The LeadSquared team is happy to share that CompareCamp, an independent review platform for software and business apps, has distinguished LeadSquared solution with “Great User Experience” and “Rising Star” awards for 2017!

A team of experts from CompareCamp, evaluated and examined hundreds of software solutions and business apps, to determine the winners of the various categories, for 2017. According to CompareCamp, “LeadSquared stands above its competitors because it offers more features than standard sales and marketing automation solutions.”

The “Great User Experience” award is given to products that offer exceptionally good user experience while the “Rising Star” award is given to solutions that are not only promising but have shown to be of great value to users. You can read about the distinction and know more about LeadSquared marketing automation and CRM solutions here.

The LeadSquared team is thrilled to have won the awards and aims to do even better in the years to come.

Great User Experience

About CompareCamp:

CompareCamp is a leading online resource website of product reviews and comparisons. Their goal is to enable customers to compare products they are interested in and learn more about their key features that can affect their buying decisions. The team at CompareCamp provide various educational guides and materials for all types of customers and groups of products and services with special focus on software and business apps.

About LeadSquared:

LeadSquared is a Marketing and Sales Execution Platform. LeadSquared is being used by more than 15,000 sales and marketing professionals from different industries including, education and training, financial services, real estate, hospitals and wellness centers, travel and leisure businesses, IT services and technology vendors and many more. This solution can increase the sales velocity of your business with a combination of marketing automation and CRM solutions. Try it yourself. Sign up for a 14-day free trial here.

You’ve probably come across FinancesOnline when searching for software reviews. You may have even first learned about LeadSquared from their site. That is no wonder since the independent review platform consistently ranks high in Google searches for B2B, SaaS and financial solutions. It is a comprehensive directory of software, vendors and expert reviews.

We’re happy to share with our readers the news that our CRM and marketing automation tools have earned high ratings in the software category listings of FinancesOnline. Their editors have reviewed LeadSquared products and, using their SmartScore system and algorithmic rating, we’ve maintained positive scores and top positions. It may well be because we have a great product, to start with.

CRM and marketing automation tools

LeadSquared has been cited several times by FinancesOnline. In fact, we are among the most popular CRM and marketing automation tools in their what is CRM software guide, described as “very popular automation software designed to streamline sales process and optimize customer relationship management.” Mentions like these and inclusions in rankings, especially on a widely read online site, add not only media mileage but also value to our products.

In an article on how to choose CRM software, we were included among their top 5 all-in-one CRM recommendations, noting how LeadSquared “speeds up lead capture process with responsive landing pages, automation, and smooth lead gathering from multiple sources.” And mind you, in that CRM write-up we were in the company of some of the biggest names in the software industry. We not only gained prestige but also reinforced our brand as well.

Likewise, our marketing automation product also broke through the rankings of FinancesOnline and has been regarded as one of the most popular marketing automation software. Not only that, we are right there in the top 10 marketing software category, besting other long-time, big-named marketing solutions.

Words of praise from the SaaS experts will definitely help us up the ante, which is why we strive to give regular software updates and provide the best customer support that is expected from highly-regarded CRM and marketing automation tools.

Most people have a slight trepidation when it comes to sales. They think that selling is a skill that only a few people possess and that you need to be an extrovert to sell better. Additionally, they get daunted by the emphasis that is set on targets by most companies. But sales is really not as tough as all that. All you need is a sales strategy and you can become the sales superstar in your company!

sales strategy banner

Don’t believe me? I was also as apprehensive when I started out, but 5 years in sales can teach you quite a bit! You would think that a typical sales process simply involves calling up all the leads that your marketing team passes and deals would simply happen. But you know that reality bites, and it’s not always as simple or as straight forward. But do not worry, I’ll share my sales strategy, that I have perfected over the years, with you.

My Sales Strategy:

sales strategy - flow

When I started to sell, it took me some time to learn the ropes and to figure out how to go about the entire process. The same applies to you. Do not expect that you can do it with no effort unless of course, you are one of those rare beings who are born with an innate ability to sell. It will get easier as you go ahead and planning your sales approach will come more naturally to you. Now that I have set your expectations rights let’s take a look at my sales plan.

#1) Target Audience

sales strategy - target audience

One thing that you should always tell yourself before you set out is that your clients are not interested in knowing how awesome your product is. All they want to know is how it is going to benefit them. Which is why as a salesperson, you should vow to learn the product/service you are selling inside out.

Deep knowledge of my product helps me to create various buyer personas which I then categorize. This is because the fit of the product for each persona would vary, and hence what I say to them would likewise vary. Other than knowing the benefits and strong points of your product, you should also be familiar with the shortcomings of your product. Say, you are selling to a school or university and your product is incapable of managing admissions, then you should not be trying to sell it to them, simply because it doesn’t make any sense for them. Therefore, having a clear picture of who your target audience is, is the first step you should have in your sales strategy.

#2) Sales Prioritization

prioritization

Today sales teams have it much easier as they don’t really have to worry about lead generation. Their marketing teams take care of that. They send over leads right to your desk on a daily basis. All you have to do is know who to prioritize.

If you have already created buyer personas like I told you before, the leads who match the most with these personas should be contacted first. However, do not ignore those leads who do not have an apparent fitment. Reach out to them also to find out why they have come in touch with your business. Having an awesome sales automation tool has only made my life easier. Each lead comes with a quality score, which tells me which leads are more likely to convert and therefore who needs to be contacted immediately.

