With companies increasing their revenue targets this year despite the competitive market place and difficult economy, the big question is how is the increase in revenue targets going to be achieved?

A good starting point is the closer integration of the sales and marketing teams as their roles have become more amalgamated.  They may be talking more but often, their definition of what makes a good lead is worlds apart.

There are new tools out there that could make a big difference to future performance. One of the biggest opportunities is presented by big data.  This allows you to optimise your spending by analysing company-generated data to make better decisions and operate in a smarter way.  This goes back to really understanding who your customers are and what defining characteristics they share.  Armed with this clear understanding, the sales and marketing teams can then go out into the market place and identify prospects that have got the highest probability of becoming customers.

A ‘lead’ is difficult to define nowadays as the way prospects consume data has dramatically changed. This is due to multiple touch points such as conferences, webinars, word of mouth and white papers, etc.  This makes it difficult to determine how the lead was generated.  Consequently, it is advisable that lead-nurturing should play a key part in the sales activity with prospects being engaged via their preferred communication channels.

Change is in the Buying Process

The internet has revolutionised the buying process: Companies now have access to increased information and faster market analysis.  This has meant more investment in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and page search to increase the likelihood of reaching the prospect at the right time. Another big change can be seen in the internal decision-making process with more and more stakeholders becoming involved in this area.  Whilst it used to be the case that a single director would approve a project, current practice is to bring in multiple decision-makers from several different departments.

A Shift in the Sales and Prospect Relationship

With the introduction of the internet, prospects are now much more informed than they were previously; they are able to access product and service information for themselves without needing to consult a the sales person.  Companies can now use videos, search tools and their websites to quickly inform prospects of their product information. Additionally, this can be done in a more engaging way online than in person. Sales teams therefore need to deliver meaningful dialogue to prospects, add value, and show how to solve problems or make gains with the product or service.  Engagement also needs to occur much earlier in the buying cycle otherwise they may be frozen by a fast-moving competitor.

It is now possible to use sales intelligence tools to support the efforts of the sales team.  Triggers can be put in place to alert the sales team to relevant changes within companies such as a change in CEO, new funding, mergers and acquisitions, etc. In addition to this, monitoring and engaging in social media can often yield results and highlight buyer activities in real time.

Sales management should now focus on metrics to clear any confusion about business performance.  The correct use of metrics will make the relationship between sales and marketing clear and prevent a vanity parade conducted on false pretences.  The average forecast deal-close rate is lower than 50% so expectations need to be realistic in relation to industry standards.

In conclusion, lead generation is not a simple process but there are many things sales managers can do to improve its predictability and success.

Wahoo Sales provides business support services in sales optimisation and offers lead generation on a pay-per-performance basis.  If you want to know more about how we can help your organisation with lead generation, please get in touch.

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