Building a funnel of good, qualified, sales-ready leads isn’t easy. Even when you identify good leads, converting them into sales takes effort. We have found that having a disciplined process is the most effective approach.
Too often, leads generated from marketing may not always be good leads for sales to follow up on. Even when sales receive quality leads, we find that sales doesn’t always approach the prospect in a way that will move the prospect through the sales funnel effectively.
In this article, we outline a 7-step approach to converting a new lead, and show how and when sales should follow up on marketing leads, and how to try to sell to the prospect from the very first contact.
1: Act fast
Time is of the essence when a new lead comes in. If someone has enquired about your services, the chances are that they have a pressing need for them now, or are seriously considering them in order to scale up their business. If your firm is not prompt to respond, this interest may cool off altogether, or the person may simply turn to one of your competitors if they have not done so already.
Either way, that person’s experience of your firm needs to be one of prompt professionalism right from the outset, and the first job is to make it clear to that prospect that you want and are keen to win their business.
Naturally not every lead that comes in will be suitable for the services you provide, or for sales to convert. It’s important to establish an efficient and effective way of qualifying leads to ensure that your sales team doesn’t spend time on the wrong type of lead.
An effective way to do this is to categorize your leads into the different stages of the sales cycle so you can effectively communicate to them based on the maturity of the sales cycle – you wouldn’t give pricing to a prospect at the beginning of the sales cycle, just as you wouldn’t provide basic product information to a prospect ready to buy. Dividing leads into Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQL) and Sales-Qualified Leads (SQL) is a simple way of doing this and will lead to much higher conversion rates.
An MQL is someone that has downloaded some of your content such as a whitepaper or an e-book to gather information and find out what you have to offer. Research has shown that a prospect will engage with 11.4 pieces of content to do their research prior to making a purchase.
So at this stage, it’s best not to over-sell to these leads as it may be off-putting; instead simply nurture them by providing regular information, and suggestions as to further reading that may be interesting based on what they have already downloaded.
SQLs are the people to focus on more direct sales approaches with. By definition, an SQL has already initiated contact with your firm, and now wishes for further contact and specifics on your service options and pricing discussions.
3: Structure your sales team
Converting leads is a crucial part of an effective sales strategy, and each team member’s responsibility should be made very clear to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Do you have a more junior sales person focused on qualifying inbound leads? Or do you expect your more senior reps to qualify leads for leads that fall inside their assigned domain? There are pros and cons to both models, but it’s crucial to establish roles in order to ensure effective lead qualification.
You don’t always get through to a potential prospect at the first time of asking, even if they have requested contact or a demonstration of your services. But people are busy, and even if you don’t get through to a lead at the first few times of asking, it’s still worth trying to establish contact.
Try to call them at different times of the day, and build more ways of connecting with them such as offering to add them to your newsletter, or requesting a connection on LinkedIn. It’s not about bombarding them with too much information, but you want your communications to speak to your value proposition and differentiators. At this stage you want your brand to stick in their mind to maximize the chances that they will convert when they are ready to buy.
5: Shift the focus
Rather than trying to share as much information about your services at the early stages of the sales process, select some key pain points that your firm can solve for them. Do this based on your experience with prospects with the same job role, seniority and business segment. In simple terms, this shifts the focus from being about your firm and the services you provide to the prospect and how you can help them solve their pain points and achieve their objectives.
6: Listen to the prospect’s feedback
Do not focus rigidly on a pre-prepared sales pitch when speaking with prospects. As with the previous point, this makes the whole conversation about your firm, and not about the prospect’s needs. Let your prospect speak, and listen carefully to what they have to say.
In addition to making the prospect feel as though your firm has time to listen to their needs, it’s a great way to pick up information about their pain points and problems. From this, you can then tailor your proposition based on their specific needs rather than hitting them with a cookie cutter, generic proposal.
7: Use the data
Data is a goldmine for understanding how your firm can convert leads, and how it can improve. Continuing to Improve and refine your lead process with historical data should be an ongoing part of your processes.
A good CRM system enables you to keep track of how many leads are coming in at different stages of the funnel, and the conversion rates (how many of them actually become paying customers). By creating dashboards to clearly analyze which parts of your lead handling processes are effective, and which need further fine tuning.