#3) Research

sales strategy - research

Once you have figured out which lead to contact first, you now have to know how you are going to position your product/service to them. For this, you need to do your homework. I spend anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours trying to figure out what exactly the business does. Then I try to map out how my product can help them out.

Additionally, I also try to analyze the person that I am going to get in touch with. I look them up on social media to find out what they do and to find an icebreaker that can help me out. This step though not necessary has helped me in building a good rapport with my leads and has ultimately helped me in closing the deal.

Again, LeadSquared gives me detailed insights on the lead such as the lead source, pages he visited on the website, forms he has submitted, emails he has opened and more. This means I have more information to arm myself with before I set out to make the sale.

#4) Lead Engagement

sales strategy - enganged

If a lead signs up on the very first interaction, then you have just had a good day. Unfortunately, these good days are a rare occurrence and do not happen as often as we’d like. To push a lead towards sales, you need to keep them engaged. You can do this by sending them useful content such as webinars, e-books, white papers, etc which would be relevant to them.

You can do this by sending them useful content such as webinars, e-books, white papers, etc which would be relevant to them. You can also set up trigger based campaigns, to engage them based on their activities. You can also interact with them on social media, just make sure you don’t come off as a stalker.

Instead of calling them up regularly to check up on the status of the sale, simply talking to them to find out how they have been or how the business is doing is also a good way to win brownie points for yourself.

#5) Follow-up

sales strategy - follow - up

Regular follow-up is an indication to the lead that you are interested in signing them on a customer. It is also a good way to remind people that you wish to close the deal as soon as you can, and just give them that little extra push. I have found that many salespeople call once or twice and then give up. Some leads require a lot of cajoling and you should be willing to do that.

For me, this step is not just about calling up leads I am already in touch with, but also about checking my lead list to ensure that I have not missed out on any leads that have come my way. Setting aside some time every week for this task makes sure that I do not miss out on any opportunities.

So, this is my sales strategy and it works out pretty well for me. Of course, you may have a different approach to selling. But having a tool to help you would help you sell much better and efficiently. If you also want to use the same tool as me, you can try LeadSquared!

Susan - LeadSquared

– Authored by, Susan Maria,

Business Development Manager

Now that you have your sales strategy is in place, let’s take a look at how you can manage a sales funnel.

Go to Chapter four

Lead Generation - A Mesopotamian concept

6000 years ago, Mesopotamian tribe invented a way to trade goods and services by exchanging tea, spices, food, weapons and even human skulls. This was later termed barter system. Money did not exist then. But even after money was born, barter system didn’t die. You can still see young children exchange Pokemon cards, goods swapping website are on a rise and some communities in Spain and Greece still practice barter system. It is alive, well and truly in existence.

“Take my wood, give me your chicken.”

Lead generation – A barter system

A lead is a person or a company interested in your product or service. Lead generation is the process of attracting and capturing these leads’ contact information so that they can be contacted and converted to sales.

If you look closely, lead generation is very similar to barter, where people exchange their contact information for something valuable like an eBook, a consultation, discount coupons or a webinar. The only difference is that sharing contact information isn’t exactly like parting with your chicken, and getting an e-book isn’t as valuable as getting wood. But, it still is trade. 

Many businesses struggle to do this trade right, and unfortunately miss out on opportunities that could have been their leads and maybe even customers. The primary reason for that is they think keeping a form or a phone number alone is good enough to generate leads, which is never the case. You have to give something valuable to get something valuable – Barter.

How to get better at barter

Never assume that anyone will be interested in sharing their contact information unless they see real value in what they are getting in exchange. When your prospects see the value, you need to encourage them to claim that value – which is called an offer.

An offer is essentially the backbone of a successful lead generation campaign. But, there are several other factors that play a role in generating leads. Below is the list of the most important ones:

1) Replace the pain of giving by pleasure of getting

Sharing contact information (by filling up a form) is a task and tasks typically require effort. You must replace the pain of giving the contact information by the pleasure of claiming the offer. Give your prospects something so useful that they forget about the effort and start thinking about the value.

Lead Generation - the pleasure of getting

Free resources – like eBooks, whitepapers, guides etc. show immediate value and the pleasure of getting the book overrides the pain of filling up the form. Also, a high quality resource is a proof of authority and goes beyond just lead generation to help establish brand awareness. People will remember you (and share it) if they see real value in it.

Free consultation – is difficult to refuse as well. It gives the prospect a peek inside how you operate, and helps you get insights about your prospects. Last year, we decided to critique a few prospect websites and ran an offer for that. The response was so overwhelming that we had to stop the campaign. The number of requests (leads) that came in was so huge, that it became impossible to critique all of them. Nevertheless, it was a very successful lead generation and engagement campaign, and we got many unique leads.

Coupons – simply make us happy and are probably the most effective sales generation offers for consumer businesses. They were first brought into practice by Coca-cola in 1887, where they gave a free glass of coke against a coupon. This marketing strategy was so successful that by 1895 Coca-cola was known to every state in America and became one of the most renowned brands in history. It all started with a coupon and a great drink of course.

