Sales Success Tools Part 2: Opportunity ManagementSales Success Tools Part 2: Opportunity Management
The second installment of this two-part series surveys new technology platforms sales professionals use to solidify their status as trusted advisers and make their sales cycles shorter, smoother and more fruitful.
September 7, 2010
By Joy Milkowski
Through tools and technology, sales is evolving both before the sale happens as well as during the cycle. The first installment of this two-part series offered an overview of the reputation management and personal brand-building tools sales professionals can use to establish credibility and build trust. In this article, PHONE+ surveys new technology platforms sales professionals use to solidify their status as trusted advisers and make their sales cycles shorter, smoother and more fruitful.
Youre on the path to trusted adviser status. Youve updated your LinkedIn profile, sent relevant articles to prospects, set Google Alerts for your best prospects and customers and even requested that your satisfied clients give you a reference that you can share. Now what? Consider the technology tools that the top sales organizations use to help their team achieve success with optimal efficiency.
A big part of what sets a trusted adviser apart from the typical sales rep is mastering prospects buy-cycle timing. Another element is the level of engagement trusted advisers can create with prospects. Rather than dialing for dollars, trusted advisers leverage sales and marketing technology tools to respond to leads quickly, uncover when their prospects timing is changing and know when to advance the conversation. Trusted advisers use tools so that they are most likely to deal with a prospect when he or she is actively considering their solution, or better yet, in the mood to buy.
The technologies available are important for agents because the sales cycles for most solutions can be long and require multiple steps. If the initial conversation and subsequent follow-up are either ill-timed or come off as too aggressive, the label of typical sales rep” will be almost impossible to shed. However, if the communications align with the prospects needs and timing, youre helping position yourself with a tremendous amount of credibility right from the start. Consider these sales tools, ranging from simple to complex, to improve your sales opportunities.
SlideShare. That same presentation or content you use to establish yourself as a trusted adviser and showcase your solutions to prospects can be published online and leveraged for lead generation and thought leadership. You can even use it to see who is downloading your material after youve presented it. When using a tool like SlideShare for lead-generation purposes, youll want to segment the content according to solution, geography, demographic, etc. Check out the lead-generation programs available on SlideShare.net and start publishing.
Auto-Responders. These are simple e-mails that can be launched when a prospect fills out a form on your website. Its helpful to promptly let prospects know when and how they will hear from you. Trusted advisers set expectations and meet them. So use a specific statement such as, We look forward to responding to your request by phone within 24 hours.” Also, put links to other helpful information in your auto response and see what garners clicks. By seeing what recipients view, you can get a better idea of what theyre looking for before you call. Many e-mail engines such as Constant Contact Inc. and AWeber Communications offer an auto-responder feature. This is an inexpensive and easy-to-deploy tactic. These are simple e-mails that can be launched when a prospect fills out a form on your website. Its helpful to promptly let prospects know when and how they will hear from you. Trusted advisers set expectations and meet them. So use a specific statement such as, We look forward to responding to your request by phone within 24 hours.” Also, put links to other helpful information in your auto response and see what garners clicks. By seeing what recipients view, you can get a better idea of what theyre looking for before you call. Many e-mail engines such as . and offer an auto-responder feature. This is an inexpensive and easy-to-deploy tactic.
Drip E-Mails. One step beyond the auto-responder, a linear drip e-mail series delivers information on a schedule, one e-mail after another. If you have written articles, created guides or want users to give you a little more information by clicking on topics in your e-mails, this can be a great way to interact with prospects in a scalable way and establish your professional brand. As with auto-responders, many of the top e-mail engines offer simple drip campaign capabilities. Again, this is an easy and cost-effective approach for agents to use in their sales cycles.
Lead Nurturing. Warming up a prospect by using a marketing automation tool is definitely a more complex strategy to employ but powerful for developing qualified prospects in long, complex sales cycles. With marketing automation, you can launch customized e-mail responses based on your leads behaviors and receive alerts when prospects are returning to your website, opening an e-mail from you or taking any number of actions you define. With some lead-nurturing tools, you can also send e-mails directly out of Microsoft Outlook, which allows you to keep tabs on your prospects interest in your everyday correspondence. Lead nurturing enables trusted advisers to focus efforts on prospects that are ripe rather than bugging those that arent yet ready for follow-up. Examples of marketing automation providers include Eloqua, Marketo Inc., Net-Results, Act-On Software Inc. and more. While marketing automation tool prices and capabilities vary widely, in nearly all cases they are more expensive and offer more features than e-mail engines. So consider this strategy carefully.
Sales Force Automation (SFA) Tools. Once youre actively involved in a sales cycle with a prospect, you should have all your sales collateral, prospect e-mail templates, audio/video assets, case studies and more at your fingertips. SFA tools make it easy for you to access and send these materials in a seamless workflow with or without CRM. SFAs track what prospects view and send real-time activity updates to sales via e-mail or mobile alerts. That level of intelligence in prospect activity makes it obvious when to follow-up and how to tailor your message to prospects interests. The best SFA tools enable user and prospect ratings so marketing can measure ROI and effectiveness from prospects perspectives and continue to deliver the best-performing asset types to the sales organization. Some CRM platforms offer considerable SFA capabilities or sales enablement” features. You can enhance CRM and/or use standalone SFA tools, such as RO|Enablement, SAVO, Eloqua and more.
Customer Reference Software. B2B sales routinely require references as part of the sales cycle. Rather than bugging your best customers to provide frequent validation of your solutions by phone or e-mail, you can utilize a platform that sends and tracks those same customer references in recorded audio and video. The key to these tools is integration into your sales process and accessibility of the media so that when you need them, you can easily find them. Another feature that is very helpful to the trusted adviser is having those customer interviews broken up by subject, so you can track which topics were selected by your prospects. Chances are those are the main considerations for your prospect as well. Examples of customer reference platforms are RO|ReferenceView and Boulder Logic.
Because of the pricing and complexity of the more robust sales and marketing platforms, some channel organizations are providing these tools to agents. For example, Level 3 Communications has made sales force automation and customer reference tools available to agents with great success, and other carriers and master agents are in the process of offering similar marketing and sales technology platforms to their agents as well.
While tools can range from simple to complex, free to expensive, the real key is to understand how you can leverage available sales applications and platforms to get results that exceed your time and budget investment. By using technology, trusted advisers can publish, send, track and measure optimal sales communications and get prospects to truly engage unlike the typical sales rep who forces prospects to suffer through yet another sales call.
Joy Milkowski is founder of Access Marketing Company , which specializes in search engine and Web marketing. She consults on overall sales and marketing strategy, tactical marketing programs and results measurement. She specializes in telecom marketing, demand generation, lead nurturing and sales enablement using the technologies mentioned in the Sales Success Tools article. Full Disclosure: Access Marketing Company is a VAR for all solutions in the article and represents RO|Innovation.
Read more about:Agents
About the Author(s)
You May Also Like
Meet Channel Futures' Top 20 UC/Contact Center Leaders for 2023Dec 07, 2023
New Gartner UCaaS Magic Quadrant ID's 2023 Industry LeadersDec 07, 2023
Women’s Leadership Roundtable: 10 Tips for Channel WomenDec 05, 2023
November's Top 20 Stories: Broadcom-VMware, AI in UCaaS, Google Cloud Shake-UpDec 04, 2023