It’s a highly competitive sales market, and new companies of every shape and size are nipping at your heels to steal your prospects and customers. That’s why it’s important to have a concise direct sales strategy in place in order to hit revenue targets, boost growth rates, and increase profits.
It all sounds very elementary, but nearly 20 percent of tech decision-makers evaluate their use of direct sales best practices as poor or below average. Additionally, about one-third of organizations claim they are average in their deployment of best practices across contact and activity management, sales opportunity management, sales performance management, and sales analysis.
Where does your organization sit in this realm of self-evaluation? To help answer that question, here are three key components of a world-class direct sales strategy that should be a part of YOUR direct sales efforts.
1. Develop a customer engagement process.
You know your target customers and you know they’re looking for you. The easier you make it for them to discover and engage with you—even before they’re in the formal buying cycle—the better. To help, here’s a basic, three-pronged customer engagement process:
Establish objectives: Clear, concise goals are the foundation of any successful program. Focus on deepening relationships and establishing long-term sales relationships.
Target ideal customers: Identify your ideal customers and where they congregate and network. A one-size-fits-all program rarely works; identify profile traits that can help you personalize your outreach (e.g. current revenue or profit, potential revenue or profit, strategic value, or current state of the relationship).
Outline communication efforts: Once you connect with prospects, provide them with aligned content and information to inform and educate, not just a sales pitch. This builds trust, drives value, and enables prospective customers to directly engage with YOU as they engage with your brand.
While you may not be selling during this engagement process, you are building a relationship and guiding contacts along the important discovery stage. In other words, you’re beginning to inform and nurture leads until they’re ready to enter the buying process.
When prospects enter this buying stage on their own, sales conversations and cycles are faster, and conversion rates are higher.
2. Discover and prioritize leads with data.
You probably know your hottest leads. However, managing, qualifying, and prioritizing your “rest-of-world” leads is a whole different story. While you may be great at closing and managing top enterprise accounts, you struggle with the prospecting of new leads.
You aren’t alone. In fact, 79 percent of marketing leads never convert to sales.
Managing your funnel of leads is entirely possible, however, it requires a program backed by quantifiable data and appropriately scored leads to be successful.. This methodology ranks all leads by fit and engagement so that reps are empowered with the opportunity to provide customized sales conversations and content; all at the right time in the sales cycle.
Ultimately, lead qualification processes remove the guesswork for your teams by identifying which leads are ready to buy. However, boosting your lead outreach strategy with solid contact data improves productivity by up to 15 percent and decreases lost sales by up to 27 percent.
3. Outline a sales process.
Once your prospects are ready to consider and buy, it’s important to have an outlined sales process that determines a prescriptive path to close. It’s also important to respond swiftly. Slow lead response time can be prohibitive. In fact, sales studies show that between 35 percent and 50 percent of all sales go to the rep who makes first contact.
While sales processes will differ across organizations, here are some basic components you should implement:
- Lead status categories
- Lead stage conversion paths
- Status aging thresholds
- Opportunity staging
- Prospect feedback loops
- Deal approval process
No matter how your sales structure is organized, it’s important to define your process and utilize tools to measure progress. A world-class direct sales strategy is one that makes it easy for organizations to forecast not only what’s working but also what can use improvement.