A recent discussion I had with Jim Dickie may give sales and marketing directors a sense of relief - and the next action they need to take to meet their quotas in 2018.
As co-founder of CSO Insights, one of the nation’s leading B2B sales research organizations, and Research Fellow with Sales Mastery, Jim is always a step ahead of marketplace trends. What both of us have observed is that the world of sales and marketing has undergone a remarkable change in the past five years.
There seems to be plenty of leads, but fewer are converting to real opportunities – more and more are circling the sales funnel, but they’re not dropping in. If this is happening to you, you have likely been questioning your lead scoring, or your marketing and sales messaging, or the efforts of your sales force – or all three.
Chances are you’re wondering what you’re doing wrong.
We’ve concluded that it isn’t just you.
“According to research by CSO Insights, the percentage of leads that have been converted into a first discussion – not even a full-blown sales-qualified lead – is down significantly in the past five years,” Jim pointed out.
He blames this on two issues:
1. Timing. Even though marketing has generated a lead that has met the qualifications of your lead-scoring algorithm, the prospect may not be ready to talk to a sales professional yet.
“Think of your own life. Do you have time to talk to someone about a product unless you are very actively looking?” asked Jim. “If I’m not looking for you and you proactively come to me, you’ve got to convince me that this is something that’s worth my attention. And if you can’t do that, you have to make sure that when I am ready to move forward I reach out to you first.”
2. They don’t need to talk to a sales professional.
“Buyers can access a wealth of information without ever having to speak with a sales professional,” explained Jim. “They can visit websites, peruse product reviews, and use LinkedIn to pose questions to peers. They can reach conclusions about your value without calling you.”
To help respond to these issues, Jim explained that savvy sales organizations are leveraging content management systems. These provide a content repository linked to a CRM platform to help sales professionals effortlessly and automatically give prospects just the right information about their product - that the prospect can’t find anywhere else - at just the right time. The system then tracks how prospects interact with the content to ensure they’re always getting the information that will move them forward faster.
“This ensures sales professionals establish they are a value-added resource and earn the right to that first discussion,” said Jim.
One organization that is mastering this type of content management is Caterpillar, a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.
With the development support of Modus, they created their own app to deliver highly targeted content to trade-show prospects while they were still at the show.
Here’s an overview of how it worked:
- The sales professional used their mobile device to scan the prospect’s badge.
- With this information, the app automatically and immediately populated contact forms and placed the prospect in a nurture stream. As a result, they could instantly receive an invitation to a Caterpillar-sponsored event that evening, for instance.
- When the prospect visited online content, the app would note what pages they visited and what actions they took.
- The app would adjust the nurture stream based on the prospect’s browsing data. (In the future, the app will be able to identify whether they had visited the site previously and adjust the nurture stream based on the previous browsing data as well.)
As a result, more of the leads that were circling the Caterpillar sales funnel dropped in far more quickly which enabled Caterpillar to:
- Exceed lead goals by an average of 120%
- Deliver leads more than 300% faster.
Jim wants to see more organizations get tools like this one. He believes it’s only fair.
“Around January 2, sales executives got a memo with their quota for 2018, and guess what? It’s bigger,” said Jim. “What’s missing from this memo is how their company is going to provide the tools – like content management systems – to help them reach their goals, instead of asking people who are already working very hard to work harder.”
If you’re being asked to do more this year, now is the time to follow the lead of Caterpillar and explore how Modus’s content management services can help.
If you are interested in knowing more connect with me on LinkedIn.