Coaching your inside sales team to improve online lead conversion

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1 Coaching your inside sales team to improve online lead conversion Five essential tips to help them get better results As a marketer, you do the best you can to cultivate and prioritize leads so they are as sales ready as possible. But at a certain point, the leads get passed to the sales team and a question develops: How do I get each sales rep to get the most out of the leads they are given? A disconnect between marketing and sales at this crucial point will limit the potential success of your marketing campaign. This best practices document is aimed at increasing the sales you earn from every online campaign by giving your sales team the direction they need to get the most out of every lead. This document does not cover the more general issues of good lead follow up that sales directors generally reinforce (e.g. having relevant case studies by market, having a tight value prop description, etc.) Instead, it focuses on how to get the most out of leads generated through online campaigns to increase productivity and ROI for both your team and sales. In TechTarget s experience, the best ways sales reps can significantly increase their chances of success are by knowing: When marketing plans to launch a campaign and what the goals are Information about where the lead came from, what they read or watched Types and titles of the assets and timing guidelines Information around the lead s activity What s being done to nurture the lead Coaching your inside sales team to improve online lead conversion Page 1 of 7

2 One: Give inside sales detailed background on the lead s origin Third-party online media-generated leads are different from what your reps may be familiar with and this type of lead may be less aware of your product. Reps may be used to contacting prospects from website inbound inquiries, leads pre-qualified by a VAR or people met at a face-to-face event. Each of these different lead types will have a different level of qualification, but reps need to recognize that these leads are coming from an independent website and may not know much about your company or product before they contact them. Gain trust and earn the right to ask detailed qualifying questions They need to be made aware that the prospect is coming from an online source. This means that as a result of research, they downloaded multiple content pieces some from you and some from your competition. The typical mindset of a person researching online is to communicate online, so there is a good chance they would be expecting interaction vs. direct contact like a phone call. Make your initial follow-up contact through and include the name of the content piece they downloaded, why they are being contacted, and that you would like to share with them more information, such as how others are solving similar problems. You should also try to learn more about the project they are working on in order to help with their information needs Have a script ready for how to handle objections. Don t be caught off guard if you are lucky enough to get them on the phone Mistakes to avoid We saw you downloaded a white paper from TechTarget. IT prospects know the names of their favorite sites (e.g. SearchStorage.com, not TechTarget) Not being able to describe the specific topic of the asset. You need to need to earn their confidence through familiarity Following up every single lead with a phone call. Many online registrants will expect an online follow up initially. Typically, leads are more eager to talk live the further they are in the buying process and/or the urgency of the project they are working on. Early stage leads are more receptive to additional information being sent to them by The exceptions to this are leads that have requested to be contacted in the initial marketing campaign. Be more aggressive with those , call, send assets; they are asking for you. I see that the prospect has a non-business , they can t be a serious technology buyer. Do not discount these. According to the latest TechTarget Media Consumption research, approximately 40% of corporate IT buyers indicate that they use their personal account regularly for business. They primarily use personal accounts to separate vendor offers for follow-up or work for companies that have strict filters on incoming mail. BP Coaching Inside Sales Page 2 of 7

