Top 10 Sales Strategies for New Product Launches Sales Outsourcing Best Practices

Sales Strategies for New ProductsThere is no grey area for Gabriel Sales that sales outsourcing for new product launches is ultimately about closing business. However as a sales consulting firm that has driven millions in closed deals and over 200M in exits with successful new product and service launches over the past 10 years we also understand that we can drive wealth for the entrepreneurs, executives and investors that we serve by empowering the entire organization. This is done with the right feedback loops and insights so our clients can make the right strategic decisions for their business. Below are ten business intelligence and strategic areas that the right sales outsourcing partner for new product launches can  and should execute against as sales consultants drive the entire enterprise. For additional resource for new products launches and go to market strategies please visit our Sales Strategies for New Products Launches Resource Page.

Sales Strategies for New Products

Rapid Communication – It’s critical that direct feedback loops are created from the sales team directly back to product development, the marketing team, and the CFO.  These feedback loops need to be available all the time.  Speed directly from the market back to the team is critical.  One of the advantages of a sales outsourcing firm that specializes is new product launches is that we have designed our internal systems to provide these feedback loops and are contractually accountable for them. The right internal feedback loops will improve the product and align sales and marketing for shared success.

Commit to Digital Content…especially Blogging – We are a sales outsourcing firm making 1000s of outbound calls a day. Customers are not waiting for us to call.  If we get them on the phone being able to share a quick piece of content (video, landing page, short demo) goes a long way to getting them to spend more time with us on call two and the same content can also be leveraged to disqualify prospects.   The average customer leveraged 10.7 pieces of content in their buying decision in 2011 and this is projected to increase in 2012.  If you have a limited budget we have strategies and tactics we leverage for our customers that allow them to take advantage of our sales outsourcing for new product launch tactics that turn your blog into a virtual sales rep.

Be Prepared to Educate the Market – Most new products are offering a new solution that is disruptive to the market.   Many new product companies are enamored with their technology (since they have passionately developed it) and forget that in many cases before you get to share those technical specs you need to help the customer understand and define the business problem they are trying to solve. You also need to be prepared to educate your customer how to calculate return.  Don’t underestimate the value of keeping it simple for the prospect especially in the early stages of the sales cycle.    For more info on how to frame your content strategy, please check out our B2B content framework graphic in our blog What is Successful Sales Collateral?

Sell from Scripts – This is one of several areas where a new product launch sales outsourcing firm has some strategic value over hiring individual internal reps or rolodex reps.  Sales outsourcing firms are designed to sell using a repeatable process so selling from scripts is critical.  It gives us something to measure and a way to anchor the success of the sale in the message and the story as opposed to the personality.

Commit Focused Energy to your Initial Ideal Customer Profile – If you don’t know what this is we have a short blog series dedicated to this.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.  You need to take your best guess at what verticals and what decision makers will buy and champion your product.  And then test those assumptions and measure those results.

Document the Buying Process and the Sales Process –  As you take your first customers from MQL or Cold Call through Sales Accepted to Sales Qualified to Closed deal you need to understand the key events in that cycle.  As a sales outsourcing firm, this is one of the sales consulting functions we offer our clients. We believe it’s critical because when combined with the right sales metrics (see below), mapped to the Ideal Customer Profile (see above) it gives us the ability to start to more accurately forecast dollars in and dollars out investments for the entrepreneurs and boards we serve.  It’s also critical to remember that the same digital content we discussed in point 2 at the top of this blog is contributing to the sale.   You need to get your sales reps and marketing team to score that as part of the buying process as well. Documenting the buying process allows you to build a sales process that allows the buyer to buy on their terms which means a sales ramp that consistently moves up an to the right and we are all in this entrepreneurial business to build sales machines that turn growth rates into hockey sticks.

Measure the Right Success Metrics – You need to measure the success of your early pipe efforts from day one. A sales outsourcing solution for new product launches has the advantage of having years (at least 10 years in our case) of historical data to benchmark your efforts against similar sales to similar markets and similar decision makers. This is especially critical for new product launches that have no historical data to benchmark against. To learn more about the metrics Gabriel Sales feels are most critical feel free to reach out to us to Learn if you can Build a High Velocity Sales Machine.

