CREATING A STRONG SALES PLAYBOOK
My high school football team had few truly talented players. There was one standout player, a running back, who seemed to have a key role in most of our team’s plays. We had three plays we relied on: running back goes left, running back goes right, and running back goes up the center. As you could imagine, defending against our offense was quite easy if the defense kept an eye on our running back.
What my team needed was a broader and more diverse approach to scoring points, something that sales teams need to strive for as well. Becoming too dependent on one play or player significantly increases the risk of sales disruptions and limits the potential of a sales team. Sales leaders can develop a well-rounded sales approach as they refine their ability to generate high-quality leads from multiple sources. Doing so will give a sales team enough plays to help them through the tough spots and pave the way to some exciting victories.
In our industry, referrals are often the most effective method for finding quality leads. Client referrals typically require a satisfied customer and a request for a referral. When a client is happy, we have an opportunity to ask for a referral. Setting the expectation early on that we will request referrals will help the client be more comfortable with our request and lead to more referrals.
Seeking referrals from our personal network allows us to use the trust we have built up with people in the past, either to see if they are a fit for our services or if they know other businesses that could use our help. New members of our sales team start by working in their personal networks to find prospects because they know those groups best. Personal connections can also be the most forgiving if the salesperson does not yet have a polished approach.
Referrals from trusted advisors are incredibly valuable for getting in front of business leaders who want our services right now. Teams will be more successful at obtaining leads if they have developed a repeatable process for qualifying potential trusted advisors and helping the advisors start providing good leads. The first steps are building trust with the advisors and then helping them understand how our services meet their clients’ needs. For example, a CPA may care about helping a client find a reliable payroll processor because that will make tax preparation easier. On the other hand, a banker may care more about reducing the client’s risk to ensure that a loan is repaid. Building relationships with trusted advisors takes time, but it’s worth the effort.
Every PEO that is committed to high growth needs to develop a reliable and productive marketing engine that will deliver qualified leads to sales teams. Marketing leads are a morale-boosting gift for a hard-working salesperson. I once had a friend say that a smart sales leader would fire the lowest-producing salesperson and instead spend that money on marketing. While many companies might dabble in marketing, successful marketing efforts require a deliberate and concerted effort with regular refinements over time.
Initiating a marketing strategy can be daunting because the breadth of marketing types, tools, and vendors can be overwhelming. Start with foundational marketing efforts, such as defining your core message and unique value proposition. Then move into developing core marketing assets such as brand guidelines, a website, and other key pieces of sales and marketing collateral. When that is done, it’s time to start what we often think of as traditional (e.g., print, billboards, mailers) or digital (e.g., SEO, digital ads, email) marketing.
We can measure the impact of our marketing spend by tracking where our leads come from. Over time, we will discover which marketing methods create the most leads and the best clients. If you do not have the internal expertise to run a marketing effort, you can outsource it. That is something we know the benefit of in our industry!
MAKING COLD OUTREACH WARMER
Cold outreach is less attractive to most salespeople but valuable if done right. The biggest challenge with reaching out cold is that business owners do not know us or why it is in their interest to talk with us. However, both challenges can be diminished through the right kind of outreach.
For contacts to start moving from cold to warm, they need to know who we really are. Reaching out through multiple channels, including email, phone, social media, and regular mail, will increase our chances of gaining recognition without becoming an annoyance. Our biggest tool for connecting with them will always be letting them actually see us, whether by dropping by their offices, meeting them at events, or sending personalized videos. When contacts know our faces, we become harder to ignore.
As contacts begins to know who we are, they also need to know why we are reaching out. We have all received plenty of sales emails telling us why people want to talk to us, but we rarely care about what they are bringing us. Two of the key times for a business to evaluate PEO services are when they are going through insurance renewals and important organizational changes. If we properly time our outreach, we will more easily convince contacts to meet with us.
RUNNING THE PLAYS
Developing and implementing this lead-generation playbook will lead to more consistent sales performance. These plays will need to be tested and refined constantly. Helping our sales teams learn and adopt the new plays will take patient and persistent efforts, but once we have the playbook in place, we can move the ball down the field more quickly and consistently than ever before.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Did you know that only 17 percent of salespeople consider themselves pushy, while 50 percent of prospects consider them to be? A recent article on the Hubspot website presents this tidbit and other current statistics:
- More than 40 percent of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process;
- 60 percent of prospects say no four times before deciding to buy; almost half of salespeople (48 percent) only follow up once;
- For getting new customers, email is almost 40 times more effective than social media;
- Saying “How are you?” increases your chances of getting a meeting by 3.4 times; You are 40 percent less likely to get a meeting if you ask “Did I catch you at a bad time?” and
- Almost 50 percent of top performers ask clients for referrals; only 26 percent of non-top performers do.