinars. These individuals either act solo or have been referred by a colleague to look for new ideas and gather research and potential answers to a problem or new opportunity. By creating marketing automation campaigns tailored to a specific pain point or product line, this allows you to properly educate your prospect and control what they could be presenting internally to their colleagues in the future. If your "B" bucket prospects aren't educated enough before they make their presentation internally, your chance of closing that new customer could be over before you even had the opportunity to engage with them.
Have Sales Reps Connect Early and Often
We measure everything at HubSpot, including how quick and how often we should be calling the 46,000+ inbound leads that are generated every month through the HubSpot website. Our data indicates that connect rates (% of leads who respond via phone, email, text) drop significantly 30 minutes after a prospect fills out that web-to-lead form. Therefore, sales managers should be coaching their team on prioritizing and rating the leads that marketing presents to sales. Make sure your sales reps have enough time in their day to call inbound leads as they come in.
Close Fast, Qualify Faster
When you're selling SaaS, you need to have some type of qualifying event in the sales process. Moving prospects into the demo process too early risks spending too much time with people who can't buy today and presents the opportunity of not applying how your specific tools can match their most immediate needs. Try working with your engineering or product team to develop a simple tool to quantify the pain visually for the prospect or develop an assessment or audit and provide your prospect with free tips and suggestions to both use during an early part of the sales process.
Enterprise Inbound Marketing has been around now for nearly half a decade and yet large enterprise companies find it a challenge to work together, sometimes across divisions and product lines, and implement a cohesive inbound marketing strategy. For the past 13 months, I've spoken with over 1,000 marketers and sales directors who struggle to understand what influences leads being generated and customers being acquired. They can't figure out if their blog is "working" or if their social media efforts are "paying off". Let's face it...you want to do Inbound Marketing but are you really willing to collaborate with Erin who works on a completely different product line and is located 400 miles away in your company's other office location? Here are two reasons why you need to work together to understand what marketing activities really generate the most revenue:
Since the broad category of Internet marketing software was invented over a decade ago, most marketing software companies have wanted to be the best or "best-in-class" with their respective software solution and really deliver value and a great user experience. Because of this, it has left thousands of companies accumulate a chest of great software applications. The IT Team has the best web analytics tool. The Communications Team has the best email marketing tool. The Marketing Team has the best blog platform and SEO tool. Unfortunately, this has led to a massive void where data is trapped or silo'd in each tool and is extremely time consuming and difficult to see if what you're doing is actually working or generating revenue for your company. Try exploring marketing software platforms and see if it makes sense to work together across divisions on an all-in-one integrated marketing software solution.
Small to mid-market companies can more nimble and are more willing to take on risks against their biggest competitors. At HubSpot, we've always wanted to help smaller companies gain that competitive advantage over their peers who have more money and more resources. In fact, HubSpot employees believe marketing is won by the size of your mind, not your wallet. HubSpot's software has even helped its own sales team acquire more than 7,000 customers and receive on average 46,000 leads per month. As HubSpot's customers see on average a 32% increase in new leads every month, it's only a matter of time before they too become a more serious threat to their bigger cohorts because they're able to achieve a tremendous marketing roi by working together on a single integrated marketing software platform providing executives and CMO's with a real time view into the heartbeat of their marketing activities.