Everything in life at times boils down to one word – timing. Insurance agents can and should apply this concept to every sale they make. Cross-selling is one such area that largely depends on two things – timing and intent.

In simple terms, cross-selling is getting your customer to buy a product alongside what they were planning to buy, especially if it is a complementary product.

For example, when selling home insurance, your customer might open up about his son getting his driver’s license, which is an opportunity to cross-sell auto insurance to him.

So, there are two rules here: customer convenience and complementary/relevant/useful products. The correct cross-sell insurance model is always customized to your customer’s needs. Insurance cross-selling statistics show that:

  • 61% of policyholders have only one policy with their agent.
  • 29% have two policies with their agent.
  • 10% have three or more policies with their agent.
Percentage of policyholders and the number of policies they have with their agent.

These statistics show us that there are multiple existing opportunities for cross-selling within the insurance sector. Amazon has stated up to 35% of its revenue comes from cross-selling. Both the “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” sections advertise items that are similar to the one you’re looking at. When you’re cross-selling, look at products that inherently work well when paired – like a razor with shaving cream.

You might be wondering, what’s the best strategy to cross-sell successfully?

1. Understand your client’s needs

Understand your clients needs

None of us like being pushed into buying something we don’t need. The same goes for your customers when cross-selling policies or products. When pitching your sale, your primary objective should be to understand your client’s current situation.

Several individuals may recommend selling when policy renewals are taking place, which is excellent advice when done at the right time. But if your customer is in a financial bind or has little time to sit and chat, don’t push for purchases. Instead, the first and foremost step when selling is to ask-

  • “Do you have a couple of minutes to answer a few questions?” If no, thank them for the call and ask if there’s a chance to reach out to them at a better time.
  • “Thank you for taking the time to have this conversation. Is there a better time I can call?” If yes, go ahead and clarify with them the following-
  • “Do you have (insurance product) coverage right now?”

For example, your customer does not possess disability insurance. But statistics show that one in four workers entering the workforce will become disabled and unable to work before retiring.

Many employers offer both short- and long-term disability insurance as part of their benefits package. If your customer’s employer doesn’t, present them with the facts and statistics and inform them of the necessity of being covered by disability insurance.

So, enquire with the following insurance cross-sell script

  • Do you have disability coverage right now?”
  • If no- “That’s quite surprising as statistically speaking, 1 in 4 workers entering the workforce tend to become disabled and are unable to work before retiring.”
  •  “Your current employer’s coverage does not include disability protection which is more important than most of us may realize, especially because you are the sole earner in your family.”
  • Then, “Would you be interested in your long-term disability coverage options? It can be bundled with your current (insurance product) plan and save you money.”
  • Confirm that it is a good time to call, or if not, inquire as to when a better time would be to call them back for a disability insurance quote. If they say no, thank them for being a valued client and offer to contact them again if you come across a service they may be interested in.

If their employer offers coverage, find out whether it is long-term-

  • If yes- “Oh wow, does your employer offer long-term coverage?” If not, present a few facts about the costs associated with disabilities and explain how long-term disability insurance helps protect them and their family’s income if they’re the breadwinner.
  • “Your current employer’s coverage does not cover long-term disability protection, which is more important than short-term coverage as you are the sole earner in your family.”
  • Then, “Would you be interested in your long-term disability coverage options? It can be bundled with your current (insurance product) plan and save you money.”
  • If yes, confirm that it is a good time to call, if not, inquire as to when a better time would be to call them back for a disability insurance quote. If they say no, thank them for being a valued client and offer to contact them again if you come across a service they may be interested in.

2. Tracking and customer segmentation

Tracking and Customer Segmentation

Understanding customer intent and being on the same page is crucial when cross-selling. Customer segmentation based on specific criteria, such as location, type of insurance, age, family size, and more, can significantly help when it comes to cross-selling insurance.

Tracking client behavior is also essential to cross-selling at the right moment. When you track their policy purchases and coverage, you can visualize cross-selling opportunities for products they don’t currently possess.

For example, when selling any policy, it becomes a lot more appealing when personalized for the customer’s needs. 74% of consumers say “living profiles” with more detailed personal preferences would be helpful to curate personalized experiences, products, and offers.

Let’s take a look at two examples of cross-selling scripts, one that is personalized and another that is generic.

Personalized Script

“Hello, Sir/Ma’am. I was looking at your account and because you have a swimming pool, I always suggest getting an umbrella policy. What this means for you is, if there were ever an accident, you would have another $2 million in protection after your home insurance policy runs out at $500k. With people suing more than ever today, for $20 per month, wouldn’t you agree we should add that on?”

Generic Script

“Thank you for giving me the chance to assist you with your (insurance product) needs. Several clients bundle our insurance products under an umbrella policy to save money. Would you be interested in a new quote to check if you can save money on your (insurance product) policy?”

The first script is more convincing due to its personalized nature; in the first script, you know the client’s current residence. It is far easier to sell policies based on your customer’s unique needs than treating them as just another opportunity to cross-sell.

3. Automated cross-selling campaigns

Automated insurance cross-selling campaigns

Cross-selling through email campaigns is a popular method of reaching customers who aren’t available for calls. Automated campaigns are easier to personalize based on the segmentation of your chosen criteria. Once you create a template for your target audience, you can trigger a workflow that creates email journeys based on the same.

Create a drip campaign that markets a new line of business to your existing clients. For instance, one client’s business may be rapidly growing, which provides a wonderful cross-selling opportunity. For their insurance cross-sell email campaign, your template can be written along these lines-

Subject line- Hey Bob, protect your data before its too late

Hello (Name),

I wanted to congratulate you as I noticed that your business is booming! I also realized that currently you’re only coming under the commercial insurance coverage. As your company revolves around the use of technology, I greatly recommend investing in our Cyber Insurance. Cyber insurance protects your data from any external attacks which you may encounter as your company grows.

Plus, it means you don’t have to juggle multiple carriers; all your insurance is in one place.

