Do you close enough leads?

measure your marketingDo you want to grow your business?

To maintain and grow your business, you need a constant flow of new leads into the business. You also need to close those leads, turning them into business. The question is: are you closing enough leads?

Your marketing should be generating a steady, and consistent, flow of leads into your business. IF not, let’s have a chat. If the flow of leads is lumpy, I would hazard a guess, saying that your marketing activity is lumpy too. Are you doing some marketing when you get time?

To understand whether you are closing enough leads, let’s go back to the beginning:

How many leads do you need?

As you plan for the trading year, what are your targets? Many companies I talk to have a “standard” 4 new deals a month approach. Whilst that will be great for some, it may not be enough for others. For some, it will be too many as they either haven’t got the resources to deal with them or they haven’t got the marketing budget to generate that many leads.

You need to have a target to aim at.

I know that one big deal a month can be the equivalent of 4 deals, but you cannot rely on the big deals coming along all the time. What is your average client worth? Easy calculation: Divide your annual turnover by the number of clients you worked with in that time. If you have one, or two, clients generating a big percentage, take them out of the equation.

Are you tracking your leads?

Do you have some way of tracking every lead that comes into your business? Without something, you will never know if you close enough leads. This may be something like Salesforce, Hubspot or Infusionsoft. Alternatively, it can simply be an Excel spreadsheet. My advice: work with what works for you and what makes sense to invest in.

Are you monitoring your numbers?

Most CRMs will provide reporting for you, but Excel can easily calculate your numbers for you too. Let’s look at the numbers you need to track:

  1. How many people visit your website?
  2. How many leads do you get each month?
  3. How many of these become qualified leads?
  4. How many of these become new clients?

The 1st question is there because most people will check you out. Even if they are a referral, they will almost certainly visit your website to see what you are all about, so you need to know this number. If your website is doing its job, you should be getting a steady flow of leads into the business.

The number of leads you get tells you whether your marketing is working or not.

The number of qualified leads is also a reflection on your marketing, with a little input from Sales. If the number of qualified leads you have is far lower than your leads, you are attracting the wrong people. If this is the case, your marketing needs to be reviewed.

If the number of sales that come from qualified leads is insufficient, there are three possible reasons why:

  1. Your close rate is too low, so your Sales process needs to be reviewed.
  2. You are getting too many poor quality leads.
  3. You aren’t getting enough leads.

The only way you will know is if you are measuring your marketing.

I hope this helps.

The 10 rules of Negotiation

As this month’s topic is how marketing can help Sales to deliver more deals, I thought I would use a video I’ve seen recently. It looks at negotiating and some key rules around negotiating when dealing with a prospect.

Alan McCarthy’s 10 Rules of Negotiation look at what you should and shouldn’t do.

The 10 Rules of Negotiation

  1. Don’t negotiate.
  2. Never negotiate with yourself.
  3. Never except the first offer.
  4. Never make the first offer if you can avoid it.
  5. Listen more and talk less.
  6. Never give anyone a free gift.
  7. Watch the salami.
  8. Avoid the rookie’s regret.
  9. Avoid the quick deal.
  10. Never tell anyone what your bottom line is.

When I first listened to this, I wasn’t sure that I agreed with some of them and the rule about salami really confused me when I heard the rule. Once explained, however, it was much clearer.

Watch the Salami

Salami is made from a mix of ingredients in much the same way as the products and services you provide.  Back in my old life, when I worked for an IT support company, we often broke down the pricing of a project to minute detail – and we often lost out because of it.  People would take the quotes and simply go to someone with a lower day rate.  They would use our knowledge and expertise to develop a great server network – and then save money on the overall project. It took us a while to stop, but we did in the end – and then we won more projects.  This is still something I need to watch out for and make sure I don’t break marketing projects down into too much costed detail.

Never Give anyone a Free Gift

The old saying says “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and this is what Alan is saying here.  Whatever you give away, make sure you get something in return.

It’s not often I share other people’s content, but this video seemed to fit perfectly within this set of blogs.  I hope this helps.

How marketing data can help you close more sales

marketing data helps you sell more

You want more leads from your marketing so that you can generate more sales.

I know it’s an obvious statement, but let me challenge it for a moment.

