Tracy Caywood of BAD ASS INVESTORS just released a brand spankin’ new blog post in which she reveals real numbers from last year, 2015, for you to revel in. She does this report so that new investors can get a realistic idea of what it takes to close deals, how much money they may spend, and how many sellers will cuss them out before one will sign those contracts.
Here is the excerpt:
End of the year reporting is always exciting to me. I love to see how the year shook out, and how my marketing dollars performed. Thankfully, Godfather CRM keeps track of everything for me, and all I have to do is run some reports.
If you don’t know your $ numbers $ for the year, then what’s up? Get with the program.
Here’s the results:
I spent an average of $571 in marketing dollars to close every transaction.
It took 52 leads to get 1 seller under contract. ( A lead in this case is ANYONE who called in and left their information with PatLive).
My cost per lead was $26.00
My average profit on every closed transaction was $5,833.55
The average purchase price with my seller was $44,727.00
The average purchase price with my buyer was $53,600.71
My best performing Marketing Campaign was from the VACANT HOUSE Mailing List and in Second Place was my WEBSITE.
On average, it took me 51 days to convert a seller lead into a contract/new transaction.
End of post
If you are a real estate investor looking for a bundle of 20, 30, 50 motivated sellers leads download our Free 12 Page eBook
For more information on investing you can check out Tracy’s blog at http://propertymob.com/blog/2014-lead-generation-statistics
SEO is an evolving science. While some of the core principles will presumably stick around forever (e.g. creating high-quality content), the nuanced aspects of it are subject to continuous change. And as a result, many of the “proven” tactics people have used in the past (keyword stuffing, link schemes) are now stuff of legend.
Unless your organization benefits from having a dedicated SEO person who can work on this stuff day-in, day-out, keeping up with the latest changes in the world of SEO can be a struggle.But in the end, adjusting your strategy based on search ranking algorithm updates or changes in the way search results are displayed visually can benefit your business.
In our new guide, 17 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2015, we reiterate some of the best practices that should continue to guide your strategy through 2015, while also highlighting how SEO has changed over the course of 2014.
Here’s an example of one those changes: Did you know that Google has completely abandoned its Google Authorship program? Yep, we’re serious.
The traditional advice had always been, “Oh, you totally need to get Authorship set up on your blog. Cause then you get your byline in the search results. And you get your headshot in the search results. And it’ll improve search visibility and clickthrough rates …”
Welp, it’s all over. So I guess the main takeaway here going into 2015 is … you have one less thing to worry about! And now that you have some free time, feel free to catch up on some other SEO insights with our SEO Myths guide. 😉
Download the PDF at http://offers.hubspot.com/17-seo-myths-leave-behind-in-2015
from ClickRate Media http://www.clickrateagency.com/17-seo-myths-to-leave-behind-in-2015-free-ebook/
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by NEIL PATEL on NOVEMBER 7, 2014
With Panda, Penguin and all the other Google updates, SEO has changed over the years. What used to work doesn’t anymore.
So, how do you know what you should be avoiding and what you should be doing now? Well, I’ve created an infographic that breaks down the old and the new in SEO and explains how you need to adjust your SEO strategy today.
The biggest thing that has changed over the years is content marketing. If you look at the graph above, you’ll notice that 88% of the companies that use SEO integrate content marketing into their strategy.
If you take away only one key point from this infographic let it be that you need to focus on content marketing. And not because I said so… but because it works.
How else has SEO changed over the years?
P.S. If you need help optimizing your site for the latest SEO updates go to http://clickrateagency.com
from ClickRate Media http://www.clickrateagency.com/what-seo-used-to-be-versus-what-seo-is-now/
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In this conclusion of a two-part series, columnist Daniel Faggella explores his favorite tactics for converting your traffic into leads and buyers.
When we left off in Part 1, we were just getting into the brass tacks of generating consistent leads with your blog.
Today, we’re going to go deep into the tactics, but I want to serve up a warning: If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, you need to do that first. Tactics without the underlying strategy will not work nearly as well as having the complete picture.
Let’s dive in.
The Truth About Conversion
When people come come to us at CLVboost (my employer), they almost always think they need more traffic. It’s almost always not true.
Traffic is like gas. If you have a hole in your gas tank, you could sit at the gas station for hours, pumping gas into your tank non-stop, and it’ll never fill up.
Traffic is much the same way. It’s very unwise to “solve” your marketing problems by just adding more traffic, unless you know (with proven data and factual testing) that you’ve first patched up the holes on your site.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll call them “leaks.” If your blog or site has leaks in it, then your traffic will come in, and it’ll leak out the holes.