Know Why You Win and Why You Lose – If you are measuring the right data you will already be well on the way to knowing why your new product launch is successful. It’s also important to understand why you are not winning when you lose. One value-add we provide as a sales outsourcing consulting service for new product launches is that after losing a deal we will call the decision maker if possible and ask “ for own learning, is there anything we could’ve done better?”  We will take notes and pass that information on to our clients.

Commit to Marketing Automation and Nurturing Prospects “Not Yet Ready to Buy” – Our clients are investing in more than closed deals when they are choosing to outsource part or all of their sales and marketing operations. We are not going to win every deal the first shot we take especially for new products.   Some may not have budget immediately, others may be waiting for our clients to have a couple more customers, others may need to champion into their organization. Data from Forrester states that 70% of Marketing Qualified Leads will buy in a solution area they invest time in exploring within 18 months.  If nurtured correctly 25% of your MQLs will hit your pipe within a year according to Aberdeen. If you put 400 MQLs into the pipe in your pipe during your initial launch this means (assuming your product hits the mark) that you will have 100 SALs by year if you invest in nurturing out of the gate.  Gabriel Sales provides sales consulting to assist with multiple nurturing from lead scoring, to social media outreach, content testing and marketing automation software implementation.

Lead with Value Proposition but Sell with Differentiators –  Selling starts when a customer says “No” and arguments are never made in a vacuum. Value propositions are a great lead but they only take you so far.  To close a deal your business case needs to make sense in the context of a category. We take all of our new product launch sales outsourcing clients through a quick and proprietary process that helps us and them to tell that story.  This does not mean that you need to sell directly against the competition it simply means that the story will include what the prospect/marketplace has heard from the competition.  In many cases we find that that competition is an internal competitor.

To see if our Sales Consulting and/or Sales and Marketing Outsourcing Solution is right for taking your new product to market we invite you to visit our New Product Launch Sales Strategies Resource Page.  CLICK HERE

For a custom Go-To-Market Evaluation please feel free to CONTACT US to benchmark the market and see if a High Velocity Sales Machine is a possibility for you.

The Unique Challenges of Professional Services Sales

The world of professional services sales is changing rapidly. Changing with it are the challenges faced by the members of your team. This blog will talk about several challenges and the opportunity they present in selling professional services to clients in today’s environment.

Whether you are considering outsourcing services sales or further developing your own internal services sales team, the challenges that all of us face in selling professional services and solutions are the same. Gone are the days of discretionary or experimental budgets. If they still exist, they are typically dramatically reduced. You have to sell to both a technical buyer and a business buyer in every organization. Companies are running leaner at top levels, and as a result the decision makers that you need to sell to are picking up the phone 30% less. Once you do connect and start to engage the prospect in your sales cycle and with your content, their schedules are so tight that it takes much longer to move them through your sales funnel.

Here’s the bottom line: lead generation, lead qualifying and sales engagement can take twice the time and energy they did in the past. Markets are flooded with buyers and sellers of all types, and it’s your job to weed through it all. For the professional service firms that we provide services sales outsourcing and lead generation services to, it’s more important now than ever that we sell smarter and do our best to maximize top producer’s sales efficiency and effectiveness. We also have to help make the process easier for the buyers we are selling to. They have less time and demand a more efficient way to buy.

When a professional service firm comes to us (as opposed to product sales companies) to have a discussion about outsourcing sales, they often voice additional unique complexities that they are now facing in the professional service market:

    1. The roles of seller and deliverer are often merging. More time spent selling means less time dedicated to delivery and/or available for sales pipe development efforts.
    2. The professional service sale is growing increasingly complex, and requires an investment in education and solution selling.
    3. Education is required because professional services engagements are perceived as high risk investments for buyers, since they can’t hold the product in their hand. Consequently, buyers take longer to make decisions and often want to break up adoption so that there is a pilot or proof of concept stage.
    4. Professional services selling requires communication of intangible benefits – character, thinking style and personality of lead consultants and top producers – to effectively close deals.
    5. Top producing professional service executives are predisposed to “solutioning” and solving customer problems, rather than “selling” and sales management.
    6. Professional service sales are high risk for the Seller due to the need to acquire real return and margins that only stem from long-term engagements, beyond initial pilots

If you take all of these emerging complexities into account, they point to “time” as the single, largest issue. Time is still quite literally money, as they say – and this is especially true for the professional service business model. For us at Gabriel Sales, the challenge in outsourcing the professional service sale lies in identifying how best to customize a program to make your top producers operate at their highest levels of effectiveness and efficiency.