What if you could close more of the leads you get?  Would that be just as good?

Your marketing is planned and implemented with the sole aim of generating more leads for your business. Now some will say that it is also there to develop and maintain brand awareness (usually those focused on social media), but brand awareness is there to ensure that people know who you are and what you do – so they can buy from you when the right time arises.

The question is: when is the right time?

Answer: when the data tells you it is the right time.

Let me explain.

As a B2B business (most SME Needs’ clients are B2B), you are luckier than most B2C clients.  You get a little bit more data to help you know about your clients. Let’s look at the data that is available to you and then we’ll combine it to help you close more sales.

IP Addresses

Google defines an IP address as: “a unique string of numbers separated by full stops that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network.” When you are working in the B2B space, far more of the traffic to your website will come from fixed IP addresses, because many businesses have a fixed IP, rather than a dynamic one. (click here for an explanation of the difference between dynamic and fixed IPs) That means it is registered to them and so you can find out what company your visitor came from.

Email data

Your email marketing will tell you what the people on your mailing lists are doing. It will tell you who is reading (opening) your emails. It will tell you who is engaging with the Calls to Action you put in your emails. Over time, it will tell you who is engaged and who isn’t.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics won’t help you sell more (at least not directly), but it will tell you which pages on your website are working and which aren’t. It will tell you how many people are returning to your website (as a %age of total audience) and how they got there. It will even tell you how far down your pages they read.

Web Analytics

Web analytics takes things a step further and shows you what happens in individual visits and starts adding other data to those visits. Many platforms will add the IP address (see above) so you know what companies are visiting your website. If you know who your Ideal Client is, you’ve got a good chance of being able to close in on the visitor.

Web analytics will show you the path an individual visitor took through your website. Email data will show you the page they clicked through to, but not what happened then; web analytics will.

This data can show you WHO is visiting your website, what they are looking at and when they are returning. Would that be useful?

What shall I talk about?

Many sales calls go something like this:

  • Tell me about your issue.
  • These are all the things we do, so you can work out which are going to be useful to you
  • When can I come to your office and repeat what I’ve just told you?

Would this be better?

  • Tell me about your issue
  • This product/service is just what you need, as it will help with your issue
  • When can I come to your office and help you understand more about how this will help resolve your issue?

Imagine a scenario where you knew what products or services they were interested in. If you knew what they’d been looking at on your website, you know they’ve already starting thinking that service/product can help. All you’ve got to do is continue extolling the benefits and the results achievable from it. Guess what: web analytics can tell you what that person is looking at and how frequently.

When should I talk to them?

One of the most critical aspects of sales is knowing when to talk to your prospects. So if you know when someone has visited your website, you know when they are thinking about your business and your products or services. Web analytics can tell you when they return, with most platforms having functionality that will email you when someone returns to your website.

At this point, we don’t recommend you call them immediately, as that would be a little too big-brother-ish. But there’s nothing stopping you calling them later:

You: Just following up on our last conversation

Them: That’s great timing. I was looking at your website yesterday

You: Were you? What were you looking for?

Them: Just checking your [insert your product name]

You: How about we have a coffee and talk more about [insert your product name] and how it can help you.

Following up when you know they are interested in you and thinking about you dramatically increases the chances of you moving them further through your pipeline and to closing them as a new client.

If you would like to see how this works, click here.

 

Four ways Marketing helps Sales close the deal

Marketing has two roles:

  1. To develop the leads your business needs to grow.
  2. To help your sales team close the deal.

Let’s talk about the latter.

Once your Sales team takes on a lead, they have one goal: to close the deal. To do this, they must convince the prospect that your business can deliver on the promises the sales person makes. To do that they must do X things:

  1. Demonstrate that they understand the issues and problems they are trying to resolve.
  2. Show you, as a business, has the knowledge and expertise to resolve the issues and problems.
  3. Prove it.
  4. Help time the conversations.

Understanding their issues

Every business has one or more Ideal Clients. To develop a marketing plan to target the Ideal Client, they will have developed a clear picture of the issues that Ideal Client faces. This information will most likely come from two sources:

  1. Previous experience dealing with similar companies
  2. Market research

The development of the needs and issues should involve Sales when possible, but if not, this picture has to be shared with Sales.  Without the knowledge, they are at a disadvantage.