Today, I’m going to address three common leaks that most businesses can immediately address to double or triple the leads coming in, without having to increase your traffic one bit.
LEAK #1: Social Proofing
Look at the home page of one of my favorite websites, Conversion Rate Experts:
Let’s look at how many times they’re leveraging social proof right on the front page: four times — at the top right header, twice in the middle, and a banner towards the bottom, just on the top half of the home page.
When people land on your site, do they feel completely safe? That is what social proof does. Wikipedia defines social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”
Social proof reinforces that you know what you’re doing. It engages the tribal trigger that we all have to operate in packs…
Your visitors will think, “Well, look at who else is trusting them… I trust them, too.”
If you aren’t leveraging this, figure out a way to do so. Of course, one of the best ways is to perform guest posting and relentlessly nail your PR “Hit List.” This allows you to add “Featured In” boxes on your site that will boost your social proof.
LEAK #2: Rapport With Testimonials
This is different from social proof. The desired outcome of testimonials is to produce rapport with your target prospects.
Trust and rapport are two sides of the same coin, but in order for you to generate buyer-qualifiedleads from your site, you’ll need to show them that other clients who’ve trusted you with real money have been happy with their results.
Again, using Conversion Rate Experts as an example, notice how they have a client testimonial right up top in the sidebar and a link to view more. You can be certain that the visitors clicking this link to view more testimonials are “on the hunt” visitors, which allows you to measure the effectiveness of your traffic.
If one traffic source is producing a ton of clicks to this testimonial page, and another is not, you have a good indication of which source is producing buyer-qualified leads. Check out how CRE does it in this picture:
LEAK #3: Ignoring The Buyer’s Journey
Not everyone who visits your site is going to be ready to buy. Maybe their business isn’t ready for what you do. Maybe they don’t trust you enough yet.
Either way, understanding the buyer’s journey allows you to plug this leak by giving them somethingimmediately helpful in trade for their information.
Otherwise known as a “bait,” or “lead gen,” this is something designed to extract the visitor’s contact info (email, name and so on) so that you can push them back to your site and your offers consistently. This is one of the biggest leaks, and patching this up will allow you to leverage all the potential locked up in your traffic.
For CRE, they offer a “toolkit” you can download (see below).
The reason I love this so much is simple: I am collecting prospects who might not need my services now, but later on they will… and when they do, who do you think they’re going to trust the most? They’re going to trust the brand that has helped them without requiring anything in return.
Let’s switch gears quickly and move into another topic that I think you have to nail if you’re going to really turn your blog into a lead generation machine.
The Philosophy Of Lead Generation
I want to hit this quickly because I see so many businesses doing it wrong. You are offering realvalue and making a real contribution to your leads and prospects.
That means you should not apologize for getting their contact information.
When I get an email after opting in that says something like, “Thank you SO MUCH for signing up. We promise not to send you too many emails or bug you too much. Just about once per week or so. Again, thank you so much for signing up. Blah blah blah…”
I Immediately Unsubscribe.
You want to always be reaffirming the decision your prospects have made to join your “tribe” and get information from you. Do not apologize for sending helpful content.
It’d be like me giving you the keys to my BMW and apologizing for it. That doesn’t make any sense.
In fact, in some markets, I go so far as to recommend you NOT thank leads for signing up. The more affluent your target client or customer, the more they need to be attracted instead of pursued.
The key here comes with knowing your target customer. An extremely high-ticket product or service most often will require you to be powerfully positioned right out of the gate.
In this light, make sure that you can stand behind your product, service and lead generation offering. Here are three things to consider when producing lead generation content and material for your blog.
1. Make It Something You Could Sell. When you slap something together, people can tell. If you’re going to position your business and brand properly, you must spend time creating something that you are proud of.
If you feel the need to apologize after someone downloads your lead gen or opts in to your list, chances are you need to improve what you are offering them. This same concept applies to lead generation on Facebook, though some people seem to think that Facebook posts don’t need to be deliberate.
This is business. Everything is deliberate.
At CLVboost, we offer several cheat sheets for email copywriting and marketing that, frankly, we could sell for real money, and people would pay for them.
Why? Because I’ve spent time creating formulas, mastering the psychology of email marketing and optimization and packaging it all up into easy-to-use step-by-step methods that help people do the same.