Free trials – Just like you try a dress on before you buy it, your prospects would like to evaluate your offering before they make a buying decision, especially if it requires a long-term commitment. And, they’ll happily give their contact information in exchange for a free trial. Although it might seem to prolong the sales cycle, it plays a huge role in clearing all the doubts from a prospect’s mind.

2) If you really want it, ask for it

Once an old friend asked Mr. Henry Ford “Henry, why don’t you ever buy any bolts from me?”“Heck Joe,” Mr. Ford replied, “you never asked me!”.

It’s simple. You won’t get it unless you ask for it.

Lead generation ideas - ask for action

Don’t assume that your prospects know what to do next. You should ask them to take action, give them clear instructions and guide them along. In simple terms, any marketing message or sales communication should always be followed by a call to action.

But, just placing a CTA everywhere is not enough. What you ask people to do, how, and when – these are equally important questions.

And, don’t forget – calls to action don’t relate only to landing pages. They are relevant for any sort of lead generation campaign – traditional or digital. Flyers, websites, online or newspaper ads, or even when you exchange your business card with someone – they all need calls to action. “Call me if you think we can work together.” That’s a call to action.

3) Show trust

According to eMarketer’s research, consumers trust user reviews 12 times more than manufacturer’s description. We feel comfortable when we are a part of a community. It gives us a sense of belonging, and we feel good when our own thoughts are validated by like-minded people. You would notice that close friends even adopt each other’s mannerisms and behaviors. It is naturally hard wired into our brains. This quote from Mokokoma Mokhonoana sums it up nicely.

“Most people say that Shakespeare rocked merely because most people say that Shakespeare rocked.”

Lead Generation Ideas - Create Trust

Reviews,  Testimonials, Certifications, Awards, Recognition are trust elements which provide credibility to your marketing message. They act like a powerful triggers by indicating that everything is fine, you are in a good company. We, at LeadSquared never publish a landing page without these trust elements. It has become a go to formula for us to increase conversion rate on our landing pages.

4) Shed your ego

This might look totally out of place, but if you look closely, ego can cost you a lot of leads. Ego is a person’s sense of self, which is generally false. A prospect doesn’t care about your ego, he cares about what he wants and he will bounce off quickly if he doesn’t get what he wants.

You clearly know what you want (his contact information) and to get what you want, help him find what he wants.

Confusing? Let’s take an example:

I am a designer, I create great designs (ego)

vs

You can get more customers with good design, and I can help you achieve that. (help)

Lead generation ideas - Shed your ego

Big logos, highlighting features instead of benefits and overt bragging about yourself can turn off the prospect. Your visitors are not looking for that. Help them get what they are looking for which will eventually get you what you are looking for.

5) Show them how it’s done

Showing something in action prompts action. The longer the visitor watches your product/service in action, the more likely he is to take the next step.

A few months ago I saw a Dholki (popular Indian double sided drum) seller just outside work. I did not intend to buy it. But, he played it so well that it caught my attention. He asked me to try it. I did, with zero buying intention. To say “no” with conviction, I told him that the quality didn’t look good enough, and it would break. In response, he placed the Dholki on the ground and stood on top, putting all of his 80 Kg frame on it. I couldn’t say no after that.

Lead generation ideas - Show how it's done

A demonstration of  your offering will make it easier for the prospect to visualize what it can do for them and encourage them to move forward. This is the reason for the popularity of demo videos. You will often find them on the home pages and the landing pages. According to Hubspot, 71%of the consumers think that video explains the product better and increase the chances of purchase by a staggering 73%. Pretty impressive even when the effort of making a high class video is huge. It really pays off.

6) Narrow the choices

Too many choices create anxiety and make it difficult for the visitor to decide which action to take. This is illustrated in Hick’s law:

“Increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically.”

It can even discourage the prospect from taking an action.

Lead Generation ideas - narrow the choice

Sometimes your marketing message has too many actions to take – Call us, Fill the form, Know more, Download now, etc. This generally backfires by confusing your prospects who eventually bounce off. For this very reason landing pages are so popular for lead generation. They don’t dilute the offer with unnecessary distractions. Just one offer, one action to take – that’s conversion and the result is a lot more leads.

7) Show scarcity

I have observed something really funny in bus stations, especially in Northern parts of India. The driver moves the bus forward a bit and then stops. Each time a bus moves ahead a few people step onto it. Then the driver reverses and gets back to the original position. Again, after 5 minutes he drags the bus forward and some more people step onto it. When the seats fill up, the journey begins. Why does a bus drives do that?

When the bus moves forward, the prospects outside think that the the bus is about to go (shortage of time); they board the bus and when other prospects see the bus filling up, they also step onto it to find the seat (possible shortage of seats). This is called the principle of scarcity which means we are attracted towards a resource which is likely to get exhausted soon.

Lead generation ideas - show scarcity

Scarcity is one of the most powerful triggers used in marketing to generate leads. Limited offer, Till stocks last, Limited time are some examples of scarcity. It is a tried and tested method to drive conversions.

8) Never stop exploring

You create great offers, write compelling content or design something amazing but what if it goes unnoticed? When nobody notices, it cannot be acted upon, which means no lead generation. You need to reach your prospects first to convert them. But where do you find the prospects? Which source works best for you?

