If you have been in business or in sales you likely have gone through some times when sales seem to stop coming in or your opportunities dry up in your sales funnel. Besides panicking, what can be done to change the course of your direction? What actions can you take to fill your funnel and bring back your sales revenues? Here are a few that I have learned over the course of 25 plus years.
Look to your customer or client base
Looking at your existing customers is the easy way to sell and find new business. They are already sold on your products or services. Try asking yourself these questions? Do you understand your customers or clients as well as you think you do? How does their business work? Have their marketing efforts paid off? What new business challenges to they face? What exactly do they do for their customers? What outside influences or competition has affected their business? I’ve learned that by asking good questions and genuinely caring about their business concerns, opportunities will start to fill my pipeline again.
Your best customers are your best salespeople
Most small business owners have four or five good customers or clients that are so happy with our products or services, that they are willing to tell others and sometimes believe more in our business than you do. Take these people out for a coffee or lunch and ask them if they can think of anybody that can use your products or services. All you need is leads or an introduction from them. Having these type of people on your side can increase your pipeline faster than you can on your own.
Resurrect old leads and opportunities
Look back into your CRM and find those sales opportunities that were abandoned from lack of interest, the timing was off or the funds were not there. Then review the reason and come up with a new solution for those who warrant a follow-up call. It’s amazing how a fresh set of eyes and new products or services can find solutions to old problems. Sometimes new people in the old accounts allow for new opportunities as well.
Schedule a follow-up week
Yes you need to find time in your schedule and prioritize and focus on digging up leads. Then start smilin’ and dialin’ as the old schoolers’ say. Now it’s time to comb through all those old leads and opportunities. So open up your calendar and schedule a week of follow-up calls. Contact those old prospects with the object to revisit and find new solutions with your new or improved products and services you now offer. I’m not suggested pushing products or services because you need to sell, but looking for opportunities where these fit in well and help your customers or clients.
Will you find problems? Yes but don’t let that stop you. Problems usually indicate to your customers and clients that you care about their business and are willing to help them out, not just make money through sales of your products or services. Sales means problem solving. Sales will come in based on your targeted efforts and your willingness to find solutions.
Must-have Video Marketing – It’s no secret that video is a hot marketing tool with Facebook likes and views 10-20 times over text postings. Creating quality video is important so avoid mobile phone recordings and uploads. It’s best to use a professional along with good editing for the best results. For the the best ROI, I would recommend only using videos for your high-end homes and properties.
Use Social Media – Beyond just photos today, Instagram is a great help tool for real estate agents as photos can be geo-targeted and very useful for location based services. As a real estate agent it’s all about networking and referrals as we discussed, so LinkedIn is a natural opportunity to target a more professional market. But be careful, these folks won’t put up with a lot of promotion or advertising so just network or post your informative blogs. Last but not least, whether you like it or not, you must use Facebook in todays online world. Your Facebook Page should match the look and feel of your website. Make sure you add a good call to action button, upload good quality photos and videos and make sure you post regularly about topics, not just you listings.
Integrated Blogging – If you’re not a writer, this tool is not right for you unless a friend or family member can be your ghost writer. Having said that, you may want to consider the huge benefits of blogging. Blogging is a more passive means of establishing your credibility as an expert in your field and it dramatically increase your SEO (getting found by web searchers). Start with embedding the free ones either www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com but the best way is to add it to your WordPress website.
Online Paid Advertising – For the novelist, Facebook Ads are a good place to begin and the are highly affordable. They also cater to the DIY market so set up and management are not required. Keep in mind these are display ads and not search ads. It’s kicking your marketing up a notch, but not breaking the bank. Google’s relativity new Adwords Express offer an affordable and more simple way to set up search ads to help your website rank better from the start. Retargeting should be put in place so people that click on your ads see your ads again during other searches.
Gorilla Marketing – This is the “ultimate thinking outside the box” marketing. It would include things like dropping off gifts for recent homeowners, handing out flyers door to door, having a table at the local mall, doing a local radio interview, or advertising on a bus or park bench. As far as your creative mind goes, so do the ideas.
It’s the best kept secrets that keep people wanting to know what you’re up to. These tools aren’t secret anymore but how you use them is your cutting edge in marketing yourself.
So you’ve been a realtor for a while now or perhaps you just started. As you probably know, your industry is all about marketing yourself, your Realty services and how you are different from all the rest of the agents. Perhaps these current ideas might help you get the competitive edge, increase your listings and attract new buyers. Here’s what I’ve seen and used for the tops sellers in your industry. Perhaps they might work for your real estate sales and marketing efforts.
Email marketing is an affordable, effective marketing tool with one of the best ROI’s in the marketing world. To build your list, add signup to your website, your Facebook page and your email signature. To improve signups, offer incentives; ideally something of good value to subscribers, but low cost to you. To get more opens with email marketing, keep your subject lines short and interesting. Reminder to keep your readers educated, not sold to. Use email automation that will trigger from signups sending out welcomes, birthday wishes and timed email series about you, your company segregate topics of interest and demographics.
Website Lead Capture
Most real estate agents use some form of sales CRM for leads, opportunities and task tracking. Using this sales tool has proven to increase sales opportunity to close ratios up to 24% by making sure that all leads are followed up in a timely manner. Most CRM’s have web to lead forms that can be added to your website to automate your lead generation process. Of course it goes without saying, your website has to be found, so good SEO settings must be made on and off your website so Google searchers will find you.
