Providing sales teams with quality leads is a method of shortening sales cycles. Sales teams attain a higher close rate and feel better about their jobs when they have high quality sales leads to work with. Capturing quality leads should be the objective of any marketing communications effort.
We used the last posts to this blog to talk broadly about search engine marketing (SEM). We included examples from our current experience working with clients. We think that successful SEM can produce quality sales leads.
SEM should be coupled with a new set of direct marketing activities. Seasoned sales personnel should be included who can extract the highest possible value from any opportunities to engage directly with prospects that emerge from these programs.
We have done a lot of work with one of our clients defining sales prospects, and the people that use this client’s products and services. We found that these people usually do not make purchase decisions. The typical sale goes like this: a sales prospect (usually a technical person) likes a product or service, and requests a purchase from decision makers. Once the product or service has been purchased, any/all opportunities to engage with the customer take place between the technical user and our client’s sales team. The decision makers are somewhere on the periphery. Opportunities to sell additional products are few and far between.
Given the prospect and customer type, we decided to drop telemarketing as a direct marketing method. We have yet to find a direct marketing method that works for this client. Our experience with discussion groups and Twitter has been less than positive. We filled the direct marketing gap with more marketing communications work.
We focused our product promotion efforts on a redesign of our client’s online brand to develop more opportunities early in the sales cycle to engage directly with decision makers. We did this work through a combination of suggested changes in web site content, a press release campaign, and an online paid advertising campaign.
Another step that we took, after we took a detailed look at what was working and not, was to re-align sales strategy from a complex sale to a transaction sale model. The early results are promising. Sales cycles are shorter, and sales opportunities are more tangible. Stay tuned on this one.
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