Your company has invested a considerable amount of effort building a talented and successful team that you can depend on to generate new business opportunities and build strong relationships with your customers. How can you free the team up from the details of their day to do what they do best -- think creatively and build revenue -- for your company? Here are three practical tips for optimizing the way your sales and marketing teams work.
Eliminate data-driven details
Data is one of the most powerful weapons in the sales and marketing arena today. But do you find your team is spending more time in the office -- sorting through cumbersome data -- rather than being front and center with prospects?
The devil is always in the details, especially in a world driven by data and market analysis. However, it's incumbent upon executive leadership to provide the tools and technologies that simplify and automate the sales and marketing processes. For example, in the IT sector, manufacturers and their channel partners contend with thousands upon thousands of service contract renewals each month -- across broad product lines and company divisions. The time involved in not only tracking the contract expirations, but also in developing manufacturer approved service quotes and reaching out to customers at the right time with the right service offer can be a challenge. As a result, innovators in this field have turned to automation, recognizing that often all that they need to close a low-dollar sale -- such as a service contract renewal or a consumable item (toner cartridge) -- is an email notification to the customer. With just a few clicks, that customer can transact the sale online, which funnels new revenue to the business at a low cost of sale.
The bottom line is, don't waste your team's time and effort mining and tracking these low-dollar opportunities. Use your data as the basis for automated sales processes that will free up your talent to focus on higher-dollar opportunities. In the end, you'll win at both ends of the spectrum. Automated processes will enable you to increase those low-dollar revenues. At the same time, your sales and marketing professionals will have more time to focus on winning new business and making sure their most important customers are getting all the attention they deserve.
Build an installed base sales pipeline for your team
Finding more business within your existing customer base is an easier and more cost effective way to drive sales growth versus prospecting for new customers. However, for businesses with thousands of customers, it can be time consuming to track and manage opportunities across an installed base. It's also important to have awareness of product and service lifecycles and to use predictive analysis to identify the most optimum time to reach out to customers for follow on sales. Unfortunately, many companies still rely upon outdated spreadsheets or other inefficient processes to track transaction histories and predict purchase patterns. When your sales team is spending hours on spreadsheets, they're missing out on the opportunity to bring in revenue.
The answer lies in building a solid data core for your team -- one that you can draw from to generate a powerful, dynamic sales pipeline -- as they pursue follow on sales with your existing customers. Information for that pipeline can be pulled from ERP, CRM, and point of sale systems, along with order processing platforms and applications across your organization. This information offers insight into your customers that you have gained just from doing business with them. Not only can you extract data from your internal information repositories, but they can also come from external systems that your distribution partners may share with you as part of a team effort to drive stronger sales.
The information you'll assemble for your sales data core consists of everything from accurate contact information, purchase and transaction history, to more granular details -- service contract expiration dates, product serial numbers, and the last date and mode of communication a customer had with your company.
This data core will soon become your sales opportunity goldmine that serves as a basis for automated email campaigns and other offers sent out to your installed base. In addition, it will give your team visibility into your customer's scope of products and services. Streamlined data processes will take care of all the heavy lifting -- eliminating sales steps -- to help your organization become more effective at targeting and pinpointing your customer's needs.
Don't skimp on quality
When a data pipeline drives your installed base sales initiatives, you can quickly capitalize on emerging trends and engage with your customers through offers that address their specific interests. Before you move too fast, it's important to note that no matter how compelling your content is, if your message isn't sent at the right time or to the right person, your efforts will go to waste. Quality data is the most essential starting point for a successful marketing campaign and for accomplishing your sales goals with fewer resources and less overall effort.
Once quality data is aggregated, integrated, cleansed, analyzed, and made actionable in a sales portal or other platform, they can effectively apply rich analysis and statistical modeling to your installed base data. Only with accurate information can you uncover previously unforeseen buyer trends and behaviors -- all of which represent proactive sales opportunities. With the ability to predict customer needs and purchasing probabilities, you are able to efficiently and cost-effectively target the customer at the right time with the best offer.
The sales and marketing benefits to a predictive analysis approach are measurable -- both in terms of higher campaign response rates and a lower cost of sale. For example, average email marketing open rates are approximately 19.9 percent today. However, through the use of data aggregation, cleansing, enrichment, analytics and automation, businesses have been known to achieve an open rate of more than twice that of the industry average. As open rates improve and the ability to better target customers increases, your company's cost of sale decreases.
Get it done
When it comes to data-driven marketing, the trick for many businesses is getting the job done. This means pulling together the information that you need to create a valuable sales pipeline for your company, while also making automated sales processes a reality when and where it makes sense. Some of you will turn to external data experts, while others will rely upon internal IT teams to make it happen. Whatever it takes, you will be rewarded in the end with increased sales and ongoing momentum from your customers and a sales and marketing team that have more time to do what they do best.
Kelly Crothers is vice president of marketing for MaintenanceNet.
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