Component 3 in our recent eBook The Essential Guide to Building Your Lead-to-Revenue Machine is optimized marketing and sales processes. You can read lots of articles and white papers about the various technology options – CRM, marketing automation, sales enablement etc., but in my experience, unless you get the processes right, even the best people and technology will just help you fail faster and more expensively.
This is why we always recommend that our clients start with processes as the first component of a well-oiled, end-to-end marketing and sales infrastructure – and only then make sure they have the appropriate technology and people to run the lead-to-revenue (L2R) machine.
Here are some important keys to creating and optimizing your marketing and sales processes:
- Concentrate your efforts on finding the companies and individuals that have a genuine need for what you offer. This a much easier and less stressful way of doing things—for both you and your prospects? Response rates will be higher, close rates will be higher, and you will not have to manipulate anyone.
- Keep things simple and focused on as few priorities as possible. A good way to kill the productivity of a sales force is to throw too much at them. Too many products, too many offers, and too many messages equate to too many chances for the sales team to lose sales.
- Treat sales leads with care and respect. It really offends me when sales departments mishandle the leads/inquiries given to them by the marketing department. I have seen sales reps ignore leads, denigrate leads, and follow them up in a half-hearted manner. Often this occurs because the VP of Sales speaks poorly about what marketing is doing, creating a culture where reps feel it is okay not to work the leads they are given. Leads cost money, and few of us have extra money to waste. If the lead quality is not where it needs to be, please review my post about creating a service level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales.
- Build effective sales lead management into the process. One of the best ways to follow the advice from the previous point is to carefully qualify the inbound inquiries and then create an ongoing drip-marketing program to nurture these leads until they are ready to engage in the buying process. Quality sales lead management can boost sales performance by 100 percent or more.
- Allow for a highly flexible sales process. While “flexible process” may sound like an oxymoron, sales is both an art and a science. If you over-engineer the process, you can end up with a group of sales reps that will do anything you tell them, except the most important thing — close business. Sales is a game of technique, but also one of instinct and intuition. Thinking and acting outside the box is okay as long as it falls within reasonable limits.
- Create a culture of accountability and support. Many sales managers are good at telling their people what to do, but not so good at supporting them. However, the more you try to direct someone’s actions, the more the ownership is retained by you, instead of by the rep, where it belongs. The sales rep’s job is to produce his or her revenue targets. Your job is not to tell your staff how to make their numbers; it is to support them in every way in achieving their goals.
- Remain consistent. One of my clients had great technology, but also had a very bad habit of changing their product offerings and value proposition every six months or so. The sales team was encouraged to spend their time on the newest offerings instead of what had worked for them in the past. This required extensive retraining of the team, and they never found their rhythm. In a tough selling world, consistency can be the attribute that keeps your team on top.
Get your processes right to boost your lead-to-revenue success.