Posted on 01 November 2011.
Cold calling is a proven marketing technique but one that is not appealing, both for the receiver and the caller. It can be de-motivating for the caller and quite an irritant for the receiver, wasting time for both sides. With unpredictable success rates and time spent per call not justifying the results achieved, most businesses seek more viable options and alternatives to cold calling. Since the end result sought, is the same, it is important to use those techniques which promise higher success rates per hour spent.
- Referrals – Getting referrals from existing customers is a better alternative to cold calling. Firstly, the receiver will be more positively inclined towards a sales pitch if it comes from a known person, and chances of a sale increase when a peer group uses the same product. Tapping relationships now holds the key to better sales success.
- Contacting old customers- Customers at some point in the past, but lost along the way, can be contacted to familiarize them with new products and services. Their past experiences with the brand will perhaps tempt them to consider buying. Once satisfied, they will even recommend other prospective customers.
- Using social media networks- Social media networks are the best places to contact thousands of customers, getting to know their tastes and preferences and establish an online rapport with them. This is also a good way to show expertise in a field and have people turn to you for advice. A sales pitch subsequently will be received better than a sales call.
- Internet marketing- Internet marketing is the latest marketing tool used by large and small businesses. With millions of potential clients worldwide, chances of success are much higher and time saving, since the same amount of effort is needed for small and large groups.
- Using prospects- A prospect refers to a prospective customer, someone who has expressed interest in the products being offered and the possibility of selling to him are higher. Prospects can be filtered through customer visits, online searches or calls.
- Customer testimonials- Using current customers to share their experiences on blogs, the company website or in advertisements, is the best business promotion tool, which will woo potential customers more than anything else.
- Networking with customer groups- customer groups can be joined to get a feel of what they look for and what they need, and addressing their needs will help in moving closer to a sale.
Cold calling is only one of the many ways to fill the sales pipeline, but there are other more effective ways of getting customers. The secret lies in being proactive, using networking skills, and being constantly on the lookout for an opportunity to make a sales pitch. Addressing groups is often more beneficial in generating more than a single lead unlike cold calling which is most often a one-on-one interaction. With millions of prospective customers available on the world wide web, online marketing may prove to be the most effective.
Posted in Sales Tips
Posted on 17 May 2011.
Pipeline management is a set of activities or multiple projects that ease the running of a business. It eases the process of business forecasts and fine tuning the sales process, improving time management and finally achieving higher sales. Often considered to be a part of the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, pipeline actually implies the flow of income coming into a business with new clients and channels, and helps to keep track of all the plans and steps taken for projects. A full pipeline provides far more opportunities at higher levels by converting leads into sales and feeding the sales closed, at the lower rung. Pipeline management is a process that helps businesses evaluate their own business opportunities and balance quality with quantity. Though it can be used to find solutions for diverse business needs, it is used primarily in the sales division of businesses. It helps to:
- Forecast future growth
- Track sales trends for individual clients and employees
- Calculate taxes for each project
- Track delays and identify reasons for them
- An effective tool for large businesses
Some tips for Pipeline Management
- Focus on sales staff more than managers- This helps bring out the best in each sales person rather than focus on the sales manager.
- Keep the sales pipeline with potential customers and not just everyone- Pipeline management will fail if anyone and everyone is added to the pipeline. In this case, more does not mean more sales. Effective sales hold the key to success.
- Divide customers into groups of actual, potential and fence sitters- Every business’ list of contacts has some customers who must be maintained, potential ones who must be pursued and fence sitters who are talk without substance, and must be kept away from the pipeline since they could be on either side of the fence.
- Nurture every lead- The CRM exercise brings a list of leads that can be pursued for conversion into customers. Each of these must be nurtured before they can be converted.
- Display efficiency and ask for references- An efficient sales staff makes customers happy and in return can always ask for references to tap new sources of business and get more customers. This is an opportunity that must not be lost.
- Have a clear picture of pipeline management- This is important for small businesses that do not have a clear picture of pipeline management even though the basic idea linked to it is going on in their minds.
- Model the pipeline according to the customer buying process- This should include an idea of how they buy, the stages of going to different suppliers, short listing a few and how they finally decide on one particular supplier.
- Pipeline management is more about managing rather than measuring- the process and the numbers game are more for analysis to aid management rather than being an end in themselves. The numbers have to be used to make changes and improve more than getting them right.
Pipeline management is an effective tool that can restructure the sales process and improve results by following some of the above mentioned tips.
Posted in Sales Management Tips, Sales Process