Gabriel Sales has been providing outsourced sales and lead generation services successfully to professional service providers across a wide variety of verticals and target markets – for over 15 years. In the last few years we’ve seen a large market shift in the approach buyers take to engage and make decisions surrounding professional service solutions. This has led to the creation of a viable opportunity for increased efficiency and effectiveness in designing a sales engine and cloning your top producers.

The Opportunity:

Sales and marketing interactions have changed drastically due to the proliferation of the internet and digital communication. Buyers have always actively leveraged content, but now it is being digested specifically through digital and social media. Buyers are streamlining their process on their own time. You now have the ability to leverage lead generation and sales reps that are skilled in communicating your solutions effectiveness and value in the digital space. These reps can manage more of your sale and replicate larger pieces of what was previously required of your top producer. Professional service firms can make it easier for buyers to buy by alleviating the buyer’s time constraints, while simultaneously opening up bandwidth for their top producers. Sales productivity skyrockets by as much as two times within a year, and as high as three times within eighteen months.

This opportunity is significant. But what is even more significant is that taking advantage of this shift does not require completely changing your existing sales process. However, it does require that you effectively align your sales and marketing teams, and get them to stop living in the silos that is typically tradition. This allows for you to be able to engage in a one-to-many dialogue as you generate leads and communicate effectively with both the technical buyer and business buyer. Your sales reps will need to be trained and managed effectively in using these new tools.

Please feel free to contact us or visit “Why Professional Services Firms Use Outsourcing Sales and Marketing” for more information.

B2B Sales: Get Your Leads to Keep Picking Up the Phone

B2B Sales: Get Your Leads to Keep Picking Up the Phone

b2b-salesEvery call is important for B2B sales.

Here are strategies and techniques to help secure those 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (and so on) phone calls with potential leads. Obviously a cold call is just the tip of the iceberg when interacting with a new prospect. A question that burns on every sales rep’s mind is: what should I do to get this lead to commit to another conversation?

In a recent blog, we detailed 6 Questions to Ask All New Leads that will help you drive meaningful interactions with prospects, ultimately filling your pipe with better opportunities. In this blog, we will outline 10 B2B sales techniques and strategies that can be used along with those 6 questions to help successfully move opportunities through their buying process.

Once you have gained the actionable prospect information by asking those 6 questions, you need to get them to commit to another meeting. What’s the best approach to set next steps?

We have compiled a list of ten strategies and techniques to accomplish this. There is no single way to address this problem, as every lead is unique. However, through direct questioning and technique, you can employ any number of these strategies to successfully move the conversation forward.

Identify what stage of the buying cycle the prospect is at and don’t try and force them to another stage. Give them the opportunity to get there by providing appropriate content.

This is crucial, and should be done for every lead that is not immediately disqualified on a cold call. If you try and set a business proposal meeting with a lead that is barely aware of the existence of a new field of technology, you will quickly find your way to a “no.” Help them along their buying process through your selling techniques and marketing content.

B2B Sales 101: Be polite and professional first and foremost.

Always remain polite in the initial interactions with new prospects, but be wary of trying to create too significant of a relationship too early in the process. Many B2B sales leads want to understand that you respect that their time is short, their phones are busy, and they want to be in control. To accomplish this, it is helpful to be short, succinct, and direct in your initial conversations, so that the expectation is set early in the opportunity.

Provide all of your contact information

You would think this is a no brainer but it is the standard in sales interactions today to successfully provide information for all means of contact: phone, email, website, etc.

Ask them if there is anyone else that would benefit from communicating with you and seeing your educational information

The more people you can connect with in an organization, the better. You want to get them talking about your solutions, sharing it with others who may be involved with the business process or buying process.

Ask them for a good time for a follow-up conversation

It’s amazing how easy it is to get a second meeting on the books just by simply asking for an available time to have it. If they say they don’t have time this week, ask them about next week. Don’t be so easily dismayed to hang up the phone without having a firm second conversation scheduled.

Ask them for their preferred way to communicate during your next conversation

Some people hate answering emails, others won’t answer their phones unless they are completely unpreoccupied. Give your prospects the opportunity to tell you the way they prefer to communicate.