Please call me on ———— or reply to this email so we can discuss different coverage options and your preferred policies.

Looking forward to catching up,
Signature

4. Policy reviews and renewals

Policy reviews and renewals

Your greatest cross-selling opportunity will almost always be during times of policy review and renewals. It’s the perfect window of opportunity to keep your customer aware of the benefits of a different policy they’re yet to invest in.

When your customer arrives for their review and renewal, ensure that you’re aware of their needs. Don’t enter a renewal having little to no knowledge of your customer’s current lifestyle and living circumstances, whether they reside with their family of four, their age, financial health, etc.

When a client’s policy is up for renewal, use an insurance cross-sell script to offer a bundled discount.

Simply ask if your client would like a free quote for coverage they don’t have after you’ve searched their account for products. Tell them if they qualify for a discount on a specific type of coverage.

Exclusive deals are popular among loyal customers. For example, a customer coming in for renewal has an 18-year-old son. This is typically the age of getting a new car, which provides you the opportunity to cross-sell auto insurance during the renewal.

But keep in mind that you can only do this if your customer is looking to get their son a car. A script to cross-sell in this setting would be along the following lines-

  • You: Hi, how have you been? Do you have some time to spare? I noticed something pretty interesting.
  • Customer: I have some work to get to, so not right now, please.
  • You: I understand. Shall I give you a call tomorrow, or what time suits you?
  • Customer: Okay, tomorrow works.
If the answer is yes, then you can continue with the pitch.
  • You: Do you currently have car insurance?
  • Customer: Yes.
  • You: Great, I was wondering if your son did as well, as we spoke about him getting a driver’s license a couple of months back.
  • Customer: We’ve recently bought him a car. I’m not sure if he requires it yet, as he’s still learning.
  • You: I understand, but I think it would be wise to invest in auto insurance earlier rather than later as accidents may happen while learning.
  • Customer: I’ll talk it over with him and get back to you.
  • You: Sounds great, do reach out to me whenever you need to.

If the customer already has an insurance policy, ask him when the expiry date is and follow up accordingly. If the customer does not have the other insurance policy, it is the best time to pitch your product immediately.

5. Create a client evaluation checklist

Create a client evaluation checklist

Finally, when cross-selling to a new client, you need to get a clear idea of their current policies. The best option is to send an online, paperless form that inquires about your client’s current life. The form can have objective and subjective questions relating to their home, family, health, and business.

A short and sweet form for your busy clients can still give you insight into new developments in their lives. Ensure that the questionnaire you create is relevant to the client answering it. When they finish filling it, you can segment your customers into smaller units.

For instance, if your client has a family history of certain health complications such as cancer or Parkinson’s, you can confirm if their health insurance covers these ailments specifically.

Also assess other details regarding their partner, children, and occupation. If they’re in the process of moving into a new home, you can recommend different insurance policies based on their residence.

For example, if the new area experiences flood more often than where they previously resided, you must suggest flood insurance. An evaluation created based on the policies your agency sells can instantly open new cross-selling opportunities. It won’t take much of your client’s time and will give a 360-degree view of the policies they require.

When you’re done evaluating your client, enter their information into your existing database and reach out to them accordingly. The most crucial aspect of cross-selling, as stated at the start of this article, is timing. When you have a system that tracks and captures client behavior in a quantifiable manner, you’ll have increased cross-selling opportunities.

If you’re interested in investing in one such software, try LeadSquared’s CRM to identify clients in need quickly.

A lot has changed in the last couple of years for college admissions. While the number of colleges has increased, students now have more options to pursue higher education. On top of that, online learning is also becoming mainstream. According to the Center for American Progress, annual undergraduate enrollment across all higher education institutions fell by 1.25 million students from 2014-15 to 2018-19 academic year, a decline of 5 percentage points. Also, during this period, undergraduate enrollment in public colleges dropped by 425,000 students—a nearly 2.5 percent decline.

Amidst this, how can admission officers analyze the applications of prospective students, communicate with them effectively, and attract the best talents to enroll in their schools/colleges?

We spoke to admission heads of leading higher educational institutions in the United States and understood some gaps in their enrollment process. And we arrived at a solution – using technology-based solutions such as Admissions CRM, admission officers can easily achieve their recruitment targets. You can listen to enrollment experts – Tom King and Lexington Maximus from The Art of Admissions or read the takeaways below.

Tips for Admission Officers to Achieve Their Enrollment Targets

While colleges are spending time recruiting reps, they don’t always have the right resources to optimize their performance. This seemingly simple shortfall leads to unfilled classes.

The following tips can help admission offers in better recruitment. 

1. Chase the right KPIs

Getting hold of a student, setting an appointment, and ensuring they show up is, no doubt, difficult. It is also the most important part of your enrollment cycle. 

Once they show up, it’s relatively simple to get them excited with virtual or in-person tours (especially if they are even slightly interested in your program). If you can master the “lead capture to showing up” process, you can expect a massive increase in your enrollments.

However, when we asked admission officers, what KPI(s) are most important for your admissions team, 65% of them responded – number of starts. 

Enrollment survey - Admission KPIs

We get the impression that admission counselors are more focused on the results, whereas they should focus on the KPIs that will bring those results. 

Career schools and colleges that successfully meet their admission targets focus on the following KPIs.

  1. Lead contact rate: It is the percentage of inquiries that admission officers contact via phone calls/emails
  2. Appointment set rate: The percentage of student inquiries that translate to appointments
  3. Appointment show rate: The percentage of appointments that show up for counseling, virtual campus tours, etc.
  4. Application rate: It is the percentage of students who showed up apply for a course
  5. Enrollment rate: It is the percentage of applicants who enroll.
  6. Start rate: The percentage of enrolled students who start.

Once you start tracking these KPIs, you will know exactly where the problem is. For example, if your appointment show rate is low, you’ll devise measures to fix that. You can send reminder SMS/WhatsApp text to the students about the appointment schedule and reduce the instances of no show. 

