3 Tracking Tools for Serious Sales2

CC March 14

The Pipeline Guest Post - Carrie Powers

Effective tracking tools pave the way for great sales, so when considering what tools to use for your business, you shouldn’t accept anything less than exceptional. Let’s look at three of the best tracking tools available.

Evernote

With over 800,000 downloads on Google Play™ alone, Evernote® is one of the most popular and highly rated productivity apps on the market. It’s compatible with nearly every device and computer, and can perform an incredible amount of organizational tasks. It allows you to quickly and accurately catalogue everything from web pages to business trip itineraries to notes from meetings, and also includes multiple sharing functions so you can share your thoughts and ideas with colleagues.

So what does this mean for your salespeople? They’ll spend far less time slogging through a mess of information and more time actually using that information to turn your business into a well-oiled super-sales machine. Once you’ve used Evernote to establish a smooth and steady flow of useful material, you’ll be better equipped to form comprehensive sales strategies, reach out to your customers with new and fresh content, and keep everything neatly organized all the while.

Automatic Address Book

In the world of large and small businesses alike, it’s a widely known fact that using a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help you boost sales. CRMs allow you to give your clients the personalized attention they want and deserve. Only a handful of CRMs offer excellent tools that go beyond basic functionality to achieve remarkably intuitive performance. The Automatic Address Book from Insightly is one of those tools.

There are a plethora of both free and paid address book programs available, but what sets Automatic Address Book apart is its ability to automatically identify all kinds of connections within your large network of contacts and customers. For instance, let’s say that 5% of your customers know each other through a recent business conference. While a standard address book application wouldn’t be able to detect this sort of subtle information, Insightly’s Automatic Address Book analyzes the from, to, and cc fields in emails to identify a connection, and then searches the web for files that include the names of those customers together (such as online comments and conversations pertaining to the aforementioned conference).

Just like that, you’ll have valuable information on how your customers know each other, so your salespeople can best appeal to their interests and experiences, taking that budding sales relationship to the next level.

Business Card Apps

Even though the vast majority of the modern business world is now digitized, physical business cards still remain the most popular way to quickly exchange contact information. After all, we don’t always have the time to pull out our smartphones, create a new contact, then enter a name, work number, mobile number, and email address.

The problem is, however, that even when given plenty of time, most salespeople won’t sit down after every networking event to go through their stack of business cards and manually enter each contact into their device one by one. The solution? Quick and efficient mobile apps to scan or photograph business cards, then instantly turn them into an easily accessible contacts on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or any number of social networks.

ABBYY® and CamCard, two of the most trusted card reading apps on the market, are available for iOS® and Android™. CamCard is also available for BlackBerry® and Windows Phone. With so many options (and so many other card reading apps out there) you’re bound to find something to suit your needs.

Although all of these tools may seem a bit intimidating at first glance, their useful and noteworthy capabilities can make them invaluable to your sales team. If you’re looking to boost productivity, cut down on wasted time, and see an increase in sales, these tools could be just what you’re looking for.

About Carrie Powers

Carrie Powers is a college student, writer, and lipstick enthusiast. She is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in English while simultaneously pursuing a career in writing and marketing, and has previously worked as a content writer for BlueGlass Interactive. She is now a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com.

Carrie has enjoyed writing for a wide variety of clients, from clothing brands to car insurance companies, and prides herself on her ability to make any topic fun, engaging, and fresh. Her areas of expertise include beauty, fashion, and style, and she looks forward to a long and exciting career in writing.

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Using Content Marketing to Drive Sales1

cc feb 14

The Pipeline Guest Post - Megan Totka 

Using content marketing to drive sales will certainly only continue to grow exponentially in 2014. Nearly every company, small or large, will use this tactic to increase their sales.

If you look back on content marketing, you’ll come across examples that predate the Internet. Content marketing is certainly not a new strategy, but it is one that has been made easier by technology. Several hundred years ago, content marketing was possible, but it was certainly a little tougher to get your sales message out there. A few of the examples offered were John Deere, who published a magazine offering farming tips, and the Jell-O company, who distributed free cookbooks full of recipes using their product. Both companies have obviously done quite well for themselves.

