In enterprise organizations, the sales process often involves dedicated teams using complex outreach cadences, cutting-edge technology, and comprehensive sales channels. But what if you’re a smaller company that can’t rally the same breadth of resources in support of your sales initiatives?
Don’t worry. You aren’t doomed to mediocre sales because of your company’s size. There are several steps that SMBs can take to craft effective sales strategies by drawing on the consistent, data-driven processes employed by larger companies.
Step 1: Understand your customers’ journey
Simply put, you can’t craft an effective sales strategy if you don’t know where your sales are coming from. That’s why understanding the journeys your customers undertake when seeking solutions—and ultimately choosing your company—is so important.
Some insight into customer journeys comes from a Bigcommerce survey of 596 SMB customers. As part of this research, SMB respondents identified the following channels as their primary driver of revenue growth:
● Social advertising: 51%
● SEO improvement: 46.28%
● Email marketing: 40.27%
● Site re-design: 31.98%
● Google Shopping: 24.86%
● Selling on Amazon: 19.46%
● Influencer marketing: 16.57%
● Selling on eBay: 15.22%
That said, just because more than half of respondents identified social advertising as their primary revenue driver doesn’t mean that all of your customers will respond to this channel in the same way. Buyers have unique needs based on their job title or what type of problem they’re solving.
To determine how to sell to your unique customers, use this data as a starting point, but ask the following questions to better inform your sales strategy:
● How do customers find you?
● What do they like most about your product or service?
● Why do customers choose you over your competitors?
● How long is your sales cycle, on average?
● How do your prospects prefer to learn more about you?
● What is your average contact-to-customer conversion rate?
● What calls to action (CTAs) are most compelling to your customers?
Step 2: Build an ideal cadence based on your customer journey
Answering the questions above should give you plenty of insight into how prospects are finding your company and converting into customers. Using this information, you can build a sales cadence that allows your SMB to approach sales in a more structured way.
Long employed by larger companies, a sales cadence is a sequence of sales activities that are delivered in a consistent way and that can therefore be measured and iterated. Having a cadence in place also helps to ensure critical follow-up isn’t missed (and that sales aren’t lost as a result).
A good SMB sales cadence might include any of the following elements, among others:
● Phone calls
● Cold sales emails
● Social media outreach
● Proposal development
● Sales presentations
● Product demos
● Follow-up with multiple stakeholders
Let’s break down an example of how this might look in practice. For example, put yourself in the shoes of a small CPA practice that supports law firms. Your sales outreach cadence to a prospective buyer at the law firm could be:
● Day 1: Visit the LinkedIn profile of each law firm partner so that they have the chance to see your name before you reach out
● Day 2: Send a cold sales email built around the primary pain point experienced by your law firm clients
● Day 4: Follow up with a phone call, leaving a voicemail if you aren’t able to connect
● Day 8: Send a second cold sales email built around a secondary pain point
● Day 10: Follow up with another phone call
● Day 14: Send a third cold sales email sharing a helpful content resource, such as a white paper on accounting tips
● Day 16: Follow up with a final phone call
● Day 18: Send an outreach message through the social media platform on which the partner is most active
● Day 21: Stop by the law firm’s offices with print marketing materials to leave behind
If, at any point in the cadence, you connect successfully with the prospect, remove them from the cold outreach sequence so that they don’t receive unnecessary contacts. You can now move them into other cadences you’ve built—such as a nurturing cadence that begins once a sales proposal has been sent. This way, you maintain consistent contact while you’re waiting for them to convert to a sale.
You could also repeat the process with each partner at the law firm you’re targeting, until you either create a positive connection or have sufficient evidence to label the firm as an unengaged prospect.
Step 3: Identify sales resources within your SMB
In a perfect world, you’d have unlimited resources that could be deployed in service of constant sales engagement. But since most SMBs are working with limited time, budgets, or personnel, compromises usually have to be made.
To create a cadence you can reasonably execute, take the time to identify the resources that are available within your organization. Do you have:
● Dedicated salesperson/people who are already serving this function?
● The ability to hire a dedicated salesperson or reallocate an existing employee’s time to a regular sales function?
● Budget that can be put towards paid sales ads, technology or other campaign resources?
● The marketing materials and other assets needed to support those working in a sales capacity?
Conducting this analysis will reveal any gaps that exist between the kind of cadence you’d like to execute and what you can reasonably expect to perform. You can then decide as a team whether you want to adapt your target sales cadence or to find new opportunities to free up additional resources.
Step 4: Select 3-5 sales KPIs to track
The best sales strategies—whether for SMBs, enterprise-level organizations, or anything in between—are data-driven and measurable. That’s why your next step is to identify 3-5 trackable key performance indicators (KPIs) that will give you insight into how well your sales cadence is performing.
Possible KPIs to consider tracking include:
● Number of new inquiries
● Number of new prospects reached
● Number of new customers/purchases
● Percent of new inquiries that become new customers
● New customers/purchases by original traffic source
● Engagement with different points in the cadence
● Drop-off at different points in the cadence
● Total new revenue
● Average customer lifetime value (LTV)
● Average cost to acquire a customer (CAC)
There’s no right or wrong answer here. Choose metrics that are applicable to your business, that you can measure, and that give you the most insight into the health of your sales pipeline.
If you know you have a fairly high conversion rate of turning new prospects into customers, measuring the number of new prospects you’re able to reach with your sales cadence might be a good choice, since more prospects are likely to result in more sales.
If, on the other hand, you’ve generally experienced lower conversion rates, consider focusing on tracking engagement at different points in the cadence. This may provide much-needed insight into what types of messaging prospects respond to that can be used to improve the performance of your overall sales process.
Step 5: Improve your sales process based on data
The 2 KPI selection examples above hint at what makes adopting a set cadence as part of your SMB sales strategy so impactful: the ability to improve your sales process through performance data.
As you run your new sales cadence, look for opportunities to improve, as evidenced by the KPI data you’re generating.
● If prospects aren’t receiving every part of the cadence you’ve built, that could be a sign that your salespeople don’t have the resources they need to perform at the level you expect. Sales and marketing automation tools can help, but certain aspects of sales will always require manual effort. If your cadence isn’t being executed fully, either the cadence or your investment in it needs to change.
● If you see a high drop-off rate at different stages in your cadence, this could signal that you need more engaging messaging at those points or different channels of communication. Think through all the possibilities that exist. If you’re seeing low open rates on one of your cold sales emails, there could be a number of different culprits, from a lackluster subject line to an incorrect email address.
● If prospects are making it through your cadence, but not converting into customers, this could be an indication that your sales team may need additional training or resources to become better closers. Spend time shadowing your salespeople to suss out the root cause of your low conversion rates. Training may help, but so can technology. If your team frequently gives remote sales presentations, upgrading to a video conferencing platform (versus a standard conferencing line) can simulate the face-to-face engagement needed to facilitate better connections with engaged prospects.
Make changes based on the data you’re seeing, but then continue to monitor your results to ensure any changes you make are having the desired effect. By continually evaluating your sales performance and iterating your strategy, you’ll be able to enjoy the same benefits a consistent sales process brings larger organizations—no matter what size your company is.
*Jamie Davidson is the Marketing Communications Manager at Vast Conference, a leading provider of HD audio and video conferencing services.*