This way, by monitoring individual KPIs, you can fix the bottlenecks and close more admissions. 

2. Create an enrollment process for your internal teams and follow it diligently

Many times, institutions have a chaotic, unstandardized follow-up process. They often don’t know where the inquiry is coming from and who is following up with them. It is also the reason for a low inquiry-to-appointment show rate. 

When we asked higher-ed institutions about their inquiry-to-appointment show rates, 58% of schools have an inquiry-to-appointment show rate below 30%.

Enrollment survey - inquiry to appointment show rate

Most admission reps want to maximize their “Appointment Set” rates. But, not all of them are good at appointment setting. It’s not that they’re not putting efforts. But the gap is because they are not trained for such tasks. Also, because they are doing everything else – engaging with prospects, doing paperwork, getting the enrolled students started, and 100 other tasks – they don’t have enough hours a day to set appointments. 

Solution: To let your staff focus on a dedicated task, split your admissions team to handle the following tasks.

  1. Setting appointments: Have dedicated staff to set appointments for counselors/reps. Result = Higher appointment rates = Higher show rates. 
  2. Admission Reps: These are the people that love face-to-face or virtual interactions, showing off what your school is all about, making a great connection, and can get those enrollments. 
  3. Student Coordinators: These are the people that handle all of the paperwork, ensure that everyone can get the financial aid they need, facilitate orientation or other meetings. These are the people that make those starts happen. You don’t want your admission reps or your appointment setters chasing these jobs.

So, when your staff/team members are able to do their tasks proactively, you’ll observe better results. 

3. Have a contact strategy in place

In our survey, we found out that 40% of schools do not have a set cadence. Only 10% of schools have a set script (a specific sequence of emails and call scripts).

Enrollment survey - student contact strategy

If you let your reps use their unique methods every time, you will never know what works the best. If your team doesn’t know what to communicate, there’ll be inconsistency and ambiguity in your messaging.

So, brainstorm and create a plan (with scripts, replies, resources) before the enrollment season. Share all the materials with everyone involved in the admission process. 

To sum up:

  1. Plan a contact strategy: Your team must know when to call/text and when to email. Do not over or underdo these.
  2. Script everything: Define every conversation and everything else that needs to follow a consistent pattern. Aim at exploratory talks. For instance, what interests you in becoming a cosmetologist? What inspires you to become a cosmetologist?
  3. Prepare a follow-up structure: Define every possible follow-up path. How to follow-up with no shows, with someone who shows up and doesn’t apply, and for every possible drop-off point. 

4. Influence students to enroll in your course

We found that 42% of schools have an appointment-to-enrollment rate below 30%.

Enrollment survey - appointment to enrollment rate

In the thick of the new normal, with fewer campus tours and events, schools are failing at encouraging their desired students to enroll. Relying just on word of mouth doesn’t help reps build prospect relations. Campus tours exist to attract students with the look and feel of the college. Without this, schools are witnessing many drop-offs from their admissions funnel. 

However, you can still focus on virtual presentations and campus tours and recreate a similar experience. We have seen virtual presentations increase the lead-to-show rate by 29% and the lead-to-application rate by 19%. Virtual presentations are much easier as compared to in-person interactions. They can be fun, are much faster and compliant. Here are the best ways to do virtual presentations:

  1. Direct Your Set: Use green screens, good microphones, good light source, good video camera, etc., and it could all be set up for under $400.
  2. Direct Your Audience: Make the presentation engaging and charismatic, rather than just reading the lines mechanically. It will inspire way more action.
  3. Direct Yourself: Train your admission reps to be great presenters. Don’t just leave them with a camera and a Zoom room. 

With a helpful presentation, you can influence students to apply and enroll. Also, check out this article that talks about student engagement strategies for enrollment.

5. Take ownership

In general, because of the lack of a streamlined process, admission officers don’t have complete ownership over leads. That is why the instances of missed follow-ups and lesser enrollments.

A simple way to make your team accountable for their tasks is to track their performance regularly. However, not all institutions do that. We found out that nearly 40% of higher-ed institutions generate reports manually (through excel sheets).

Enrollment survey - admission officer's performance reporting

But if you see, tools like Educational CRM provide automated reports that can save hours spent navigating excel sheets. It is also the success mantra of institutions like Asher College, Stratford University, and more. 

So, get an admissions CRM that lets you customize and generate daily activity reports with just a few clicks. You can create custom dashboards and see just the information that matters to you and remove the rest of the noise.

To make your task easy, here’s a recommendation. 

“With LeadSquared, our contact rate went up by 13%, and scheduled campus appointments improved by 5%,” says Kim Gasper, Corporate Director of Marketing, Asher College. 

So, give a try to LeadSquared Higher Education CRM.


FAQs from Admission Officers

How can I become a good admission officer?

To become a smart admission officer, work on interpersonal skills, gather in-depth program knowledge, automate repetitive tasks such as reporting and emails, and use digital tools to work more efficiently. Software that is very helpful for admission officers throughout the enrollment process is Admissions CRM.

What is the role of the admission officer?

The main role of the admission officer is to analyze the applications of prospective students based on the institution’s admission policies. They interview students to understand their objectives and background. Admission officers also provide clarifications to student’s queries and guide them on their career goals.

Who is an admission representative?

An admissions representative is a staff member at a school or college who works with prospective students throughout the application process.

Demand Generation is integral to any successful marketing strategy. It is also a process with many moving parts that can be difficult to manage on your own, which is why automation is so important.

But first things first. The online revolution has been a boon to the science of demand generation. With the massive societal transition from offline to online consumption, many pre-purchase customer activities that were nearly impossible to track in the physical world have become easily trackable.

Automate and boost demand generation

Today, very few people dare to make a purchase without first searching online for information. So, why not help people with information and at the same time, explain how your product/service fits that need. For this, all you have to do is to track the online behavior of your prospects. Figure out what they are searching for when they are at a particular stage of your marketing funnel. 

Then, use this information to intelligently nurture your prospects and gently guide them down your funnel towards a purchase.