So what should you do to effectively use content marketing to drive sales in 2014? Here are a few things to consider:

Visual content – infographics, which gained lots of popularity in 2013, will continue to be on the rise in 2014. People love getting their information in a visual manner – less reading, more colors. Infographics were used by 51% of B2B content marketers in 2013.

In-person events still rule – a survey of B2B marketers showed that people still think that in-person events are the most effective way to market and sell to potential customers. While most of the time, the Internet is king, in person marketing is still very much an effective strategy.

Strategy vs. no strategy – while we can argue that anyone who is involved in marketing has needed to devise a strategy, not everyone actually records a concrete marketing plan to follow. However, the same survey as mentioned above shows that companies who have a documented content strategy think that they are successful about 66 percent of the time, compared to companies that don’t have a recorded strategy thinking that they are successful only 11 percent.

Content marketing still poses some challenges – the B2B marketing group reported that there are definitely still some challenges to be overcome when it comes to content marketing. Some of the top concerns are not having enough time to produce quality content, a budget shortfall, and a lack of vision.

We all know that sales and marketing need a delicate balance in order to work well without overwhelming your customers. Content marketing is a way to build your brand while offering useful information at the same time.

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Customers, Employees and Influencers as High Performing Sales and Marketing Channels1

Beedon Headshot

The Pipeline Guest Post – Dick Beedon

Although brand advocacy has always been important, it is critical today. The path to purchase has changed forever. Because there is so much data available, and because communication is so easy, today’s buyer almost always seeks advice from a trusted friend or consumer source before making a purchase. Brands are now starting to realize that what others say and write about them defines who they are.

Smart brands know they must build strategies and systems to generate, track and manage brand advocacy. They know they must encourage and enable the people that know and trust them – their customers, employees and 3rd party influencers – to advocate on behalf of the brand.

And it works. By encouraging and empowering these customers, employees and influencers, they will drive peer-to-peer referrals, forward content, share information about new products and promotions, and write testimonials. And they can do it at scale and more efficiently than traditional channels.

The Benefits of New Channels are Compelling (examples)

  1. They Build Brand Awareness – when a customer shares something about the brand with a friend, there is no better way of building the brand.
  2. They Generate Leads – those friends that respond and go to the brand for more information become the best leads a brand can get. There are few people on earth who will argue that leads generated from referrals are the best leads. 
  3. They Drive New Customer Acquisition – Leads from referrals close faster, they buy more and they stay longer. 

Other reasons customers, employees and influencers make good sales and marketing channels;

1.  Identify Brand Advocates and Build a Rich “Social” Data Set

Brand Advocates are identified when they register for or engage with your programs. By using technology systems, brands know who “opts-in” and advocates, how often they do it, what their sharing preferences are and how big their network is. We learn who they know and how influential they are. Brands are able to now get a deeper 360 view of their customer’s network value.

2. You’ll Know when Potential Customers are “In-Market”
Social channels provide insights and information not previously available. At the most basic level, social channels extend a brand’s sales force (with zero overhead) and they solve one of the biggest challenges brand’s face: knowing when a potential buyer is in-market. Only your current customers know when the people they know are ready to buy.
3. The cost of acquisition is lower.
This channel is always on and continually active – making referrals, amplifying products and promotions, and posting positive information about your brand. Brand advocates do this for a brand because they trust the brand and they want do it. Therefore, the time and cost invested into this channel is significantly less than other channels.
4. New customers that are referred by someone in your Social Channel are Valuable.
Research has consistently shown that consumers who convert as a result of a referral from a friend, are more loyal to a brand, spend more and stay longer.

Who are your Potential Channels and how Well can they Perform?

Customers, partners and employees are the fastest growing sales and marketing channel today. By utilizing the latest in social marketing software and technology, business leaders can mobilize these social relationships to generate new customers, and they can track and manage social behavior that is critical to the success of their company.

Customers recommend your products because they have first-hand, positive experience with them.

Today’s truly successful companies understand the importance of leveraging their customers into sales and marketing channels that drive corporate productivity. Creating and cultivating a large group of advocates can: pay huge dividends in the growth of your brand, increase subscribers, and boost profits. The financial investment to create this channel is minimal when you compare it to the long-term payoff for the brand.