Make sure you’ve got the right person

Many people will allow you to send them any and all information. Whether they are trying to find distractions from their own work, or if they’re just curious about the space, it is important not to waste valuable time on leads that have no impact on technology implementation, solution service decisions, or buying power.

Give them homework

This can be simple: “Visit our website when you have a moment, our URL is _________” Or, you can provide relevant content for them to digest. Maybe you have demonstration videos that buyers who are farther in their process would benefit from seeing. Whatever tool you use, asking your prospects to review content in between connections is crucial in staying relevant within their consideration set.

Always, always, always finish a conversation with next steps

The first ten suggestions are all directed at successfully accomplishing just this. A conversation without next steps planned gives the opportunity for your prospect to fall into someone else’s pipe before you’ve even successfully engaged them in yours. Time, mode of communication, and task to be completed by both parties – all three of these aspects are crucial in a successful next steps plan.

Know when to not push for a second contact, but rather circle back in a timely fashion.

Sometimes you catch a lead in a meeting, others simply hate cold calls. It is a useful talent to be able to discern when to just let the lead go, and give them another try without requiring anything from them, including listening to your extensive pitch. This should not be used except in extreme circumstances, as we believe every valid target prospect will be willing to engage with you if you provide them content that supports the stage of the buying cycle they are in.

The more techniques and strategies you can employ in your initial contact with a new prospect, the greater your success will be in filling your pipe with quality opportunities and moving more deals to closing.

What is an Ideal Customer Profile?

This is part one of a two part series that explains how being strategic in planning how you target customers will produce significantly better results on the back end. Part two can be found here, How to Build a Winning Ideal Customer Profile.

An Ideal Customer Profile is a process for identifying what customers you should be targeting to get the best return from your sales lead generation efforts.  As an outsourcing sales organization this is one of the key areas we focus on when providing our initial sales consulting during the launch of a client. We believe this aspect of the sales process deserves careful attention because what goes into the sales funnel is going to have a huge impact on what comes out of the funnel.   It is also the critical first step in building an aligned sales and marketing effort, so you can create a sales machine.

Ultimately, an Ideal Customer Profile should allow you to find and target your potential customers based on a number of hard criteria related to both the company and the specific decision maker:

  • Annual revenue of the company
  • Number of employees
  • Level of Contact – C-level,  senior Manager, middle manager
  • Functional Area –  business Area, technical Area
  • Title
  • Revenue Responsibility – budget maker or budget spender
  • Geography – global, national, local
  • Technology Adopted –  in some cases knowing what  ERP, CRM, and if they have virtualized may be critical
  • Their Clients – e.g.  are they doing business with a Procter and Gamble, Federal government, education (local gov.)  Walmart, Intel,  EMC etc.

In addition, there well could be some softer qualitative criteria:

  • Business Pain/Need
  • Vertical Industry Trend –  established or in transition,  growth or decline
  • Competitive –  large competitors or a volume of competitors
  • Psychographics – company culture, leadership style, corporate values

It is also important to know who you don’t want to sell to:

  • Decision makers whose jobs could be threatened
  • Internal Support Functions – for example, if you are selling data analytics you may want to avoid MR groups, or if you are selling operational efficiency services you may want to stay away from operations managers and start with supply chain directors

The purpose of this type of hard and soft segmentation is to establish clear, hard criteria that can be leveraged across your sales and marketing machine to:

  • Purchase  direct dial contacts for cold calling
  • Purchase direct mail and Electronic direct mail contact information
  • Filter leads from publishers
  • Leverage for a “Cost Per Click Campaign” like Google Adwords
  • Decide where to place your online advertising budget
  • Instruct your social media outreach program

We realize this can look like a daunting task.  But, as an outsourcing sales organization with 10 years of data we can guarantee that if you give this the attention it deserves upfront, you will see significant returns within 6 -12 months. You will see exponential returns in months 12-18 when your first wave of nurturing deals start to fall out of your pipe as closed deals.

For additional information on how to build and Ideal Customer Profile, we recommend you check out our companion piece entitled, interestingly enough, How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile.