Using specialized platforms like LeadSquared, you can create an effective demand generation engine for your business that can fire on all cylinders.

This post will show you the 5 easy steps you need to follow to automate demand generation for your business and convert more leads into customers with a lot less effort.

Step 1: Lead Capture

Before you start up your demand generation engine, you need to turn anonymous website visitors into known identities to approach them later.

Lead capture is the process of collecting information about your site visitors and storing it in a contact database.

The goal is to gather prospects’ data such as contact information (email and phone number). It will help you track their online behavior (Step 2), nurture it (Step 3), score it (Step 4), and reach out to them and influence them to purchase your product/service (Step 5).

Now, to obtain someone’s contact information, you’ll need to provide an enticement, something your visitor values highly and that has no cost associated with it. This enticement is also known as a lead magnet.

A lead magnet is usually a digital product, such as an eBook, a white paper, an online course, and a webinar. You have to make sure that your lead magnet directly addresses your visitor’s needs and helps solve their problems. Also, structure your lead magnet to be a gateway into your paid products and services.

Here are some examples:

Lead Magnet - Webinar
Lead magnet - checklist
Lead magnet - free report

Step 2: Lead Tracking

Once you’ve captured your visitors’ contact information, you can track their online behavior through cookies and record them in a CRM software.

From that point on, you can find out instantly whenever they visit any pages on your site, from specific blog posts to product information pages and/or pricing pages.

Here’s a word of caution, though. The more information you request to release your free lead magnet, the smaller your pool of prospects will become. In other words, people don’t like to disclose too much personal information online. So, the more you ask, the more friction you’ll create.

Your goal with lead tracking is to have the minimum amount of information necessary to:

  • let them enable cookies
  • automate your nurturing process.

Asking for their first name would be practical for personalizing your communications. But you’ll soon find that some people will buck at that, and you may lose many potential leads.

Also, asking for a phone number, which might be helpful for your sales staff later on, is not required at the lead tracking stage. It is because most people are uncomfortable sharing this type of information. In short, the least personal information you ask for, the higher the number of leads you’ll be able to capture.

Finally, most lead tracking platforms will give you the ability to verify that the supplied email address is legitimate by asking leads to verify their address to receive your lead magnet.

At a minimum, never give direct access to your lead magnet through a link on your website. Just email the link to your visitors. There is another reason for doing this. If the email bounces, you can remove that email from your subscription list.

b2b sales and marketing ebook

Step 3: Lead Nurturing

Armed with the ability to track your visitors’ every online move, you can now create nurturing sequences using automated workflows.

Your CRM platform will let you set up a workflow to send nurturing email sequences to your subscribers based on the pages they visit on your website.

For example, if you offer home staging services and a visitor lands on your service description page, you can start them up on a weekly email drip campaign where you can send them a valuable staging tip every week.

Let’s say, at some point in the email sequence, a visitor clicks on your temporary-storage page. Here, you can switch them to a new drip sequence. This new drip will comprise emails with information on what to send into storage during the staging phase. You can trigger actions in real-time based on their activities. It will help you actively nurture each lead. 

automation reports - lead nurturing campaigns

Step 4: Lead Scoring

At this stage, you turn every signal triggered by your visitors’ online behavior into a score.

For example, if a visitor downloads an eBook, you assign them 10 points. Then, every time they open an email, you add 1 point to their lead score. And every time they click a link in one of your emails, you add 2 points. If they visit a product description page on your website, you add 3 points to their score. If they browse your pricing page, you add 5 points, and so on.

This scoring process helps you identify where your visitor fits in your marketing funnel. Once your nurtured lead achieves a significant score, say 50 points, you can then have your demand generation platform (or CRM) automatically fire a signal to your sales staff so they can contact them directly.

One of the most popular signals is an internal notification email to a sales rep. It helps them look up the prospect in your CRM tool and take action, which also leads us to the 5th and final step.

Step 5: Lead Conversion

A turn-key demand generation platform like LeadSquared ensures that every online behavior is captured in your CRM tool. It helps sales reps with all the necessary information (customer details, product requirement, buying intent, etc.) to make their outreach successful. For example, this information may include the names of a specific page or blog posts on your website the prospect has visited as well as the lead score that triggered the “heads up” notification.

All this information helps your reps get deep insights into your prospect’s mindset in a way that would have been impossible to do in the offline world.

Thus, when your sales reps engage with a prospect, they can address their pain points better. 

Also, if you want to sell more in less time? Watch this video with automation hacks:

Wrapping Things Up

Now that you know the steps required to automate your demand generation process to scale your lead conversions, it’s time to put rubber to the road and test drive a demand generation platform for your business.

The advantage of using Leadsquared is that it lets you implement all the above steps from within a single platform. So you don’t have to cobble together a bunch of third-party tools.

So, why not create a free account and give it a try?

Sales and marketing are two forces moving any business ahead, and there’s one thing you can be sure of – when they don’t work together, it is a paved way for serious problems in business.

In the light of the difficult 2020 year and continuing COVID-19 struggles, it seems that aligning sales and marketing is becoming a priority for many companies. A report by InsideView states that 54% of surveyed companies expect that their sales and marketing teams will transition into a single RevOps (Revenue Operations) unit.

Sales and marketing: so similar yet so different

There is a decades-long discussion on how to draw the lines between these departments. Yet, there are still a lot of intersections and blurred areas in what is sales and what is marketing.

A definition, or rather a distinction between the two, is that marketing is a set of efforts that drives interest in what you sell, while sales is about every activity involved in selling to those who became interested.

There is another definition stating that any depersonalized effort like ads, bulk mailings, in-shop ads, etc., is marketing. And when there is a one-on-one contact like a client asking a shop assistant to help choose jeans, or a salesperson calling a client is sales.

difference between sales and marketing
Image: kinesisinc.com

And still, there are myriads of possible misunderstandings between the two departments in literally any company.