You will have to figure that out yourself. There is no set rule. Keep exploring.

lead-generation-ideas-keep-exploring

In August last year, when I wrote my first blog post, I shared it across all the social media platforms, almost everyday. After a few months, it suddenly started to pick up. To my disbelief, it got 15,000 hits and traveled to more than 20 countries in three days. More importantly got a lot of new leads. It would never have happened had I not experimented everyday. To figure out which platform, time and content works best for your lead generation, you need to keep looking at new places at different times.

9) Find Partners

Our friend Prateek from DigitalDefynd approached us after reading one of our eBooks – Design hacks for marketers, saying that he would like to share it on his website. He did, his audience loved it. So did we, because we got a lot of unique leads from there, and he got the engagement of the audience he was looking for. It worked mutually for both the sides. That’s the power of partnership. Your reach multiplies and so does lead generation.

Lead generation - find partners

It didn’t end there. We got several more offers like taking a seminar and proposals for more partnerships. Partners bring different perspective to the table which can give your lead generation a completely new dimension.

But, don’t rely just on partners to supply leads to you. If you can’t do it yourself, your partners can’t do it either.

10) It’s OK to be annoying sometimes:

Popups, top bars, high contrast forms, uninvited links look annoying, but it is OK to be annoying sometimes if they generate the leads you are looking for. Like most other things, they have to be used carefully too.

Don’t use them when your prospects are already engaged, use them when the opportunity seems to be slipping away –  like exit popups when the visitors are going to abandon the page. And, remember, your offer needs to be really relevant if you want a conversion.

For example:

Use a popup related to marketing when your prospects are on the marketing page

and

Use a popup related to sales when they are on the sales page.

Lead generation ideas - annoy

Studies have shown that the exit popups can actually increase the website conversion by 30% if used at the right time with the relevant offer.

That brings us to the end of this article. I hope you find these ideas useful for your lead generation strategy. Remember, always think about giving value before asking for information.

We’ve been tracking the behavior of late stage buyers since 2013.

The data is shocking!

In 2018, less than 20% of leads were ready to buy.

In 2019, it dropped to 9%.

In 2020? You guessed it – it was lower again, with only 5% of leads close enough to make a purchase decision.

It’s not getting any better.

For sales teams, it means that more than 90% of leads require nurturing, support, and consistent communication throughout the sales funnel.

Our own data backs this up as it can take anywhere from weeks to months to close a sale.

sales cycle - average time to win customers statistics

Even though the sales cycle largely depends on the market segment and your sales strategies, the above data confirms that not all leads are ready to buy from day 1.

Sometimes, buyers need an affirmation.

And that’s where sales reps pitch in. They try to understand the buyer’s needs and explain how they could help them with their product/service.

But only if it was that easy.

With the large volume of leads that come in for most businesses daily, even the best salesperson could miss them if they’re not good at managing their sales funnel.

It also translates to missing sales for the reps.

At some point in time, you must have also encountered similar challenges and wondered if there’s a way to manage your sales funnel better.

I got you.

I’ll walk you through all the aspects of sales funnel management to help you achieve and exceed your sales targets.

Let’s get started.

In this article:

·         What is a sales funnel?
·         Why is it important to create and manage your sales funnel?
·         The most common sales funnel mistakes
·         Sales funnel stages
·         Best practices for effective sales funnel management
·         Sales funnel examples

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is a pictorial representation of various sales stages that leads pass through before becoming customers. It is represented as an inverted pyramid. The top rung is the widest with all the leads contacted, and the lower rung is the ones who have made a purchase.

Let me give you an example to show how the sales funnel works in real life.

If you have been a regular follower, then chances are that you have received an email from Shibani Roy. Shibani heads our webinar program, and every time a webinar is scheduled, she sends the invite to an average of 40,000 leads. (Yes, she does send out so many emails )

Now let’s see how this works.

sales funnel stages example

From those 40,000 recipients, 4000 leads opened the email (10% open). Among those who opened the email, 800 clicked on the registration link (20% clicks). Out of the 800 who checked the registration page, 320 registered (40% conversion), and 108 actually attended the webinar.

After the webinar, 10 people requested a product demo (10% interested), and 2 bought it (i.e., 20% of the 10 people interested).

You must have noticed that a lead passes through several stages before becoming a customer. The process of managing several interactions simultaneously and influencing them to buy your product/service is sales funnel management.

One thing to note:

A sales funnel is not a marketing funnel.

There is a difference. Let me explain.

Difference between sales funnel and marketing funnel

 Sales funnelMarketing funnel
GoalTo entice people to buy your product or service.The goal of the marketing funnel varies. It may involve creating brand awareness (measured in impressions), building your subscribers list, generating sales qualified leads, etc.
StagesAwareness, attraction, interest, purchase, delight, loyalty, and advocacy.Awareness, interest, consideration, conversion
Teams involvedSales and marketingGenerally marketing only
Essential software toolsSales prospecting, CRM, cloud calling solutions, email marketing, meeting scheduling, collaboration, and sales intelligence toolsEmail marketing, advertising, social media scheduling, campaign management, collaboration, and content management tools
What’s considered as conversion?When someone buys your product/service. $$When someone signs-up or drops a business inquiry.

The importance of sales funnel management

 Let’s retrace Shibani’s webinars example.

