By John Kearney, Sales Benchmark Index
It’s a topic that won’t go away. Marketing is not driving the quality sales leads the field needs. It is causing your pipeline to clog. Very few leads from marketing convert to accounts. You’re hearing it from your Sales Managers and reps. Your VP of Sales is sick of the excuses. He tells you to produce more consistent forecasts ASAP. You must come up with an effective fix. Identify where the pipeline is clogging and fix it.
Your team needs to take more responsibility setting appointments with prospects. The number one way teams are doing this today is through Social Prospecting. Chances are this is a big area of opportunity for your team. Creating a strategy for leveraging LinkedIn should be a top priority. These 5 Steps to Social Prospecting will help get the ball rolling. Reps that can execute Social Prospecting win for 3 reasons.
- They have a large pool of prospects with direct access to key decision makers
- They have the ability to gain referrals through trusted connections
- They have an efficient way to generate insights on buyer’s habits and preferences
Sales Operations should implement this strategy to help manage the funnel. Creating appointments through LinkedIn will ensure qualified leads. Knowing leads entering the funnel are strong will help conversion rates. Going forward, a larger pipeline will ensure more closed opportunities. Here’s a few examples of how this can be done.
Manage the Large Pool of Prospects
How: Have your team go through their connections and categorize them into buckets. If your organization has done buyer persona work, bucketing by persona is effective. The LinkedIn Tagging feature allows you to create these categories. Chances are reps have hundreds of connections from college friends and family. Tagging cuts through the noise and identifies titles and roles to target.
Impact: Without investing a dollar, you’ve created individualized prospect lists. If your reps are posting content, they’re already nurturing that list. Creating a strategy for engaging these prospects is essential. It will ensure a quality list of leads entering the funnel. Your sales team will have faith in these leads.
Set Appointments through Referrals
How: Find the prospects that are in your team’s Dream List. Have your team mine their connections to identify mutual connections. Reach out to those mutual connections and ask for referrals. NOTE: Reaching out to mutual connections is easier if your team regularly creates social debt.
Impact: Your team builds its network overnight. This is especially helpful in current accounts. By digging deep and wide into an account, cross sell and upsell opportunities grow.
How: Buyers are online looking for help to solve their problems. When they find the solution, they often share it with their network. Makes them look like an authority. Gives them credibility with their customers. Listen to the buyers through the News Feed. Engage in buyers’ discussions; offer them a different take on a similar subject. Note what articles are trending and keep the pulse of the market.
Impact: Understanding a prospect allows you to sell the way they want to buy. By engaging online with a prospect you differentiate early in their process. When you differentiate early, you can charge a premium for your services.
These are low hanging fruit. With 15 minutes of effort per day, each rep can begin to generate qualified leads. The VP of Sales will see the impact in the funnel. Your forecasts will be more accurate and your goals more attainable. This is mission critical. Customer intimacy begins online. It gets your team into appointments as trusted advisors. Stop depending on Marketing. No more excuses.