Just one example – your marketing wants to push sales for product A and keeps it advertised, while salespeople re-orient clients to product B at every given possibility since they’re better motivated to sell product B. And there could be just too many such examples hurting your business.

13 best practices to align your sales and marketing efforts

Like most business areas, both sales and marketing involve agreement and cooperation at strategic and tactical levels. Let’s start with the strategic sales and marketing alignment best practices.

1. Define your customer persona

It can be a great starting point to describe a target customer. This will involve efforts from both marketing and sales teams. Try to answer the following questions:

  • Who is your typical customer?
  • How old is he or she?
  • What is their income level?
  • Where does this person work and live?
  • What pains do they have that can be solved by the solutions you offer?

Both your sales and marketing departments should have a crystal clear vision of your customer persona, so make sure their understandings do not differ.

sample customer persona
Image: usertesting.com

2. Define a customer journey

customer journey is a path the customer takes – from understanding the need for a product to purchasing. Your departments must understand and navigate the customer journey perfectly, each with its own methods. Therefore, both departments must understand the following:

  • How your customers look for solutions for their pains – ask friends, read forums, search in Google, etc. 
  • What words they use to describe their problem.
  • What they want to see in the solution.
  • Their fears and concerns about potential solutions
  • How they compare and choose between different products.
  • A step-by-step path that your user goes through from meeting your product to its purchase.

3. Come up with a common message

Consistency in messaging is at the core of sales and marketing alignment. When the above is agreed on by both the marketing and sales departments, you should develop a consistent message to tell the customers via their channels. It is way too often that marketing advertises something while salespeople tell a completely different story.

4. Have common KPIs

One favorite corporate game is blaming each other. The sales department usually complains that the marketing department brings junk leads, and the marketers complain that the salespeople can’t close the deals. Though many KPIs in sales and marketing are different, some of them should be common. Revenue can be a good start. Both teams ultimately work on this. Some other KPIs to consider are the customer lifetime value and customer acquisition costs. 

5. Develop marketing assets for every stage of the funnel

Marketing doesn’t end with passing a lead to sales reps or bringing customers to the shop. Salespeople need to know what to tell at every sales stage. And this is the kind of content the marketing department should prepare for them.

6. Think about customer retention and revenue growth

Attracting new customers is always more expensive than upselling to current ones. Marketing should provide sales with “stories” to follow up after a successful sale that can help to upgrade the deal or lead to continuous new orders. At the same time, sales should bring these success stories to the attention of customers.

7. Listen to your customers

Salespeople should carefully listen and pick the pain points their customers are telling, and the marketing team should take that into account. One of the ways to deal with it is to communicate how your product can address these pains. The other way is to modify the product to be a better fit for the needs of customers.

Sales and marketing alignment tactics

When the strategic issues are worked out, the next thing is to build a culture of working together on a tactical level. So we continue with some tips on this below.

8. Have regular joint meetings

It hurts the alignment if marketing and sales teams communicate too seldom. A good start is to have a weekly cross-team meeting to discuss how the sales are going, what marketing campaigns are planned for launch, and what support is needed for sales from marketing.

Another great idea is to have regular brainstorming meetings where both marketing and sales teams can share new insights from customers and ideate how to improve products or communicate product benefits.

9. Create marketing campaigns together

Involve the sales team in planning marketing campaigns. Salespeople often complain about poor marketing campaigns not helping the sales. To bridge that gap, allow the sales team to have a say in marketing campaigns. Of course, the marketing team can still lead on creative work or media buying. But sales reps can bring some valuable point of view, too. 

10. Share information

Both marketing and sales departments in your company definitely have a lot of reports or generated studies. Make some of them shareable between teams, so they can better understand how other departments are working.

11. Create content together

Usually, everything related to content creation is attributed to the marketing department. They develop the tone of voice, write website copy and articles, work with designers on banners and other visuals, send newsletters, etc. But you can involve the sales team in the content production as well. They’re the ones who talk most to the actual customers, and their input is very beneficial. 

Sometimes there are so many people working on a website and making so many changes every day. It may lead to several unintentional errors. Sales can be severely affected by this.  

Therefore, after you or anyone from your team make edits on the site, conduct a website audit to detect critical errors and fix them in time. You can use a dedicated tool for that, SE Ranking, for example. To run a thorough website audit with this tool, all you need is to enter your website address and get reports and notifications about errors found. 

SE Ranking - Website Audit Tool
SE Ranking website audit report

12. Let marketing hear the customers

The marketing team is often unaware of the “customers’ voice”. While the marketing department reaches out through surveys and questionnaire, it is crucial to let your marketers listen to how sales calls are going, what customers are telling, etc. It will help better target marketing communication to customers.

13. Rinse and repeat

Remember to get back to strategic issues regularly. Maybe you need to update the customer persona with the new knowledge you acquired about customers. See if the customer journey has changed over time. Examine if other points are starting to matter, which was not the case before.

Recollect all the strategic alignment items mentioned above, review them, and keep doing it regularly as nothing stands still in this world.

Summary

While sales and marketing generally work on the same goals, there is a great divide in how they function and the tools and approaches they use. It is important to keep sales and marketing from warring with each other and instead engage in mutual cooperation. This process is called sales and marketing alignment, and it falls into strategic and tactical mechanisms listed above.

Start implementing them in your company, and you will be surprised how much better the cooperation between sales and marketing will be, ultimately driving revenue and growth forward.


FAQs

What is sales and marketing alignment?

Sales and marketing alignment is the process that enables sales and marketing teams to collaborate and work strategically on common business goals. It helps teams deliver effective and result-oriented marketing campaigns, increases the number of qualified leads, boosts sales, and increases revenues. 

What kind of tool helps align sales and marketing teams best?

Sales CRM with Marketing Automation is the best tool to align your sales and marketing teams.


Read further:

Admission Funnel - a 12 step guide to streamlining admissions and boost enrollments

I recently joined a gym. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d last long. But here I am, eight months later – still going strong. The reason for me to keep pushing is straightforward – I could see a change in myself. And the best part – I love how my fitness trainer understood my goals and gave me a 6-month plan to achieve them. Way to go!