Imagine if Shibani decided to go about promoting her webinars blindly without a funnel. She would have no idea how many people have become customers because of her webinars.

Not just accountability, there are chances that some of the leads might just get lost in transit. Our sales team might miss out on very good leads that Shibani painstakingly generated. Follow-ups may get forgotten, and nurturing emails may never get sent.

If you’re thinking, you can simply call up every lead, you’re probably wrong.

It’s not what buyers want!

When do buyers want to get in touch with sales reps

This is why a sales funnel is important.

Let’s take a look at the benefits you can get by building and managing a sales funnel.

1. Strategic lead generation

With a sales funnel, you have an accurate view of lead generated vs. converted.

If you’re running short on leads to achieving your sales or revenue targets, you can reverse calculate how much more leads you need to meet those targets. On the other hand, if you’ve more leads than you can handle, you can consider hiring more sales reps.

2. Accurate sales forecasting

By accurately predicting your future sales, you can create a sales plan and start putting in efforts to meet your projected target for the next quarter or fiscal year.

3. Improved conversion rates

Having a 360-degree view of how a lead progresses through the sales funnel and converts helps you identify the bottlenecks and devise corrective measures.

4. More accountability for your sales

With a sales funnel in place, you can track every sales activity, best sources, best-selling products, teams, geographies, etc. It also helps avoid chaos during incentive calculations because you know every individual’s performance.

5. Generate more revenues

Every benefit mentioned above, in the end, directly translates into the one benefit every business care about the most. More moolah! Even more importantly, since you know what helped you rake in the extra revenue, you will be able to replicate your success and, in time, even double it.

So, now you know the importance of a sales funnel, it’s time to start building it.

However, it’s not easy and it’s easy to make it complicated.

Let’s look at the common mistakes and best practices to avoid them.

The most common sales funnel mistakes

I have seen many managers making these mistakes (including myself sometimes), which leads to less than expected outcomes. I don’t want you to repeat them and get the maximum out of your sales funnel.

  • Not having a tool to help in sales funnel management
  • Not engaging the leads enough during the first two stages
  • Not monitoring the progress regularly.

As a rule of thumb, avoid the above mistakes to build a fully functional sales funnel.

Let’s look at the stages of the sales funnel.

Sales funnel stages

Today’s sales funnel doesn’t look like it did just ten years ago. 

It’s good news for companies who have kept up with shifting trends in sales and marketing, but not so good for those that haven’t realized the game has changed. 

Because of digital media, there are increasingly more entry points into your sales funnel. Prospects are dropping in at various stages and are largely in control of the process. Buyers are more informed than ever and do their homework before reaching out to companies directly.

Nonetheless, the goal of the sales funnel remains the same: to attract leads to your product or service and turn them into loyal paying customers.

Let’s look at various stages of the sales funnel.

stages of a sales funnel
  • Awareness
  • Attraction
  • Interest
  • Purchase
  • Delight

The latest addition to the stages of the sales funnel include:

  • Loyalty 
  • Advocacy

Let’s take a closer look at these stages.

1. Awareness

Here, your target audience is hearing about your business for the very first time.

So, they need to understand what exactly you do. There are many ways to draw attention. But, before you start that, you need to figure out is where your customer is present. And then go to them.

Sales funnel stage - awareness

For instance, if your clientele hangs out on Facebook, run ads there, or write sponsored content that would attract them. But if you feel they are more on video streaming sites like YouTube, produce a catchy video and share widely. Similarly, to reach out to audiences offline, distribute flyers, advertise on billboards, and attend events.

2. Attraction

In this stage, you assume that your leads are at least aware of your business and know what product/service you are selling to them. It’s time to convince them as to why they need your product.

sales funnel stage - attraction

The best way to do this is to educate your customer.

Remember the series F.R.I.E.N.D.S?

Phoebe tries to sell toner to her clients with a script that educates why their clientele needs toner! Of course, you need not try to convince a suicidal man. But you get the gist.

3. Interest

The buyer now knows who you are and what you offer. They also seem interested in doing business with you. So, you have to catch the lead’s interest and ensure that the lead’s interest remains piqued. For this, refine your sales pitch, address their pain points, and offer solutions for the same.

sales funnel stage - interest

Things like sharing pre-sales documents, negotiating prices, evaluating other products, etc., happen in this stage of the sales funnel. You have to be on your toes to ensure that the sale does not move to other businesses or your competitor.

4. Purchase

Here, the lead finally chooses to buy from you. It is more of a transactional phase, where money is exchanged, and the product or service reaches the buyer.

sales funnel stage - purchase

In the case of B2C sales, you must prepare for shipments. In B2B or SaaS sales, you may have to consider onboarding or installation.

5. Delight

Now, this is the stage where your funnel gives birth to the next sales funnel.

You need to ensure that your customers are happy with your product/service by ensuring quality and providing timely support (if required).

sales funnel stage - delight

However, many businesses miss out on this step. It is mainly due to the misconception – once the purchase has been made the funnel is over.

Next, the steps you must track are loyalty and advocacy.

6. Loyalty

If you see,

So, include customer retention as a metric for your sales funnel.

There are several ways to nurture a relationship with existing customers. For instance, you can invite them to a webinar, offer incentives to write reviews, involve them in referral programs, ask them for a testimonial, and so on.