I am not apologizing or profusely thanking people for getting this material, because in complete transparency they should be thanking me. Of course, I don’t say this, but in the messaging that follows, I make it a point to build up the value they’ve received and encourage them to go through it quickly.
2. Authenticity Rules. People love to know they’re dealing with people. Even if you’re Ford or Coca-Cola, pictures can do wonders when generating and stewarding the trust of your market.
Keep in mind that everything you do, say and offer should serve to build trust, and trust is most often shared between two people (not a person and a large corporation).
3. Make Next Steps Obvious. The “main goal” isn’t to generate leads or a big list. That is a goal on the way to the main goal.
The main goal is to generate as much profit for your business as possible. The lead generation process should lead people along the buyer’s journey, which means they had better know the next steps they’re supposed to take after they opt in to your list and read your material.
At CLVboost, it’s a strategy call. Some companies we help offer a discounted product or a trial of their SaaS (software as a service).
Whatever it is, make it obvious. After you’ve offered the information that they can use to create tangible results, let them know they can experience even better (and faster) results by doing X (whatever process you use to generate the money).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Put these strategies to use, and you’ll notice measurable increases in your lead generation, and the more effectively you can build your “tribe,” the better you can grow revenues and recurring profits. A blog is a great tool whether you sell products, services or a hybrid of both.
Don’t just win the right traffic. Win the right subscribers.
For the rest of the article on MarketLand go to http://marketingland.com/create-lead-pipeline-blog-part-2-142434
The post How To Create A “Lead Pipeline” With Your Blog (Part 2) appeared on ClickRate Media.
from ClickRate Media http://www.clickrateagency.com/how-to-create-a-lead-pipeline-with-your-blog-part-2/
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September 22nd, 2015 by Justin Rondeau
A few months back I showed you the power and ease of running copy tests.
If simple copy changes can drastically impact conversions and a picture is worth 1,000 words, then you should really take image testing seriously!
Today we’re going to discuss some image elements that are worth testing on your website, emails, and landing pages.
A word of caution: an image is only as powerful as the value it communicates.
Also I must remind you that when you test, you want to go after elements that are important to your visitors and develop tests that are based on clear research and not blind element implementation.
That said – if you noticed that your images aren’t working on your page, here are 5 elements to test…
1. Genuine Images vs. Stock Photography
I absolutely abhor stock photography.
We’ve all made the jokes (I mean who didn’t love Vince Vaughn’s take on stock photos — we even used one on our blog) and heard the different classifications, e.g., business porn.
The real problem with stock photos is they are not genuine. The smiling ‘customer service’ sales rep just looks cheesy and doesn’t help build trust with your customers.
When we add elements to our website they need to do 3 things:
- provide clarity,
- reduce anxiety,
- or add a level of persuasion to your page.
In general stock photos do not help with any of these factors on your page.
Simply put, if you use stock photography you are not providing any new value to your customer with that image and you are lying to your customer.
Yes — I said lying….
Does that blonde sales rep work at your company? No.
Is the excited gentleman excited because of your product? No.
Customers associate genuineness with trust! If you aren’t being genuine at this stage, why on earth would they want to do business with you?
Here’s a test by Marketing Experiments that brings this point home:
Stock Photo Treatment:
The photo of the founder increased sign up rates by 34.7% at a 95% confidence rate. The ambiguous model may have a certain aesthetic appeal, but it lacks any genuineness and ultimately depressed conversions.
I totally get why stock photography is used, it is a cheaper solution to genuine photography. Most companies don’t have a photo studio and it would be way too expensive to invest in one…I get it. However, you can totally make stock photos look more genuine with a good graphic designer.
I have more image elements to talk about, so if you want to read a really well written post that dives into stock vs. genuine photos check out this post by my friend Tommy Walker.
2. Product Shot vs. Product Use
This is an age old debate – should I show my product shots or the product in use?
Ideally you’d want to use both, but for some of our landing pages we have limited space and must prioritize the imagery on our site.
If you’ve noticed a drop in conversions on your page and have used a product shot ‘because that’s what you’ve always done’… it might be time to try showing some value.
In this case study, there was a shot of the industrial printer versus what a product looked like with the printed characters. The version of the printer ended up lifting form submits by 37.2%.
Defaulting to the can with the printed characters shows the final outcome of the product, but doesn’t showcase the printer itself. Further, when you just show the outcome, you don’t immediately know what you’re buying.
Is this a printing service or an actual thermal printer? This ambiguity can depress conversions, because the image does not communicate the right message.
How you showcase your products will impact how people interact with your site. So give this a try if you think your hero shots aren’t conveying the right message to your audience!
