Sales Articles from Cloud Artillery
When you count on new leads to heat up your business and find new customers, you are always looking for the best way to bring in those leads fast. While there is much interest in social media, it may take some time to build a following. Trade shows and webinars work well for individual organizations, but they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are three ways that you can bring in those new leads that you need—and bring them in quickly!
Encourage Better Referrals
What are you doing to gain referrals from your current customers or your fans? If you are not taking advantage of word of mouth advertising, you are missing out on the single biggest way that you can build your leads. How can you encourage referrals? Why not “pay” your customers to refer their friends and family? While you may not pay those customers outright, you can offer a discount or savings if your existing customers send a client your way. If the new client winds up working with you more than once, you will likely come out ahead on the deal. Sometimes you just need to remind your customers that they should be referring your business to others. It can be a big win for everyone!
Pair PPC with SEO
When you look for new leads online, there are two schools of thought as to how you should proceed. One is that you should invest in PPC (pay per click). Pay per click advertising means that you pay every time someone clicks your ads. On the other hand, SEO (search engine optimization) is a form of marketing that involves changing the way your content is created. You may only pay once, but it can take a little time to get results. Consider using a little of both. You will get immediate results with PPC, and can build up your referrals with SEO over time. The results can be surprising.
There are several ways to build leads that are easy to implement no matter what type of business you operate or what you are trying to sell. Getting leads is possible no matter what, and getting them quickly is not that challenging either. It just means that you have to put in a little more work and effort to get the job done. Do not be afraid to try something new. It may surprise you what you can accomplish when you have the strategies in place!
Once upon a time, when an email address was a novelty and your heart raced every time AOL rang out the news that you had a message, cold emailing was a great way to reach out to potential customers.
However, it didn’t take long before virtually all unsolicited email was considered spam, never to be taken seriously again. Too many false promises, too many emails to sift through, and not enough offers that leads actually cared about. And now, all marketers (and sales teams) suffer as a result.
The good news is that cold email marketing does have its place in today’s world. Cold emailing can still reach people who need the services you offer, and it can help you to reinforce your image among those customers who already know who you are.
But it helps to approach cold emails with a gameplan. Just like you wouldn’t line up at the line of scrimmage without picking a play from your playbook, you shouldn’t write your next cold email without crafting some strategies first.
And the good news? With the right techniques, you don’t have to be a professional (writer OR marketer) to beat the competitors to the opened-email end zone.
DO: Use Buyer Personas
While it’s true that some customers won’t know who you are, you can still dictate what type of response you’ll get. The best way to do this is to create personas based on the types of people you want to respond to your offer. Craft your emails to speak directly to your buyer personas, then include calls to action that will encourage these leads to take the next step.
DO: Use Catchy Subject Lines
A boring subject line can doom your email before it’s ever read. Don’t let this happen to you! Your email has to make an immediate impact, and the best way to do that is to create a compelling subject that gets people to want to open up your email. Keep it short (50 characters or less) and get right to the point – what can the reader expect to find upon opening this email, and how does that benefit them?
DON’T: Use Sensationalistic Subject Lines
You can always tell when an email won’t be able to deliver what it promises in its subject line. Clickbait-esque subjects do more harm than good because they leave the reader hanging, which won’t leave them with a favorable impression of your company. Also, an all-caps subject line makes you look desperate for attention, which isn’t a good look. A well-written, engaging subject line accomplishes far more than shouting half-truths at your email list. False promises are the fastest play to the Unsubscribe List.
DO: Focus on Providing Value
It’s much easier to get a dad to bring his kids to the game if it’s bobblehead day. The same concept applies in business. You have the opportunity to sell your audience on a solution that they didn’t even know existed. A great way to do this is to do something that will help those people right away. A link to an eBook or white paper is a fine start, and you can go further in future emails. Give people a reason to give your company a chance; if you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
DON’T: Be Shy About Getting Personal
When emailing a cold list, the options for customization are somewhat limited. You can base your email copy around buyer personas, but you can’t go in-depth with personalizing your message because you only know so much about your audience. However, you can definitely use the name of the recipient, and you should do this early and often. Simply using the recipient’s name in the subject can result in an open rate of 80 percent or higher. Once you show people that you understand them, if only on a small scale, you have a much better chance of developing a long-term relationship.
