Sales acceleration is a new term, but it’s being thrown around a lot these days, so you may have heard it. Here’s what it means: Sales acceleration (or revenue acceleration — the terms are interchangeable) is the practice of increasing the speed of the overall sales process. Essentially, it is the space that exists between your sales process and your buyer’s journey. The magic happens when both paths align perfectly! But often they don’t. And when the paths are not in sync, the sales process seems to drag on endlessly. By taking advantage of sales acceleration tools, you will be able to sync up, and speed up the process.
Important note: I did not say you should rush to close someone the very first time you speak with them. I am not suggesting that you spray the entire ZIP code with a bunch of one-sheets proposing the package of the day. While you could increase your pending activity that way, it would do nothing to speed up closing the sale, getting results, and earning a renewal.
The key to all of this is intelligence. Now more than ever, you have to know about your prospects and clients before you meet with them. Knowing who to call is old news! Anyone can figure that out with just a couple of quick Internet searches. You need to go to the next level, knowing when to call and what to say. You need to know the buyer’s interests and challenges if you are going to move things along.
Here are nine sales acceleration resources you need to have available:
1. Google alerts
Put in any topic or business you want to know more about, and Google will monitor the Web for interesting content for you. You can determine the frequency with which you will be notified of updates. For more information, go to www.google.com/alerts.
2. Smart presentation software (sales engagement platforms)
There are many new players in this emerging arena, since this resource is at the core of any good sales-acceleration strategy. With this software you will be able to give a presentation, then follow up by e-mailing a link to that content. And that’s the best part: the invaluable feedback! You can tell if your e-mail was opened, and by whom. You will know how long they spent looking at the presentation and on what page they spent the most time. You’ll even know when they share the presentation and whether that person opened it.
3. Marketing automation
The ROI for appointment-setting is just not there. Good marketing automation software will allow you to build a sales apparatus and establish your brand as a thought leader, so you move your prospects along 10 times faster. After cold calling, use the software to e-mail your prospects with a downloadable case study on how you have helped similar businesses get results. If they download it, they are raising their hand and saying they are interested.
4. A Well Thought-Out LinkedIn page
You have to have a LinkedIn page that positions you as an expert in your field. You know that before you meet with someone, you do research on them. You can bet they are doing research on you, too, and LinkedIn is a great way to brand yourself and connect with those important prospects.
5. A B2B website targeting potential new customers and existing clients
Don’t make your prospects wait for a sales rep to call on them. When you want to buy something, you probably go online and do research. Your clients are no different. Build a website, and include analytics to track activity and learn how often your prospects and clients are there and what they are looking at.
6. Lead scoring
Not all leads are alike — some are better than others, and you need to know which prospects to focus on. The key here is to have a consistent way to score your prospects so you can be objective and move things through the sales process with greater velocity.
7. Quality content that is worth sharing
This could be in the form of a blog, a series of white papers, e-books, success stories, or even checklists. Your salespeople can share these resources with prospects, answering commonly asked questions or addressing issues they are facing — moving them through the funnel.
8. A good CRM system
Most CRM systems are built for managers, but there are some good ones out there that salespeople can use too. Tying into market automation, these will notify you when a lead returns to your site and tell you what they are viewing and for how long.
9. The Marketing Mind Blog (www.themarketingmindblog)
This gem of a resource, produced by the Center for Sales Strategy, is updated eight to 12 times per month, studying recent trends and breaking them down into the following areas:
• A trend observation
• The sales and marketing implications of that observation
• Examples of how you might use this information to secure quality appointments
• Examples of how this information could be used during a needs analysis
Matt Sunshine is EVP of the Center for Sales Strategy.