7. Advocacy

The power of suggestion is very high among buyers. When they hear other people talk about the good experiences or benefits they have received by using a product, they are more likely to purchase it themselves. With this in mind, you should always encourage your customers to review and rank you and your business.

Note that staring at a dashboard will not help unless you point out a fault and take measures to correct it. Follow these best practices to make the most of your sales funnel management efforts.

Sales funnel management best practices

1. Set clear and concise goals. Before you start building your funnel, know why you are doing this in the first place. Do you want to double the revenue? Do you want to target a specific audience? Or is it something else altogether? You need to know what your sales funnel has been set for to make the best use of it.

2. Track movement of your leads through the funnel. Get yourself a CRM software to know where each lead is in the funnel. It will help you understand how long it takes for a lead to become a customer and what factors influence their decision.

LeadSquared report - sales funnel stages lead transition
LeadSquared CRM helps you track how the lead progresses through the sales funnel

3. Talk different languages. Leads in various stages of your sales funnel would want different things. You cannot talk about the features of your product at every phase. You have to try and educate the customer during the initial stages using e-books or white papers. Send product demos to opportunities and pricing to leads who are considering you.

4. Ensure that your sales cycle is not too long. Longer sales cycles are not good in the long run and might result in lead leakage. Measure the average time it takes to close the deal and stick to that timeline.

5. Measure your progress. Track results at each stage. Note how many new leads are coming in and what is driving sales for you. This way, you will know what is working and why.

So far, we have seen the importance of the sales funnel, its stages, and effective sales funnel management techniques.

Now it’s time to see some real-life sales funnel examples.

Sales funnel examples

1. Basecamp

Businesses turn to popular collaboration software Basecamp for lessons in branding. But they’re not just about funny cartoons and vibrant visuals. Their sales funnel is one of the most straightforward examples we could find.

Basecamp attracts leads through organic website traffic (blogs, mostly) referrals and PR. Head to their home page, and you’re already in to fill in your details. Social proof abounds in the form of testimonials and account growth. They carefully explain who they are, what they do, and how people use them.

Basecamp - collaboration software

To move leads to the next step, they offer a free 30-day trial, which requires an email to put them into nurturing campaigns. Even better, they double down on this initiative by not requiring a credit card.

2. HelloFresh

This meal kit service is the largest in the United States. They’re also one of the most heavily marketed meal delivery services, which could have a lot to do with their success.

There aren’t many people who haven’t heard of HelloFresh, thanks to an $880 million growth strategy to drive awareness. They’ve invested in everything from paid digital ads to affiliate partners to social media.

HelloFresh - sales funnel example

3. Groupon

This Chicago-based online store company offers millions of online shopping deals and coupons.

To earn traffic, Groupon uses a variety of paid search ads, affiliate marketing, retargeting, email marketing, and direct traffic (because most people know what Groupon is at this point).

When you arrive on their website, the first thing that you see is the coupons they offer. They also have a subscription service offering discounts on the coupons you purchase.

GroupOn

Once you sign-up, you enter their sales funnel and you start getting emails for relevant offers and discounts.

These sales funnel examples are just a few out of many potential paths you could create for your sales process. I hope it ignited ideas to build your own.

In conclusion

With so many tasks at hand, it is difficult to dig into the granular details of your sales process. But at the same time, it is also necessary to keep a tab on the ongoing activities.

That’s why sales funnel management is crucial.

It gives you an overview of all your sales efforts – from lead generation to conversion and retention.

I’d also advise using CRM software to manage your sales funnel if your lead influx is more than 500 per month and you rely on different sources to generate leads.

LeadSquared is a comprehensive sales execution CRM that helps you manage your sales funnel, sales activities, and reps, track sources, generate reports, and more.

See it for yourself with a free 15-day trial – no credit card required – and discover how you shift your sales strategy to the modern buyer.

Making sales and bringing in revenues is fascinating.

What’s more fascinating is building a team that replicates your strategy and multiplies those revenues.

But only if it was that easy.

Sales managers have to plan their strategy, build and manage teams, and control the execution – all while being aligned with the company’s goals.

Recently, we asked 91 sales managers about the most challenging aspect of sales management. No surprise, planning (46%) and controlling (34%) tops the list.

Statistics - challenges in sales management

Sales management is, sometimes, more difficult than being on the field to make a sale.

After all, you’ve to manage your people, customers, and processes.

The responsibilities are huge. But the outcomes are rewarding. Because you can see your business grow exponentially.

However, as they say – good tea takes time.

It takes time, experience, and skills to be a good sales manager.

So, if you’re a first-time manager or looking for a fresh perspective on sales management, you’re at the right place.

I’ve tried to put together my learnings and tried and tested sales management techniques to help you be a better manager.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

In this article:

What is sales management?
The importance of sales management
Challenges
A 7-step sales management process for first-time managers
Managing team performance
Helpful tools
Sales management resources

What is sales management?

Sales management is a process of planning, directing, and controlling the salesforce to achieve business objectives. It involves building a team (recruiting), enabling the sales team, and motivating team members to do well in their jobs.

The different functions of sales management are:

PlanningDirectingControlling the execution
Building team (recruitment)Training (process and tools)Monitoring performance (targets vs. achievements)
Goal settingAssigning targetsTeam and individual’s assessment
Defining strategyEnabling teamsIncentives and compensation
Forecasting sales Analytics and reporting

The purpose of sales management is to align your team towards a common business objective.