A cold email to a list is always a little awkward for both the sender and the recipient. By taking pre-emptive actions to target buyer personas and customizing where you can, you’ll open the door for your recipients to get interested in what you have to say. As you provide value for these recipients, you’ll encourage them to follow your message more closely. And if you give enough incentive to your leads, they’ll eventually become paying customers.
LinkedIn holds the crown as the top B2B social networking website. With versions in two dozen languages, the site claims 380 million registered members. Almost 120 million members are from the United States, but LinkedIn is popular all over North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia too.
Some people still only think of this social networking site as a place to network for job opportunities, but it also provides a great platform for prospecting for any type of sales lead.
The problem that most people have with LinkedIn is that it offers so many different opportunities that it’s hard to get started. With that in mind, it’s helpful to focus on the basics of successfully prospecting for leads on LinkedIn.
Work on Your Profile
Before deciding to move forward on their buyer’s journey with you, most other members will check out your profile. The importance of creating a focused, attractive, and professional profile can hardly be overstated. Of course, you should proofread for typos and put up an attractive and clear photo. However, you also need to review your profile to ensure that it presents the right image of you and your company.
Keep your profile focused on the task at hand. If you’ve been a LinkedIn member for years, it’s possible that you need to clean house to emphasize your current goals. If your current task is generating insurance leads, you may not need to spotlight your past career as a bartender. It’s not that your past occupations aren’t interesting, but they could be distracting.
Connect With Lots of Other Members
If you are new to this platform or just haven’t been very active, you aren’t likely to have made a lot of connections. The one thing to understand about LinkedIn is that connections lead to more connections. Take the time to reach out to likely prospects and even interesting people in related industries. Of course, you should respond when other people reach out to you as well.
Establish Yourself as a Helpful Authority
One of the best ways to enjoy plenty of warm leads is to establish yourself as an authority, and this is not that hard to do if you join and participate in some relevant groups. Groups contain message boards, and you can begin discussions and link to your website content from within them. If you post the right solutions, prospects are bound to come to you.
Don’t just approach these groups as a place to promote your own particular business or website. Do approach them as places where you would like to establish yourself as a helpful and knowledgeable personality. Besides starting your own threads, you should spend some time contributing to threads that other people start. Everybody likes attention, and you never know who can offer you some great referrals and introductions.
Keep it Up
As is true of so many things in life, winners on LinkedIn tend to be people who devote some time every day to perfecting their profiles, contributing to groups, and of course, making valuable connections. It might take some testing to find the optimum strategy for your own particular product. Meanwhile, Cloud Artillery can help you measure your effectiveness and stay focused on your sales and prospecting goals.
It can feel convenient when you’re in the hot spot of preparing for another sales proposal and it’s late in the fourth quarter to grab what worked for you last time and rely on that as a template. However, leaning too much on past successes can backfire by making your sales proposals seem canned, not fresh. Upgrade your next proposal and score big using our 9 tips to freshen up your content.
- Personalize it – Even if you’re starting with old content, you must freshen it and personalize it so it speaks to the potential client’s pain points. This also shows you’ve done your homework. You know what the client needs, and you know why you have the solution. The best sales proposals are personal, no exceptions.
- Lead with their needs – Instead of leading with your pitch, lead with their needs. Demonstrate that you really get it. Any client wants to feel understood, and doing this communicates that you really do understand. Once you’ve hooked them by laying out their needs, you can make your play by introducing your solution.
- Use analogies – Analogies refresh and personalize your sales proposal by clearly demonstrating the power of your product or solution. Analogies also reinforce that desire by subtly showing how your solution meets the client’s needs perfectly. When you leverage their power in your proposals, you never have to worry whether the client “really gets it.” You know it’s clear.
- Offer choice – Whenever possible, offer your client an array of choices then let them assume the power and choose among the options you’ve presented. Pick the best options from your playbook, rank them from the most expensive to the least expensive, and then let your client call the play.