Showing you have the knowledge

The next stage, once you listed the needs and issues faced by your Ideal Client, it to match your solutions to their issues.

A sales person who can confidently explain how your business can resolve specific issues will be well on their way to closing the deal.

But a savvy buyer will accept that they can talk the talk. Now they expect them to prove that your company can walk the walk.  They want evidence that you can deliver.

Proving it

The evidence can be produced in many ways. It is the role of Marketing to collate and to share this information in a way that supports the Sales team.

  • Case studies on the website or gathered together for use in proposals.
  • Video or written testimonials shared through automated emails, based on pipeline progress.
  • Stories the sales team can use during sales meetings or networking events.

To do this, Marketing needs to liaise with both Sales and Operations to understand who the happiest clients are, what projects have gone particularly well and what the results have been. Marketing can then work with the client to produce a picture of what happened, what the results were and how happy the client was.

Helping Time the Conversations

Imagine, as a sales person, being able to time your next call to your prospects when you know they are ready to move through the pipeline. Although not strictly a Marketing function, web analytics products are often pitched at Marketing as a way of showing the performance of marketing campaigns. Web analytics will do that, but it will also tell your Sales team exactly how their prospects are engaging.  Our personal preference is a product called CANDDi, but there are many others out there.

Imagine knowing WHO is visiting your website, what they are looking at on your website and when they come back?  Would that help your Sales team?

I hope this helps explain how Marketing sits alongside Sales.  If your business is Sales-led, a Marketing function can help Sales work more effectively. If you have the age-old issue with Marketing and Sales trying to compete, bang their heads together and talk to them about how they should be working together.

I hope this helps.

Are your case studies working well as evidence you do a great job?

As you talk to your latest prospective new client, you’ve identified their needs. You are talking to them about your solution to those needs. You’ve explained what it is you do and how that will help make their lives considerably easier or better. There is just one thought in their heads at this point:

PROVE IT!

Depending upon how they found you, they will have known you for either some time, or they’ve just found you. Did you ask them by the way? Either way, as a new prospect, they have never experienced working with you. If they were referred to you, that referral carries some weight (and a little of the referrer’s reputation). But if they found you on LinkedIn or through some other online search, all they know about you is what they have seen online. All they have seen is your words on how great you are at helping your clients. Since then, all they’ve heard is your words on how great a solution you can provide to their needs. What they want, and need, is proof that you will deliver on your promises once they sign on the dotted line.  What they want is evidence.

My last blog looked at testimonials as a key piece of evidence. Let’s now look at another key piece of evidence: case studies.

Get your case studies working well

Case studies are a summaries of specific pieces of work with your clients that demonstrate how you’ve helped them. Are your case studies working well? To do this, they must have five key parts Let’s look at them now:

Who is the client?

Naming and describing the client puts the case study into context for the reader. It allows them to draw comparisons to themselves so that they recognise that you understand their industry. If you understand the industry, you will understand the pressures they face. A hyperlink to your client will provide just a little SEO support for that company. It will also give the reader the option to click through and understand more if they wish to.

What issue did they face?

By describing the problem you helped them with, you further strengthen the reader’s image of you. If you’ve picked your case studies well, they will be reading a case study about an issue very similar to the one they are talking to you about. You’re showing them that you have experience of dealing with that issue.

What did you do?

This section is, perhaps, the least important section of your case study. A description of what you did for that client will help the reader to picture the service and to understand more. But if they are reading this after your first sales meeting, you will have already told them what you will do. Even if they are reading this before deciding to call you, they have probably already read your What We Do website page.
I believe that most of your target audience doesn’t care about what you do, they care about how you can help them. This brings me nicely onto…

The Results

Your description of the great results you delivered for this client is the piece your prospects want to read. They want to believe that working with you will deliver a great return on investment. That they will get a solution to their problem that will make them look good to their boss (that may be a higher-up line manager, their shareholders or fellow directors).
To get your case studies working well, this is the most important part, so why is it that this part is the one most often missing from case studies?

