Businesses that thrive have mastered the art of generating a steady stream of leads and converting them into sales.
Whatever your business, to be successful, it requires a consistent stream of revenue. Of course, that success starts with generating interest in your company. In other words, this means generating leads.
Lead generation is important, but if you are not converting those leads into sales you won’t be in business for long.
Let’s face it, we live in a content crazy society. It’s never been easier to create the perfect marketing piece to grab your target audience’s attention. Or create a landing page to acquire names and contact info (and give away some freebies). And, recognizing the sheer volume of social media channels that currently exist, we’ve definitely never seen a time before where it’s been more effortless to get your product or service in front of potential customers.
Leads are Great, Sales are Better
The biggest difference between lead generation vs. sales, is that getting noticed doesn’t pay the bills or produce revenue. And it certainly does not help you to produce enough income month in and month out to take your business to the next level.
So it begs the question: If you’re laboring to meet revenue goals, do you have a lead generation problem, or do you have a sales problem?
We bet your first inclination is to say you have a lead generation problem. And why not? It makes sense. The more attention you can generate, the more potential customers will be knocking at your door. And with increased opportunities to sell, boom, the more sales you’ll make.
If you find your sales lagging, there might be a deeper issue at play despite all of your best marketing and customer value management efforts.
You and your business could be generating hundreds of leads each month. Great! The problem is you’re not closing enough of those leads. Not so great.
The fact is, it’s not enough to simply be noticed. There’s a reason that 29% of small businesses fail due to cash flow problems.
For your business to thrive and grow, you need sales. And that’s where your challenge truly lies, how to generate more – and more consistent – sales.
Put Your Best Assets Forward
Now that we’ve established that uncomfortable truth, it’s time to confront another one – not everyone may be confident in their skills in closing a sale or their ability to convince someone they need a product or service.
Certainly, some are natural at it. Most, however, are not.
We don’t want to dissuade anyone from going into sales, mind you. But for a small start-up or a growing company, giving your employees, specifically those that handle your sales, the best opportunity to succeed also ensures your business’ success.
Consider for a minute the Pareto Principle, or less formally, the 80-20 rule.
A commonly used axiom across a number of disciplines, including many business sectors, the 80-20 rule basically says this: 80% of a given output is created by 20% of its inputs.
Apply this to your sales initiative, and you come out with two crucial conclusions:
- 80% of your sales stem from 20% of your customers.
- 80% of those same sales are closed by 20% of your sales team.
Recognizing these two critical points is a game-changer.
The first point indicates that to improve your sales, identify what prompts 20% of your customer base to do business with you, and then recreate those conditions for the other 80% who don’t.
As for the second point, you can apply the 80-20 rule to reduce overhead and improve your sales group’s overall efficiency without actually decreasing sales. More importantly, you can discern what makes that 20% so effective and then apply those lessons across your team.
Tie it all together, and not only are you building more accurate and more lucrative customer profiles, but you’re enhancing your sales team’s productivity without increasing your costs or lowering output.
That’s the definition of a win-win scenario.
Improve Your Sales Follow Up
You have a better grasp of your customer base, and you’ve positioned your best and brightest salespeople for success. So what comes next?
Beyond customer profiles and capable sales team members, your company must also learn to shine on the backend of customer engagement the same way it does on the front end.
Remember, you don’t have an issue attracting attention to your product or service or even your brand. People like what you offer and think enough of what you do to engage with you initially.
Unfortunately, people also have short attention spans, are easily distracted, or choose to be methodical before parting with their hard-earned cash. Sometimes they need a little extra push.
That’s where follow-up comes in. And sales follow-up statistics do not lie.
Often, a lost sale is due to a business failing to do on the backend what they did so well on the front end – engage.
Well before your first point of engagement with a customer ends, you should be angling to schedule when the next point of engagement begins. The sooner you can secure the next call, the better.
The best approach is often the simplest one and is laid out perfectly in “The Power of Follow Ups” infographic below:
If you’re able to secure a follow-up before ending the call, send out a calendar invite either just before or immediately after the call ends. Then provide a follow-up email that includes:
- Summary of your prior discussion
- Explanation of what happens during the next round of engagement
- Reiterate you’ve sent an invite and an email to the customer
- Inform the customer additional details will arrive 24 hours prior to your next point of engagement
Then, to follow through on the upcoming second point of contact, set up an automated email reminder.
