Could you make your sales process as easy as 1, 2, 3?
Nathan Anibaba, development consultant at Zoober Digital Training, shares his insight on making the sales approach more effective and less hit-and-miss.
As far as I am concerned there are 3 main stages to a sale:
- Prospecting activity (cold calling)
- Qualifying decision makers and finding problems I can solve
- Presenting the solution and closing
There are many more stages between each but these are the main bases to touch on the way to closing new business. Ask your sales team which of these three stages they have most difficulty with, and I’m sure 90% will tell you it’s number one: Prospecting activity.
The second and third stages can be refined with sales training and practice, but stage one is down to hard graft, lots of rejection and changing consumer behaviour.
Outbound cold calling
The problem with cold calling is that it's hard. But pick up any book on selling written before 2011 and there will be lots of chapters about ‘getting past the gatekeeper’ and ‘overcoming objections’ etc. Prospecting is a pure numbers game and as a result is very time consuming. You want your salespeople speaking to as many decision makers as possible and not wasting time getting fobbed off by receptionists and other gatekeepers. That reduces your cost per lead, increases profitability and ensures your salespeople don't become depressed to the point of bludgeoning themselves to death with blunt instruments.
Qualify your leads
The best way to help your salespeople get over this prospecting issue is to provide them with marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) who are in the process of making a buying decision.
Inbound marketing requires you to create content that encourages your prospects to raise their hand (in a virtual sense) and shout 'That's me! I’m thinking/researching/looking into that'.
Your goal is to aid these interested people’s buying decisions by becoming a useful resource about how to solve their business and personal pains.
Once these people are identifying themselves to you, your salespeople will become more productive by not wasting time speaking to people who are not interested and are never going to buy from you.
How can you get to the stage where interested leads identify themselves?
The goal of inbound marketing is exactly that. Almost everyone is doing some kind of marketing online now, whether it’s as simple as having a website, or as in-depth as using a range of social media channels to target their audience. Inbound marketing takes things a step further by using blogs, articles and video content to build up a set of resources that will attract people interested in the services a company offers.
Technology and marketing automation now allows us to identify the people who are part way through the buying cycle, and ready to be contacted by your sales team. This more intelligent approach to stage one means better performance in stages two and three. Ultimately, return on investment (ROI) in the form of time and money is boosted.