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Archive for September, 2010

Sales Personalities- Hunters and Farmers

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

It is sometimes said that there are two types of sales personalities, the hunter and the farmer. The hunter is the sales agent who is motivated by the thrill of the hunt. This is an individual who thrives on the quick turnover. It’s all or nothing, right now, close and move on. When a sales manager is building a team, individuals like this get offered spots on the team. But there is another type of producer: farmers. These are individuals who excel at building relationships, keeping in touch, nurturing leads. Many mangers build their teams by enlisting as many hunters as they can. But there is some evidence that a sales team can benefit from hiring farmers as well. Farmers are more suited to keeping in touch with leads who are slower to close and building interest in your company over time. Farmer type sales agents can tend to the crops over time, and harvest when the time is right.

Let’s say you already have some hunters and some farmers on your sales team. You are in a prime position to benefit from lead management software. You can make use of rules-based distribution to get the right leads to the right person. When a new lead comes in, let your hunter take a crack at it. If it is not a quick close, it’s no problem. It is easy to create a distribution program that re-distributes the leads that are not quick closers from the hunters to the farmers. Let the farmer nurture the lead, building the relationship and converting them when the time comes. Here’s some more information on how Leads360 lead distribution works.

On the other hand, let’s say that you’re not buying the hunter and farmer analogy. In your experience, the only producers are the hunters. You aren’t making space for the slower soft-selling farmers.  You can still benefit from lead management software. Using a lead management solution, it’s easy to nurture leads automatically by creating drip marketing campaigns. Additionally, Leads360 ongoing best practices research and analysis has revealed the optimal six call contact strategy. What these tools do is they give hunters an out of the box, easy to adopt nurture strategy that has been proven to close more deals. A hunter will never think like a farmer, but lead management software, with drip marketing emails and lead prioritization takes the thinking out of it. Prospects will be contacted strategically through automated emails and sales agents will be prompted to place periodic follow up calls at optimal intervals.

The two types of sales personalities, hunters and farmers, can both see increased conversion rates with the adoption of lead management software. And sales managers will have tools to respond to the strengths of his various sales agents to get the right lead to the right person at the right time.

The Value of Lead Prioritization

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

All leads are not made the same.  Anyone working in sales knows that the value of each individual lead can vary wildly depending on a number of different factors from the time of day to dozens of different pieces of demographic data.  In the past, sales managers have been forced to effectively throw darts at a map in trying to get their sales staff to call the leads with the best chance of conversion.  Fortunately, Leads360 has developed a new Lead Prioritization Engine that has the solution to this unfortunately random process.  With the data driven automization of your sales process, Leads360 can help your sales team operate at peak efficiency, optimize lead prioritization, and maximize ROI.

Without a smart method of Lead Prioritization, it’s nearly impossible to get the best possible conversion rate on your leads.  Given that any sales team can only expect to make a limited number of calls in any given hour, day, or week,  it’s important that your sales people are contacting the leads with the highest chance of conversion before making more speculative calls to lower quality leads.  However, with the variety of different factors that contribute to quality lead prioritization it’s often times hard to really nail down an effective strategy for getting the ride leads to the right people at the right time.

Leads360’s revolutionary new Lead Prioritization Engine can be fine tuned by any sales team to find the algorithms that will correctly identify those leads that need to be contacted as soon as possible.  It will then automatically sort your call queue to reflect which leads are most likely to convert and ensure that those leads are getting moved to the front of the queue while simultaneously moving leads with a low chance to convert to the back of the line.  By doing this, your sales staff will always be making calls with the best chance of success.  Without this automation, you could easily be missing out on prime opportunities to convert because your sales team called other leads that should have been a low priority at that time.

But wait, there’s more.  The value of different leads will continually change over time and identifying the lead with the best chance of conversion requires constant and fluid reassessment.  When operating at the speed of business, making the right call at the right time is essential and knowing when a lead is in its ideal follow period is crucial.  Leads360’s new Lead Prioritization Engine is designed to make up to the second changes, working fluidly to keep moving leads that are in prime shape to convert to the front of the queue and shifting lower value leads back so that they can be contacted at a later time when they have a better chance of converting.  This keeps your team working with data in real time and always making contact with the right leads at the right time.

Leads360 has broken new ground with this Lead Prioritization Engine and created an invaluable tool for any sales team.  It creates a system of flowing lead prioritization that will allow your sales team to make sure every call they make counts.  Less time is wasted, more leads are converted, and your business will thrive.  Maximum ROI is more than possible and Leads360’s Lead Prioritization Engine is the best way to get there.

Are your emails getting the results you want?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

How important is sales messaging?

Clearly, what you say, when and how you say is important. Sending the right message to prospects enables them to differentiate you between your competitors.

Being able to connect with your prospects and turn them into customers depends in part on the specifics of your sales messaging; i.e., the way you define and communicate your unique value. This can be the difference between failing and succeeding.  Developing the messaging that is most effective on cold calls, calls with qualified leads, direct mail, emails, etc is a distinct and ongoing challenge.

