The goal of any successful marketing campaign is to reach the customer with a brand message in order to pique interest in a product. To do this, the Sales and Marketing teams have an abundance of lead gen tools in their arsenal including large scale email campaigns, re-targeting, newsletters, and paid ads. These tactics work well for mass outreach and brand awareness. And they can be an efficient way to announce new product features or promote special offers to capture interest and draw in new prospects.
However, these are far from the best tools to convert interest into committed sales. The reality is that tried and true fundamentals can lead to greater sales both now and over the long-term. After all, there is a reason “traditional sales methods” such as calls and conversations are still popular today.
Who Knows the Customer Best, Sales, or Marketing?
Knowing your ideal client is critical for an effective outreach strategy. In today’s global marketplace, with new businesses and products popping up every day, there is more competition than ever before. Amazon alone carries more than 12 million unique products, not including books, media, wine, and services.
Thoroughly understanding your customers is the only way to ensure that your message reaches and influences your target market and stands out in this competitive environment. Both your marketing and sales teams need to collaboratively communicate that your solution is the right one for your ideal customer. This cannot be done well if both teams don’t understand your customers’ needs, wants, and problems.
Marketers often create buyer personas to illustrate the ideal customer(s) they are trying to reach. These personas are designed to focus the team and their efforts on key characteristics of customers that influence their purchasing decisions. A lot of information goes into the creation of a persona, including:
- Customer pain points and problems
- Customer needs and wants
- Decision criteria
- Barriers to purchase
Check out these 10 examples of buyer personas that you can use in your business.
Where does this detailed customer information come from? Marketers do a lot of research to come up with a clear picture of who their target market is, but it’s the salespeople who really hold the key to the customer identity because it’s salespeople who are out there talking to customers every single day.
The most effective salespeople listen more than they talk. The average B2B sales rep talks 65-75% of the time, but the highest converting talk-to-listen ratio is 43.57% (talking to 56.43% listening). In other words, when customers talk more than salespeople do, especially in the early stages of the sales cycle they are more likely to convert. This is why the most effective salespeople listen and gain specific information from the customer that they can use to personalize their sales presentations.
Even general conversation meant to build rapport can provide a wealth of insight. Done right the customer should speak more than half the time. For example, let’s say that through a general conversation about the customer’s day, the sales team notices that a significant number of people shop when they are stressed out or worried. The marketing team can now incorporate trigger elements into campaigns that will instigate the emotions needed to invoke a customer purchase.
Booking.com uses scarcity as a trigger of FOMO – fear of missing out. Not only does the company warn how popular their options are, but it also shows deals the buyer missed out on. The use of red fill and font, as well as exclamation marks, drives the point home even more. This site is basically screaming, “If you snooze, you lose!”
Every conversation the sales team has is a new opportunity to deal with and overcome objections. It’s also a chance to learn new pain points and better understand how to solve them. These conversations result in a wealth of customer knowledge that can fill out a buyer persona and define an ideal client. For example, imagine someone walks into a car dealership looking for a used car. Within a few minutes of conversation a sales associate can easily find out the following:
- Why they need a car (needs and pain points)
- Why they’re looking for a used car and what they can afford (budget)
- How much searching they’ve done so far (customer journey)
- What brought them in today (influencers or marketing platforms)
This is valuable knowledge that the marketing team can use to improve its targeting efforts. In fact, it’s only when marketing and sales are tightly aligned that more quality leads are generated than from either department alone.
The proof is there. Salespeople are a critical component of generating qualified leads because they intimately understand their target market and ideal customer better than anyone else
Getting on the Phone and Creating Real Personalization
Conversational selling and personalization are top priorities for marketers and sales teams alike. Personalization results in consumers purchasing more expensive options, becoming repeat customers, and providing referrals.
But many companies still struggle with personalizing effectively. In fact, only 31% of people currently believe that marketers are getting personalization right. The typical approach of targeting massive audiences and blitzing the market with ads just isn’t the best sales approach. Even with dynamic ads where content is automatically adapted to reflect a user’s search criteria or other available personal data, it doesn’t achieve adequate personalization.
These mass-market approaches can be effective in enhancing brand awareness, but they are not designed to close sales. Standard mass campaigns have equally standard conversion rates: just a few percentage points at best. In fact, it is generally agreed that a 2–5% conversion rate is actually a good result. The best sales reps know that there is a better way to achieve results, and that is personally connecting with potential prospects over the phone.
Phone conversations continue to be one of the most personal forms of communication in today’s digital world. Here are a few reasons why phone calls are successful at providing a personalized experience:
- Phone calls are less common than online messaging and email, so they can feel unique and genuine.
- Phone calls capture attention better than email, therefore, salespeople are able to acquire information and customize their sales pitches in real-time.
- Phone calls have the ability to be more timely than email and other digital communications.