3 Two: Use the type, topic, and title of the media asset effectively The amount of time a prospect spends with your content, or the title of the content itself, has a direct relationship to the intensity of the prospect s interest. Obtaining the content and its information is the real goal of the prospect. Understanding if this information is useful or not can help uncover important needs, which can help you better qualify your prospect. White papers are the most widely consumed content by IT buyers and as a result, attract leads from all stages of the buy cycle. Play close attention to the title and focus of the white paper a prospect has downloaded to assess what stage they are in. Trial downloaders tend to be ready to buy and may want a live demo or even to talk about price Accelerate lead qualification by contacting leads in the buying stage where they are active Those who download vendor comparison content are typically in the final stages of consideration and starting to build a short list, so be prepared to aid the decision-maker by being able to discuss your offering in depth relative to key competitors in the market The title and type of the asset is very important for the direction of your follow-up. For example: - Product datasheet readers may be ready to talk features and benefits of your product, but related to their specific needs - Technical comparison readers may want to have is a technology discussion, and may not yet be ready to talk about products - Editorial/analyst/general market white paper readers could be in the early stages of understanding the nature of their problem and you can shape the conversation that way. One idea on a follow up might be The article about X you downloaded yesterday from SearchNetworking.com outlines a couple of the key issues in the Networking market. More information on the challenges and approaches that customers are taking can be found Recommend that the sales person contacting the prospect know what the content is and has viewed or read the piece before directly contacting the prospect. Make sure to mention the piece by title and the source of where it was downloaded from to help the prospect remember why they were interested in the first place. For example: - If they have downloaded a 3rd party analyst brief or read an article talking about the problem or issue your solution solves, tell them about how your solution approaches the problem and how others have used your product, offer to send them a case study; - If they have downloaded and read a summary piece about your product or a brochure, you can talk to them about what interested them most and offer them a video (if you have it) or an online demo of the product that can give them an overview of the features based on their problem or issue they define for you; - If they have downloaded the online demo or looked at a white paper that compares your product to others in your competitive set, ask them what features of the product seem to help them solve their problem and that you could set up a meeting or call to talk with someone that can give them an in depth understanding of how others are solving a similar problem and what the customers are finding as the biggest benefits. BP Coaching Inside Sales Page 3 of 7

4 Mistakes to avoid Saw that you downloaded a white paper from us - It may not have been from you - They download lots of white papers; you need to be specific with the title, time and location Thinking that because they aren t ready to talk product, they aren t a good lead. They may be at the very early stages of a project and you have a great opportunity to shape the idea of what they should consider in a solution, how much they should expect to spend and what value they could put on particular features. You can take the role of consultant instead of pitching a product. - Discussions in the early stages of their research present an opportunity to influence how they view and evaluate the solution they are researching. You can talk about your value and even play a role in framing the Request for Proposal (RFP) if that is part of their process. Three: Use the lead s actual activity to inform the conversation Often reps don t look at additional information that may come along with the prospect to guide their effort in prioritizing follow up or the way they shape the conversation with that prospect. Through its Activity Intelligence TM dashboard, TechTarget can provide specific insight into the research and buying activity that prospects have inside and outside of your program that can help both marketing and sales understand more about the prospects they contact. Additional insight into the activity of a prospect s entire buying team is also provided to help marketing and sales organizations more deeply penetrate key accounts. It is this type of insight that will help marketing and sales teams have more productive conversations with their prospects: Activity is an important benchmark for understanding prospect interest and detecting emerging projects Contact Intelligence: Detailed information regarding the activities taken and content a prospect has engaged over the course of a marketing campaign from you and your competitors, creating a robust profile of each contact for marketing and sales. From this, your sales and marketing teams can identify concentration of activity around vendor, editorial, and social content to help shape follow-up priority. Account Intelligence: In-depth view of activity across an entire account from both known prospects from your campaign as well as unknown contacts active within relevant topic areas on the TechTarget network.. This information can be used to assess whether there is an emerging project at an organization and gives sales key insight to further prospect, identify, and reach out decision-makers or influencers on the buying team. Enhanced Contact Profiles: Provides third-party improvements and validation of contact information, including LinkedIn profile information, increasing the potential for sales representatives to connect with prospects in meaningful follow-up discussions. Understanding activity focus around specific topic/solution areas helps identify pain points which will help sales and marketing specificallyaddress their problems and avoid sending generic messages. BP Coaching Inside Sales Page 4 of 7

