Digital technology and the Internet have provided buyers with easy access to more and more brands, sellers, purchase information and buying opportunities. Customers are able to access products and solutions faster. Those changing patterns and technology have also transformed traditional marketing and sales force activity. This is especially true with respect to customer leads in that lead management particularly lends itself to technology solutions. Most sales organizations need new tools and processes to meet the demands of the online age. Many employ technologies to shorten the sales cycle or achieve “sales acceleration,” which is driven by data collection and predictive analytics.
INBOUND MARKETING – GENERATING & ACCESSING LEADS
More and more businesses have moved away from outbound cold calling marketing and an outside sales force in favor of inbound marketing through Internet marketing efforts, website traffic, inside sales and remote sales, in which technological solutions play a crucial role.
Potential buyers in e-commerce can easily surf many websites and make many, low-cost online inquiries to evaluate their options and then rapidly move on. Many may be impulse buyers that need to be captured at the moment, while many others may be prone to research across multiple sites. Sales organizations need to be poised to capture these leads effectively. With this format, many e-commerce businesses rely primarily on web leads generated from the company websites or other sites which often create high volumes of leads. These sales organizations must be able to utilize technology to keep pace and handle potential customers inquiries and site visits effectively.
RESPONDING TO LEADS – RAPID LEASE RESPONSE
In 2007, Professor Oldroyd of MIT and Dave Elkington presented a well-recognized paper at the MarketingSherpa 2007 Summit with respect to a study on the impact of how the response time to an inbound marketing lead impacts the results achieved. The study showed that (1) rapid response time dramatically improves the rate of being able to connect with the potential customer (contact rates) and (2) getting that customer into the sales cycle by an appointment or referral to sales (qualification rate).
According to the study, if a company representative responds within the first five minutes of a lead being submitted, that representative is 100 times more likely to make contact with the new lead, and 21 more times more likely to channel that lead into the sales cycle if live contact is made.
Sales acceleration software and platforms are designed to allow sales organizations to channel the information on the lead to the appropriate personnel so that they can respond quickly and effectively.
Sales acceleration software can also help a sales organization in lead nurturing and scoring. The programs can nurture prospects automatically, such as by sending automated emails which have are customized and personalized at various points of the sales cycle or generating emails when a prospect has taken specified actions that indicate the prospect is coming closer to a purchase decision.
Likewise, sales acceleration software can allow a business the ability to grade and prioritize leads with customized scoring or values for undertaking various actions that indicate a prospect’s increased interest, such as visiting a blog article or white paper, requesting a demo or downloading a form.
CONVERTING LEADS INTO SALES
As the marketing and sales structure changes more and more to inbound and Internet sales, sales acceleration platforms and software are the hand off between marketing and sales force, and thereby generating closed sales and increased ROI. The strategic opportunity for sales acceleration is to lead the intersection between marketing and sales operations.
Clearly, sales acceleration techniques utilizing data collection and predictive analyses are the future path allowing businesses to achieve effective and efficient sales success.