- Add specifics – A client can tell if you’re recycling an old proposal because it will lack specifics. Even if you’re using an old proposal as a first draft, pepper your proposal with specifics that show you are paying attention to this client and their specific needs.
- Put the price up-front – If the price is unclear, hidden, or hard to find, the client will see it as a red flag. Always be up-front about price information and always review your price quotes to make sure you’re charging accurate, updated rates.
- Cut the clutter – Once you have a full, updated proposal draft, reread it and cut the clutter so your proposal will read as easy as possible.
- Keep it short and sweet – As a general rule, aim for proposals that are 5 pages (or shorter). A Bidsketch survey found that short proposals are 31 more percent likely to succeed than long ones. Page one should be the executive summary, with the other pages providing support.
- Get out in front of the competition – After a great meeting, your mind is whirling and your body is full of adrenaline. You’ve got a perfect solution for the client’s need. The potential client is feeling all the same emotional highs that you’re feeling. If you can grab the ball and run with it now, you’ll be halfway to a touchdown. Bidsketch found that winning proposals were sent in 2.7 days on average, while losing proposals were sent in 3.4 days.
By executing these tips in each proposal, you’ll be amped with the confidence and charisma necessary to land the deal. So, take your enthusiasm and run with it, and don’t overthink the proposal.
Making great plays requires great understanding. Identifying business climates, marketing potential and sales team operation guarantees a sharp approach to great opportunities, and having a comprehensive guide at your side can help you win big.
What Is a Sales Playbook?
A sales playbook is a sales team’s play-by-play guide to transactions, discussions and tactics. It outlines the moves, plays and possibilities existent on the professional field. Marketing Profs places incredible value on such collections, as they provide methods, roles and responsibilities. Your sales playbook is your coach, detailing objectives, supporting the business plan and identifying targets.
Your sales playbook creates a common framework for teamwork, and it highlights the best developmental opportunities. Sales playbooks capture knowledge about:
- Value propositions
- Best practices
Why Use a Sales Playbook?
Every team needs a coach. While each team player, themselves, is highly trained and efficient, they still need direction and an evolved industry understanding. Your company’s sales playbook is custom-tailored to the business’s needs. It categorizes strategies by the organization’s domain, utilizing time-tested-and-true marketing tactics to create strategic development.
“Getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time, place and format, to move a sales opportunity forward,” states The International Data Corporation’s through The Sales Benchmark Index. A comprehensive sales playbook establishes set moves from gathered data, analysis and speculation.
Sales Playbooks and the Sales Cycle
The business environment is a machine, and it’s always turning, always growing and always changing. A sale never occurs the same way twice, and organizations rely upon close-up, indexed analysis to pull off some of the game’s toughest moves. Specific structures are important, and a sales team harnessing high-end industry knowledge is well-equipped for success.
Sales playbooks streamline the sales cycle, injecting it with effective methodologies, sales processes, content and agile techniques. Your sales playbook, first and foremost, is a play-by-play guide of situations. Every situation has been expertly crafted to speed up sales processes—increasing gained revenue and enhancing optimization.
The Insight Sales Forces Need
Data-driven sales culture defines the modern business, suggests Dave Elkington, CEO of InsideSales.com. Interviewed through a Forbes professional selling expertise advice panel, he identified insight as an invaluable resource. Businesses need information to remain relevant, retain success and grow to new heights.
Sales Playbooks offer a wide array of information, outfitting the workplace with highly effective tactics, approaches and angles for success, including:
- Economical information
- Lead generation possibilities
- Predictive analytics
Good coaches know the field. They’ve studied it endlessly. Sales playbooks, similarly, capture relevant information to highlight effective maneuvers. They answer the difficult questions every sales representative has.
Quick and Accessible
The sales cycle, in the past, was defined by try-and-try-again strategies. Modern technology has, however, replaced such tactics with proved approaches and immediate access. Your sales playbook highlights the next encounter, the next strategy and the next goal—before any are encountered.
Because the modern sales playbook is imbued with modern technology, preparation is fast. It’s simple, and it’s intuitive. Relevant content can be shared in meetings, and sales reps can prepare for encounters far beforehand. Easy-access content delivers confidence—granting reps the ability to engage value-based conversations.