About Richard Beedon

Richard Beedon is a founder and CEO of Amplifinity.  Beedon has led the acquisition of both Entyre Doc Prep (by Wolters Kluwer) and University Netcasting, who merged with Student Advantage (now collegesports.com) and was acquired by CBS. Dick’s thought leadership and early adaption of SaaS based technologies that allow brands to manage advocacy marketing has been instrumental in the success and growth of Amplifinity.

Customer Information – Why Protection is So Important2

CC Jan 14

The Pipeline Guest Post - Megan Totka

In the sales business, we hold the key to tons of information from customers. While it may be something as simple as their name, address, and phone number, it’s amazing what can be done with that information if it gets in the wrong hands. Sales companies also often store all kinds of other information – credit or debit card numbers, social security numbers, and so much more.

By now, surely we’ve all heard about Target’s information compromise issue. If you tuned out of the news for the holidays, anyone who used a debit or credit card at Target from Black Friday until just before Christmas likely had their information gathered by hackers. Banks are cancelling and re-issuing cards by the millions, and Target is trying to do damage control by offering free credit monitoring for a year to anyone who was affected.

Now, could Target have done anything more to prevent this major breach from happening? Maybe. But there are some valuable lessons to be learned about keeping your customers’ data safe. If nothing else, the Target issue is helping us to see how exactly consumers are affected when their data is misused. It can cause problems in nearly every aspect of their lives.

Here are a few tips, courtesy of InformationWeek.com, that we can do better in the future when it comes to keeping our customers’ data safe:

  1. Data encryption – while I don’t purport to be an expert on data encryption, it does make sense that companies (particularly those who are selling) should be constantly re-evaluating their encryption process and see if it’s working. This is the best way to beat the hacker game. They also suggest using a whole-disk encryption method rather than file-level encryption.
  2. Make sure that outside vendors know how important it is to keep your customers’ info safe – most, if not all companies outsource some of their file storage or data encryption to another company or service. Places that hold information to consider are cloud storage services or CRM software. Making sure that these companies have your customers’ best interest in mind before agreeing to use them is pretty important.
  3. BYOD – lots of companies are moving toward letting employees bring their own devices to work. While this is convenient and can be cost-effective, consider that your employees’ devices are absolutely not as secure as they could be.

Protecting your customers’ information is just one of the things required to maintain a positive customer relationship. It certainly doesn’t have to be difficult or very costly – but it is definitely a part of the business process that needs constant evaluation in order to be successful.

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Sales Tactic: Using Your Own Brand0

CC Dec 2013

The Pipeline Guest Post - Megan Totka

Does everyone in your company, whether in the sales arena or not, use the products and services that your company offers? If they aren’t, they should be. If you want your customers to use a product, you’ve got to be a strong brand representative and utilize your products in your everyday life as well.

Now, if you are in sales for a wine company, am I saying that you should drink that wine exclusively? No. But if you are selling this type of wine, you need to be able to talk about its features honestly, and it’s best if personal experience is where you’re getting your information from.

I came across an interesting article that talked about salespeople who were pitching CRM software to companies. At the end of each sales pitch, the company that was hiring the CRM firm would ask the potential hire to input the sales report from their mobile device into their CRM system. Only 5 out of the 7 could actually input the information – it seems that the other two, while probably a good face for the company, couldn’t actually use the software.

So how do you avoid being one of the companies to fail the test of using your own product or service? Here are some ways to make your sales pitch stand out by using your product and services yourself:

  • Make sure that all of your salespeople are well-versed in your product’s everyday uses. This is the most important thing to consider – what do you sell. While it may be tempting to let someone who is really good at sales just do the pitch, they really do need to know how to use the product and service themselves as well. Plus, if they know the product, they’ll be better suited to answer questions on your products uses – making the sale more personal and less salesy/rehearsed.
  • Consider putting together a list of the features that your product has that other don’t. Then when you give this list to prospective clients, remind them to compare other companies that they interview to make sure that they have all of the same abilities. Or to make it really easy on prospective clients, compare what your product has with your competitors and show what they’re missing that you have.
  • Encourage your sales force to be honest if they don’t know something. Instead of trying to come up with an answer on the fly, have them tell potential customers that they would like to get them a more thorough answer. While it’s best to have everyone know everything about how your product or service works, memorizing every last detail can be tough.

If you want to easily sell customers your product, it’s best to start using it yourself. How has using your product or services helped your sales?