If you’re unable to secure a follow-up during your first call, then immediately after it ends, send a follow-up email that includes:
- Summary of your prior discussion
- Explanation of what happens during the next round of engagement
- Note what prevented you from setting up the next follow-up
- Inform the customer you will get in touch with them soon to schedule the next point of engagement
Same as before, set up an automation email reminder.
The follow-up email is critical in maintaining contact with your clients after your initial point of contact. If you can maintain your engagement with them, even when not directly speaking with them, your odds of closing a sale increase considerably.
Additional Reading: The Right and Wrong Way to Deploy Social Selling
Adopt a Sales Methodology
You’ve identified your customer profile, placed your top salespeople on the front line of engagement, and established a simple, repeatable avenue for following up after the first point of contact with a customer.
The final step to improving your sales game is digging deeper and building a consistent, winning sales strategy. The best way to achieve this is by adopting a sales methodology.
At its most basic, a sales methodology outlines the way your team approaches the sale process. It provides a roadmap for navigating the various touch points they’ll encounter when attempting to close a transaction.
By no means does this represent a massive change in how you do business. Nor will a sales methodology serve as a cure-all for any shortcomings your company may suffer.
What adopting a sales methodology will achieve is consistency and accountability. And it does so without rigid conformity.
It helps your newest hires grow more comfortable with the sales process and engage with your company’s unique customer base. It also provides a pathway for meeting early sales goals or building up their success.
The right sales methods can also take a novice and turn them into a great salesperson. Take it a step further, and apply a methodology to transform a currently great salesperson into a superstar.
Already have a superstar on your team? Enhancing their sales acumen will simply make them even better.
When thinking about how to make changes to your sales approach, it’s critical to remember that it’s not a one size fits all proposition. There are several different sales methodologies that you and your company can employ to achieve greater success.
Consider that the above link only lays out ten different strategies:
- Challenger Sales Model
- SPIN Selling
- SNAP Selling
- Consultative Selling
- Straight Line Persuasion
- Sandler Selling System
- Inbound Sales
- Gap Selling
- Cold Calling
- Conceptual Selling
It’s not uncommon for a company to deploy multiple methodologies or create hybrids between sales strategies based on their specific needs.
For example, you may offer a diverse product line-up or multiple service solutions that each require their own unique tactics for closing a sale. Or you may serve both domestic and international customers. The former might prove more responsive to one type of sales methodology, while the latter is more receptive to another.
Sales methodologies are meant to be pliable – more knowledge and skill gained than behavior learned.
Start your sales methodology journey by employing one or two strategies to best serve your company’s immediate needs. Then build from there. As the process evolves, you’ll find specific methods that will lend themselves naturally to separate segments of your business. Or, as we noted, you might find a mix of approaches fits better with your goals.
As you gain more experience, you find the methodologies will help spur further client engagement and allow your sales team more flexibility to close complicated transactions. Or pump up the numbers on those sales which prove less taxing.
Additional Reading: 7 Mistakes That Derail Your Social Selling Strategy
In truth, sales as a whole isn’t a particularly difficult or complex concept to grasp. If your company has a product or service that provides a solution to a customer’s needs, it really shouldn’t be that tough to say so. Adding sales methodologies will simply help you be more effective in navigating the best path for saying it.
Lead Generation vs. Sales: Final Thoughts
There’s no great mystery to generating sales, especially if your company is one that already has plenty of success at generating leads. It really comes down to refining your sales approach and adopting a few basic sales tenets:
- Identify the customers that represent the majority of your sales and why they stand apart.
- Know the salespeople who account for the majority of your sales and place them in the best position possible to engage with potential customers.
- Employ a simple and repeatable sales method for following up with your customers
Adopt a sales methodology – or two or three, whatever your needs may be – to ensure you connect with your customers, provide your salespeople the support they need to succeed, and, ultimately, turn your leads into revenue-generating sales.
Nick Rubright is a digital marketing specialist for IRC Sales Solutions, an organization created by Spencer Smith that helps businesses learn to grow, manage, and organize their sales teams.