5 steps to closing more sales
How to bridge the gap between sales and marketing
Marketing brings in leads and the sales team closes those leads. This is how marketing and sales are supposed to work together. If it were only so simple!
What often happens is marketing works hard to get traffic to a website. But it asks visitors to become leads before they are ready. The sales team wonders why prospects make contact and then stop returning calls or emails. Meanwhile, the leadership team focuses on getting marketing and sales team members to cooperate and work together.
There is a way to solve these challenges. But it takes strategy, hard work and perseverance. First, develop resources to nurture and entice top-funnel researchers. Work on your website SEO to drive traffic and make sure your sales team can close. Then, the key is to focus on the middle of your marketing and sales funnels.
The Middle of the Funnel
Sales and marketing funnels are the steps, processes or paths people take as they move toward becoming a customer. The top of the funnel is where prospects are researching and getting to know your brand. The bottom of the funnel resolves in a closed sale.
Prospects spend most of their time in the middle of the funnel before they become leads or customers. Here are five middle-funnel strategies to improve top-line revenue and bridge the gap between sales and marketing.
1. Define and communicate your competitive advantage
Make it clear to prospects why they should choose your company. They have to understand why you are better and how you are different than other buying options. A clear competitive advantage moves prospects through the funnel faster than any other key messaging.
- How are you better and different than competitors?
- How do you communicate your company values and guarantees?
- How do you translate what you do very well?
- Is your marketing message simple, direct and easy to follow?
Marketing often uses indirect and confusing messaging that keep prospects moving away from your company! This is one of the main reasons people don’t engage with your marketing funnel.
Your sales team must then make the connection between your competitive advantage and the specific needs of your prospective customer. This moves the prospect through the sales funnel.
2. Develop middle-funnel resources, events and content
The better the quality and volume of resources, the more you move people through the funnel to become a lead and a sale. This is where most marketers fall short.
Here is a list of resources to make available through your digital-marketing efforts.
- An excellent blog post, posted at least two times per month
- Email newsletter with an easy-to-find sign-up on your website
- White papers and eBooks to be downloaded in exchange for an email address
- Informative and interesting webinars and podcasts
- Excellent product and services content
- ROI calculators or other interactive tools
- Content about upcoming events and conferences
- Regular social media posts and updates
- One- to two-minute informational videos
Start with these. Then get creative and find additional resources for the middle of the funnel. The sales team should make use of these resources as they build relationships with prospects, such as inviting them to webinars and events.
3. Lead scoring
Technology and marketing automation allows prospects to be scored as they move through the funnel. This is critical to understand the prospect’s intent and to provide the sales team with buying signals.
Prospects are given higher scores when they interact by showing intent to purchase. They are scored negatively when they unsubscribe or interact in a way showing less interest.
Scoring provides specific insights into where the prospect is in their buying journey and is critical in maximizing middle-funnel strategies. In fact, most of the key scoring results will be seen in the middle of the marketing funnel.
4. Use your database of customers and prospects
One of the best ways to increase leads and sales is to market to your current customer and prospect database. The database must be segmented by active customers, inactive customers and prospects — at a minimum.
The goal is to get people from your database to interact with your content, webinars and other events listed above. Make sure you can score their activities through HubSpot or similar marketing automation software.
Here are a few suggestions to get started on improving sales results from your contact database:
- Use your current customer database to find look-alike audiences in social media and target them with ads for webinars and related events.
- Research similar companies using InfoUSA and contact them to interact with your middle- funnel resources.
- Schedule a demo at Bombora.com and learn how to find similar companies to those in your database conducting top of funnel research.
- Email newsletters are not dead. Send out a monthly email newsletter to keep your database interested and updated. Score the newsletter activities and conversion points.
- Use event-focused emails like EventBrite to improve conversion rates.
- Make sure all your contacts are in HubSpot or a similar marketing automation program so they can be scored.
- Connect your marketing automation to your CRM so the sales team gets alerts.
5. Train your sales people
All of your middle-funnel work will go nowhere if your sales team is not recruited properly, trained effectively and held accountable.
“Forget what you have been told. If you are in sales, you need to take things personally. We are directly in control of effecting outcomes. If we are not generating the outcomes we want, we need to change.”
Vistage speaker Karl Becker
Here are a few things to consider when hiring and training sales people:
- Hire sales people with a solid track record.
- Find sales people in transition or entice them away from their current employer.
- Train your sales people to engage better with prospects by knowing where they are in the purchasing process and the digital marketing funnel.
- Make your sales people aware of the marketing funnel and get their input on strategies.
This is hard work but it pays off!
More articles by Thomas Young:
Create a digital marketing funnel to get more leads and sales [webinar on demand]