Guided by the business’s most-valued content, every dataset is completely conducive to success. Sales playbooks remove irrelevant information, offering clean-cut information to every team player. Your coach understands each transaction’s prospects, its successful angles and relevant information. Forecasting business events beforehand not only boosts company visibility, it promotes optimization. Your sales playbook, in both short and long runs, is a multi-dimensional solution for an ever-changing environment.
Successful businesses optimize their analytics.
Why? Because knowing customers, cataloging operations, and creating fine-tuned solutions all require intensive processing. Your daily routine relies heavily on comprehensive business analytics. If your team already contains experienced sales force impactors and developers, a little analytical support goes a long way.
You miss every shot you don’t take, forfeiting challenges and goal-setting patterns before the game begins. Chances are, if your sales force lacks analytic optimization, its missing a number of opportunities:
Missed Opportunity One: A Step Up from Previous Performance
Effective data analytics compose future paths from previous results. Chron.com’s article on sales analysis states future momentum is a top business priority. In the modern commercial climate, trends inflate quickly. They gain momentum before following results even occur.
Analytic opportunities, themselves, are events made possible with intensive study of past events. A good, analytical support system ensures a better future by enhancing previous performance.
Missed Opportunity Two: Increased Product Demand
Your sales playbook is contingent upon product and service demand. Sales analysis planning reveals product problems. It dictates direction by processing the business atmosphere. Long-term declines can occur from:
- Increased competition
- Eroded market share
- Similar, competing products
- Evolving customer needs
The game isn’t always played on your court, but your sales playbook is a well-read coach. It’s capable of defining external factors, enhancing internal demand outreach. First, understand. Second, execute. If you know the crowd, you know what it wants.
Missed Opportunity Three: Enhanced Products and Services
Similar to the situations above, product and service needs and requirements change. When sales are considered, relevant products and services thrive. All else falls by the wayside.
Business News Daily analyzes modern business decision making, placing high value upon the ability to alter internal structure based upon mechanical, brand or marketing needs. Your sales playbook, in many ways, carries such changes through, making use of the evolving environment to ensure sales. It executes up-to-date, well-planned play strategies.
Missed Opportunity Four: Consistent Sales Strategies
When sales training ends, the game begins. Ensuring sales strategy alignment is as important—if not more so—than determining the sales environment. Ensuring strategies agree with prospective client needs is important, and your sales planner guarantees appropriate content accommodates for your goals.
Missed Opportunity Five: Aligned Marketing Strategies
Promotion doesn’t end on the sales floor, and it extends beyond digital promotion, too. Many sales forces experience difficulty aligning sales with desired results. Marketing plans dictate the playing field, but count for nothing when the team fails to operate.
Certainly, provided sales content needs to be used—and it needs to be used effectively. The inability to track marketing impact is a crucial injury, one capable of benching the entire sales team. Effective sales analytics and play-by-play support systems ensure every sales rep is ready. It aligns operations with predetermined marketing strategies, creating a fluid, efficient environment.
Missed Opportunity Six: Improved Organizational Structure
Coach 4 Growth reveals sales coaching increases representative performance by up to 20 percent. While management is inherently responsible for direct coaching, an effective analytical, supporting system guarantees support when manpower isn’t enough. The modern workplace is widespread. Decision makers have a variety of responsibilities, though top performers are made from constant, intuitive contact. Sometimes, a system does it better.
Missed Opportunity Seven: Preparation for Unexpected Situations
A team trained for every play adapts to every situation. New locations, new directions and new business climates are unpredictable, but effective analytical support, training and execution guarantees a comprehensive understanding of sales force hypotheticals. As the modern workforce evolves, technology as its foundation, similarly flexible resources, like Cloud Artillery, are needed to create ironclad routines, plays and goals.
Questions help you uncover the information you need to best connect to a lead when making a pitch and increase ROI. Are you asking the right questions? Here are the 10 questions we recommend companies should be asking themselves in the process of sales.
- Who is the decision maker?