The Client’s Words

A testimonial from a named person from within that client adds credibility and weight to the case study. The client is agreeing that you delivered a great piece of work, to the extent that they are happy to add their name to it. It’s unlikely that you will add a name if you have made up the case study (Googlewhacking is a lot of fun – try it) and they can always check up on you if there is a name.

When Should You Write a New Case Study?

I mentioned above that the results section is the one most often missing from a case study. I believe this is because they are written too soon. Too many companies look to write a case study the minute a project is complete. The problem is that it often takes some time for the results of your work to appear.

Why Do This?

Keeping an up to date set of case studies on your website is, in my opinion, vital for the following reasons:

  1. Regular updates are great for SEO purposes. Not only because you are updating and adding content regularly, but it is also highly likely to be keyword rich.
  2. Regular visitors to your website will see that you are continuing to deliver great work for your clients. By the way, make sure you add new case studies to the top of the page; viewers won’t scroll to the bottom to check if there is fresh content.
  3. You can easily point prospects to the content and, with the right web analytics, see when they read what you point them at. If a prospect is reading your case studies, they are likely to be about to make their decision on whether to use you.
  4. They will warm up those who haven’t yet made contact. If they like what they read (and recognise their peers and similar issues), they are far more likely to get in touch.

I hope this helps to get your case studies working well.

What are you doing with your testimonials?

benefit of testimonialsMany marketing people will tell you of the benefits of testimonials and how they can help you to grow your business. I’m agree completely that testimonials are a key part of the evidence set you use to help your target audience to buy from here, but are you using them well?  Here’s 12 tips to help you get the best results from your testimonials.

1. Gathering your testimonials

Making best use of your testimonials starts with having some. So how do you get them?

  • Ask for them. Your clients may not know you want them, so ask for them. If you ask when you’ve just done a great piece of work, you’ll almost certainly get what you want.
  • Check your emails. You, almost certainly, have a number of emails from clients where they are saying very nice things about how you’ve helped them. They are testimonials and can be used. You might like to just check they are happy for you to use their words, but you don’t have to.  They wouldn’t have sent the email if they didn’t mean what they said.
  • Check LinkedIn. Known as recommendations on LinkedIn, these are all valid and can be used on your website and other marketing.
  • Customer surveys. If you regularly seek feedback through surveys, add a question to get comments about your service.

2. Using them on your website

There are two places to use testimonials on your website:

  • a testimonials page. Gathering all the positive comments about your service in one place shows your audience that lots of people love you. Having a good set in one place can be very powerful.
  • On relevant pages. Put some of your testimonials on the service/product pages they refer to, so people can read comments about your service quickly and easily, at the point they are reading about that product/service.

3. Where else?

The testimonials on your website are great, when people get to your website.  To make best use of your testimonials, let’s think about where else you can use them:

  • LinkedIn updates. When someone says something nice about you, tell others what they said.  People often say to me that they haven’t got much to say on LinkedIn.  This is definitely something to say.
  • All your other social media. You want lots of people within your target audience to see that their peers think you do excellent work. Put your testimonials where they will be seen and add a link back to a whole page of them!
  • Press releases. Where appropriate, add a customer testimonial onto your press release. It adds credibility as it’s a real-life other person (not you) saying you did a great job for them.
  • Business cards. If you haven’t got anything to put on the back of your business cards, add a testimonial or two. Many printers can now mix and match the design of your cards so that not every card has the same thing on the back. You will pay a little more, but it’s worth it.
  • Your imagination is your limit. Put your mind to it and I bet you can think of loads of other places: exhibition stands, banners, flyers, brochures – the list goes on.

4. Giving a little back

Your clients gave you their testimonials because you helped them out. You delivered a great product/service and superb value. They will be very happy, but let’s make sure that you help them out a little more.

  • Whenever you put a testimonial out there digitally, put a hyperlink back to their website or social media. You know that inbound links still add a little to the search engine algorithms, so it will improve their SEO performance just a little bit. It’s cost you nothing except the time it takes to add a hyperlink.

So that’s a few tips on how to ensure you are making the best use of your testimonials. I hope this helps.

Nobody buys from people they’ve never heard of, or do they?

