One of sales’ biggest bugbears is that a lot of leads are “rubbish” or “no good” because they will never close.
Now, there are a number of reasons for this:
For example, the prospect may fall outside your buyer persona description, or they may not be the decision-maker. They may have entered your sales process out of curiosity, or just to get your lead bait freebie. Whatever the reason, a volume of poor leads is a real problem – especially when your sales reps waste valuable time trying to nurture them.
In addition, “dead end” opportunities will have a negative impact on your KPIs and can skew your pipeline analytics. For example, leads that will never close will:
- Reduce your win rates
- Reduce your pipeline velocity
- Increase your cost per sale
In addition, sales reps will become increasingly frustrated, because they’ll find it harder to achieve their quota.
How Can Sales Reps Get Better Leads into Your Sales Process?
Bob Apollo, in his video about Intelligent Targeting, argues the main reason for this wasted effort lies in how businesses choose to segment their market.
He suggests that in the new sales era, it’s a mistake to segment your market and sales process based on size, sector or location. That’s because these categories simply don’t allow you to make any meaningful decisions about buying patterns.
When you look at this assertion in the context of the new sales era, you can see how sensible it is. After all, regardless of what your customer is looking to buy, they’ll have done some research before turning to a sales rep to continue the discussion. Whether they’re self-educating through online content, or they’re getting referrals and options via social media, estimates suggest that customers can be as much as 70% of the way through their buyer’s journey before they even pick up the phone to you.
So if you can’t segment your market in the traditional way, what works now?
In short, the quality of the leads is determined by your ability to attract people that fit your buyer persona. Therefore, it follows that your buyer persona should be used to help segment your market.
Apollo gives some useful clues as to what to include in your definition. In particular, he suggests that business markets are best defined by the problem your company can solve for customers.
I think this is key.
After all, the new sales landscape requires your sales reps to be able to show value – NOT just talk about product features. With so much competition in our modern, internet age, features are no longer enough to convince. In addition, to persuade a customer you also need to show HOW your solution and your sales process can add value – and solving a pressing problem is one important way to do this.
Are You Crystal Clear as to the Problems Your Business Can Solve?
There are other factors you need to pin down in your buyer persona too.
For example, you’ll want to know WHO the decision-maker is and what is the decision-making process of the company. After all, if you can’t convince them to buy, you will never close. So when creating your buyer person, get clear on the position within the company that you need to attract. Interestingly, you may find you’ll need to work around the edges first. For example, if the Purchasing Director is empowered to make the final decision, whom do you need to engage with to ensure the Purchasing Director puts your business on the shortlist?
A close understanding of your customers’ buying journey is also critical for improving the efficiency of your sales process.
For example, if you’re able to understand the trigger events that get potential customers looking for the solution you provide, your marketing department can take advantage. That’s because they’ll be able to create content and advertising that talks to this trigger – and then start a conversation.
But that’s not all. The final piece of the jigsaw is to proactively set out to attract only people who fit your closely defined buyer persona – and that’s the key objective for careful targeting.
What Exactly is Careful Targeting?
When you’re able to proactively attract people who you know are a good fit for your product/service, everything else benefits.
For example, if your sales reps are put in front of people who are likely to buy, your pipeline velocity will increase along with your win rates. In turn, the sales cycle will shorten along with the cost per sale. In short, your entire sales process becomes far more efficient – and your sales reps are more likely to achieve their quota.
Marketing has a role to play here too. If the advertising and content that they produce is closely tailored to appeal to your buyer persona, you’ll get a better ROI. It’s the old, “Appeal to a specific somebody as opposed to a generic nobody” scenario. Again, the ability to deliver on this level goes back to the buyer persona. If you know the position of the person you need to attract into your sales process, the problems you can solve for them, the media they’ll be looking in, and the triggers that can initiate a buying cycle, your marketing can be tailored to fit like a glove.
Your Best Sales Reps Already Know This
If your business isn’t already closely targeting a specific type of buyer persona, this can sound like a lot of work. It’s true that it does take time and effort to clearly define your preferred target audience.
But interestingly, your best sales reps probably already do this instinctively. Your best sales reps will be discerning in their qualification and assessment of sales leads. They’ll already know which ones are worth chasing and which are unlikely to close. So when reviewing your buyer persona with a view to finding leads through careful targeting, it’s well worth drawing upon the wealth of knowledge that already lies within your business.
What strategies do you use to increase the quality of the leads you generate? Please let me know in the comments below.