Continuing to hone your messaging, adjusting it according to timely opportunities, is a challenge all its own. But a separate challenge is identifying the messaging that works, and enforcing it.

When your sales messaging is at its most persuasive, and you’ve developed some strategies about when and how often to reach out to your prospects, how do you enforce it? How do you know your agents are sending out the best message?

Messaging can be enforced to a large extent by using lead management software. When it comes time to nurture the lead, who is not the quick close, you can use lead management software to can set up drip marketing email campaigns that reach out to prospects at intervals you define.

And how can you find out if leads from different sources are responding to different messaging strategies? So you can create drip email campaigns with messaging that is tailored to the prospect. You can see data on which emails are contributing to closed deals and which aren’t getting responses.

Communicating strategically is an important part of a successful sales effort. Being able to measure relative effectiveness of your sales messaging is a critical part of putting forth your best possible effort. Get the most results from your time and money by using a lead management solution that allows you to find out which messaging strategy is working.

CRMs: One Solution To Rule Them All?

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

It is well known that Customer Relationship Management systems have become a popular tool of many companies who are looking for greater success. In the digital age, customers are savvier than ever and every company is working twice as hard to keep them. Yes, CRM systems can help you organize, automate, and integrate most of your business processes for current customers, however some others find themselves sinking a lot of money into a project that isn’t producing results.

An important fact to remember is that no matter how perfectly designed a CRM system might seem, if it doesn’t interface and get adopted by the users at your company, it isn’t going to be much help. People struggle with changes and adapting to any new system, particularly one like a CRM, and if the transition isn’t handled correctly money will go to waste on underutilized technology. Too many CRM companies fail to help their customers develop real solutions to this problem, touting their technology and features without offering the sort of support that would truly be the most helpful.

Another issue with CRMs is the way companies fail to properly define success. Before pursuing anything as expensive and labor intensive as a CRM, a company should know and understand well the current status of its CRM efforts and have specific ideas about how it wants to change them for the future. Any company considering a CRM should take the time to figure out what they have and what they want. In many cases, there are more judicious, cost-effective methods, like a Lead Management System, that will be more effective in addressing your company’s needs.

CRMs are not a simple solution to a simple problem; they are a complicated solution that only makes sense for the largest companies with enough resources to make them work. Before any company can seriously expect a CRM to offer any solid results, they need to take stock of what they already have and what they really need. More often than not, you’ll find that CRM isn’t the most effective possible solution. If all you’re looking to do is automate and track your sales system, there’s a real chance that other less complicated solutions than CRM will help you find the results you need with a much smaller investment of money and manpower. Lead Management Systems can often give you the sales automation and lead tracking you need at a fraction of the cost and with none of the headaches.

If your company is seriously considering a CRM, it’s probably a good idea to stop and consider the alternatives as well. While CRM is clearly a strong solution for the right companies, it’s important to remember that for every functioning, successful one out there, there’s another company with a CRM that inefficient and hemorrhaging money. Before making a decision this big, take the time to seriously consider your options and determine whether a CRM is right for you.

Speed, Process, and Persistence

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

There was a good post yesterday on Lead Critic called 3 Golden Rules of Lead Management. It starts with the realization that most lead buyers “do not always have the clearest idea as to what to do all the time.” He then explains his 3 golden rules of lead management. It is great to read posts like this that take a step back and look at the process of lead management from 30,000 feet view. It’s important to take this view occasionally; because when spending a lot of time looking at lead management from up close it’s possible to lose the forest for the trees. The Lead Critic 3 Golden Rules are:

Be Fast

Be Smart

Be Nurturing

The application of these rules is explored in the Lead Critic post (which is recommended reading). What’s more is that these rules and supporting techniques mesh very well three core principles around which Leads360 was built and around which Lead360 is continuously being refined.




According to Leads360’s analysis of 25 million data points, speed is the single most critical component to lead conversion. Conversion rates are 391% higher when the lead is called within a minute of their inquiry; 120% within two minutes; 98% in under three minutes; 62% in under 30 minutes; and 36% in under an hour.

Clearly, speed is important. But what about Process and Persistence? Leads360 research has revealed that lead quality is only a little better than half responsible for close rates. Lead conversion is determined 57% by lead quality and 43% by sales process. Who doesn’t love a one call close? But leads that don’t close quickly still have a high chance of closing and will be most likely to do so if a smart, strategic workflow is in place for working aging leads. A best practices workflow for your sales team is a great concept but it’s only a concept unless it’s enforceable, repeatable, and able to be refined. With Leads360 it is.