5 Mistakes to avoid I won t contact that person because they look like they are just collecting as much information as possible. Activity is a very important benchmark for understanding prospect interest and assessing the likelihood that there is an emerging technology project at an organization. Our research has shown that the more active a prospect is, the more likely they are to have an active project or be in need of a solution to a specific business problem. o 90% of the most active researchers are investing in more than one major technology project this year with 74% planning up to six projects* I ll just go down the list and contact each lead until I m done. Categorizing and researching the leads will improve your chances of converting your leads to opportunities Four: Optimize sales and marketing efforts with lead nurturing It may become obvious that the leads you follow-up with are not yet ready to talk to you about your product or solution based on the status of their project and/or the buying stage they are in. That does not mean they are not qualified leads. All leads have value. It may be only a timing issue. They may not have progressed far enough along in their research, they don t have budget clearance yet, they don t have consensus from their buying team. TechTarget s Media Consumption Research shows that it typically takes up to 4 months for leads to work themselves through awareness and consideration stages of their research process. Identify and prioritize more leads for immediate follow-up Marketing needs to continue the digital conversation with them and to cue sales when the lead shows more interest or has new activity spikes Marketing should have established signals to help sales quickly respond to a lead that has been in a nurturing track but suddenly shows renewed or new interest in your company If the lead has not responded to sales calls previously they may do so now. Sales should start actively contacting them now Mistakes to avoid Even if they have been aware of you for a while, don t reach out to them without context make sure marketing makes it transparent to sales what they did and didn t do in the nurturing track, and make the lead aware you know something about them Don t short-cut your efforts because they are now interested. Give them everything they need to help you close the deal or pass them over to outside sales for an appointment BP Coaching Inside Sales Page 5 of 7

6 Five: Over-communicate to the entire sales team Marketers simply overlook how important it is to communicate their own advertising efforts. This is because it doesn t occur to them how sales may need to know what s going on so to sync up their own schedules with the marketers. Or it may be because it reflects that sales and marketing have not proactively planned a campaign together and marketing is assuming it doesn t matter until the campaign hits the street. In either scenario it is really essential to consider the communication gap created and the inefficiency of not alerting sales as to what marketing is up to. Sales needs time to prepare for the impact and follow-up of any major campaign. They need time to get up to speed on the product or initiative, to work out a strategy if not script for follow-up, to figure out what inside sales will do versus outside sales. Most importantly they need to not be caught off guard. Some companies actually develop playbooks that spell out a marketing campaign, its strategy, its components, and what the hand-off to sales will look like step by step. Other companies simply call meetings and issue action steps for each respective department. But at the end of the day sales needs to know what to expect and marketers need to schedule all key events that will impact them so to give them the best opportunity to follow-up and execute on the marketing campaign s goals. Improve qualification through better communication and understanding of current programs At a minimum, be sure to provide the following information to sales for every lead generation campaign you run: Description and schedule of campaign Target audience Expectations around the campaign e.g. early or late stage leads Assets that will be used e.g. whitepapers vs. webcasts vs. virtual trade shows Collateral or any other sales tools available to help sales sell Ideally, marketers will establish goals and expectations with sales before the campaign, but when that is not possible the next best thing is to make them clear as soon as the information is available. BP Coaching Inside Sales Page 6 of 7

7 Getting the most from your investment All leads have value. Using this best practices-based approach to lead follow-up can prove to be beneficial not only for revenue, but for measuring the return on your marketing investment. Be the source of information for your prospects. They need help identifying their key issues and relating them to the solutions available. They are researching alternative approaches and related products. If they find a trusted source that can guide them through their process, provide information quickly in an easily understood way, you will build a relationship that can make your sales process shorter and more effective.. About TechTarget TechTarget (NASDAQ: TTGT) is the online intersection of serious technology buyers, targeted technical content and technology providers worldwide. Our media, powered by TechTarget s Activity Intelligence platform, redefines how technology buyers are viewed and engaged based on their active projects, specific technical priorities and business needs. With more than 100 technology specific websites, we provide technology marketers innovative media that delivers unmatched reach via custom advertising, branding and lead generation solutions all built on our extensive network of online and social media. TechTarget has offices in Atlanta, Beijing, Boston, London, Mumbai, San Francisco, Singapore and Sydney. To learn how you can engage with serious technology buyers worldwide, follow 2011 TechTarget. All rights reserved. The TechTarget logo is a registered trademark of TechTarget. All other logos are trademarks of their respective owners. TechTarget reserves the right to make changes in specifications and other information contained in this document without prior notice. The reader should in all cases consult TechTarget to determine whether any such changes have been made. Updated 08/19/2011. BP Coaching Inside Sales Page 7 of 7

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