- How have similar decisions been made in the past?
- What is your top priority for making this decision?
- What do you want to achieve?
- What is your budget?
- What are your biggest concerns?
- What has or hasn’t worked for you in the past?
- What is your time frame?
- Do you have any questions for me?
- What is the best way to communicate with you moving forward?
Don’t waste your time pitching your products to the wrong person. Always find out who the decision maker is, and pitch that person.
When you know a company’s approach to making decisions, you can gauge how to make your pitch land that much more effectively. Don’t be afraid to ask about this; the most persuasive sales people definitely tailor their pitch based on knowledge of a client’s decision-making process.
Knowing how decisions have been made in the past, you next want to know what is their key priority in making this particular decision. Their answer allows you to more directly tailor your sales pitch to the most pressing concerns at present.
When you know a client’s goals, you can better connect your product or service with their goals. As you speak from this perspective, you will connect better with them and quite possibly land the deal.
Regardless of how perfect your product or solution is, a client will not bite if your product is over their budget. Do some digging around their price expectations and budget before you get in too far.
You want to hear a lead’s biggest concerns so that you can address them, eliminating roadblocks through honest and transparent communication.
As a lead answers this, you gain insight into their preferred methodology and their pain points. This gives you information you can use to point out how your product is aligned with their past successes, or is different from past known pain points.
From a practical perspective, you need to know what a client’s time frame is and then determine whether you are able to work within it. In some cases, it can be better to turn something down if you cannot feasibly meet it than to over promise, fail to deliver, and wreck a relationship.
As much as pitching is about selling your product or service to a prospective it is also about listening – and demonstrating that you care about their needs. So never forget to ask a potential lead if they have any questions for you before you get off the phone. This just might reveal their hesitations and give you the insight you need to move them further down the sales funnel.
It’s always nice to follow up in a prospect’s preferred method of communication. Asking this questions allows you to do just that, while further demonstrating that you can listen to their needs. Just make sure you follow their preferences during your next steps.
Asking these questions during the sales process can help you determine what is really important to your client, and make the right connections in your pitch. Without asking these questions, it is almost impossible to connect on an authoritative level with the prospect and have a strong chance of sealing the deal successfully.
The White House had released an official US Digital Services Playbook, in which, there were many ‘plays’ and ‘keys’ which had been drawn from practices which have remained successful. These practices have been used in both, the government and private sectors. The focus was mainly, on the improvement of facilities and services provided by the government. However, the content is applicable for sales if applied correctly. Specifically, there are three tips which can prove to be very helpful for B2B salespeople and marketers.
1. Understanding People’s Needs
In order to reach the top of the B2B market, you need to firstly understand what your customers want and need. A sales playbook is most effective if it has been built around the concept of consumer analysis. Which means that the playbook should be designed in such a way, that the customers is the first and topmost priority. Through this, B2B sales representatives can establish a clear and better understanding of who their customers are and what they want. Since every B2B company or business has a different focus, it will help representatives understand what’s important.
The playbook should include a number of questions, customer related, which will help narrow down things so that they become even simpler. Questions can include, who is the target audience? Why are they the audience? Is our product made for that specific audience? Is it for both genders of the audience?
2. Addressing the Buyer’s Journey – From Start to Finish
Just like it is important to outline the specific businesses sales process in a sales playbook, it is also highly important to concern the buyer’s journey as well. Often, salesmen have the wrong assumption that the process of sales aligns with the customer’s process of buying. That only happens in rare cases. It is likely that many buyers are engaged in the journey after a period of realization of their need.
They can also conduct the needed research and self-establish buying criteria which is most suitable for them.
As such, the sales playbook should cover every aspect of a sale which includes several stages and circumstances which can occur during the sales duration.
3. Your B2B Sales Playbook should be Intuitive, yet Simple
Although this context has a completely different meaning in the eyes of the government, in the world of B2B, it means that your sales playbook should be a guide. To the company’s sales representatives, the sales playbook needs to be the ultimate sales guide which can take them through from a-z. This includes covering all possible situations in the future, possible scenarios during sales pitching, etc. However, all of this needs to be done in the simplest of ways possible. This is so that it is easier for them to digest everything, and close a sales deal with more confidence and success.
