One of the biggest challenges for sales teams today is keeping in contact with potential customers.  Generating leads and staying in contact with them is time consuming and expensive.  It can also distract sales people from providing existing customers the service they need and expect.  Unfortunately, most companies still rely solely on the sales team to develop leads. Since there is so much competition today, requiring your sales team to make constant phone calls, sending out letters and emails, will likely get nowhere.  In fact, there is so much demand for the attention of prospects today; there is now a strong resistance by these prospects to engage with sales people. 

Consumers and buyers no longer rely on sales people for information; they now have the ability to shop and research on-line. They are likely to engage with a sales person only when they get close to a purchase decision.  In the case of on-line purchases, there is typically no engagement with a sales person, so, it’s even more critical to have effective follow-up systems. The current market trends are placing exceptional demands on customer acquisition and retention strategies.  Status quo can be very inefficient and expensive.  Without addressing this new environment, productivity suffers, sales struggle or decline, turn-over increases and customer satisfaction drops.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a way to improve the process of not only lead generation, but, more importantly, lead development?  Wouldn’t it be even better if this process could be automated?  These goals are achievable using new marketing automation technology and by re-defining the role of your sales people.

In direct sales, there is significant opportunity to increase the efficiency of the sales team by improving not only how sales communications are managed, but by whom. Business owners should carefully look at the role of the sales person and the role of their marketing resources.  There should be greater alignment between these two functions; freeing the sales people from unproductive tasks and requiring marketing to take on more responsibility to nurture both prospects and existing customers. Marketing automation tools facilitate this process. 

Leading companies are now integrating nurture programs into both their on-line and off-line marketing and sales strategies. These companies have their sales and marketing teams work together for the same goals – getting and keeping customers.  They rely on a marketing function to generate new leads and maintain contact with those new leads. Through this nurturing process, they also qualify the leads.  Once they are considered qualified, or reach some trigger point, then the lead is sent to sales.  With marketing automation technology, this can be automated and integrated with CRM software or other business applications. This strategy allows the sales team to stay in front of their customers more often, thereby building stronger relationships and improving retention rates. 

To help companies address this challenge, The Net Impact has partnered with Marketing Solutions, Inc (MSI), based in Chesterfield, Missouri.  MSI specializes in marketing automation software and lead nurturing programs.  Together, our combined resources offer small and mid-sized businesses a resource to improve their lead generation, lead conversion rates and customer retention.

Learn more about how technology can help your lead conversion at this St. Louis-area seminar.

3 Responses

  1. Nicole on 27 Jun 2008

    I definitely agree that sales and lead automation is necessary; however, it no longer has to be expensive. New free services like Zoho CRM and give companies the opportunity to have a good contact management and lead management service for free or very cheap.

  2. Bill Rice on 08 Feb 2008

    I think you are correct that sales automation and lead management is going to becoming increasingly important. As lead generation, particularly via the Internet, becomes more efficient it is going to be critical to help sales forces automate these tasks of contacts, follow-up, and lead nurturing.

    Giving a sales force the tools to maximize their pipeline and focused on the next best opportunity to connect with is the secret to success. Dialing without discretion or nurturing in a recipe for sales staff turn-over and frustration.

  3. Justin Rees on 08 Feb 2008

    I am head of marketing in the UK for a company called LeadPoint, which is a lead exchange market place.

    First I’d just like to say that the post is a very interesting one and raises a lot of issues. I think one important thing to consider is that a lot of companies do not have the resources in terms of money or time to implement sophisticated sales and lead nurturing strategies. Even with the existence of technological solutions such as CRM systems and lead management software, there are many companies in the UK both big and small that don’t get much more advanced than pen and paper!

    In terms of implementing the things that you discussed, apart from helping with increasing revenue by closing more sales, I think probably just as important is enabling companies to actually measure the success of their various lead sources. From my experience, the biggest problem that companies face is that they can’t properly determine which of their sales and marketing strategies work because they can’t measure and track performance. Sophisticated lead management systems will help companies know what works for them.

    I look forward to the day where every business has the technology to properly manage their sales processes.

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