Discuss the data from your lead dashboard in your sales team meetings and gather suggestions for converting leads at different stages of the sales funnel. It’s also important to review with the sales team what’s worked and what hasn’t – develop your own best practices and implement them continuously
Find out more
If you would like to hear about additional insights, sign up for our newsletter or look for future blogs and articles on our website. And if you found this post helpful, feel free to like and share it on social media.
Measuring your brand online is something B2B firms can find challenging. This is due to the fact that a brand is often perceived as something intangible that can’t be measured. Since measuring a brand requires commitment of resources and attention, many B2B small to medium sized firms pay little attention to it. In the long run, failure to measure your brand risks the implementation of the wrong branding strategies, wasted marketing investments, and reduced ROI.
How do you measure your brand?
1. Create online surveys
An easy way to measure your current brand awareness is by conducting online surveys. For example, you could have a questionnaire on your website to ask visitors how they found you, or if they had heard of you before.
2. Search Popularity
Use Google Adwords, Keyword Planner and Google Trends to see the volume of searches for your brand name. You can also use them to monitor your competitors’ brands, as well as some other top industry keywords over time to see the trends in search volumes.
3. Monitor Your Brand
Good brand management requires careful monitoring. Set a little time aside each day for checking up on your brand’s presence. You may also want to set aside a bigger block of time weekly or monthly to carry out more detailed analysis.
Tools for Monitoring Your Brand : There are many online tools you can use to measure your brand. Tools such as Social Mention and Trackur keep tabs on your online reputation for you. When your brand is mentioned, they’ll alert you and provide a link. SocialMention actually analyzes comments about your brand and shows you the overall sentiment, and you can choose to see only positive or negative listings.
Google Alerts: All of these tools are slightly different so you should spend some time finding the ones that suit you. In the meantime, Google Alerts provide the simplest and easiest system for monitoring online. You select keywords or phrases, such as your brand’s name, and then Google lets you know when something is posted online. You can choose either to be alerted immediately, or as a daily or weekly digest.
More Specialized Tools: There are also tools for specific social media sites. Twilert is a tool that works in the same way as Google Alerts but focuses on Twitter, while Hyper Alerts is a similar tool that alerts you of Facebook activity.
There are also specific analytic tools designed to help you boost your search engine rankings. Google Analytics This is a great tool to track the number of people who searched your website directly, bookmark pages on your website, or clicked a link in an untracked email or offline document. Monitoring this over a particular period of time will give you an indication of the trends in your brand awareness.
4. Unlinked Mentions
You may also want to find unlinked mentions and link them back to your site. An unlinked mention is when someone posts something about your brand online but doesn’t link back to your website. This is a lost opportunity for you. If there is a link leading back, it will bring you more traffic. Most people post content without thinking about including live links, so if you find unlinked mentions and reach out to the site owner, they’ll often be happy to link to your site. Be sure to provide the link in the email to make it easy for them to link back to your site by adding it to the appropriate page in question. You can do this simply by calling or emailing the owner of the site and explaining your objective, and also taking the opportunity to create a more formalized backlinks partnership with them.
5. Social listening
People often go online to talk about the brands they like and those they do not like. Social listening is an inexpensive way to track conversations about your brand across social media and the web. This is done by keeping track of social media shares, likes, and comments. Tools such as Oktopost and Hootsuite enable you to not only schedule social media posts, but to monitor interactions in single dashboards, while more niche tools such as Tweetreach provide advanced analytics and the ability to monitor contributor influence.
Brand and the bottom line
While these tactics will help you measure your brand to see what works and what doesn’t, a common mistake by many B2B firms is linking their brand’s success and visibility to revenue. The trick with branding is how to capitalize on it, and convert goodwill and digital interactions into future sales and satisfied clients.
Create a solid foundation for future sales by paying attention to these methods of measurement. Read more about how your audience can recognize your firm online through your voice and tone, or check out our Insights for more useful information on brand management. And if you enjoyed reading it, feel free to share this post on social media.
Twitter averages 330 million monthly active users on its platform. From a popularity and usage point of view, its usage is lower than other social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook.
However, Twitter is unique because the platform limits users’ messages to a maximum of 280 characters to stimulate concise and witty posts.
Twitter is also a powerful platform to utilize for your social media business campaigns. It also
acts as a simple medium to inform and listen to feedback from your clients. However, many B2B firms do not pay enough attention to Twitter.
If your firm already has a Twitter account set up and you are not posting relevant tweets regularly, you will miss out on the potential benefits Twitter has to offer, and risk getting overlooked and going unnoticed.