Measuring B2B Marketing and Sales Funnel Effectiveness

Sales Funnel EffectivenessIt is imperative that your marketing team be data-driven. It’s also imperative your sales funnel effectiveness is turning into sales. Budget dollars are tight and need to be accurately spent.  Having clear data on how each of your marketing campaigns are performing is essential to being able to forecast sales, scale your campaigns/operations and re-allocate budget from low performing to high performing campaigns.

At Gabriel Sales, our entire organization is data-driven, including the marketing team, who manages quantitative reporting and scorecards for both clients and internally. The key performance metrics we traditionally measure are the following:

Sales Funnel Effectiveness KPIs

  • Inbound Traffic by source
  • Web form conversions and inbound calls by source (Total Prospects)
  • Prospects who want to talk (Sales Accepted Leads aka SALs)
  • Prospects who have a project need and budget (Sales Qualified Lead aka SQLs)
  • Proposals
  • Closed deals
  • Revenue

If you notice, we are accurately tracking the entire funnel to ensure the sales funnel effectiveness. We do this using a combined integration of web analytics, marketing automation software, CRM software and experienced data analysts. By calculating conversion rates from previous stage (e.g. what percentage of proposals close or what percentage inbound traffic converts to web forms), we can better forecast sales and allocate spend to marketing campaigns to best enhance our marketing and sales funnel’s performance.

Additionally, with marketing automation software at the crux of our marketing and sales operations, we can see what traffic/lead conversion sources are most likely to convert to proposal and closed deals. This helps us scale those marketing campaigns that have the best conversion performance and sales funnel effectiveness.

Lastly, we can see what sources have the poorest funnel performance and reduce or eliminate spending on those campaigns (as long as we’ve tested enough to be sure the campaign is not viable for the particular product/service we are promoting).

This level of reporting built-into your company is no longer just a competitive advantage, but is a key component to sales funnel effectiveness, and sustaining and growing your business in today’s market.

For more on increasing B2B sales funnel productivity, read “The Value of Marketing Automation in the B2B Sales Process”. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

B2B Sales and Marketing Trends in 2014: Co-Creation

B2B Sales and Marketing Trends in 2014In one of our blogs last week, we made the argument that regardless of whatever 2014 turns out to be the year of, content is going to be the fuel that will take us where we want to go. Whether we want to improve our social media presence or invest more in lead nurturing, content is the driving force that will lead us to either success or failure.

In addition to improving content development skills and learning to act like a publisher, B2B companies also need to be aware to two broad trends that I believe will be important in sales and marketing in 2014:

B2B Sales and Marketing Trends in 2014: Co-creation

The first trend is co-creation. ‘Co-creation’ is a relatively big philosophical idea that has recently been applied to many business contexts and situations.

In the B2B world, the concept of ‘co-creation’ can be applied in a few ways; the first is in regards to sales and marketing integration. If your sales and marketing teams are still working separately, it is not likely that you are doing everything you can to create a smooth and easy buying process for your prospects. The situation at many B2B companies is this: marketing creates content that they think is cool, and sales thinks it is worthless, so it doesn’t get used.

By having sales and marketing instead listen to implicit and explicit feedback from your audience, they can work together to co-create content that will be more effective on both sides of the table. For example, have your marketers listen to the objections that your sales reps hear on the phone everyday. Then, have your marketers create content with your sales team that is focused on answering those objections in digital format. With everyone listening to feedback and working together toward a shared goal, efficiency and effectiveness of all of your tactics increase dramatically.

Another way the concept of co-creation can be applied to B2B is in the creation of social proof. 

B2B Sales and Marketing Trends in 2014: Social Proof

In B2B sales and marketing, social proof is essentially digital evidence of your customers’ satisfaction with your company, product or service. This could be in the form of a customer testimonial, a Facebook ‘share’, a LinkedIn ‘recommendation’, etc. Each time your prospects/customers share one of your blog posts on Facebook or gives you a written testimonial to be featured on your website, they are co-creating your marketing content with you.

The power of this type of co-created content should not be underestimated. In a recent survey of B2B marketing professionals on the value of different types of content in convincing prospects of a company’s value proposition, it was found that content sourced from existing customers was not only more effective than internally sourced content, but also more effective than content from 3rd-party analysts. This shows that as we go into 2014, co-creating content with your customers (case studies, testimonials, video testimonials) is going to be an increasingly high-value activity.

To continue reading the second half of this blog on B2B Sales and Marketing Trends in 2014, click here.