Sounds like a great strategy, right? It’s easier said than done. But I’m here to help. By utilizing your website for the powerful marketing tool it is and updating some of your processes, you can turn leads into sales faster and more efficiently. Here are 5 tips for shortening your sales life cycle.
1. Attract The Right People To Your Website
Let’s start with your website. Your website is arguably the most important tool you have for growing your business (besides your networking charm and impressive business acumen). It is the single most permanent representation of your business that you have on the internet. You are in control of every aspect of it. So why does it look like a brochure that you scanned in back when astronomers still called Pluto a planet?
Your website doesn’t have to be a static declaration of your company’s branding and mission statement. It should be a fresh, robust platform for you to enthusiastically tell visitors exactly how you can solve their problems. If you fill your website with valuable content that explains how your product or service solves that tough problem, search engines are going to recognize that. When search engines see and understand that your website has focus and a purpose, and provides value, the search engines will start showing your website to the people are using the internet to find solutions to their problems - the problems you can solve. That’s how you attract the right people to your website, and that’s the first step to successfully shortening your sales cycle.
2. Establish Thought Leadership
So you have the right sorts of people coming to your website. But how do they know you’re serious about what you do? How do they know you can actually do what you say you can, and do it well? You need to prove to your visitors that you’re an expert in your field. You need to establish thought leadership. To prove your expertise you’re going to need to talk about it. A lot. Talk about everything you know. Blog, tweet, podcast, make videos, post pictures - any medium that can be consumed by your audience can be utilized by you.
Don’t be scared to give away too much information. This is the internet we’re talking about. It’s basically a collection of the entire universe of human knowledge. If your visitors don’t get the information they’re looking for from you, they’ll get it from somewhere else. It’s better to establish yourself as the go-to source for your little sliver of knowledge. Do you cobble little wooden shoes for pet orangutans? Well tell us about it. Tell us all about the shape of an orangutan’s foot which requires special wooden insoles. Be the definitive source for wooden shoes for pet orangutans.
Thought leadership shows your audience you know what you’re talking about, so your sales team doesn’t have to waste its breath trying to convince a prospect of that fact.
3. Educate Prospects
All that information you’re dumping onto the internet to prove your knowledge, has an additional benefit. While you’re busy proving your superiority, you’re also educating your prospects. So a prospect found your site because she was looking for a solution to a problem. As your prospect reads about all the intricacies of her problem and its solution, she starts to get a better understanding of her own unique situation. You’re educating your prospect. An educated consumer is an empowered, confident consumer. An empowered, confident consumer will be able to reach a clear decision on whether to buy.
When your prospects reach out to your sales team, checkbook and pen in hand, the process of closing a sale happens more efficiently for your sales team.
4. Score Leads
Not all leads are created equal. Some will have digested more of your content than others. Some will be more confident about their decision to buy than others. Still others might have problems so dire and severe they need your help immediately. Think about all the ways you can differentiate the leads your sales team handles, and assign values. Is it important that a lead have an understanding of a particular concept before communication with sales begins? Assign more value to leads who get it. Get those leads in front of your sales team first. Is there a certain type of lead that’s just completely unqualified to do business with you? Devalue those leads to ensure sales doesn’t waste a second more than necessary on those leads.
You get the idea. When you put the right leads in front of your sales team and toss out the wrong ones, you’ll be able to streamline the sales workflow and accelerate growth.
5. Lead Nurturing
Most visitors that make it to your site and become leads aren’t immediately ready to buy. Maybe they need more knowledge about their problem, but they’re just too busy to go to your site and read or watch all your great content. If you’ve set your site up with landing pages and require your visitors to fill out forms to get all the really good content, you can start to collect email addresses. You can segment all these new contacts into lists based on what they’re interested in or what kinds of problems they have.
Once you have these lists of contacts, you can start to send them emails at regular intervals to help move them along in their sales life cycle. Offer them more of your content, or content from other experts. They’ll begin to associate your company and your branding with industry expertise the same way your biggest fans do. You can also offer them chances to reach out to your company and make a deal happen. This act of moving leads along is called lead nurturing, and it helps you weed out and educate the leads who are most interested in buying your product or service. It’s best to set up this lead nurturing process using an automated email delivery system. This way, all the work writing and organizing your communication happens on the front end, and you don’t have to pay someone to send out emails at all hours of the day.
It will take time and energy, but there are myriad tools and services to help you design and implement these processes. Services like Mailchimp allow you to send automated emails and blog platforms like Wordpress can give your content a platform from which to launch. Then there’s HubSpot. The jack-of-all-trades of marketing software, HubSpot allows you to do all these things, from search engine optimization (SEO) to automated lead scoring and lead nurturing. So if shortening your sales life cycle is something you’re interested in, some of these services are a great place to start. They’re also great examples of the thought leadership tip I mentioned. Go check out their blogs to learn even more about using the power of content to grow your business.