(Digital Marketer Lab Member Extra: Access your Landing Page Testing Formula Execution Plan now! Split test your way to more leads and sales from your landing pages. Not a Lab member? Click here to learn more about DM Lab.)
3. Including a Human
We are really good at identifying faces… like really good at this.
One great way to draw attention on your page is with a human face. However, you don’t want this to become an element that distracts from your main call to action (CTA).
People spend the most time looking at this face and with much more attention!
If you haven’t added that human touch to your page and it actually provides value to the page, it might be time to test this out. Be warned, anything can happen!
HubSpot was about to make the declaration — All landing pages require a picture with a staffer on our landing pages — but then they ran this test.
Without a Human:
With a Human:
The version without the HubSpot staffer increased leads by 24%. So had they not run this test, they would have been leaving leads on the table!
With the traffic HubSpot has, that would have been a major loss caused by blind adoption of best practices.
4. Clickable Images
People love clicking images…
…even when they aren’t clickable!
In general there is a lost opportunity here, especially if your image is both related to and in close proximity to your CTA.
When someone interacts with a page and something they expected to happen doesn’t happen, they get frustrated.
Frustrated visitors don’t convert, so acknowledge their action and move on.
This type of image tweak is really more of a functional change. Maybe you have an image getting clicks that doesn’t link anywhere. This is what I call a missed opportunity, and can actually help drastically increase conversions if you just add that link to the image.
In fact, we had this very problem – and by just adding a link to an image on our page we increased lab sales by 40.7%.
5. Image Placement
We talked about the importance of conveying a message with your images, but what good is conveying a message if no one sees the darn thing!?
Image placement can make or break your page. Here are a few guidelines to consider when you’re evaluating whether your image is in an optimal location.
Use Crazyegg or HotJar to get a heat map report of your page.
Ask these questions:
- Do people see your image?
- If it’s below the fold, what percentage of people actually scroll that far?
- Is my image competing with other more important elements, e.g., persuasive copy, CTA, etc…
How you answer these questions will give you a good idea of where to place your image.
A lot of web users have been trained to expect certain elements in certain places. I don’t want you to reinvent the wheel here, but if you notice your images aren’t being seen and they communicate value well, it’s about time to test different image locations.
Image Location Left:
Image Location Right:
This case study tried breaking the mold here and moved the opt-in form to the left hand side with its challenger variation. In this example the form on the right hand side surprisingly lifted conversion rates by 11%.
Sure this page looks quite odd and goes against major best practices (especially since responsive web design has become the norm), but this variation trumped standard best practices.
Would I recommend moving all your forms to the left or spitting in the face of all best practices? Absolutely not!
However, examples like this do give good reason to dig into your data and make sure that your page layout is actually working for you and not against you.
Images are an extremely important element in your email campaigns, landing pages, and websites. However, a picture’s power is only as strong as the message it communicates. So before you try any of these image element tests ask this very important question:
Does my current image convey the message that is consistent with this page’s goal?
If yes, look at other elements.
If no, it’s time to grab your camera and get some new images to test.
(Digital Marketer Lab Member Extra: Access your Landing Page Testing Formula Execution Plan now! Split test your way to more leads and sales from your landing pages. Not a Lab member? Click here to learn more about DM Lab.)
For more information and to execute a plan of action go to the original post and become a Lab member: https://www.digitalmarketer.com/landing-page-image-elements/?utm_source=newsletter-email-broadcast
The post [Checklist] 5 Image Elements Worth Testing On Your Landing Page appeared on ClickRate Media.
In the first of this two-part series, columnist Daniel Faggella outlines three strategies to ensure your content speaks to your viewers to turn traffic into prospects and prospects into buyers.
Today we’re going to talk about creating a “pipeline” that serves up leads and hungry prospects to you — every day, 24/7 — on autopilot.
Now, for the sake of full transparency, the methods you’re going to learn here today aren’t really so much about 100% automation as they are about 100% leverage. Here’s what I mean by that: Imagine you’re on an island, and you’ve been hired by a village to bring them water. It’s deep inland. And it pays well. Sounds like an easy trade: labor for dollars.
Of course, you have two choices…
- You can carry buckets all day, every day, to and from the village. It’ll be hot, the road is long, and sooner or later, it will become quite exhausting.
- Or you can build a pipeline, hang it above ground, safely out of reach of any unwanted critters, and simply make sure water goes in one side every day.
It’s from this perspective that I want to teach today. Let’s dive in.
