Mark Halstead of Red Flag Alert explains how data can be used to convert prospects into sales.
Whether you are leading a sales team, investing in a company or sitting on a board, understanding how to grow a business is crucial. In this article, we’re going to discuss how using data can revolutionise a sales operation.
Here are five examples of how data can help to improve your sales:
1. Build Highly Specific Customer Segmentation
Using data to segment your customers is a sure-fire way to enhance your sales and make sure you’re targeting the companies most likely to be receptive to your business.
When trying to sell your product or service, it’s a much better use of your time and resources to focus on selling to a specific audience rather than trying to target everyone. For example, specific SIC codes can be used to pinpoint what activities a business undertakes – helping you target a very niche subset of businesses.
Data can also be used to filter companies according to financial performance, net worth, industry, location and size, as well as recent growth, expansion, liquidity, new directorships, and overall financial health. Information can be particularly useful to understand whether a company is ready to buy; for example, newly appointed directors are often interested in generating new business and may be far more receptive to your proposal when they’re first appointed.
2. Deliver an Effective Sales Pitch
Personal interaction with a salesperson is one of the most influential parts of the sales process. Research has shown that although salespeople often think that the way to win a sales pitch is to focus on the features and specifications of their product, buyers prefer pitches that specifically address their pain points and highlight how the product or service can solve their particular problems.
To do this, it’s essential to gather as much information as possible about the company. All kinds of data can help to create a tailored sales pitch, from using detailed SIC codes to understanding exactly what it is that a company does, to assessing its financial health to enable you to create realistic quotes suitable for the company’s budget.
3. Use Sales Triggers
We all know how frustrating it can be trying to get your leads to convert into sales. If you feel like you’re spending too much time and money sending out emails, writing guest blog posts, and advertising without seeing any benefits, it may be time to rethink your strategy.
Don’t forget that timing is everything; this is true in the sales world too. It could be that you’re targeting the right prospects in the right way but at the wrong time.
Using data to target companies exactly when they are most likely to be receptive to your business can have a profound effect on your sales conversion rate.
Let’s take a look at a couple of sales triggers that may suggest that it’s a good time to offer your services to a company:
When a lead’s financial strength is improving
Businesses that are performing well and increasing their revenue are likely to be looking for opportunities to expand and grow.
These companies may be particularly receptive to approaches from investors or marketing agencies.
When a lead hires a new director
New directors can be particularly receptive to new ideas and proposals. Data can also be used to examine the director’s previous work and predict whether they are likely to be interested in your product or service.
Evaluating a director’s other business interests may give an insight into how they work; data helps monitor current clients to see if they gain new business interests – a perfect opportunity to cross-sell.
4. Tailor Your Marketing Message
Once companies have been broken into segments, data can be used to create tailored marketing messages that appeal to each group of customers.
It’s common for businesses to have several different types of customers who will be interested in different products and services.
It’s important to understand the needs and pain points of each different group of customers and to tailor your marketing campaigns effectively. For example, if you sell bespoke office furniture and one of your target groups is small start-ups with a maximum of ten desks, you could email them about your special starter pack of affordable, functional office furniture.
Conversely, when targeting a large, established law firm that you know has a larger budget, you could focus on your luxury package and how your sleek, plush furniture will impress their clients.
Think about the best way to contact each group of prospects – younger companies may be particularly receptive to adverts or direct messages on social media, whereas it might be better to contact smaller, local businesses by phone or even by dropping by the office.
5. Improve Lead Quality
Although it’s possible to single out good prospects using your experience and intuition, using data to improve lead quality is a more measured way to increase sales.
This article from the Harvard Business Review archives talks about some of the ways General Electric used data to increase their conversion rate by 19% in just one year.
Here are a few key points from their winning strategy:
Concentrate on your best leads
Identify your best prospects by using data to refine your search. For example, if you notice that most of your clients are based in London and have annual revenue of £10 million or more, focus your efforts on these types of companies.
General Electric found that the top 30% of prospective customers were three times more likely to convert than the bottom 70% – this meant that they could focus on winning business with companies which were most receptive to their product.
Manage your sales areas based on lead quality
Review your sales territories so that each sales team is fairly balanced and consists of companies likely to convert.
If you have a sales team with only poor quality leads, it’s unlikely that they will achieve strong conversions. Conversely, if you have a ‘star team’ which always take on the high-quality leads, this can cause problems if there isn’t enough time to dedicate to each prospect.
Give salespeople the right leads
Don’t always give your best products to your highest-achieving salesperson, leaving newer staff members with poor leads.
By giving less experienced staff a chance to work on high-quality leads, they will get up to speed quicker and may soon give your highest achievers a run for their money.
Mark Halstead is a partner at Red Flag Alert, a platform that provides highly accurate data on over 6 million UK businesses, with information updated daily and delivered in real-time.