These simple B2B Twitter tips will help you to grow your followers, generate leads, and gain
1. Edit the URL name and use a main keyword which best describes your company
From the default URL assigned to your profile by Twitter, edit it into something like
2. Regularly post (relevant) news and events
If you leave your Twitter account unattended, people will unfollow your business. And even if
they do not unfollow you, they might stop checking your posts if the account remains dormant for too long.
3. Follow groups, organizations, companies, and individuals which you believe are connected to your company or industry in some way.
Follow Twitter accounts that are related to the nature of your B2B firm. This will increase your
exposure to more Twitter users.
4. Avoid posting Tweets on other’s profiles
This is to maintain a professional position. Remember, this is a company account not a personal account.
5. Avoid using your company Twitter account for personal business
If you like a certain celebrity or you like to make comments about some current events that are completely unrelated to your business, you should follow them using your own personal
account. Business and personal opinions should not be mixed together.
6. Advertise your Twitter account on your other social media accounts
If you have a Facebook or LinkedIn account, tell your subscribers that you also have a Twitter account. This way, both your accounts will cross-pollinate and show more subscribers.
7. Be wary of Hashtags
Social media language has evolved considerably and hashtags are a huge part of this evolution. If you’re not using hashtags followed by a keyword, your content will get lost in an ocean of tweets.
However, if you’re trying to drive traffic to your website, do not use hashtags in your ads. A recent study shows that posts that used hashtags are actually 5% less efficient at attracting users, particularly when overused.
If you must use a hashtag, search for the hashtag on Twitter. You want to make sure no one
else is using the same hashtag as you and that it is not associated with anything outside your brand or anything negative.
8. Do not follow more people than you need to
One way to get other people to follow you is by following them. That doesn’t mean you should just follow anyone on Twitter. You want to keep your entire profile professional, and only follow those individuals and companies that are conducive to your professional image and represent personas you are interested in.
9. Use geo-location to find your local target niche
This feature is very useful for internet marketing and will help you locate your target clients
10. Focus more on your advocates than your influencers
Influencers are only likely to mention you once or twice, after which you are not really
connected with them. But advocates are different. They are potentially long-term partners with long term benefits. Invest time on them.
11. Your Tweets should be in harmony with your posts on other social media sites
Make sure that any company news, articles, events, and promotions you Tweet are aligned with those you post on across other channels to ensure brand consistency.
Of course, like other social media platforms, using Twitter requires a fair amount of
experimentation with your content to see what works and what doesn’t. Learn more about
how to build an effective online presence for B2B firms here. You can also follow us on Twitter for more B2B Twitter tips. And if you found this post helpful, feel free to like and share on social media.
Having SMART objectives is very important when starting an endeavor. For example, to raise capital and shares you will need a business plan to present to lenders and banks.
In addition, a business plan will help you to generate a road map for your business in terms of what it will achieve and how you will achieve it.
It is important that you set out clear objectives so you know what you are aiming for. These objectives will need to go into your business plan.
You’ve likely heard the phrase “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do.” Setting the correct objectives will help you reach your ultimate goals.
The most effective way to use objectives is to set SMART ones. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Sensitive.
Your objectives should be specific and not ambiguous. If you are forecasting that your business will increase sales compared to last year then you need to be specific about what that increase will look like. For example, sales will increase by 12% by the end of the next financial year.
Objectives have to be measurable in order to identify if progress is being made or not. Avoid using vague terminology such as; the best, the largest, the fastest etc. Measurable targets should include sales results, net profit and capital expenditure.
Your objectives must be achievable. This means your business needs the capacity and resources available to achieve what you set out to do.
It is easy to be carried away by setting objectives based on enthusiasm. However, you need to be realistic when setting your objectives.
For example, if your business has on average increased sales by 10% each year, then stating that your sales number for next year will double is setting up the company for disappointment.
Targeted numbers should be backed up by supporting evidence to prove that they are possible.
Setting a date and a deadline is very important when creating objectives and goals. Not setting a deadline for when the objective will be achieved will likely cause delays and in many cases the objectives will not be achieved.
Avoid vague terms such as short or long-term. You need to have a clear and specific timeline for the accomplishment of each objective.
What’s so smart about SMART objectives?
Why has this acronym become part and parcel of project planning and performance management?
When objectives go through the SMART process, they become targets that bring focus, action, feedback and learning.
These targets help in the development of individual work plans, and also provide a road map for performance review discussions.