There are many examples of how following a strategic process results in higher close rates. Some elements of your process will be come from your own expertise. Other best practices are recommended Leads360: Developed from our research and analysis and programmed into the software for easy adoption. One such example is the Lead Prioritization feature. The rules that govern the prioritization of leads in Leads360 are based, among other things on Leads360’s six call strategy

The six call strategy comes from an analysis of call patterns that have resulted in successful sales. Calling leads six times is the best way to achieve the highest conversion rates. The six call strategy automates effective lead follow-up by insuring not only that leads are called six times, but that they are called at strategic intervals.

Whether you’ve got three golden rules, or the three principles of Leads360 it’s good to have a few core concepts to guide you when you have one of those moments of “What should I do next?” It’s good to have a few good core concepts and even better to have tools that were built to help you incorporate those concepts into your workflow.

Relying on the Right Technology

Friday, September 10th, 2010

This upshot of this article for insurance agents is the following: Use technology, but don’t rely on it to the extent that it stands in the way of you making the calls you know you need to make.

Technology is becoming a bigger part of all of our work lives. The point of view of the article by Nathan Jamail is one that certainly makes sense. It’s not uncommon for sales agents to make some missteps as they integrate technology into their workflow. He’s right to warn agents that relying too heavily on email, or social media, as a way of communicating with prospects is unwise. It’s too easy to convince ourselves that we’ve made an effort to make contact with a prospect when we send an email. And as we send more emails we get the feeling we’re working more diligently at communicating with prospects. This sense of our own diligence may not be as accurate as we think it is. Unless we’re sending emails strategically and coupling them with phone calls, we’re just not doing everything we can to reach prospects.

But what advocates of traditional hit-the-phones selling may not have considered is that there are ways that the telephone can be integrated into your technological solution. Lead Management Software can be used in conjunction with a dialer to automatically call prospects and connect them with agents according to smart lead assignment rules. When agents send emails to prospects they can schedule a call to that lead at a later time so that their attempts to contact prospects are varied and consistent. This enables agents to maintain a thread throughout their communication that builds trust by establishing the agent as dedicated and serious.

Some pieces of technology fall short on their promise. Email is one good example. ‘Social Media’ is another. You may not get the results you’re expecting when you incorporate these technologies into your business.

On the other hand, embracing technology is critical to the survival of a business. But adopting it halfway can create a whole host of new problems. The best way to leverage the latest technology in lead management is to use Leads360. Leads360 is Software as a Service that is continually being refined based on ongoing analysis and feedback from industry experts. This is living technology, paired with strategy, built and rebuilt around getting measurable results.

What is a Lead?

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

It’s worth revisiting this question from time to time. As this article on LeadCritic points out, the industry is growing quickly and to not know exactly what we are talking about when we talk about a lead is a mistake.  The article differentiates a lead from an impression and a click. Specifically, a lead is an individual who takes a required action, usually a mailer, a web form, or a phone call towards an advertiser to express interest in an offer. This definition reminds me of a definition of lead that I heard in a partner interview where he visualized a lead like this, “You walk into a room full of people, you ask, ‘Who’s interested in this widget?’ The people who raise their hands are leads. Buying a lead is not buying a sale.”

It is tempting for buyers of leads to further define what a lead is. Lead buyers, faced with a close rate that they wish were higher, look everywhere to improve their results; motiviating their sales staff on one hand, and seeking ‘better’ leads on the other. It is their hope, or even expectation that leads they buy meet some additional set of criteria beyond just having an interest in your offering.  This is understandable. How could a salesperson be expected to want anything other than great leads, leads that lead to deals? Of course they do. Given that demand, there is of course someone to fill it. Some companies are providing ‘transfers’ which differ from normal leads, in that they are pre-qualified. Buying ‘transfers’ separates the wheat from the chaff and puts hot opportunities into the hands of sales agents.

Whether the leads you are buying are traditional, unqualified leads or prequalified transfers, you will need lead management software to make sure that the leads you acquire are worked with the highest degree of efficiency, insuring the highest possible ROI.

Lead Management-Into The Limelight

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Yesterday, Leads360 founder Jeff Solomon was quoted in The Wall Street Journal about some of Leads360′s recent research regarding Lead Management best practices. The article which you can read here, talks about the three best ways to convert online prospects into clients. Our friends over at Leadcritic expanded upon this, and wrote a great piece about how Lead Management Solutions are finally getting the recognition they deserve, drifting away from the the common attitude of Lead Management being in the shadow of the almighty CRM. LeadCritic puts it best, “Customer Relationship Management platforms have been fooling performance marketers for years now claiming they are the best way to convert sales, when in fact they fall way short. In the true lead generation and performance marketing era, lead management companies have started where CRM’s have left off and have provided huge benefits to companies that made the smart choice of focusing on the intricacies of converting leads into sales.” While we concede that CRM’s are a great tool for some companies, it is nice to see a greater understanding in the marketplace of the vast benefits of placing a Lead Management solution on the front end, or in other words, putting “the horse before the cart.”

Click here to read  “Lead Management Hits the Mainstream” on LeadCritic, or to here to read “Three Best Ways to Convert Online Prospects Into Clients” over at The Wall Street Journal.