The bottom line looms below every company, balanced precariously on a series of expenses, earnings, and estimations. Trying to step into the black while simultaneously avoiding the red often proves to be a challenging endeavor, and sales executives often find themselves bearing the brunt of the strain. They must, after all, close the deals and maximize the profits.
They can do this by relying on proven sales strategies, foremost among them being Consultative, System Selling, and High Probability methodologies. These help to raise the bottom line and improve overall earnings.
Choosing the Right Sales Strategy
Implementing an effective sales strategy is essential. With so many options to consider, however, marketers and sales executives quickly become overwhelmed. They’re uncertain which options are effective and which are inefficient in terms of their overall goals.
The Consultative methodology is a solution-based process. It focuses on examining problems and then offering viable suggestions for those problems. This is what makes it different from traditional methods, which push specific products or services without providing a context. It’s intended to enhance the customer experience, increasing overall service, support, and connectivity. It establishes long-term relationships and inspires brand loyalty.
System Selling is the process of packaging products or services together, highlighting their complementary functions and stressing the benefits of ‘bulk buying’. This, unlike single-model methods, creates a sense of savings. It also showcases different inventory elements and creates a series of cause-and-effect purchases. Customers buy more each quarter.
The High Probability method is aptly named, focusing all marketing efforts toward the customers most likely to purchase goods or services. It emphasizes early identification of key demographics (whether through social searches, keyword campaigns, or optimized search engine content) and utilizes all resources to persuade these demographics to buy. All sales are precise and targeted. Though it requires a deep understanding of local consumers, this method provides strong sales.
Beware the Hard Sell
Hard sell methodologies, which utilize scare tactics, intimidation, and a blitz of questions once reigned supreme. However, time has weakened this strategy as an option. Socially savvy consumers (along with equally knowledgeable competitors) can instantly access a product’s information, ratings, and applications. Easy access to this information counters any hard sell pressures and exposes manipulation, which translates to lost sales. Avoid it.
Increasing the bottom line requires superior products, customer service, and sales strategy. Combine these elements to ensure steady growth.
Sales managers are chameleons, forever changing their roles and responding to endless office demands. They serve as data analyzers, methodology masters, and human resource directors. Each day provides new challenges for them to solve, just as each day reveals countless ways to utilize five crucial skills.
Becoming an Exceptional Sales Manager: Five Traits to Embrace
The role of the sales manager is difficult to define. However, the five skills he needs are not. These traits – creativity, time management, identification, customer-centric thinking, and motivation – are instrumental in a sales manager’s success.
Though metric examinations demand analytical minds, managers must also make use of their creative sides. Problem solving requires new perspectives and fresh ideas. Deliver out-of-the-box thinking to dominate both the market and the competition.
Deadlines and timelines shape every office and lost hours translate to lost profits. Managing every second is essential when it comes to your success. Track every project from its conception to its completion, creating schedules that maximize each team member’s contributions. Set priorities, delegate activities, and push for efficiency.
A sales manager does more than solve problems. He also identifies solutions before they’re needed. He achieves this by hiring the best marketers, coordinators, and closers; monitoring emerging sales patterns; researching new methodologies; and by building extensive networks. He examines and plans for all potential issues.
A good sales manager studies buyer personas, while a great sales manager applies that information in new and rewarding ways. Consumer-centric thinking is key to the business field. It encompasses both an understanding of demographics (including age, locations, social and economical backgrounds, and gender) and service needs. It allows managers to anticipate what customers want and then provide it, whether through product launches, marketing campaigns, or face-to-face interactions.
There’s no I in team. However, there is an I in motivation. Sales managers do more than control their office environments. They also ensure that each member feels valued, respected, and appreciated, which is the best way to ensure strong sales and high quarters. Rally each worker through open door policies, playbook refresher courses, and more.
Sales managers oversee the day-to-day operations of their companies. However, without these five traits those operations will quickly fall apart. So remember:
- Be creative.
- Manage every moment.
- Identify possible problems.
- Think like the customer.
- Motivate each team member.