A recent study produced by the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association (TMSA) illustrated that 50.5% of sales teams fail to hit 90% of their sales quota. The same study states that sales leaders have a significant interest in aggressive lead generation activities.
Another article from Salesforce.com states that B2B companies convert only 13% of leads into opportunities and only 6% of opportunities close to a sale.
While more leads will help to fill the pipeline and enable more sales activities, resulting in more sales, a greater focus on the sales process, technologies and close rates has proven to significantly increase new business revenue over lead generation alone.
So, why do sales leaders and salespeople focus on lead generation as the solution? The answer is because it’s easier to place blame on a lack of leads versus acknowledging that their go-to-market strategy is lacking a professionalized sales strategy. Many top-performing people state the claim to their success was the ability to look within and honestly answer the question, “What is preventing success?” Sales leaders must do the same and analyze their entire buyer’s journey and identify where their sales processes are missing the mark.
It’s All About Conversion Rates
Improving the conversion rate at each step in your sales pipeline, while increasing activity at the top of the funnel, is critical for increasing sales. See the example below.
Transportation Company XYZ (fictitious company) has an average order value of $25,000. If XYZ’s sales metrics are consistent with Salesforce’s B2B data referenced above, the math looks like this:
200 top of the funnel leads > results in 26 opportunities quoted > resulting in 1.5 new customers, equaling $37,500.00.
If XYZ focused only on lead generation and was able to increase leads by 25% (a significant increase), the math would look like this:
250 top of the funnel leads > results in 32.5 opportunities quoted > resulting in 1.95 new customers, equaling about $48,750.00.
Now let’s look at more modest increases in conversion rates at three steps of the funnel. If XYZ increased leads by 25% and increased quotes by just 5% and close rates by just 5%, the math would look like this:
250 top of the funnel leads > results in 45 opportunities quoted > resulting in 4.95 new customers, equaling about $123,750.00.
By focusing on the entire sales funnel with modest increases, XYZ company would experience a 230% increase in sales!
Professionalizing Your Sales Process
I have worked with dozens of companies on their sales and marketing growth, and only about 10% actually have a sales process complete with technology (CRM), marketing communications for each step of the buyer’s journey, metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs), formal reporting, scripts and roadmaps for sales team members.
The following steps outline how to professionalize your sales process to scale your growth.
- Align your sales process with the buyer’s journey
- Define a differentiated value proposition
- Leverage technology (CRM and marketing automation)
- Implement a marketing strategy founded on lead generation and brand awareness
- Integrated sales and marketing data, metrics and reporting
- Activate pipeline communication strategies for each step in your pipeline
Step 1: Align Your Sales Process With the Buyer’s Journey
Most sales activities are systematized without respect for how your buyers make buying decisions. The first step in professionalizing your sales infrastructure is to align it with the buyer’s journey.
How do your buyers go about buying the products or services you sell? Buyer’s go through their own process, including:
Research > Engagement > Consideration > Evaluation > Confirmation > Commitment
Defining the specific activities your buyers execute at each of the stages above is critical in building a successful sales strategy. Download our workbook to align your sales process with your buyer’s journey.
Once you have defined how your buyers buy, you can then build a mirrored sales pipeline. Examples of a traditional mirrored pipeline can be found in the workbook.
Step 2: Define a Differentiated Value Proposition
The transportation industry is ripe for differentiation. The industry is largely commoditized, leading to your buyer’s being heavily influenced by price. You must transcend the price issue and define a value proposition that clearly differentiates your organization from your competitors. Check out our article on developing a differentiated value proposition.
Step 3: Leverage Technology (CRM and Marketing Automation)
If you’re not consistently using customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation software, you’re leaving a lot on the table. Leveraging tools like HubSpot or Salesforce/Pardot provide you with significant efficiencies, analytics and reporting capabilities required for scaling your business.
Many companies are still using Microsoft Excel to manage their leads, and while this is better than nothing, technology has come a long way. HubSpot’s software offers capabilities for marketing, sales and customer service so all of your activities can be integrated, leading to closed-loop reporting and data acquisition.
Step 4: Implement a Marketing Strategy Founded on Lead Generation and Brand Awareness
Ok, I admit, you still need leads and a lot of them. For effective revenue growth, your marketing program should have a significant focus on lead generation. A whole book can be written on this topic, so talk to your marketing leaders or contact an agency like SyncShow Transportation Marketing to help guide the way.
Step 5: Integrated Sales and Marketing Data, Metrics and Reporting
Sales, marketing and customer service should be working together as one revenue team. Understanding that most companies have separate teams, the first step is to define accountabilities for each team, complete with KPIs and standardized reporting. At a high level:
Marketing = Brand Awareness, Lead Generation & Lead Nurturing
- # of leads (track qualified and unqualified)
- Visitor-to-lead conversion rate on website
- # of visitors to website
These are the high-level KPIs that will provide insights to guide improvement. Note: There are many more KPIs that marketing can and should be tracking.
Sales = Relationship Building, Lead Management and Closing
- Conversion rates for each step in the sales process
- Average order value
- Win/loss ratio
These are the high-level KPIs that will provide insights to guide improvement. Note: There are many more KPIs that sales can and should be tracking.
Customer Service = Customer Happiness, Cross-Selling and Upselling
- Customer happiness score (HubSpot = Net Promoter Score)
- Customer growth
- Customer lifetime value
These are the high-level KPIs that will provide insights to guide improvement. Note: There are many more KPIs that customer service can and should be tracking.
See the illustration below on how top-performing companies structure their revenue teams.
Step 6: Activate Pipeline Communication Strategies for Each Step in Your Pipeline
As buyers progress through their buying process and your sales process, their needs and expectations change. The goal is to build trust with the buyer while positioning your company as the top solution provider.
Successful sales strategies include specific communication protocols and automated communications at each step of the pipeline. To build these communications, regroup with your marketing team or talk with a marketing agency that offers these services. You will need a strong understanding of your buyers, their pain points and objectives as it relates to your brand.
Generating more leads is a critical piece of the puzzle, but real transformation and revenue growth come from a systematic approach to sales. For more information on unleashing your revenue potential, visit our blog or reach out and schedule a discovery call to get the conversation started.