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Effective Customer Relationship Management
How to Manage the Sales Funnel

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Effective Customer Relationship Management – How to Manage the Sales Funnel
With technology constantly changing, the ways that consumers interact with companies has changed dramatically over the years. Before making a purchase decision, consumers will do their own research, they’ll visit websites and they will ask friends for recommendations – all before they make a single contact with a company. And even after that first contact it can be a long time before a purchase is made. Many B2B companies find that the sales cycle can last two years or more. What does that mean for the business owner? It’s vitally important to make the most of each and every lead that you get.

Why it’s Important to Nurture Leads – The Sales Funnel

Lead nurturing is the process by which a company keeps in regular contact with a prospective customer over time, sharing information and content that will ultimately persuade them to make a purchase. The idea of a “sales funnel” is a way to visualize customer conversion – the wide end of the funnel represents all of the prospects that come into contact with a company. The narrow end represents those that turn into customers. Effectively managing the sales funnel means providing appropriate levels of contact and information along the way to guide them all the way through the funnel. The problem is, not every prospect has the same interests nor do they enter the sales funnel at the same time. So sending all prospects the same information at the same time is not effective. How then, can a company provide the right mix of frequency and content? Three things are critical: 1. A clear plan of what to send, when to send it, and how often to send it. 2. An efficient process for sales managers to follow-up on leads and close deals. 3. A commitment to measuring results. When you focus your attention on lead nurturing and measurement, you’re able to understand the impact of your efforts so that you can make adjustments along the way. You’ll be able to capitalize on what’s working and fix what’s not. You’ll increase your ROI and drive better results.

Tips for Guiding Prospects through the Sales Cycle

It’s imperative that you give prospects information that they feel is valuable, in order to keep them moving through the funnel. It’s also important to keep them engaged with your company to create a dialogue, as opposed to a one-way communication. Asking them to take specific actions as a result of your messages – whether visiting your website, downloading a white paper, or contacting a sales rep – helps to get prospects interacting with you which will increase the chances that they’ll buy. It can be difficult to keep track of every prospect and where they are in the sales funnel, which is why Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have grown in popularity. A good CRM will help you manage the data about your prospects, understand where each is in the sales cycle, and organize the messages you’ve sent them

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and the messages to send them next. Some CRM systems even offer marketing automation which can be programmed to send communications at prescribed times. Whether or not you have a CRM, you need to understand how to communicate to your prospects and what to tell them. There are three key things to remember: Know your Audience, Deliver Great Content, and Be Consistent.

Know Your Audience: If you’re an online retailer of clothes and you have a prospect that has only shown interest in men’s clothing, you shouldn’t send an e-mail newsletter focused on kids’ shoes. You should strive with every communication to be relevant to your prospect so that they become more and more interested in your company and what you have to offer. Think about the different types of consumers that would consider your company, and develop profiles that you can tailor messaging for. You’ll demonstrate that you are the solution for their needs. Deliver Great Content: Provide prospects with information that will be useful to them. Send them tips, ideas and case histories along with offers for your products or services. Sales messages alone will have far less impact than will messages that have helpful, interesting information included. The more interesting, the more likely they will be to read your future messages. Be Consistent: Make all of your communications properly branded and recognizable. Your tone should be consistent from message to message and the types of information contained should be related. There should also be a logical, steady pattern of communication, to ensure that you are staying in front of your prospects. The more consistent you are, the stronger your brand will be – which helps you to stand out from your competition.
When you do these things well, your marketing communications will be more effective, and will be more likely to result in increased sales revenue.

Benefits of CRM

There are a lot of moving parts in effective lead nurturing, and keeping track of all of your messages, your prospects’ actions and your next steps can become unwieldy. CRM systems take much of the guesswork out of the process and help to ensure that all of your prospects are given proper attention. Investing in a formal system can provide a number of benefits that are simply not achievable via manual methods: 1. 2. 3. 4. Capturing the source of leads, and categorizing them by interests. Tracking the ways that a lead comes into contact with you – tradeshows, website, e-mail blasts, etc. Automatically sending messages to prospects based on their profile and spot in the sales funnel. Scoring leads based on their activity in order to identify which have the greatest potential to turn into a customer and when the best time would be for a sales rep to make contact with them. 5. Routing “warm” leads to sales reps for follow-up, and providing them with visibility into the complete history of prospect interactions. 6. Tracking the results of efforts, effectiveness of communications and rate of conversion. With a CRM, you are able to take your manual lead nurturing efforts a step further by tracking the actions taken by your prospects and adjusting future messages accordingly. Building on your prospects’ interests and the interactions they initiate, you are guiding them right through your funnel to becoming a valuable customer.