Plugging The “Leaks” On Your Site
Now, most people are highly sensitive to the fact that they need to generate more leads, which many naturally translate to driving more traffic. But driving traffic without a proven conversion model is like dumping water into a pipeline with holes in it. Not good.
So first, let’s build the system that is going to take our cold traffic and ruthlessly convert it into leads and buyers. There is really only one simple step to doing this, but don’t fall prey to discounting it merely because it’s simple.
Simple doesn’t mean easy.
The key is to make sure your blog speaks explicitly and directly to the needs and desires of your potential buyers. There is a nuance to this, and to really understand it, you need to hack into what we call the “Buyer’s Journey” (which I’ll cover in Part 2 of this series, so stay tuned for that). Secondly, you want to give these potential buyers plenty of opportunity to raise their hands and add themselves to your list.
It’s at this point that this article will diverge from the plethora of mostly useless “training” material on the Web today… because, while most tend to dive straight into “tactics,” we’re going to talk instead about something far more powerful, far more subtle, and far more important to the success of your lead pipeline. We’re going to talk strategy.
3 Key Strategies To Building An Effective Online Pipeline
Tactics are specific “close-up” initiatives that you use in implementing your strategies. We’ll dig into those later in this article and (especially) in the next article.
Strategies are higher-level principles that really determine which tactics you use and when to use them.
It’s important that you develop the strategies first, and then fit the tactics around them. If you were filling up a glass jar, your “strategies” would be the big rocks, and the tactics would be the sand that fills in the gaps.
Strategy #1: Give First, But Only With Intention.
Believe it or not, my email marketing consultancy is an actual business that makes real money. I give away very valuable material for free all the time. But it’s always with a clear intention to push the prospect to buy.
Giving your best stuff away for free is all the rage right now. I’m not knocking it — I’m merely saying you should be intentional about what you give away. For instance, I happen to give away several free tools and worksheets for optimizing email marketing (although you probably want to frame the offer with language that emphasizes that what they’re getting still has real value). I don’t give jiu jitsu training at CLVBoost.com, because the goal isn’t just to give away free stuff.
The goal is to give away the right free offers that will attract buyers.
You might want to read that again or write it on an index card and tape it to your wall. You’ve got to “reverse engineer” this so that each piece of value that you give pushes them slowly and gently into a buying relationship with you and your company. Give with intention.
Strategy #2: Sell Quickly.
If you view “selling” as something to be afraid of, or worse, if you feel like selling or promoting your paid material is a violation of your leads and prospects, then you are in serious trouble. We’ll get into more of this when deconstructing the buyer’s journey.
The entire point of getting someone to opt in to your list is to educate them to a place where you can see real results as they “level up” to the paid stuff. When you do your selling based on the values and goals of your prospect, it becomes less “salesy” and more helpful.
We can only offer so much value at the “bottom rung” of the ladder (the free material) before a lead will have to level up into the paid programs. Is it only to pay our checks? Absolutely not! It’s the way the world works. Name three things you value greatly for which you paid nothing. The things you pay attention to most often cost you a great deal of either time or money (or likely both), and it’s in an effort to best serve the customer that you must get them to invest as quickly as possible.
Strategy #3: Polarize, And Do It Now.
I love it when people unsubscribe from my list. Why?
Because the people who aren’t in line with our message are most likely not buyers. I’d rather someone unsubscribe than sit on my list, lukewarm and costing me money to email them — which leads us back to strategy #1: The point is to attract and convert buyers, not “freebie” seekers.
Polarizing (as in swinging to one side or the other) in your messaging allows you to connect deeply with the people who are most likely to buy from you. And it allows you to capitalize on those relationships by building virality into your marketing (They’re not just more likely to buy, they’re also more likely to share) while repelling those who are never going to buy from you.
A list of 100 potential buyers is worth infinitely more than a list of 1 million “never-gonna-buy” prospects.
Capture The Lead
Lining up these three strategies allows your tactics to be virtually unstoppable. If you get aligned on this, you’ll see noticeable breakthroughs in your lead generation efforts. Next month, I’m going to dive deeply into the best ways to actually optimize your site to capture email addresses. The point is to convert cold traffic into prospects, prospects into buyers, and buyers into raving fans.
In order to do that, you’ve got to start at the beginning (the strategy). But in part two, I’ll reveal my favorite tactics for practically rigging up your site to be a lead pipeline, and we’ll explore a few sites that are doing this exceptionally well.
