Longer selling cycles and stalled deals are impeding sales funnels everywhere. Use these three tips to convert more leads into revenue:
Use Sales Funnel-Specific Market Research
If you really want to understand what’s happening with customers at a particular point in your funnel, then you have to ask them while the last interaction with you is relatively fresh in their minds.
As such, an interview or survey should happen close enough to the event that the prospect will recall the context of the decision. Be sure to include questions on customer decision dynamics.
In many industries, for example, executives are scrutinizing much smaller transactions, so lead generation, lead nurturing, and sales enablement tactics must address this shift in buying behavior. Typically, such research reveals a few issues that can be resolved relatively quickly.
Integrate this research into your demand-generation and lead-nurturing framework by making such surveys or interviews automated trigger events. For example, let’s say you’d like to gain a customer perspective of your teleprospecting operation. Here’s how you can go about it:
1. Create an automated rule – on the first business development conversation send an email to the prospect moments after the call.
2. Reference the dialogue and the name of the representative, then ask for confidential feedback.
3. Provide a link within the email to a simple survey that asks about the knowledge and professionalism of the representative. The web form might also allow for free-text feedback.
Use this type of feedback to improve training for the individual or team. Similar context-sensitive surveys could occur when customers download a white paper or a case study, attend a webinar or visit a tradeshow booth. Use this kind of information to improve white papers, case studies, webinars, or other specific marketing outputs.
Use Inside Sales Reps to Re-Engage old MQLs
Inside sales representatives should consistently approach “dead” leads as a simple market-research project. The message can be straight and true.
The representative is trying to find out what went wrong to better serve customers in the future. The rep should ask the customer to be as candid as possible, then listen and thank the customer for his candor.
Open-ended questions should be used at the outset, with probing and clarifying questions after that. In many states, B2B calls can be digitally recorded so crucial stakeholders can actually hear what customers are saying.
Obviously, for this approach to work, the inside sales team must be listened to as a voice of the customer.
The company can then use this intelligence to develop incentives that address the problems of delay. For example, if prospects lack capital budgets, perhaps a “buy-now-pay-later” program will get the sale back on track.
Commonly, nothing has happened because the project was never a priority. In such cases, lead nurturing, and campaigns targeting more senior executives can be of value.
Make this type of effort a two-part campaign. In the first phase, the team does the research. In the second, after huddling with product marketing and sharing the answers, the group reaches back out selectively to offer solutions that respond to the prospect’s reason for stalling. Of course, the solutions can then be applied moving forward to all stalled opportunities.
Update Your Ideal Customer Profile
Sometimes, less is more. If your research reveals that your product or services are not a particularly good fit, you might want to revisit the ideal customer profile for each product or service and adjust your targeting and qualification tactics accordingly.
Better targeting won’t salvage stalled leads, but it will allow you to allocate more sales and marketing resources where you can win more frequently. That strategy, in turn, may buy your company more time to change the product or service to make it more competitive.
While no one can change the economy, you can increase the yield from demand-generation investments by using these three practices.
They’ll help you attain a better understanding of the buying behavior and obstacles that prevent customers from moving forward.
This approach will help you identify the best tools to move them down the sales funnel or reallocate resources that will yield a better return on investment.