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12 Things to Consider when Choosing a CRM

If and when you choose to invest in a CRM, finding the right one to meet your company’s needs can seem overwhelming, with the many choices available today. They range from simple to complex, cheap to expensive, in-house or internet-based. Understanding what your needs are and what to look for in a system will help to make the search more manageable. After you analyze your sales process and define what features you are looking for from a CRM, consider these 12 things: 1. User Interface. The system should be user-friendly and have intuitive navigation if your sales and marketing teams are to be able to use the system to its fullest. 2. Ease of Startup. How much IT effort will be required to get up and running? Is the system compatible with your company’s hardware? 3. Level of Integration with Existing Systems. Depending on your needs, you may want a system that can integrate directly with your order management or invoicing systems. 4. Methods for Adding Data. Consider the various ways to add information to the system. Is it easy to add one-off prospects? How are large uploads managed? What is the process for updating data? 5. Ability to Slice and Dice. Prospects will not fit into tidy buckets, so it’s important to be able to slice and dice your prospect group to find trends and similarities that can guide messaging. 6. Level of Customization. As your business grows, your CRM should grow too. Look for a system that can be expanded with plug-ins or directly by your IT team. 7. Campaign Automation Capabilities. Is the system able to automate your sales and marketing messages? Can it schedule e-mail blasts, track activities and assign tasks to sales reps? 8. Reporting Capabilities. Adequate reporting is essential in any CRM, to ensure that you are maximizing your ROI. Understanding what you should expand and what you should change is critical for long-term effectiveness. 9. Security and Remote Access. Prospect data is proprietary and should only be accessed by authorized users. Understand the security levels available with each system, as well as remote access capabilities for offsite employees. 10. Provider Reputation & Level of Support. How responsive is customer service? What are their hours of operation? How long is the service contract? 11. Customer Testimonials. When researching vendors, speak to their customers and hear in their own words how they use the system and how they describe their experience. 12. Cost. The more bells and whistles, the higher the price tag. Consider your budget and work within what you can afford. In today’s competitive environment, you have to make the most of each and every lead that you get. Lead nurturing is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re capitalizing on every opportunity and differentiating yourself. Get started today and jump ahead of your competitors, capturing those precious sales opportunities and increasing your profits!

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Interested in Learning More about 3 Media Web’s CRM Capabilities?

Effective lead nurturing is only possible with a solid Customer Relationship Management system. 3 Media Web delivers those systems integrated with your website. We not only provide a seamless integration, we also help you create and maintain an organization-wide code of conduct for managing and maintaining customer relationship data. With an effective Customer Relationship Management system implemented by 3 Media Web, visitors to your website will become prospective clients by entering the funnel of your CRM database, allowing you to calculate the return on investment of your company’s internet marketing efforts. 3 Media Web’s team of expert designers produces innovative brand experiences tailored specifically to your needs. We work hand-in-hand with each of our clients, resulting in polished, flexible solutions at affordable prices. We create solutions to fit your needs – anyway you like – and 100% client satisfaction is our unwavering goal. Call or email us today to learn more about how we can go to work for you.

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We would love to hear from you!
We provide a variety of ways to reach us, whether you prefer phone, e-mail or good-old postal mail. Listed below are all of our contact details. 3 Media Web Solutions, Inc.

www.3mediaweb.com Toll Free: (877) 325-1131 1900 West Park Dr., Suite 280 Westborough, MA 01581 info@3mediaweb.com Facebook.com/3mediaweb

© 2001 - 2011 3 Media Web Solutions, Inc., All rights reserved. This document is property of 3 Media Web and is protected under U.S. copyright laws. No part of this document may be distributed, copied or transmitted in any form without prior permission from 3 Media Web. Have questions or need additional information? Give us a call. 877-325-1131

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