For more information about this article by Daniel Faggella read the full article at http://marketingland.com/create-lead-generation-pipeline-blog-part-1-136537
The post How To Create A “Lead-Generation Pipeline” With Your Blog (Part 1) appeared on ClickRate Media.
Marketers have been doing lead generation for decades.
Google Ngram, which charts the frequency of any word or phrase found in printed sources, shows lead generation has been in use for at least 50 years.
That’s before the internet. Before content marketing and growth hacking. Before SaaS, AdWords, and attribution. While the work might have changed, the lead generation mindset hasn’t.
And for many marketing teams, generating leads is their goal. That’s unfortunate. When that’s the case, CEOs see B2B marketers as second class citizens and sales as the heros because marketing teams aren’t driving revenue. This needs to change.
Leads Fall Woefully Short
Something designed in the 50’s isn’t going to cut it today. So where does lead generation fall short?
Simply, focusing just on leads l doesn’t build long term value.
If you aren’t building a following and establishing your brand as an expert resource, you aren’t building long term value.
It requires educating your prospects via a nurturing flow, and producing quality content that convinces qualified leads to engage with your sales team.
Focusing just on leads causes misaligned goals with sales (leads vs. revenue) and media teams optimizing for cost per lead rather than true business growth.
Once you consider all this, it’s not a bit surprising that 99% of leads never convert into customers, according to Forrester.
That’s right, only 1% of generated leads actually turn into revenue.
If your intention is to grow your business, shouldn’t you focus on generating customers and revenue, not leads?
Generating leads isn’t dead, but leads as a goal is dead. All marketers might not know it yet, but it is. Only when we acknowledge (and accept) its death can we then move on to something better.
Pipeline Marketing Is The Answer
Pipeline marketing is the evolution of lead generation that focuses on the entire funnel, making decision based on revenue instead of leads. It’s about optimizing all aspects of marketing to widen every stage of the funnel.
Marketers need to be able to generate more MQL’s, more SQL’s, more sales opportunities, and more deals. Marketers have to use the entire pipeline to achieve this mission.
Pipeline marketing is inclusive of all channels, campaigns, and activities. content marketing, inbound marketing, lead nurturing, social media, paid search, and growth hacking are how you do it. But pipeline marketing is whatyou’re doing across these disciplines, i.e. using data or insights from your pipeline to grow your business.
Once a company has fully adopted the pipeline marketing mentality, it will open up new marketing initiatives. For example, the Bizible the marketing team does not carry a lead goal. In fact, we don’t even carry an opportunity goal. We only measure marketing success by closed revenue and make decisions based on this metric. Even if we generate a lower amount of leads or opportunities, it doesn’t matter. Our revenue is all that matters.
As you might have guessed, pipeline marketing can only be accomplished through marketing attribution. In other words, tying the marketing source of a lead to the amount of revenue you actualize with their close of their deal. Marketers are so focused on leads because they have trouble “seeing” further down the funnel.
For more information about this article by Dave Rigotti check out the full article at http://www.bizible.com/blog/lead-generation-is-dead-pipeline-marketing-killed-it
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How well is your company managing its sales pipeline, and does it really matter? According to new research from Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Management Association, 44 percent of executives surveyed reported that their organizations were ineffective at managing their companies’ sales pipeline. (The execs were from 62 business-to-business (B-to-B) companies, 39 percent with revenue greater than $1 billion and 37 percent with revenue greater than $250 million.)
This gap in effectiveness may matter more than you think because the research also found that companies reporting effective pipeline management saw revenue grow 15 percent faster than their ineffective peers. What’s even more interesting is that companies that mastered three specific pipeline management practices experienced 28 percent higher revenue growth.
Below we’ve outlined what our research pinpointed as those three pipeline management best practices for all-star performers:
1. Clearly define the sales process.
At its most basic level, the sales pipeline represents your company’s sales process and how your company tracks progress through each stage of the process.
Pipeline management includes everything from the way the sales pipeline is designed to how it is measured and how it is used to drive sales-rep performance. Without a clearly defined sales process, the pipeline has no foundation. We found that sales forces were most effective at managing their pipelines if they invested time in defining a credible, formalized sales process. In fact, there was an 18 percent difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and those that didn’t.
This begs the question — what specifically does a “formal sales process” mean? For starters, it means having clearly defined stages and milestones universally understood by your salespeople. If your sales team has to guess where a particular deal belongs or how to manage deals in each stage, you likely don’t have a formal sales process. In addition, your sales process should align with how your customers move through their buying process. Don’t fall into the trap of using generic sales processes that may not reflect your customers’ actual buying process. Instead, invest time in developing a unique process that reflects the reality of your sellers, and make sure your sales force understands how to use it.