How Do You Write a SMART Objective Statement?
First or all, you must decide what exactly you expect to create, and how you will recognize the result when it comes to pass.
For example, “Our insurance premiums should make a minimum of $60,000 per month in sales by June 30, 2020, with a quarterly increase of at least 5% thereafter.”
A conversion objective could be “to increase the average value of all subscriptions processed in the firm to $100 per client in the next twelve months”.
The above SMART objectives are attainable because they are very specific regarding what needs to be done, they are measurable, and the time-bound aspect is also included in one short declaration.
Without the time factor the team responsible wouldn’t know when it has to achieve the target.
Reviewing the smart objectives can be done quarterly, semi-annually or annually. It all depends on the timeline that has been set on the targets.
In a nutshell, SMART objectives have the potential to focus attention, work plans, and commitment to performance targets.
If you would like to learn more about creating and using SMART objectives, contact us for a free consultation. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more interesting insights on business planning.
Social media has leveled the playing field and bridged the gap between large B2B consulting firms and small ones. These platforms provide an excellent way to reach out to your target audience, engage with them, and show them what makes you different from the competition.
Many B2B consulting firms ignore what other brands are saying and doing on social media platforms. This does not help your brand.
If you continue to ignore your competition, you will miss out on a lot of valuable information that you can use to your advantage.
How B2B Consulting Firms Can Tame the Competition
Before you start checking what your competition is doing on social media, you need to develop your own unique strategies for your brand.
1. Delivering Your Messages in a Unique Way
You can use either of the following ways or a combination of them.
I. Use PowerPoint presentations.
Tired of old-school paragraph posts? Many of our B2B consulting clients have found success creating powerful presentations instead, and adding some exciting designs and animations.
II. Use images.
You can also make a graphic art of what you want to say. Research shows that people are drawn to images more than text.
III. Use video clips.
This can be made like a PowerPoint presentation or using live-action video. Video is one of the most important types of content for social media. Choosing to ignore video in your social strategy will make you irrelevant.
IV. Use voice clips.
Try something new once in a while and convey your message through a recorded voice. This is actually an effective marketing strategy because a voice can be more encouraging than written words.
V. Combine all of the above.
All the tactics above can be used at the same time. This will make for a unique and effective way of communicating with your subscribers.
VI. Use lists and bullet points.
A long paragraph is tiring to read. Make it easier for your subscribers to read by making a list instead.
VII. Use highlighting if your social media blog allows this feature.
Adding a colored highlight to a word will probably make it stand out even more. Unfortunately, not all social media sites offer the option.
VIII. Know the proper use of the opening word “ATTENTION!”
Sometimes, you can simply start a paragraph with “ATTENTION!” Use this sparingly. And make sure that the message is really worth the opening.
2. Check the social media sites of your competitor
When developing a social media strategy for your B2B consulting firm, always check the social media profiles of your competition. For example, do they use Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter? Does their staff associate with the brand?
Observe your competition. Who knows? Your competitor might have come up with a cool new way to present ideas. Looking at the pages of your competitor will give you inspiration and an understanding of trends when you’re stumped for ideas. Check out 11 best Twitter tips for professional service firms, put together by our B2B consulting practice, for more tactics.
3. Mimic what works
Once you’ve identified the specific tactics your competitors are using that are earning them long-term benefits, implement them in your own social media campaign. However, do not copy everything. Otherwise, you’ll end up as white noise. Your followers look to you for insightful and valuable content – the value is lost if you’re just repeating what someone else said.
Instead, observe on a conceptual level how and why their strategies work, then apply those concepts or something similar to your own brand. For example, do they seem to experience higher engagement when linking to videos? Did they gain new followers by posting an editorial piece? Perhaps you could do the same for your own brand.
4. Check the number of hits your competitors have
This will let you know how well your competitor is doing compared to your firm. This will tell you if you need to improve your performance.
5. Avoid throwing out negativity
Do not throw shade at your competitor. If you do this, it can backfire and you might never recover. Brands have faced negative criticisms due to a single Tweet.
On the other hand, if your competitor chooses to make negative remarks or comments about your services or brand, do not engage on this level. Rather, posts facts and social proof (such as testimonials) that prove otherwise.
With any luck, your satisfied clients and supporters will step in on your behalf.
Instead of arguing, perhaps try turning a negative Tweet or post about your brand or services into a joke. If you found this blog post helpful, feel free to share on social media.