Sales acceleration – is it as important as they say? Absolutely.
Is it as complicated as they say? Not necessarily… but it does require the discipline to grapple with your processes and data flows.
Fundamentally, sales acceleration brings benefits by aggregating gains. There are lots of opportunities to increase the speed and efficiency of interactions and data flows that touch sales processes. From lead nurturing through conversion to lifetime account management, every part of the process can yield efficiency benefits. These combine to create a much higher throughput rate for new business and better performance of accounts while lowering cost.
We’ve talked previously about some ways that sales acceleration can benefit your business and which scenarios and other processes it relates to.
But there are some basic questions every single business should ask in order to pursue the benefits of sales acceleration.
Can you respond to leads fast enough?
Speed is the first category most of us associate with sales acceleration. ‘How can we do this faster?’ is the common question, (although in practice that should be ‘How can we do this faster without compromising quality.’)
The likelihood of a lead entering your sales process is 21 times greater if you contact them within five minutes of registering interest. And that’s compared with contacting them just thirty minutes later.
Perhaps as a result, somewhere between 35-50% of sales go to the first vendor who responds.
Having the ability to contact any number of leads straight away depends entirely on automated background processes across deeply integrated systems. In particular, the systems that collect the leads – like web forms – need to feed data directly to an outbound dialer that can schedule contact.
When collecting the lead and contacting the lead are not linked processes, a huge number of opportunities are delayed or missed.
If you can think of a really good reason to keep new customers waiting, let us know – we’ve never heard one. ‘There’s no time like the present’ is still the best motto in sales.
The Sales Call Experience (With No Dialer)
How are leads shared between departments?
Businesses depend on marketing efforts to generate a good number of their leads. Marketing departments might even handle the early stages of developing those relationships. At the same time, contact centers are increasingly aware of the need to operate as an integral part of the wider business.
And yet – under one quarter of marketers have a defined lead-handoff procedure with the sales team. That doesn’t mean leads aren’t finding their way to sales, one way or another. But it does mean that there’s little or no consistency in how that happens.
Emailed across, compiled in makeshift spreadsheets, scribbled on paper aeroplanes and thrown, it hardly matters; without predefined processes there’s no reliable way of tracking the leads through early stages of the sales pipeline. This can fatally undermine the efforts of sales teams to make good on their targets, without them even knowing.
After all, what’s the value of responding to leads within five minutes of receipt if you don’t know how long the lead spent idling in the system?
Only 24% of Marketers have a defined lead-handoff process with their sales team Click To Tweet
This is where the ability to create and modify integrated processes, without starting high-stakes IT projects, is crucial. Systems change, as do circumstances. Communications processes need to be able to change along with them.
Can you trust the data in your CRM?
Every stage of the sales process depends on accurate customer data. However, clumsy and error-prone manual processes have contributed to a situation where 89% of customer and prospect data is inaccurate in some way.
Incorrect data is embarrassing at the very least, but it’s also responsible for a lot of waste. For example, 18% of phone numbers change every year, meaning contact details are frequently going out of date.
Effective data hygiene practices are clearly important, but they can only be effective when they’re applied evenly across all departments and all systems. One of the worst mistakes to make is updating data, but not sharing the update across the business.
So once again, deep systems integrations are the simple solution to a lot of potential problems.
Another consideration is how data loses integrity in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s often the implementation of new SaaS products that can compromise data resources. A 2016 study demonstrated that around 32% of businesses had lost data due to migration errors while moving solutions to the cloud.
This problem is increasingly driving the demand for cloud solutions that don’t require data migrations, and can run on a ‘just-in-time’ and need’-to-know’ basis.
The Top Causes of Inaccurate Data
Do your systems support lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is growing in line with customer expectations for consistent and personalised engagement across channels. This places new demands on practices like routing, scheduling, and managing touchpoints.
Lead nurturing doesn’t just increase sales – it leads to sales of higher value, with nurtured leads making purchases with 47% higher value than non-nurtured leads.
Customers need the same information, and the same experience, wherever they encounter your brand. A customer on the phone can’t be a stranger via email – they need to be a customer either way. That places big demands on a business’ ability to integrate their channels.
The purchases of nurtured leads are 47% higher than non-nurtured leads Click To Tweet
For the contact center, conditional routing can be one of the most important lead nurturing tactics. The ability to set up VIP queues, and to route to the same agent are vital. In fact, personalization across the entire customer experience is key, with tactics like triggered SMS in the customer journey helping to keep customers informed.
Planning outbound lead nurturing campaigns involves a lot of steps that can all benefit from high-level automations. Everything from preparing call lists, to assigning agents, to registering and acting on outcomes are candidates for automation.
When do your sales staff give up?
A closely related topic is the amount of attention sales staff will focus on a single sale. At the start of this article, I mentioned that the demand for speed in sales acceleration often compromises quality.
One broad measure of quality in sales strategies is the time a salesperson is willing to invest. About 2% of sales are closed in the first contact, but of course nobody thinks one call is enough. How about two calls then? Or three? Or four?
Well, by call number four about 20% of sales have been closed. According to research from Aberdeen Group, the average prospect receives ten touches before entering the sales pipeline – and most salespeople stop at five.
So, what’s going wrong? Has nobody told the sales staff?
Actually, one of the key reasons sales teams fail to follow through on this is that they can’t keep track of their activity. Modern CRM has made this much easier, but there’s still a lot of complex time-management to handle. That’s why CRM systems need to be well integrated with dialers, allowing sales teams to easily arrange future outbound calls.
That’s not the end of the story of course, but, if you can lock down these five areas of performance – you’re heading in the right direction.
And we can help. If you need to increase sales by making better use of existing resources, get in touch with babelforce today.