2. Spend three hours a month on pipeline management.
In addition to a solid sales process, our research revealed that companies must also allocate enough time and resources to make pipeline management effective. Companies that spent at least three hours per month managing each rep’s sales pipeline realized 11 percent greater revenue growth than those spending less than three hours per month. However, success doesn’t depend on just the amount of time spent on pipeline management — but on how the time is spent.
While many sales forces believe they spend a lot of time managing their pipelines, they often, in reality, spend their time creating forecasts, not managing the pipeline. If your pipeline discussions revolve around close dates, probabilities and deal sizes, then you are just forecasting. Period. However, if you spend your time discussing the overall health of your sellers’ pipelines, as well as helping them shepherd more deals to a successful close, you are managing your pipeline productively. The primary focus of a pipeline meeting should be to help reps develop a game plan to move deals forward, not just scrub customer-relationship management (CRM) data and forecasting revenue.
3. Provide pipeline management training.
Our research revealed that 61 percent of executives surveyed admitted their sales managers had not been adequately trained in pipeline-management strategies and techniques. This begged the question — how can we expect our sales managers to do something well when we haven’t prepared them to do it? The payoff for training on pipeline management is tangible. Companies that adequately trained their sales managers saw their revenue grow 9 percent faster than those that didn’t. But not just any training will do. Targeted training to address specific pipeline management challenges, not just generic training on leadership or coaching, is key.
Most pipeline-management training revolves around technical training on using a CRM system, but what managers really need is training on making better pipeline management decisions — for instance how to determine the ideal pipeline size for each rep. Managers need to know at what point in the sales process their actions have the biggest impact. They also need to know how to structure pipeline meetings so they enable coaching rather than inspection. These few skills alone can have a significant impact on sales force performance.
The good news: There are no hidden secrets to effective pipeline management. It all comes down to defining your sales process, allocating the time and resources to pipeline management and then instituting pipeline-management training. Integrate these three best practices in your sales force, and the revenue will follow.
Robert Kelly, who founded the Sales Management Association in 2008, contributed to this article. Kelly was previously vice president of sales operations and strategy at Genuine Parts Company, where he provided leadership to sales management and developed sales effectiveness programs at GPC’s S.P.
To view the infographic read the full article by Jason Jordan at http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242990
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I’ve daydreamed more than once about requiring clients to attend a “Giving Useful Input” workshop – or achieving some mythical level of success where I could afford to be haughtily dismissive of clients’ demands.
But I’ve learned that in fact, you can teach most people to give you better feedback—and it doesn’t require a whole workshop. Just a few ground rules can make all the difference in the world—and take collaborations from painful, “design by committee” experiences to fruitful ones. (You might even find that you start toappreciate others’ input, rather than dreading it. No, really.)
Rule #1: Get Into Your Audience’s Heads
One of the biggest challenges for people who don’t work in marketing and communications is that if you haven’t been trained to cater your style of communication to different audiences, you tend to forget that the audience might be different from you. As a result, many clients will give you feedback during a creative process that’s based on their personal tastes and preferences, rather than on the goals of the project or the tastes of the audience you’re trying to serve.
You can correct this tendency by telling them early and often that while you’ll do your best not to offend their personal tastes and preferences, the most critical success factor is appealing to their audience. So their job when reviewing concepts and drafts is to think constantly about what their audience wants and needs – and to help you meet their audience’s goals. And importantly, agree before the design process exactly who is their audience.
Most people will need reminders about this, so don’t be shy about pushing back on feedback that sounds more like a reflection of the client’s personal taste than their audience’s: “OK, I get that you don’t like bright colors. Is that true for the people who’ll be visiting your website?”
Rule #2: Communicate the “Why”
For every piece of feedback you receive, from “Can we move this over here?” to “I hate it,” practice asking your clients the magic question: “Why?” Not in a belligerent way, of course, but with genuine curiosity. You want to dig beneath the surface layer of what they’re saying and find out what’s behind it. Can they tie their request to the project’s strategic outcomes? Do they have a particular audience segment in mind?
This is such a simple but effective technique that you don’t even need to give your clients a heads-up that you’ll be doing it. You can simply coach them on the spot to give you more useful feedback with prompts like, “Tell me more” or, “What’s important about that?”