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

The Law of Least Effort (#guestpost)0

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The Pipeline Guest Post – Jeff Shore
Adapted from Be Bold and Win the Sale by Jeff Shore
Available from McGraw-Hill Business in January 2014
 

In his (amazing) book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman touches on a fascinating concept that he calls, “The Law of Least Effort.” Kahneman states that, “…if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will gravitate to the least demanding course of action.” The premise here is that people are not categorically lazy but are striving to be efficient.

Before reading on, it is worthwhile to consider some of the natural implications of this law.

  • Minimal effort o Acceptance of mediocrity
  • Blending in with everyone else
  • The dreaded “Minimum Performance Standards” (I despise that term!)

There is a strong psychological underpinning to all this. Finding ourselves unsure of the depth of a given threat (an opportunity to be bold), we revert to the instinct of energy preservation. It’s a survival technique.

Here’s the problem: this subconscious tendency actually helps us to feel better about ourselves when we yield to discomfort. There is a built-in justification for doing so. Our primal brain assures us: “Hey, I’m just preserving my energy in case a greater threat comes along.”

Of course, the penalty for taking the path of least resistance can be severe, coming in the form of limited potential and confining self-beliefs.   Every time we give in to discomfort we cement ourselves more fully into the familiar yet confining world of mediocrity. Just ask those around you who have taken bold but uncomfortable steps in their own lives. They will tell you that the so-called “law of least effort” is a sham, and that the richest treasures are not to be found on our existing mental maps.

Where are you guilty of offering only the least amount of effort? In this one case, I  encourage you to break the law: the law of least effort! Be bold and start making the effort to go the extra mile today.

About the Author

Jeff Shore is a highly sought-after sales expert, speaker, author and executive coach whose innovative BE BOLD methodology teaches you how to change your mindset and change your world. His latest book, Be Bold and Win the Sale: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Boost Your Performance, is forthcoming from McGraw-Hill in January 2014. Learn more at jeffshore.com or follow Jeff on Twitter.

More About the Author: For more than three decades, Jeff has guided executives and sales teams in large and small companies across the globe to embrace their discomforts and deliver BOLD sales results. In a crowded field of sales experts and training programs, Jeff Shore stands out with his research-based BE BOLD methodology. Combining his extensive front-line sales experience with the latest Cognitive Behavioral Therapy research, Jeff has created a highly effective, personalized way to reset sales paradigms and deliver industry-leading results. Jeff doesn’t just teach you how to sell, he shows you how to change your mindset and change your world.

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How to Relieve Workplace Stress3

CC Nov 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Let’s face it – stress in the workplace is pretty much unavoidable. Even in the most relaxed office setting, stress can happen. Whether it is conflict with a coworker or a strict deadline that you are behind on, stress will creep up. Stress can affect your work habit, which is why you should make combating stress a priority.

The sales industry in particular can be very stressful, particularly to those who are new to the business. So how do we deal with stress? Everyone copes in different ways. Some people choose to eat right and exercise to try to combat stress. Others may internalize it and lay awake at night worrying. There are definitely healthy and not healthy ways to deal with stress.

Here are a few tips on how to handle stress in the workplace:

