It seems like only yesterday that I wrote the first post of 2014 and that year’s challenges and opportunities. The issues, for the most part, are unchanged:
- The necessity to respond rapidly
- Adoption of the new buying process where buyers self-educate
- The need to simplify the process for buyers
What’s the 2015 spin on these issues? Here are my thoughts and predictions.
Rapid Response Time
2014 was the year of marketing automation. Marketing automation is a great solution that can help your marketing team track prospects’ visits through the website, create lead nurturing emails, and help prime those prospects for follow up by a sales rep. Many solutions sync with CRM tools to quickly move data from the marketing automation tool to the CRM software so that a sales rep can access it immediately. The problem is that most CRM tools are not necessarily sales enablement solutions that will automatically deliver the sales-ready lead to the rep for follow up.
2015 is the year where inside sales teams must adopt sales enablement platforms that automatically route sales-ready leads to them for immediate follow up. Companies have made awareness and nurturing much more rapid for marketers, and in turn that’s made it potentially quicker for sales to follow up on leads. However, the sales team needs a solution that works just as quickly to deliver the sales-ready leads to them.
Adapting to the Buying Process
2014 saw the continued rise of the self-educated buyer. A major marketing mantra for 2014 was the call to continuously create quality content that can be easily found and accessed by prospects. Social selling became a powerful way for sales reps to help in this early, awareness-phase of the buying process.
In 2015, social selling will continue to be important. However, sales reps will need to begin cultivating their own personal brands as part of their social selling efforts. Internet entrepreneur, Neil Patel, recently wrote a post about “How to Build a Million Dollars from Your Personal Brand.” While he is writing from the perspective of an entrepreneur, his points are valid for anyone who is trying to build a sales pipeline. Your personal brand is what makes people trust you and want to do business with you. In B2B sales or complex consumer sales, the trustworthiness and knowledge of the sales person can make or break a deal as much or more than the company’s product or brand reputation.
Sales professionals who want to build or improve their personal brands will need to become more involved in sharing their expertise (guest blogging, Q & A on sites like Quora.com, participation in LinkedIn groups, speaking at conferences, etc.) Beyond these personal brand-building efforts, sales reps should create consistency in their email messaging through use of email templates and voice drop technology in their prospecting efforts.
Making Things Simple
Many of my suggestions from 2014 still apply in 2015:
For your team . . .
- Make sales multi-tasking the exception – not the rule. Choose lead management software for your sales team that removes desktop distractions to ensure sales call productivity meets expectations.
- Simplify and automate to make work more efficient and productive. The right lead management solution will provide:
For your prospects . . .
- Embrace the mobile web – your customers are using their smartphones and tablets more and more. Make it easy for them to use your site by creating a responsive web experience. Bonus: Google search results now indicate which sites are mobile friendly. Make sure yours is designated as such in the search results!
- Make getting answers easy:
- Provide an easy-to-search and easy-to-navigate web presence
- Ensure their inquiries are answered immediately
- Be active on the social media sites they frequent
- Effectively optimize your site to show up in search results
How do you plan to meet your sales & marketing challenges in 2015? I encourage you to test drive VanillaSoft as part of your optimization efforts. You will find features that help you meet challenges in all three areas outlined above.
Happy New Year and Happy Selling!