How to Convert New Customers – i♥marketing (Part 5)

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Editor’s Note: Our recent regional imarketing user conference included six rapid-fire sessions on best practices for each stage of the customer lifecycle: Attract, Capture, Nurture, Convert, Report, and Expand. This blog post comes from Ryan Porter, Director of  Corporate Sales at Act-On, and covers the key points of the Convert rapid-fire session.

Convert whiteboard diagramConversion is the goal of the fourth stage of the customer lifecycle – either the conversion of a lead to an opportunity, or an opportunity to a sale. In the later stages of the process, it boils down to a win –the customer’s selection of your solution – or a loss to your competitor.

two important conversionsThere are three core components to stacking the odds to help you convert new customers;:

  • Sales visibility
  • Sales enablement
  • Sales and marketing alignment

Let’s look at each in turn.

1. Visibility

“Visibility” refers to the ability to actually see what a prospect does. The right technology can remove the blindfold so that when the sales rep makes that phone call, they can know quite a bit about who they’re calling and what to say. It all boils down to having detailed intelligence on a lead and being able to apply that knowledge to save time and be more effective. The key benefits:

  •  Know who they are. Know what each lead cares about, what content they’ve viewed, and what actions they’ve taken, so you can talk to them about their specific needs.
  • Know when to call. Along with high-scoring leads getting passed to you as they become sales-qualified, a marketing automation system’s website visitor tracking feature can alert you whenever a particular person or company visits your website. You can even set alerts to be notified when someone is browsing a particular page on your website.
  • Maximize customer lifetime value through cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. Marketing automation reports and dashboards enable the analysis of customer data, such as purchase history and company size, which helps identify targets for cross-selling and up-selling.

73% of leads are not ready to convert when you get them2. Sales enablement

“Sales enablement” refers to the actions and processes taken across various departments that help to set sales up for success. Take email as a prime example:

  • When your CRM is integrated with your marketing automation system, sales reps can use the marketing system to personalize messages and send them at the optimal times for potential customers. Marketing can set up formatted emails that use dynamic content so each email is appropriate for a particular customer – automatically, so the process is precise, fast, and easy.
  • Trigger emails (which are the most effective of all) can be customized to inbound actions, so the buyer gets personalized communications from the rep … and the rep can know when a trigger email has gone out.

And now for the most important thing of all:

3. Sales and Marketing Alignment

Organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing had 36% higher customer retention rates and achieved 38% higher sales win rates – MarketingProfs

Until just a few years ago sales and marketing had different goals, different ways of being measured – and in some companies, in some ways, they spoke entirely different languages. Lots of companies still operate this way.

With the advent of marketing automation, sales and marketing gained a way to co-create intertwined metrics and an integrated revenue pipeline. Marketing and sales can jointly define a lead generation and management process, and automate it.

white board at i-heart-marketingThe alignment process begins with language and definitions (how does a marketing qualified lead differ from a sales-accepted lead?), proceeds through discovery (Who are our personas? What’s the buyer’s journey?), progresses through process (automating nurturing and scoring), and ends with mutual accountability. (And more revenue.)

B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three year period – Sirius Decisions