  • Self-talk or self-hypnosis – we all know that our brain is the most powerful tool that we have. The way that we think will always affect our attitude towards the people and things around us. One of the things that I personally find really powerful is to have a mantra of sorts. If you are stressed at work, repeating a mantra to yourself like “I will finish this project and it will be great” throughout the day can help you to calm your mind. Self-hypnosis is similar but instead you talk yourself into a state of calm.
  • Get up and moving – even taking a short walk mid-workday can help you to get your blood flowing. Research has shown again and again that exercise is as good for the mind as it is for the body. If getting outside isn’t an option, take a brisk walk around the inside of your building. You can also consider swapping your chair for a balance ball. Some offices have even implemented treadmills instead of chairs! Workouts outside of work can help combat stress as well. Try boxing for exercise, it can help you get some of that stress and anger out in a useful way.
  • Take off your shoes – I know this sounds strange, and when I first read about this stress-release strategy, I thought it was strange too. But if you really think about it, it makes sense. In some Eastern cultures (think Japan) taking off your shoes is the norm. Letting your feet rest or even using foot massage or manipulation techniques can help you to feel more relaxed. According to this Forbes article, Finnish gaming company Supercell insists upon its employees removing their footwear upon entering the office. Even without shoes they’re making over $2.5 million per day.  Women in particular are apt to wear uncomfortable, confining shoes. Think about that great release you get when you take your shoes off at the end of the day. Try it in the office!
  • Make your space zen – whether you have a cubicle or a big office, take the time to make the space around you calming. The Forbes article mentioned above suggests a bonsai tree on your desk. I personally had a mini sand garden on a desk that I used. It was very calming and fun to rake the sand and arrange the rocks when I was having a hard day. Think of other things that can calm you down; maybe photos of family and friends, or flowers. Keep things on your desk that remind you of why you’re slaving away at your desk.
  • Cry, scream, or laugh – let it out! If you are having a hard time at work, take the time to just let yourself feel it. Often, expressing the way that you feel can help you work past it. While I’m not suggesting that bursting into tears at your desk is a great idea, processing through your feelings at home and letting yourself feel your emotions can help to relieve stress.
  • Build relationships with your coworkers – yes, relationships can be stressful, too. But having an open line of communication with your office mates can help you to have less stress in the long run. You don’t have to be BFFs with everyone, but being able to express your feelings to those around you can help you to work through your stress.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to reducing workplace stress and making more sales in no time.

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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Don’t Let Your Business Suffer at the Hands of Social Media1

coc Oct 13

 

The Pipeline Guest Post - Megan Totka

As business professionals, we spend a lot of time mulling over the impact that our use of social media has on our companies. Social media came barging onto the sales scene a few years ago and has absolutely changed our everyday workings as businesses. If you don’t have a strong presence on social media, it’s likely that your business is not going to max out its potential.

Now let me start by telling you that by no means am I knocking the usefulness of social media for sales and marketing purposes. Using Facebook and other social media outlets for marketing is easy and relatively cheap. Yes, you can choose to spend more money in order to gain a bigger reach, but it’s not always necessary. If you are a small business owner, you can choose to take care of your company’s social media yourself, or you can choose to hire someone to maintain it for you. Larger companies have a huge reach and typically social media teams to maintain their pages. Facebook has more than a billion active users, that’s about 1/7th of the world’s population, if you think about it.

But how much does Facebook really help your business (especially a small business)? Behind the scenes, Facebook uses a program that is called EdgeRank in order to determine what kind of content appears on each user’s individual page. The program uses a formula to determine what kind of content you are interested in, and then puts those stories in your newsfeed. The program takes into consideration things that you have commented on, what you search for, and posts that companies have paid to promote to people like you. The idea is that EdgeRank presents a reasonable amount of information to each user, rather than showing someone with 1,000 friends who likes 200 pages every single post by every single person.

So what does this have to do with your business? It means that more often than not, posts that you make as your business may not show up on the newsfeeds of many of your followers. According to this infographic, on average, 16% of your fans will see each of your posts. If you have 1,000 followers, only 160 of them see each post.

Why is this important? It should help you to determine how much time and what resources you dedicate to marketing yourself on Facebook. While it’s definitely good to keep a strong presence on social media, don’t forget to keep your marketing strategy strong across a variety of platforms.

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Seasonal Sales Tactics: Fall1

CoC Sep 13

The Pipeline Guest Post - Megan Totka

The fall season brings to mind lots of different imagery – changing leaves, beautiful colors, pumpkins, Halloween, and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas on the proverbial horizon. Fall and the subsequent holiday season are a huge time of year for sales. People are buying all kinds of things, from school supplies to gifts to housewares to new services, you name it, and people are likely to buy it.

