Prospecting is a tough, yet crucial, piece of the sales lifecycle. When executed correctly, the prospecting phase can produce a healthy sales pipeline. On the other hand, poor prospecting can leave a small business shorthanded. In a study done by the Harvard Business Review, more than 2,200 US-based companies were assessed, and it was discovered that the companies who reached out to their leads in less than an hour were nearly seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a decision maker than compared to the companies who waited longer than 60 minutes to follow up with their leads.
If you find prospecting to be the most difficult part of your job, you’re not alone. More than 40% of salespeople say this is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing leads (36%) and qualifying leads (22%). Regardless of the data, don’t be discouraged! This only reinforces the idea that if you can streamline and strengthen your prospecting strategy, you will gain quite the edge over your competition.
Use Social Selling to Fill Your Sales Pipeline
It’s no secret that social media is a significant part of most of our lives. What started off as an innocent feed to share pictures and life updates, has now evolved into a complex ecosystem of marketers, job seekers, advertising platforms, infamous “social media influencers” and so much more. In the mix of all this noise demanding our attention, social media has now shifted into reliable networks for lead generation and prospecting - and it’s working. As it turns out, 65% of salespeople who utilize social selling fill their pipeline much more efficiently, compared to the 47% of reps who do not. In addition to that, every four in 10 reps have recently closed two to five deals, thanks to social media alone.
Social selling is dominating the marketplace. Industries like computer software, healthcare and advertising are generating half of their revenue from social selling. What will this percentage be in five years? Considering that social media has only been relevant for hardly a decade, it’s imperative to prepare for the future of your overall sales strategy. Tools like SalesNavigator in LinkedIn are enabling companies to increase win rates by 5% and deal size by 35%. If you and your team don’t hop aboard the social selling train, you may be left behind.
As cliche as it sounds, time is valuable and time is money. Successful salespeople use their time efficiently to maximize their sales efforts. It’s surprising that even though salespeople list prospecting as their biggest hurdle, they hardly spend a third of their day actually talking to prospects. Are they spending too much time making cold calls that aren't answered or writing emails that won’t be opened?
Here’s the breakdown below:
Considering that most businesses account their top sales priorities as closing more deals (28%), improving sales funnel efficiency (18%) and improving sales technology (11%), it’s baffling that they don’t invest more time into speaking one-on-one with their potential clients. However, with all of this said, picking up the phone and dialing the day away might not be the answer either.
In the sales world, time is money and cold calling is not the most efficient way to spend it. According to a study done by SiriusDecisions, it takes an average of eight cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Again, eight calls only to reach them. To make the sales process even more time-consuming, as exemplified in a study done by Marketing Donut, 80% of successful sales require at least five follow-up calls after the initial meeting. So between the eight cold calls, the initial meeting and the five follow-up calls, you’re looking at a lot of invested time to maybe close one sale. A foot in the door does not always equate to a closed sale. So how can this process be made more efficient?
Stand Out From Your Peers And Close More Deals
The common mistake many salespeople make is assuming that the use of email is far superior than picking up the phone. While it is more time effective, the fact of the matter is, only 24% of sales emails on are opened on average. Many buyers and prospects can sniff out a sales email from a mile away, and unfortunately, it ends up in their trash folder before they even finish reading the subject line. As explained by Forbes, this is why 78% of salespeople who utilize social media selling outperform their peers. If done correctly, leveraging social media channels like LinkedIn can jumpstart your team’s selling efforts and overall sales function.
So how exactly are successfully salespeople closing more deals through social selling? According to buyers, here are the top ways you can create a positive sales experience:
A smart selling strategy makes relationship building a top priority, as opposed to jumping into a pitch and aiming straight for the sale. People buy from people they like, that’s just a universal truth. So if a consumer believes you are a typical slimy salesperson, you won’t be making any headway, no matter how great your product or service is. Relationship building entails learning about others business, their team and needs. It means connecting with them on a personal level, whether that’s conversing via text message or a greater investment with an in-person meet up. Find out their pain points and offer a solution that fits their needs. Easier said than done of course. That's why building strong bonds before going for the close is so important for increasing your closing rates.
Finally, in order to be successful in the competitive marketplace, you need to be responsive. When a consumer has a need, you need to be quick to respond but without sacrificing quality. Respond with intent and a strategy in mind, but do so in a timely manner. According to MarketingDonut, 30-50% of sales go to whichever vendor responds to the consumer’s need first. It is imperative that you provide the buyer with a quality solution in a short amount of time.
So how do you provide this service in a timely fashion without sacrificing quality? The answer is actually simple - text messaging. Texting is the most effective solution for the following reasons:
- 1Consistency: 98% of texts are open and read
- 2Responsiveness: SMS messages have a 45% response rate
- 3Timeliness: 90% of text messages are read within three minutes
- 4Personalization: Texting gives the consumer an intimate, 1:1 conversation that they cannot get elsewhere
Text messaging yields higher engagement rates than any other sales method out there. Coupled with social media selling, you can instantly have a sales process that is quick, efficient, and founded upon personal relationship-building with potential clients. Utilizing text gives you the ability to almost instantly follow-up with leads, receive fast responses, and increase the overall efficiency of your sales cycle. It’s a safe assumption to say that most people have social media, but it’s even safer to say even more people use text messaging on a daily basis.
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