Back in the “olden days” when you would never get fired for buying IBM, companies spent a huge amount of money generating the brand awareness and brand trust that meant they would be considered as “an IBM brand”. Today, things have changed somewhat and people will buy from brands they’ve never heard of. There is, however, a big proviso in that purchase.

There has to be a very low level of perceived risk. Let’s look at some examples to explain what I mean.

Tertiary Brands

Back in the 90’s, the supermarkets started introducing what they called tertiary brands. These were the precursors to the value ranges that most of the supermarkets went on to develop. The tertiary brands were cheap versions of either branded or own-brand products. They would be very cheap and so, even if they didn’t taste particularly nice, you, as a consumer, hadn’t lost much. In the minds of the buyers of these products, there was a perceived monetary loss, but only a small one and so many people bought these products. They, no doubt, believed that the supermarkets wouldn’t sell anything that was that bad.

The Nokia 3310

nokia 3310With the Nokia 3310 making a comeback, it reminds of the days when that phone was de rigeur. Even in the days before Facebook and Instagram, you really weren’t cool if you had a Sony Ericsson phone. However, many people (including yours truly) bought something without the Nokia badge on it and risked what our friends would say. Personally, I rarely run with the crowd and so that was my main reason for not buying a 3310.

Amazon

Amazon now enables 1000’s of brands that few have ever heard of to offer their products to the marketplace. There are very few products that you cannot find on Amazon.  In the same vein, Ebay allows us to buy from people we’ve never heard of, never mine brands.  £millions are spent every day on both new and secondhand products where we have no clue whether they are going to be any good, or even work.  Luckily for us, the peer reviews fellow purchasers provide allow us to reduce the risk in our minds before pressing “Add to Basket”.

So what do all of these have in common?

They met a need in the market at the time, either now or in the past.

Do you meet a need?

When a decision maker is considering purchasing from you for the first time, your marketing has to do the following:

  1. Show that you help them resolve a need
  2. Reduce the level of perceived risk to an acceptable level.

Reducing perceived risk

In a B2B market, price is a factor, but rarely the sole factor. The old adage still fits: “There is good, quick and cheap.  You can have any two, but not all three”.

Price is going to help, but to me the key factor is proof.  Show your target audience the evidence you have that shows you can deliver on their needs.

We’ll start looking at the different types of evidence next week..

I hope this helps

Marketing Planning – a case study

This month’s blogs have all been around planning your marketing.  Obviously I’m going to say marketing planning is essential, but let me give you an example of what can happen when you do.

Case Study Ninja started in 2016 and I met Sarah, the founder, at a Croydon Tech City event.  For those of you who know Croydon (not the Kate Moss and Tiger Tiger version), you know if has a rapidly growing tech scene and is one of the fastest growing economies in the country. Croydon Tech City hold regular events aimed at new tech entrepreneurs, to help them launch and grow their business ideas.

As you must when networking, Sarah and I followed up our brief chat and business card swap with a further conversation.  I found out that she’d already been talking to other marketing agencies, but I still had an opportunity to pitch. Thankfully I won the work and we set about planning how to take Case Study Ninja to the world.

Who

We brainstormed who to target, why that person and the pains, needs and issues they had.  We matched how Case Study Ninja helps them to their needs and finally looked at the what would stop them buying.

How

The second session looked at what channels and how we would take Case Study Ninja to market. Of course, we considered what social media channels to use, but also what other online, and offline, channels would be used.

The Result

Case study Ninja now has over 70 clients and is thriving.  More detail can be seen in our case study here, but I recommend you also check out their website. If you use case studies as key evidence to help you win new clients, you should seriously consider using them.

Planning your marketing isn’t something you can leave to your marketing consultant. You must be directly involved, for a number of reasons:

  1. You know your business better than your marketing consultant will. Your input is vital.
  2. How will your consultant know what skills you have within the business, and what needs to be found?
  3. Have you been truthful about the budget you have available and what could impact that budget? If not, how can your marketing consultant know what is going to happen?
  4. Finally, you get more from your marketing being a success than anyone. It’s in your interests to be involved.

I hope this helps

Do you have the marketing skills you need?

do you have the marketing skills you need?

You love what you do.

You’re great at what you do

Are you great at telling others how they will benefit from working with you?

Let’s look at why you need to think carefully about this.