If you’re wondering how it helps, read on to find out.

The importance of sales management

Imagine just blindly going about your day without proper planning. Most of the time, I hardly get things done, as my tasks get overlapped, and I don’t have clarity about what the day is going to be about. However, when I plan my day out well, nine times out of ten, I get a lot more achieved.

That is the same way having a sales management plan would also work. The clearer your goals, the more you would manage to achieve.

  • The salesperson would know what is expected of him and would set his short-term targets accordingly.
  • The salesperson would be reassured as he has a clear plan to follow and would not need to go about it blindly.
  • They will have a person or plan to fall back to if something goes amiss.

Apart from this, you would:

  • Know better what to expect from your team
  • Be able to set clear goals for your team and analyze their performance
  • Predict sales better based on previous data

If you noticed, as a sales manager, you need to manage both – your work and your team.

So, here’s a tip.

Get a nice sales CRM (such as LeadSquared) to manage your contacts, team, and tasks in one place.

So, we’ve seen that sales management is essential. It gives your team a direction and purpose. But the journey of a sales manager comes with its fair share of challenges.  

Sales management challenges

Sales managers often feel the pressure of numbers.

Think of it this way. A sales rep has just one target to achieve. But the sales manager has to face the target pressure of the entire team. It’s a multifold pressure.

In your career as a sales manager, you’ll come across several challenging (yet manageable) tasks like forecasting sales, tracking sales and individual’s progress, making sure that the team follows the processes and protocols, and many more.

Let me highlight three new challenges that sales managers face these days.

  • Ensuring that all customer and sales data resides in the central system.
  • Making data-driven decisions. For example, the quality of interactions between sales reps and buyers.
  • Keeping track of target vs. achievement.

Recently, we surveyed 141 sales managers about their day-to-day challenges. 30% of them said that tracking assigned vs. achieved goals is very challenging for them.

Statistics - sales performance management challenges

These challenges are common across organizations. However, managers can easily overcome them with the right process and software.

In the next section, I’ll share 7 simple steps to effective sales management and how you can enable your teams to perform better.

A 7-step sales management process for first-time managers

Whether you’re managing a team of 5 or 50, the idea remains the same.

Once you decode the right way to manage a team of 5, you can easily scale it to manage more reps.

So, the 7 steps of sales management will involve:

  1. Building a team – Plan your requirements, recruit/select team members, assign them targets.
  2. Targeting – Ensure that the team reaches out to the right prospects.
  3. Messaging – Ensure every team member is aligned with the business values and propositions.
  4. Discipline – Make sure that your team members follow the process and are on track to achieve their sales goals.
  5. Enablement – Ensure your team has the tools and resources to help them close a sale.
  6. Motivation – Celebrate wins and offer incentives to keep your team motivated.
  7. Analytics – Your every judgment should be backed by data. Analytics will help you separate emotions from results.
sales management process

Let’s look at each of these steps in detail.

1. Building a team

The biggest question in front of everyone is – what should be the team size?

I would say it depends on the momentum you want to achieve.

If you recall, in physics, we studied – momentum = mass X velocity.

In the context of sales, we can say, momentum is the revenue you want to bring, mass is your team size, and velocity is previous deals.

Now, if you want to bring $X revenue, and you know your sales velocity (the number of deals you can close per person per month), you can easily determine the number of team members you’ll need.

But not just anyone; recruit skilled and driven people for your team. For this, brainstorm what you want to achieve, shortlist profiles, and ask the right sales interview questions.

Next, spend time and effort in sales onboarding. That is, provide training and resources to equip them with the skills and knowledge required to perform in their newly assigned role.

Once you onboard the best players for your team, the next step is to make them familiar with your product/service, customers, and industry.

Note, if you have software for sales management, train your team to use it. Don’t assume that they’ll learn on their own. Also, don’t just rely on the in-app suggestions or documentation because we have found that about 53% of sales users prefer live training.

CRM training statistics

2. Targeting

Recall the famous sales quote of Liz Lange, the founder of Liz Lange Maternity:

“Every brand isn’t for everybody, and everybody isn’t for every brand.”

Similarly, your team must know your target audience inside out. They shouldn’t be chasing every passerby in the street to buy your product.

Right targeting will save their time and effort.

To make targeting right,

3. Messaging

Not understanding their own product/services or the buyer’s companies and needs is an immediate deal-killer, according to the LinkedIn State of Sales Survey 2021 (United States and Canada edition)

Statistics - deal killers in sales

Spending time perfecting the sales pitch is worth it as it will bring your reps closer to the deals.

I have a sales enablement expert in my team who audits the email and call quality and suggests improvement. The messaging has to be right. Otherwise, the deal will go nowhere.

4. Discipline

Discipline has helped salespeople close deals faster and increase their incentives over time. Here’s what sales reps say:

Statistics - discipline in sales

However, discipline without the right targeting and messaging will be a waste.

If your reps are aimlessly calling X leads, just to meet their daily targets, you might be at a loss. If the sales pitch is wrong, you might lose prospects who would have converted if the messaging was right.