If you’ve spent some time before your first concept pitch defining your project goals, you can also guide your clients back to those. I like to tell clients they’re welcome to be as critical as they like, so long as they back up their criticism with references to the target audience or strategic goals. This approach helps everyone keep one eye on the strategy and the other on project execution.
Rule #3: Don’t Offer Solutions; Identify Problems.
Here’s where we tackle the problem with “Make the logo bigger.” A request like that doesn’t give you a good “why,” but it also leads with a proposed solution rather than engaging the creative team’s, well, creativity.
It’s common for clients (and everyone, really) to think they’re being helpful when they proffer solutions to the problems they perceive – without realizing the drawbacks of that approach. So it’s common for creatives to hear feedback that comes in the form of change requests (“Can we substitute blue for green here?” “Let’s drop this whole section.”), when what we’d much rather here is a clear articulation of what’s not working (“The green reminds me too much of our competitor.” “I’d like us to move more quickly into describing the benefits.”).
If you’re getting “solutions” from your client, try asking them, “Can you tell me what the challenge is you’re trying to solve?” You can explain, if you like, that by framing their feedback in terms of a problem or challenge, then you can put your heads together to solve it (or indeed, you can go away and come up with some proposed solutions for their review).
And if you’re working with a team, you can also open the issue for group discussion, by asking questions like:
- Anyone else see the same challenge?
- What other ideas do people have for addressing this problem?
- What if I went back to the drawing board and mocked up how that might look, alongside a couple of other possibilities?
None of these throws out the client’s suggestion, of course – it’s just a matter of wanting to dig a little deeper and understand the problem, so that everyone on the team can bring their creative skills to bear on solving it.
Rule #4: Give the Right Feedback at the Right Time
When you’re giving your initial creative pitch, I recommend briefing your clients on what aspects of the concept are easy to change now, as opposed to later in the process. So for example, a designer might want to nail down the logo treatment, layout, and logo treatment early, while the typeface choice could potentially be changed later without throwing the whole project off the rails.
These are the kinds of details that probably seem obvious to you, but are often not at all clear to people outside the creative professions, so by requesting feedback on the specific elements of your design that you’d like to nail down early, you’ll be doing everyone on the team a favor.
Everyone’s an Expert
At the root of all four of these ground rules is my belief that while creative professionals bring deep expertise to the table, so do our clients; it’s just that our areas of expertise are different.
You know a lot about designing brilliant solutions to your clients’ problems. Your client knows more than you do about their audience, strategic goals, and internal processes – so let them guide your thinking on those things, and guide them on how to make the most of your strengths.
If you can help everyone focus on their areas of expertise—and to support each other in doing what they’re best at—you’ll have an efficient, effective, and probably very happy team.
And you may banish “design by committee” from your life for good.
For a deeper look at the keys to effective creative collaborations, watch Lauren’s 3-part course on Collaborative Design at Lynda.com.
For more information check the original article by by Lauren Bacon posted at http://99u.com/articles/38121/4-rules-for-getting-better-client-feedback
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They pop up frequently – in brightly-colored banners on websites, in aggressive social media ads. Sometimes when I wait in line at Barnes and Noble, I catch them staring at me, glassy-eyed, from book covers.
They have power suits. They have perfectly coiffed hair. Their smiles are fixed. Their expressions are hungry.
They are… the Brand Mavens.
You know who I’m talking about. Brand Mavens are those peppy, cutthroat folks who talk almost exclusively in business-ese. They write urgent, vaguely condescending blogs and books that claim to reveal the “secrets to success”. They insist that to Get Ahead in this World, you have to aggressively market yourself as a nice, safe, tame product that appeals to the broadest swathe of humanity possible.
They probably start their mornings with a nice hot cup of coffee mixed with rocket fuel and the blood of innocents.
Okay, fine. I’m not being quite fair to the Brand Mavens. They’re only trying to make a buck out of the advice game, and some of them have perfectly sound advice to give about self-promotion (heck, even a blind squirrel finds some nuts). If you’re looking for tactics to aggressively market some carefully cultivated version of yourself, these people are good gurus to have.
But Brand Mavens so often insist on self-promotion for its own sake, implying that you are a hapless FOOL if you are not aggressively shoving a “brand” down potential clients’ throats. And worse, they often insist that you define your brand in the most homogenized, highly “saleable” way possible – in a manner that could never offend (or excite) anyone.
That. Is. Claptrap.
Read the rest of this “weird” article by Kate Hamill at https://www.freelancersunion.org/blog/2014/10/21/why-being-weird-gets-me-more-clients
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