Now you must be thinking, what does this have to do with the admission process? Tell you what? Personalization is the key here. In my case, it is the personalized fitness plan from my gym. When it comes to your college or your applicants, the expectations aren’t much different.

Especially, in today’s time, when traditional brick and mortar education seems somewhat risky and impossible, managing admissions funnel smartly through personalized messaging has become crucial for institutions. However, building an admission pipeline that brings enrollments is not as easy as it looks. 

I tried to dig deeper and understand the actual admission process at career schools, colleges, and universities – taking insights from directors, admission heads, chairpersons, and chancellors. I was not surprised when I found out that most of them use a student management system or CRM to manage their admissions funnel.

Let me share my learnings. But before, a quick look at the basics of admissions funnel.  

What is an admissions funnel?

Admission or enrollment funnel is a series of steps that a lead (student) must cross – right from being a lead, to a prospect, to a hot opportunity to finally becoming a student. In short, it is a picturized representation of a student’s journey from inquiry to conversion. 

There are three distinct stages of an enrollment funnel – Top, Middle, and Bottom. Based on how much a student is interested in admissions, you can determine their stage in the funnel. 

If you are wondering why we call it a funnel, it is because casual inquiries (top of the funnel) will always be more than the admission-ready inquiries (bottom of the funnel). Let us discuss these stages of the admissions funnel. 

The 3 main stages of an admission funnel. Understanding this will help push students to enrollment faster.

Top of the funnel:

 From a student’s perspective, it is a window-shopping phase. They might be casually looking for colleges but are not eligible for or serious about enrollment. But from a counselor’s perspective, this is an opportunity to find students who will graduate soon and may enroll in one of your courses. The aim here is to generate as many leads as possible. So, you need only a few fields in your lead capture form. You can nurture them and influence them to take admission in your institution. The purpose of capturing the top-of-the-funnel leads is to build your admissions pipeline. So keep the lead fields as minimal and precise as possible. But make sure you gather all the relevant information that you’ll need to shortlist a candidate. 

Middle of the funnel:

 Here, the students are interested in your institution. It is the right time to connect them with admission counselors to understand their interests, concerns, etc. You can also send them brochures and invite them to open houses, virtual events, student communities, etc. You should clearly explain why your institution is the best option. A webinar or a personalized meeting can work wonders. 

In terms of leads, they reach this stage either from nurturing activities or directly from ads or your website. However, while capturing the middle-of-the-funnel leads, make sure you get all the relevant information – even if the application form fields are more. 

Bottom of the funnel:

These are the most active leads with a high chance of a conversion. Institutions can get away with longer forms at this stage as prospects have made up their mind and are ready to enroll.

Therefore, the engagement journey of these leads (student inquiries) will depend on their stage in the admissions funnel.

How to use the admissions funnel to increase enrollments?

It starts with student inquiry capture automation, covering aspects such as reducing the speed-to-lead, improving call center and admission reps’ efficiency. Let us look at this step-by-step.

Step 1. Determine the effective channels of lead acquisition and define a process to manage them

Capture student inquires from all online and offline channels and automate a defined process until conversion.

There are various sources through which you can generate student inquiries. However, not missing out on them and assigning them to a student counselor timely is crucial.

Social media channels, such as Instagram, Linked In, Facebook, and various third-party marketplaces or publishers, are the best ways to acquire student inquiries.

Building website landing pages and contact forms on microsites to drive campaign traffic is also effective. With multiple sources to rely on, generating student inquiries might not be that hard. Collating them from different platforms, tracking their status, and following up can be time-consuming. Now the question is – how to manage student inquiries?  

Excel to the rescue? Maybe not.

If you are using excel or spreadsheets to maintain this data, you will probably miss out on leads and follow-ups in the process. Hence, the best approach is to use an integrated enrollment solution.

What does an enrollment solution do?

An enrollment platform helps reinvent the admissions funnel – from lead capture to lead management and beyond. It helps counselors identify inquiries that are ready to enroll. With this information, admission representatives can prioritize calling these students and send meeting invitations.

Tips to personalize marketing campaigns

According to marketing insights, the number of global email users will grow to 4.48 billion users by 2024. The numbers confirm that Email and SMS marketing remains one of the most effective ways. However, it is essential to personalize the messages that you send. 

The study also reveals that the open rates for emails with personalized subject lines are 50% higher than emails without them. Yet only 2% of emails are personalized.

Next comes your email content. Instead of sending all the information into one email, send a series of at least three personalized emails. A study conducted by Omnisend in 2018 reveals that a series of emails perform better than a single email.

You can also use LeadSquared admissions CRM to capture leads and run a nurturing sequence automatically. With this tool, you can:

1. Nurture leads through personalized email marketing campaigns. Automate emails based on student profiles, interests, and engagement with your campaigns.

2. Choose from a variety of email templates, test their performance, and make changes instantly.

Step 2: Boost the admission rate with student and counsellor portals

Provide applicants with secure portals to view and manage their applications. Counsellors on the other hand can track all applicant details and progress through the counsellor portal.

Paperless applicant portals help you make the application journey easy for students. Also, a student-friendly form will always have a higher completion rate. The counselors get to know their audience better when the right field types for admission forms are selected and filled. Admissions-specific workflows help admissions teams focus on incoming inquiries, engage with more leads, and identify their intent in a more organized fashion.

With the help of a student portal, you can:

  • Create Responsive Student Application forms – Make it easy for students to manage their profiles, upload documents, and more.
  • Speed-up Your Enrollment Process – An automated enrollment system configures applicant details, documents, payment, and e-signature. You can set reminders and alerts for certain tasks for faster processing.
  • Collect Signatures and Documents Electronically – With the help of a student portal, students can digitally sign and upload enrollment documents. From a counselor’s perspective, they can access documents online and save countless hours spent in shuffling and document management.