Such instances occur when:

  • Your team members call the wrong prospects
  • They fail to convey the product’s USPs aligned with their use cases (messaging)

This brings us to the next important aspect of sales management – sales enablement.

5. Enablement

Your reps would want to close those deals as much as you do. However, in the real world, they have to deal with several roadblocks.

Statistics - roadblocks in closing deals

Sales enablement is removing these roadblocks. It involves equipping your team with the right set of enablement tools, training materials, and resources (content) that can help influence buyers.

Now the question is, how will you know that your team needs help.

The answer lies in the details.

Spend time to analyze their calls and emails with customers. Try to understand if they’ve understood your proposition correctly. Do they have resources to share with buyers that can reinforce their statements? If not, you know what to do.

6. Motivation

Of course, the incentive is the biggest motivation in sales. But people also seek appreciation.

At LeadSquared, we celebrate every win – whether big or small. We often give rewards like – “Best cold caller of the day,” “Best performer of the week,” “Best email,” and so on, along with our regular “Spotlight” and “Star of the Quarter” awards.

In our daily status meeting, we discuss our learnings as well. It eases the tense environment a bit, and salespeople get a chance to learn from their peers.

If 10 people share their learnings with 10 others in the group, everyone will have 10 X 10 learnings.

In short, celebrating smaller wins, a good incentive structure, and sharing learnings with each other have proved beneficial for my sales team.

7. Analytics

“Data informs every step we take. Predictive analytics are helping us to identify potential sales leads. Intent data and social listening are helping us to identify new opportunities. We are also using data for propensity scoring and lead scoring.”

Paul Lewis Global Social, Digital Marketing, and Sales Enablement Lead, Pitney Bowes (via LinkedIn)

Befriend data.

Use your CRM to analyze:

Compare them against your industry benchmarks. Improve your processes based on the story that your data tells.

While we talk about analytics, it’s equally important to track and manage sales performance.

Sales performance management

The bottom line of sales figures doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. If you have a team of two people, and each works in their own territory, Salesperson A may make $1 million in sales, while Salesperson B only makes $100.

From those facts alone, you could conclude that Salesperson B needs to be better trained, work harder, and be more convincing to customers.

Sales team management

What might be happening is that your company is selling ice cubes, and Salesperson A sells to California (known for its hot weather) while Salesperson B sells to Alaska (known for, well, ice and snow). If you were to switch territories, Salesperson A may fail to make any sales at all in Alaska, while Salesperson B sells $5 million in California.

It’s only fair to compare the members of your sales team on equal measures. Sales performance management involves the use of reporting at the management level to reveal every intricacy of how each member of the team is performing.

Improving sales performance with automation

You can remove a lot of mundane work (and pressure) from your sales team.

How?

  • Monitor the intent of the buyer. If they check your pricing page, open emails from your SDRs, and respond to your calls, they probably are interested in your brand. CRM tools assign scores to leads based on their activities. The lead with a higher score should be called and followed first.
  • Automate response. If a visitor drops an inquiry on your website or social media page, send an automated response that your representative will reach out to them soon.
  • Follow-up reminders. No rep can remember all the follow-ups/meetings they need to make in a day. CRM can send automated follow-up reminders to reps based on their last conversation and disposition entered in the CRM.
  • Drip campaigns. Reps can send an automated sequence of follow-up emails to cold leads.
  • Reporting. Reps need not maintain and share their pipeline report with managers. Managers can fetch the reports or monitor the deal pipeline through real-time dashboards.

By automating sales, you’re enabling your team to perform better. That is, they’ll have more time to focus on what they enjoy doing – selling.

Now let’s look at the tools that can help you and your team be more efficient.

Really helpful sales management tools

Sales management tools for prospecting, lead management, customer management, project management, etc. are always of great help.

With sales management tools, you can:

  • Find prospective buyers
  • Track the sales pipeline
  • Assign and manage tasks, teams, and targets
  • Automate follow-up reminders
  • Manage campaigns
  • Analyze customers

In fact, technology has helped sellers interact better with customers.

Statistics - technology in sales

For our sales reps, our CRM is a go-to software for most of their chores. However, we also use many different tools to make their lives easier. For example,

With this, we have covered a lot about sales management. Again, these points will give you a starting point to build and effectively manage your teams. And you can always tweak your sales management strategy based on the things that have worked for you.

Before we wrap up, here are some resources to help you in your sales management journey.

Keep learning, keep growing

Sales is changing every day. We’ve come a long way from in-person meetings to remote sales. You must have also evolved your strategies and techniques of selling.

In your sales management journey, you’ll learn a lot by looking at other people perform and also through your experiences.

But never stop learning.

Read sales books, follow influencers in your niche, and, more importantly, learn from your peers. Your peers will give you hands-on learning, which you can apply to your work instantly.

Are you wondering what to read or whom to follow?

Let me make it simpler for you.

Best sales management books:

Top sales influencers:

Crash courses on sales management:

There’s one more I can’t resist recommending. That’s Daniel Pink teaching sales and persuasion (MasterClass). Think of it as a refresher or a crash course on how to sell better. You must check it out.

Sales management podcasts:

I hope you find these sales management tips helpful. If you’ve any questions or suggestions, feel free to write to me. And if you want to experience how LeadSquared helps build highly-efficient sales teams, sign-up for a free 30-minute demo!