So how do you tailor your sales tactics to the season of buying? Here’s a few ideas about ways to increase your online presence and subsequently your revenue during the fall season:

  • Run social media campaigns that are seasonally-themed. For fall, you could run giveaways that are tailored to the season. You could even do something as simple as change your cover or profile photo on Facebook or Twitter to something that is fall-themed.
  • Think ahead to the looming holiday season. Consider starting your holiday sales strategies early. Let your followers and customers know what you will be up to during the holiday season. Letting them know ahead of time can give them time to plan and incorporate holiday spending at your company into their budget.
  • Take the opportunity to work on some philanthropic efforts for the year. The fall and the holiday season are prime time for giving back to your community. Consider sending employees to do volunteer work. You can also make a monetary contribution to a charity if your company is in the position to do so.
  • Take the time to see what is trending this fall. Whether it is fashion or technology trends, you can research what exactly people are being predicted to purchase this season. This gives you the opportunity to cater to exactly what people are going to be looking for during the season. For example, if a fashion trend watch says that people are looking for things that are jewel-toned this year, consider using these types of colors in your marketing collateral or your products.
  • Track what your customers like. When you run a seasonally-themed marketing campaign, try your best to keep track of where your sales leads are coming from. You’ll be able to work to hone your campaigns from year to year to make sure that you are maximizing your marketing abilities.

Take the opportunity to use seasonal sales and marketing tactics to your advantage. Doing a little bit of research as to what is trending in sales for each season will help you to make even more sales.

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Surf’s Up! Riding the Pipeline to the Shores of Success1

Surfer

The Pipeline Guest Post - Susan Payton

This might come across as mind-blowing, but here’s the secret to better sales:

It’s not about getting tons of leads into your pipeline. It’s about how you treat them once they’re there.

When it comes to your sales pipeline, if you’re focusing on quantity—and not quality—you won’t realize the conversion rate you could if you instead worked on the following three goals:

  1. Qualify leads early
  2. Direct leads into the appropriate funnel
  3. Customize messages to each funnel throughout the journey down the pipeline

Know What a Lead Looks Like
No, “everyone” doesn’t qualify as a lead. Look at past customers you’d like to replicate. What characteristics did those customers possess? What were the actions they took to arrive in your pipeline? Those actions might include:

  • Downloading a white paper on your site
  • Signing up for your emails
  • Signing up for a free account or trial
  • Visiting a specific page multiple times

Technology allows you to be very specific in the actions you track online, so there’s no reason you should treat all leads equally.

Set up lead scoring criteria to help you identify hot leads early in the process. Assign a numeric value to the transactions that landed them in your pipeline, as well as a lead’s job title—for those B2B marketers—and demographics data if you can get it.

Target, Target, Target
You probably can identify certain types of leads or customers based on your past experience. You probably have seen leads who ask a lot of questions and are slow to buy—if they buy at all. You’ve also probably encountered those who want to make a decision now, and don’t require a lot of handholding. You can probably think of other types as well.

The point here is: you want to break down your initial lead bucket into as many funnels as possible so you can maximize the impact of your marketing messages to each segment. The quick decision-maker shouldn’t get the same automated emails as the questioning customer, because his lead time will be virtually nil.

Master the Marketing Message
Make sure your messaging fits the lead profile. That slow-to-buy lead will want plenty of information about your product, not a promotional offer. The quick customer may respond better to a $10 off coupon via email. Test until you’re getting the best conversion rate possible. One way to do this is with customer relationship management (CRM) software.

That software will allow you to align your offline marketing and sales efforts with the needs of each customer profile. If you’re using CRM for marketing and tracking valuable customer data, it’s easy enough to create categories for customer types, as well as develop a key your sales team can use to know how to best approach a given type of customer.

For example, if it’s customary for a salesperson to call every lead personally, he might not want to do so with a quick decision-maker. It might be unnecessary, and if all of the lead’s other behavior has been online, he might not welcome a phone call.

Track Everything
CRM software will only come in handy if you’re tracking the right information, which is pretty much all information about a customer. Every person who interacts with a lead should make notes about their conversation, as well as provide recommendations for future communications.

You should be able to look at a lead’s profile and get a sense of what he has responded to. If you’re automating email messages, you shouldn’t need to do much, provided the communication is effective. If it’s not, look at results across that particular segment and see if the lack of response is indicative of the bigger picture. If so, tweak the message and try again.

Continue to Tweak the Process
Sales isn’t an out-of-the-box solution for most brands. It’s a continual effort to discover what works to increase conversion and sales. But over time, if you’re paying attention to your leads’ responses, you’ll see better results, making the corrections smaller and smaller.

Your pipeline should net you a better conversion rate (and generate fewer dead leads along the way) if you’re truly paying attention to what makes your customers tick.

Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and contributes to several sites, including ChamberofCommerce.com, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, CorpNet, Small Business Trends, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

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