Step 3. Track the student journey

Track and manage the end-to-end student journey

A study by Asend2 suggests that 57% of marketers agree that lead nurturing is the most crucial aspect of closing a customer. Therefore, it is necessary to have the right set of sales and marketing tools at your disposal. 

For instance, tools such as admissions CRM provide team members with relevant information regarding courses and curriculum that students would find value in. At the same time, it is also necessary to understand the student’s intent for admission. Again, CRM tools can help capture the intent by tracking the student activities on your website, social media, and ads.

Below are a few points to keep in mind while tracking student activities:

1. Track web activities: Track the student’s intent on your institution’s website through page views, CTA clicks, video views, and more.

2. Track the time spent on the website: Figure out how engaging your content is (and what your students are interested in) by tracking the time spent on each page and analyzing the bounce rate.

3. Track the effectiveness of pages and content: Track link clicks and understand if the content encourages the student to take action.

4. Track sources: Identify if student inquiries are coming from social media, search engines (organic traffic), digital ads, or through publisher websites.

Step 4. Prevent application drop-offs

Prevent student inquiries from dropping off in between applications

Usually, the college application forms are lengthy. While colleges need this information, students may drop off in the middle for several reasons. Let’s understand this with an example. Vivek, a student, comes across one of your courses on your university website. He starts to fill in the details so that your admission counselors can reach out to him. However, he gets a call from a friend and abandons the form. He might still want to inquire about your institution, but he forgets to do so. 

What next? 

Did your college lose a student? Not really. Tools like education CRM will capture the exact entry and exit details. So, your counselors will know how to pursue Vivek and understand his intent.

You can also run remarketing campaigns to remind Vivek to complete his application. The best part is – CRM tool lets you initiate and pursue communication through numerous channels, such as emails, texts, calls, WhatsApp, and more. Also, instead of starting again, applicants can pick up from the point they left. All of these will sum up to a better student experience

Step 5. Personalize your messages

Personalize your messages by creating multiple touchpoints with applicants over social media and other sources.

A study by leadsimple reveals that contacting a person within 5 minutes of an inquiry increases the chances of conversion by nine times. However, it is practically impossible to call them immediately.

Solution?

Align marketing and admissions by sending out targeted messages to students/parents who inquire about the courses on your website contact forms/Landing pages. 

So how do you ensure a personalized communication with students to keep them engaged?

No matter how or when a student fills out a form, the enrollment system creates a curated touchpoint. It helps engage with the student till a counselor reaches out to them.

Step 6. Automate application processing and connect all your teams

automate "next-steps" right from the time an applicant inquiry lands into your system. Define the workflow and let the automation take care of the rest.

With the help of a workflow builder, you can keep all the teams informed and connected. One can automate actions at different steps in the student journey. (For instance, if the student doesn’t finish the application form, the counselor gets notified). Once the application is complete, it is automatically sent to the verification team. Accepting or rejecting an application can be based on several automated or manual criteria.

Step 7. Student inquiry deduplication and distribution 

Segregate the applicant leads based on multiple criteria such as priority, existing lead in system and more, and equally distribute them among admission counsellors based on lead and agent attributes.

Duplicate leads are a concern for most educational organizations. For example, when a student inquires about your courses on your website and social media, it might create a duplicate record in your system. Such duplicate entries decreases the productivity as different counselors may spend time pursuing the same lead. But a deduplication logic in place ensures the counselors work only on unique leads. From a prospect’s perspective, deduplication improves their experience by reducing the chances of redundant communication.

Admissions CRM makes it easy to filter duplicate leads. Instead of creating new records, it updates the existing record with lead activities. After filtering the data, the system automatically assigns the lead to the counselors for follow-up. This distribution can be done based on specific lead or counselor attributes – unique to an institution.

If the counselor is unavailable or there is a delay in reaching out to the prospect, the CRM system assigns the lead to the next available counselor. The system also solves the problem of overloading your counselors with leads at any given point in time. With a capping logic, the system assigns an appropriate number of inquiries and distributes them equally among the team.

Step 8. Figure out whom to call first. 

Pull out the high-priority applicants first based on triggers that inform you the chance of closure

Admission counselors and call center agents struggle with figuring out whom to reach out to first. So, how to prioritize student inquiries that have a higher chance of conversion?

In high-velocity operations, like that of educational institutions, 100s of admission inquiries flood in daily. It is impossible to call every lead – resulting in missing out on follow-ups and recruitment opportunities.

So what should you do?

Prioritizing leads based on a scoring system can help you in this case. Lead scoring plays a vital role in prioritizing and selecting admission-ready students. You can assign scores based on the student’s involvement in your offerings, student attributes, and activities.

When a student frequently checks your emails, spends time on your website, or interacts with your content, it means that they have a higher chance of a conversion. Parallelly, the stage of the student in the admissions funnel changes. Tools like admissions CRM help you automatically segment inquiries into different buckets like inquiries, applications, eligible/opportunities, and more. This list can also help you prioritize follow-ups. For example, you would want to talk to eligible candidates first. Prioritization and segmentation also help counselors better assist the student and move them forward in the admission cycle.

Step 9. Get a call center solution for counsellors

Ensure no student inquiries are missed with the help of a call center integration that keeps your admission agents informed at all times.

In the education industry, the lead volume is usually high, the channels are many, and a large percentage of students don’t finish their application forms online. It isn’t easy to ensure that all students are reached out on time. Hence, a call center system ensures that you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

A study by Microsoft reveals that 56% of consumers have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience. Out of that, 47% of consumers moved to the competitor. It indicates that colleges should take care of all calls and resolve student inquiries without delay.

Step 10. Boost admission counsellors’ efficiency

Boost the efficiency of admission counsellors by segregating the enrollment ready applications first

Most educational institutions use an integrated CRM with a contact center solution or an IVR to never miss out on leads. It provides your program associates/counselors a 360-degree view of students and their requirements. It helps them deliver a personalized service.

