Marketing is an investment back into your business. Whether you’re a business owner or marketer, the end goal of marketing is to close sales. When you invest in radio, digital, magazine, or a combination of marketing solutions with Zimmer Radio & Marketing Group, you’re setting your business up to receive a lot of new marketing leads.
Of course, marketing can only take potential customers so far. Getting the “hand-off” of qualified leads from marketing to sales right is critical.
One of the key moments in this process is how your salespeople actually contact marketing leads for the first time. It will either firmly establish your brand’s potential value to the buyer, or squander all the goodwill and brand perception that was developed by your marketing efforts. We’ve collected five tips that will help better align your marketing and sales, as well as train your salespeople to make that first point of one-to-one contact count.
5 Ways Your Salespeople Can Make Better Initial Contact
You’ve put a lot of time and money into your marketing, but now it’s in the hands of your sales team to take it home. These tips are designed to help you improve your rate of conversion from MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to SQLs (sales qualified leads), and SQLs to customers.
1. Don’t Go in Blind.
Your company will already have a wealth of information about prospects — it’s part of why a lead is handed off to your sales team to begin with. Encourage your salespeople to start by reviewing that information to better understand the prospect and how they’ve already engaged with your brand. It can be a good sign of which solutions will be the best fit.
For instance, if a prospect has read blog posts or visited website pages on the same topic as the white paper and ebook they downloaded, that’s a strong indicator that it’s a topic worth talking about. At the very least, salespeople should be reviewing any forms that have been submitted by a prospect.
Similarly, salespeople ought to be doing some research. They can review the prospect’s company website to get a clear picture of the company’s mission and goals, then use that to contextualize which pain points they’re likely to experience. Salespeople should also look for the prospect’s LinkedIn page. This can help confirm their current role at the company and ensure the salesperson is connecting with the right person.
To put it another way, personalization is a big part of marketing for good reason, and it shouldn’t stop once the salesperson steps in. Putting in the time and effort to understand a prospect’s role and the needs of their company will have a direct impact on how receptive the prospect is.
2. Be Transparent.
Transparency may be a buzzword for B2C right now, but it’s equally important for B2B. A prospect will quickly figure out that the person contacting them is a salesperson, and the more a salesperson dances around why they’re really contacting them, the less open the prospect will be to the inevitable pitch.
For emails, transparency should start with the subject line and be evident throughout the body of the message. No matter what point of communication is used, salespeople need to be forthright about what spurred them to reach out.
A great example of what happens when a salesperson doesn’t leverage transparency is this unfortunate (but true) story from Pete Caputa at HubSpot. In the email Caputa received, the salesperson used a misleading subject line that, at any other time, would indicate either familiarity or immediacy. The tactic may have succeeded in getting the email opened, but once Caputa realized what happened, it made him irritated, not interested.
3. Add Value BEFORE Asking for Anything.
Hopefully, this point is already at the core of your sales team’s training. After all, no one is interested in making time for a sales pitch when they don’t even know why they should care about the company contacting them. However, Caputa’s story also reveals that this isn’t always as obvious to salespeople as it ought to be.
Sales should take a cue from the way marketing has begun to establish your brand as a valuable solution to a prospect’s needs. When salespeople go straight into requesting a meeting or delivering a generic sales pitch, it essentially reads as skipping ahead, past what the prospect cares.
4. Keep it Brief.
If your salespeople try to pack all the benefits of partnering with your company into the first conversation they have with a prospect, it will probably be the only conversation they have with that prospect. Be sure your salespeople understand that leads need to be nurtured, which takes multiple conversations as well as a good bit of time. By focusing on one key benefit at a time, your salespeople can give prospects space to evaluate each and understand their potential value.
Of course, being brief is also great advice to take literally. Sales emails and communications should be succinct — eliminate unnecessary sentences that are fluff or filler, as well as any vague language or jargon.
5. Do More than Just “Check In.”
Simply “checking in” does nothing to add value to the prospects day or truly make your brand top-of-mind. When a lead goes cold, “just checking in” messages get ignored. Instead, train salespeople to add even more value in small doses in order to provide new opportunities to truly connect with a prospect. In many cases, this can also show that your brand has continued to be attentive to the prospect company’s activities, messaging, and needs.
HubSpot’s Aja Frost offers a number of email templates to follow up with a prospect in a truly meaningful way. Messages that provide an actionable tip, inviting them to webinars or educational events, and sharing industry resources are just a few of the tactics that can prevent “checking in” from seeming more like “pestering.”
Marketing and advertising help drive brand awareness, attract prospects to your website, and get the ball rolling for future engagement. The way in which your salespeople contact marketing leads is an important step to continue establishing the value of your brand and offerings. Aside from whether or not these leads evolve into customers, the initial sales contact can also make or break your brand’s reputation. Train your salespeople with the tips described above to ensure that the reason a marketing lead doesn’t convert isn’t that a salesperson failed to handle them properly.