You’ve set goals for the business. They’re ambitious and so will take some work, so you need things to work well to achieve them.

You’ve got a marketing strategy that is aligned with your business plan and aimed at your goals. Now it’s time to look at the marketing plan and what needs to be done.

  1. Do you have the marketing skills needed?

Unless you run a marketing agency, it shouldn’t be automatically assumed you have the skills you need. As a business owner, I’d be confident that you can talk to anyone. You can quickly and easily talk about what you do and about some of your clients and the work you’ve done for them. For the networking that most small businesses do, you can probably do this well and be the figurehead for the business.

Whether you have the skills to run an Adwords campaign or to build a following on social media is another thing.

  1. Should you be doing the marketing?

As the business owner, you have a lot of hats to wear anyway. As the Managing Director, you are the figurehead for the business and the leader. Your role is to make sure everything gets done, not to do it.

If you are still heavily involved in the operational delivery within the business, is your time best spent delivering for your clients or trying to attract them? Unless you are going to pay your marketing resource more than your hourly charge rate (bet you don’t), you are far better off earning the money.

  1. Do your staff have the marketing skills?

In the early days, your staff are expected to contribute and do whatever needs to be done. As you grow, they have specific jobs to do. These jobs need to be done to keep the company running smoothly and to keep the clients happy.

Some of the staff may well be able to do some of your marketing, but what is the impact of taking time away from their specific job? Would that mean you need to add resource to get their “proper job” done?

Unless they are under-utilised, I’d suggest you will be better off keeping them doing what you originally employed them to do.

If the goals you have set for the business are ambitious, you need everyone doing a great job.  That means doing the job they are best at. For you, that is running the company and ensuring you have happy staff and happy clients. Your staff need to be doing their jobs, so you have just one more question to answer when it comes to getting the marketing skills you need to have within the business…

Do you recruit or do you outsource?

I hope this helps

So just what is a marketing strategy?

what is a marketing strategy

There is a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy, but many people get them mixed up.  Let’s discuss…

Perhaps the simplest way to explain the difference is this:

  • Your marketing strategy is what you aim to achieve
  • Your marketing plan is how you are going to do it.

The development of your marketing strategy and plan is the 3rd step in the process we take all new clients through, after measuring the marketing performance over the last 2-3 years and then understanding exactly who is in the target audience.

Your Marketing Strategy

As a business, you will have a set of goals and targets for the next year. They usually include a growth target – we want to grow by 50% in the next 12 months. Your marketing strategy is the first step in achieving that goal.

What does it include?

Your marketing strategy will include the following:

  1. Your long-term business target (50% growth for example) alongside what this means in reality
    1. Are you going to sell to more clients or sell more to your current clients (market penetration)?
    2. Are you going to sell more products to your current market (product development) or, are you going to sell your current products to different markets (market development)
    3. Perhaps you are taking the trickiest route to growth – diversification (new products to new markets)
    4. How many net new clients does this mean?
    5. Whether you assume you are going to lose any current clients – or keep them all
  2. What you sell and why
    1. For stakeholders and for staff to understand the business
  3. The key routes to market
    1. Not the tools you are going to use, but whether you will primarily be using online or offline, whether you are using predominantly a referral strategy or an account management one.

Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan will include:

  1. The specific marketing channels and tools you will use
  2. What you expect to achieve from each tool/channel:
    1. How much website traffic
    2. Which social media channels have how many followers?
    3. How many phone calls?
  3. How does each channel contribute to achieving your overall goals?
    1. Which are primarily awareness generation tools?
    2. Which will engage your target audience?
    3. Which are aimed at generating the leads you need?
  4. What is the competitive situation?
    1. How many competitors do you have?
    2. How does your product/service differ from the competitors?

Your marketing strategy shows what you want to achieve, with the plan showing how you are going to get there. You cannot develop a marketing plan without having a strategy in place that matches your business plan. After all, there are two key parts of your business that will help you achieve your business goals:

  1. Operations: ensuring you deliver on your promises to your clients and, ideally, keep as many as possible.
  2. Marketing: developing new leads to generate the clients you need to grow the business.

If the two don’t work together, it will be very difficult to achieve your business goals.

I hope this helps.