Instead of purchasing a separate call center suite and CRM suite, implementing an education CRM that comes with a call center integration is the best choice for educational organizations. Progressive/predictive dialing features of CRM will allow you to call high-priority prospects automatically.

Step 11. Track student activities throughout their lifecycle

Track all interactions and touchpoints of students with counsellors, webbsites, emails, webinars and more.

Once the student inquiries get distributed among counselors, they can see student details in one place. It also gets easier to identify their position in the admissions funnel. They can see all assigned leads, opportunities, activities, tasks, and other details through a single dashboard. The activities overview will help you map the student journey – from inquiry capture to enrollment.

For instance, in LeadSquared Admissions CRM, you can set up the following views: Application completed for MBA, Engineering, Arts, and other courses that you offer. You might add different buckets such as new leads added, leads assigned to do, lead overdue, progress to do, or other filters.

Benefits of using Admissions CRM – 

  • It gives counselors a single work area for accessing lead details, opportunities, activities, and tasks.
  • Provides a better alternative to filters – you can see your saved filters as tabs.
  • Shows you the leads count on each tab.
  • Automatically refreshes so your tabs are always updated.
  • You can also receive daily reports for the views you create.

Driving conversions is a tedious task and requires support from seniors and experts. Therefore, managers should be able to see the team’s activities and take appropriate actions.

To give you an example, an important aspect of enrollment process is follow-ups with prospective students. The chances of reaching a lead are 100 times higher if they are called within 5 minutes. However, with the sheer volume of inquiries that educational institutes receive, missing out on follow-ups is common. 

But what if you could track the daily operations for your teams, such as calls made, emails sent, and follow-ups missed, and intervene when necessary?

With the help of analytics, managers can have complete visibility and transparency about the daily activities of student counselors and their overdue, completed, and upcoming tasks. If a counselor has not worked on an inquiry for a long time, the CRM tool will escalate and route the lead to another counselor automatically. It ensures a seamless admission process.

The following are some of the essential metrics that you can track on CRM:

1. Emails sent by counselors and their click and open rates.

2. Call volume, connect rate, and successful conversation numbers.

3. Call recordings and email audits

4. The number of students in each stage of the admission pipeline

5. Meeting schedule of your field sales team on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

6. The admissions your counselors close or commit to the admission pipeline.

7. The revenue contributed vs. the activities of the counselors.

8. Missed tasks and activities.

Step 12. Track KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

A detailed analysis of ongoing business activities in a decision-ready format is necessary to streamline admissions. Performance metrics on sources, campaigns, admissions teams (online and offline teams), counselors, call center agents, and more should be revisited in a timely format.

With reliable Analytics, you can redefine your strategies and invest more in profitable sources. Thus, payment milestone reports, phone call metrics, student admission stage transition analysis, and complete reporting for all your processes, teams, courses, and campaigns can help boost admissions.

“It is necessary to track metrics while enabling a virtual ecosystem. Telecalling, counselling, campus tours, staff interaction should be available to students and parents, hence technology is extremely important at this stage. Institutions should concentrate on their core areas such as placements and academics. Admission is just a phase but reaching there requires several pre-requisites which need to be emphasized. The number of inquiries, admission forms, virtual and physical campus visits needs to be tracked. People are more informed now and shifting to a digital model has been effective as it provides a detailed outlook on ROIs.

Rahul Singhi, Director & Co-Founder, Poornima University.

Education institutions should track the following KPIs:

  • Overall performance of lead generation sources, admission counselors, teams, and marketing campaigns
  • Team performance
  • Product (subjects, courses) performance
  • Campaign source performance
  • Agents performance
  • Return on Advertisements (ROAs)

How can colleges reinvent the admissions funnel?

Managing your enrollments and inquiries on excel or multiple platforms might serve the purpose for now. It however gets KO’d when we consider a consolidated enrollment management tool. With the help of an enrollment CRM, educational institutions can manage, try, and test best working strategies in the student enrollment process. Gaining visibility into the admissions funnel makes it easier to push inquiries to enrollments faster. 

The CRM also helps your admissions team to capture student inquiries, check their eligibility, follow-up, collect documents, and complete the application process digitally. From a student’s standpoint, it allows them the flexibility of applying to your courses online at the comfort of their beanbags, check their application status, submit documents, pay fees online, schedule screening tests, and way more. Thus, it reduces a typical month-long student journey filled with tedious paperwork.

With LeadSquared’s end-to-end enrollment CRM backing your admissions team, ensure quicker student conversions.


FAQs

How do you convert an inquiry into admission?

A student inquiry usually follows a predefined path, also known as the enrollment funnel. Having clear visibility into the enrollment funnel helps admission teams understand the intent of the applicant. Therefore, they can take necessary actions and guide students as and when needed. Also, metrics, such as email opens, website visits, and social media interactions, give the admission agents a complete context of the students’ intent and helps drive enrollments.

How to optimize the admission funnel?

Admissions teams usually focus more on generating leads. However, to attract the best talents, they should also focus on optimizing the admissions funnel. It means – collecting necessary student information, shortlisting them, sending them personalized communication instead of email blasts, and devising automated student engagement strategies. Tools such as Education CRM help in optimizing the admissions funnel. 


Read further:


Home » Archives for May 2021

Key Discussion Points:

  • Lead Capture Automation: Never miss a single lead or business enquiry and ensure zero lead leakage from all your channels.
  • Lead Management: Track each and every interaction your leads have with your website, blogs, telephony, chat systems, and salespeople.
  • Lead Engagement: Reduce response time and nurture relationships from lead capture till closure, with marketing automation.
  • Sales Productivity: Track and manage all your products, teams, and processes in one platform, and measure every effort your team makes.

Speaker

Huthayfa-Nawafleh

Huthayfa Nawafleh
Founder & CEO, Vam Consulting LLC.

More than 10,000 businesses around the world took his classes on marketing & business development. Your business can become more successful when you learn & apply what Huthayfa shares on social media every day.  His Value Added Marketing “VAM” Framework helps thousands of businesses grow their revenue & make 10X profit.