There are only two types of prospects: those who are looking for your products and services, and those who aren’t. If you want to grow sales, you’ll need to find ways to connect with both groups:
- Prospects who are actively looking for solutions to their problems need to be able to find your dealership online.
- Prospects who aren’t actively looking for a solution need to be strategically interrupted by your sales team.
This is where a sales funnel can be an effective method for increasing business. With that in mind, let’s look at how the latest buying trends and sales technologies can make prospecting more effective.
Sales: Prospecting Effectively This Year
Jeb Blount, author of Fanatical Prospecting, says the number-one reason for empty pipelines is failure to prospect. I couldn’t agree more. The more we can do to make prospecting efficient, effective and measurable, the healthier our sales funnels will be.
Salesforce.com research tells us that it takes six to eight touches with a prospect to get a meeting. It’s no wonder that random phone blitzes and field cold calls yield such low results. Smart sales teams leverage easily automated sequences of emails, phone calls and social touches that are dripped out to high-value prospects. Instead of placing one call, the prospect gets a sequence of touches, increasing the chance they’ll be willing to make an appointment.
Salespeople are paid to interrupt prospects. And if you want to interrupt a decision maker, you’d better have something meaningful to say. We all know that conversations around lease payments and cost-per-copy are door-slammers. Instead, sales teams need to bring valuable insights—by understanding the business goals and challenges of various horizontal positions (CFO, CIO, owner) and vertical markets, reps can dramatically raise their chances of getting an appointment.
This fall, I started updating our research in key horizontal and vertical markets. Here’s what’s exciting: many of the key business issues most of these markets face can be addressed by print, workflow and managed services offerings. Approaching prospects through the challenges they face in their market has dramatically increased reps’ success rate in getting appointments.
Mastery of Prospecting Skills
When you enhance your sales team’s phone prospecting skills, you begin to see instant returns. In addition, today’s evolving market makes it imperative that your reps learn to integrate email and social into their prospecting. As we train dealer sales reps to prospect, not only do we notice an immediate increase in close rates for appointments, we also see an increase in the confidence of the sales team.
The number-one driver of a dealership’s success is sales. The number-one driver of sales is prospecting. Yet, most sales teams do not have an accurate way to measure prospecting activity. Asking a sales rep, “How many calls did you make?” rarely yields an accurate result. Smart dealers implement prospecting systems that are fully measurable—instead of asking a rep how many calls they made, sales managers should be able to see this data in real time and coach appropriately.
Marketing: Focus On Conversion This Year
While the sales department works to engage prospects who are not yet looking for solution, your marketing engine needs to engage with buyers who are actively looking. Fortunately, virtually all of today’s buyers go to either search engines or social media when they need answers to their questions. Smart dealers in 2019 will continue to capitalize on this, adjusting their strategy for conversions.
For every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them according to Econsultancy research. We notice this trend with dealers. Much effort is spent on driving visibility and traffic through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid Search Engine Marketing (SEM and pay-per-click ads). But little budget is dedicated to making the website more useful to buyers. In 2019, marketing’s focus needs to shift to making the dealership website more effective.
Don’t Build a New Website This Year
Most dealers build a website and then leave it alone for three to four years, until it’s time to do it all again. When building a website, most of the attention goes to the design of the site and the home page. Internal page content ends up being somewhat thin.
More-and-more dealers now look at their website as a continuous improvement project. Rather than rebuild the site, why not renovate one section at a time? This allows you to give focused attention to the content supporting core parts of your business.
Pillar pages are a new way to enhance your website. These pages include rich content on a specific topic such as managed network services or production print. The pages link to other articles on the website that are helpful to the buyer. They also include calls-to-action with links to rich content like e-books. Pillar pages not only provide information that helps keep buyers on your site, they also build authority with Google, fueling search engine placement.
Clarify Your Message
In his best-selling book, Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, Donald Miller makes the case that most companies present a very unclear message. The more you can clarify your message, the more prospects will understand what you do and how they can benefit.
The best way to do this is to begin with your ideal prospect. Who are they? What are their problems? How can you help? How do they take the next step?
Miller explains the buyer’s journey this way: a hero (the buyer) has a problem and meets a guide (your dealership) who has a plan and calls the hero to action that ends in success, helping them avoid failure. This simple template for content helps dealers focus their message to resonate with clients while calling them to take action.
If you have a sales rep who doesn’t close, you’re probably going to fire them. What about your website? Does it close? Other than a “Contact Us” page, most dealer websites don’t close for the next step. It’s no wonder dealers are disillusioned with the internet—you’d be just as disillusioned with your sales force if they didn’t close.
Closes on websites are known as calls to action, or CTAs in the marketing world. Much like a sales rep uses different types of closes depending on whether they are asking for an appointment, a demo, or the order, your website CTAs need to do the same thing.
- Early in the buying cycle, the buyer is researching. We call this the Awareness Stage. An appropriate CTA would be special report on how other companies are leveraging technology to solve a specific problem.
- In the middle of the buying cycle, the buyer is Considering their options. Buyer’s guides that compare options and in-depth case studies are an example of a good CTA during the Consideration Stage.
- Later in the buying cycle, the buyer is ready to directly engage with your company. This is the Decision Stage. Offer them a logical next step with something like a meeting, an assessment, or a network health review.
As prospects fill out forms on your website, you need to respond quickly and appropriately. HBR research showed that an online request should be responded to within an hour. Even better, many dealer websites offer online chat as a convenient way for buyers to engage. To provide a fast response to online inquiries, many dealers are considering inside sales people who can respond to web leads while also doing outbound prospecting.
Reps must also respond appropriately. When a buyer requests a special report, the sales rep needs to understand that they are early in the sales process. While the rep may think they’d prefer someone in the decision stage as a lead, the benefit of a lead at the top of the funnel is that the rep has the opportunity to guide the decision. As they told me when I started my career at Lanier in 1993, “First in wins.” Early stage leads are a great thing for sales reps!
Let’s Be Strategic This Year
As the market becomes more competitive, we need to do everything we can to maximize sales prospecting and inbound leads. Implementing these strategies will help ensure this year is the best year ever.
*This article originally appeared in ENX Magazine on December 17, 2018.