Imagine a customer submits an electronic query about your service, but instead of receiving a boilerplate email in return, they receive a phone call from one of your sales agents. This will automatically feel like a more caring and personalized experience and therefore can shorten the sales cycle. Plus, phone calls allow your team to conduct these conversations more efficiently than in person. Customers and salespeople no longer have to travel to connect, thanks to conference calling services. Sales teams can handle a greater volume of interest via conference call or online meeting than in physical meetings.
Nothing can beat a real-time conversation when it comes to personalization. If you want to experience higher conversion rates, calling prospects and providing a one-on-one personalized sales pitch is one of the best tactics teams can use.
Conversations Are Where Detailed Explanations Can Convert Customers
Explaining your product or service via a marketing message is often limiting. This is especially true if your marketing team is relying heavily on online methods such as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to bring in new leads. PPC and other online ad types typically limit the number of characters available. For example, Google text ads only allow 90 character headlines and 180 characters for the description.
Sometimes this just isn’t enough content to convince a lead they need your product or service, especially if you have a complex product offering. Live conversations build relationships and help explain your offering. It’s much easier to verbally communicate the value of your product or service than it is to provide a written overview. Especially since a live conversation allows your team to create a closed-loop communication.
This form of communication enables your team to do the following three things:
- Request feedback to ensure the prospect understands the message.
- Elicit questions and concerns regarding the information shared.
- Provide further information based on their feedback.
Sales members can clarify the product or service by providing demonstrations. A great way to do this is by showcasing an offering in a real-world environment. During in-person conversations, it’s easy for salespeople to do this. However, in the past, it was impossible to showcase your offering during a sales call. Thankfully, with new technology, demos via online meetings are easy.
For instance, screen sharing tools allow your team to easily launch an online session and share examples on their computers. With Vast Conference technology there is no software download needed so anyone can have a successful demo up on the screen within seconds without potential customers waiting on a slow download or fumbling with technical difficulties. Using this technology, salespeople can personalize the meeting and walk a user through How To’s.
NeverWet’s spray-on, water-repellent products are an excellent example of how a “see it to believe it” demonstration and conversation makes all the difference in closing a sale. Hands-on demonstrations not only clarify what the products are but also illustrate problems that they help solve. Video conferencing gives your team the ability to quickly walk your prospect through a real-time visual demonstration or show them a pre-recorded video demo.
Bottom line: It can be challenging to communicate the true value of your product or service with only a few lines of text. Having a conversation allows for a true demonstration of a product’s ability to solve a consumer’s problem or fill a need.
Symbiotic Sales Relationships Create Loyal Customers
A symbiotic relationship is reached when two or more different people form a close relationship that is mutually beneficial. When it comes to sales relationships, this means that the sales team and customer have formed a relationship from which they both benefit.
Establishing this type of relationship requires trust, which takes time. However, it’s well worth it considering it costs 5x more to attract a new customer than to keep a current one. One of the key factors of keeping current customers is creating positive experiences for them.
This is why relationships are so critical to long-term customer retention. The lifetime value (LTV) of a customer is a prediction of the revenue you will gain from them over the course of their relationship with you. The higher your LTV, the less need to focus on expensive acquisitions of new customers. Lifetime value is the lifeblood of a successful business. The only way to build a customer lifetime value is by creating real relationships that are symbiotic in nature. Poor relationships and negative customer experiences are leading drivers of customer abandonment. A study by NewVoiceMedia reveals that US companies are losing roughly $75 billion in sales to competitors this year due to customer abandonment.
To avoid losing out on valuable future sales, both your sales team and your customer service team, as an extension of sales, need to develop real, personal connections with your customers. An ability to deepen personal relationships and show an understanding of your customers is important. It will help retain them and boost their lifetime value. After all, 79% of customers in the US only consider shopping for brands they believe understand them. In fact, a recent Walker study found that within the next two years, customer experience will become the key brand differentiator, overtaking both price and product considerations.
Not only does a strong relationship result in customers spending more, but it also increases recommendations and referrals. Since people trust their friends, this leads to yet more sales without you incurring the typical high acquisition costs of new customers. Focusing on fulfilling your customer’s needs and providing value to them, results in greater value for you. The best way to do this is through symbiotic, long-term relationships.
Calls and Conversations
While incentives and special offers may help convert one-off customers, they require financial investment and are not a leading driver of long-term customer retention. When it comes to turning prospects into leads and closing sales, these three fundamental tools simply cannot be beaten:
- Real-time conversations
- Personal relationships
- Phone calls
Phone calls and conversations allow your team to understand your audience, build relationships, provide personalized service, and experience higher conversion rates. Not only will these tools land more initial sales, but they’ll also lead to higher lifetime value of customers. Sales conversations and relationships also enhance your understanding of your ideal market, which empowers you to improve your business in other areas as well. For instance, knowing what customers really want can lead to developing new, valuable product features. It also enables your marketing team to hone the messaging and targeting of their campaigns for even greater success.
This is why, despite new, flashy marketing tools, using these tried and true sales fundamentals is a simple, proven way to experience greater sales both now and over the long-term.