Build A Referral Program
As many of you know, one of the best ways to secure new business is through referrals from your past clients that are “happy campers.” Often these referrals are coming from friends and family. In fact, studies show that referrals and repeat business makes up 82 percent of all the business signed with real estate agents. However, it’s also a well known fact the only 11-12% of sales people ask for them. Therefore, it’s good to make a conscious effort to have a referral request conversation. Make sure it’s done through a natural dialogue so as not to appear desperate.
Get 5 Star Reviews
It couldn’t be easier to get reviews today with website widgets and social media. People are looking for and believe the reviews from other people. In fact, statistics say 88-89% percent of consumers look for 5 star ratings for businesses. Close friends or family referrals have been a proven way to spread the good word about good realtor services. This means making a conscience effort to ask for good referrals to use for your reviews of your quality services online.
Use A Professional
It might be worthwhile to take a few things like marketing off your plate. Did you know that the average business owner spends 20 hours a week on marketing? Besides, why wear so many hats and still only end up with average results and possibly harm your personal brand? It might be a good idea to hire a professional marketing agency or freelancer to take on the challenge. Good rule of thumb: spend 10% of your annual revenues on marketing for moving forward results.
To be on the cutting edge of Realtors today, you need a cutting edge. Watch for part 2. Same time, same place next week.
If you have been reading my blogs or just doing a bit of research, you are likely wondering what the difference is between email automation and marketing automation. Furthermore, you might be asking yourself, “When do I use them, why should I use them and what types of businesses can use them?” Just so you don’t get all tangled up, let’s first discuss the basic differences between the two online digital marketing tools.
This is intertwined into email marketing of which most of us have been using for the last decade as a push marketing tool. It’s kinda the cat’s meow because it’s used to email messages out to our customers and clients. The next level of email marketing is email automation which has been happening over the past several years. It’s now available to the small business owners, (not just the “big boys”.) This automated email system allows single or multiple emails to be triggered, timed and personalized to reach specific people based on their activities. A great example is a series of timed on-boarding emails triggered by a new customer purchase sending a welcome, more product information and a few user tips.
Marketing automation system is simply the combination and integration of a cloud based sales CRM (customer relationship management) and email automation. As sales and marketing teams merge together these days (finally!) this powerful and”purrrfect” combination streamlines and improves both buying and selling processes. Buyers are now more informed and feel less pressure thus improving the buying experience. Salespeople can spend more time with clients face to face while the email automation is working behind the scenes preparing potential buyers with solid product and services education. It also helps with the setting up the selling process.
So what type of businesses use these tools?
Email automation can be used for both B2C (business to consumer) and B2B (business to business) type of businesses. However, marketing automation from my experience, is really designed for B2B companies with a sales team. (although I’m sure those selling software may disagree). As an example, B2C businesses with online stores need email automation to encourage more buyers from abandoned shopping carts, specials and similar products to complete their purchases. A typical B2B company can use email automation with their triggered series of timed educational emails along with sign ups. Marketing automation in B2B improves lead generation and increases sales conversation rates.
Now that your questions have been answered, there’s one final important step: no matter what business type you have or the type marketing you choose, once you purchase these tools, they must be implemented. Not doing so would be a ‘cat’astrophe. After all, business is all about ROI. If you are going to invest in email and marketing automation, be prepare to lose a bit of time knowing that the initial loss will be your greatest gain.
Is your sales and marketing a tug of war?
Having come from a corporate sales and marketing background, I saw many sales and marketing departments very disconnected and disjointed – almost like a tug of war. Today we see the value of a connected and coordinated sales and marketing team. Paradigm shift has gone from 80/20 percent sales/marketing ratio in the selling cycle to 80/20 percent marketing/sales. Therefore, the need for the two to coexist in harmony is even more important. Integrating the two related departments incorporates these three things: lead generation, automation and consistent messages. It’s harmony instead of tug of war.
How do you connect the two?
Today connecting sales and marketing has never been more possible. Communication and marketing software is the key. There’s now no reason to be at either end of the rope. On the sales side, cloud based CRM integrated with email programs allows contact, tasks, calendar and file sharing on any device, anywhere there is an internet connection. As for marketing, leads for sales can be generated from both inbound and outbound marketing efforts. Sales leads and outbound automation help salespeople to focus on closing the deals. The pre- sale process has now become a thing of the past. Technically, combining a CRM with marketing tools requires an API (application program interface) key or code. It’s the connecting glue.
What type of software is required?
The type of software that makes these work are cloud based and are known as SaaS (software as a service). There are two ways to incorporate sales and marketing software together: The first option combines your choice of SaaS services and is very affordable. However, it requires few API skills. The other method is to purchase the new all in one services. However, you should be aware that there is a premium monthly fee and a substantial on-boarding fee. Common SaaS for separate services might be something like Salesforce for a CRM and Mailchimp for email automation API’d together. This combination starts around several hundred annually depending on the number of users and subscribers. The top brands for these all-in-ones are Hubspot and Infusionsoft. These two with on-boarding costs begin at thousands per year versus the hundreds previously mentioned.
What can be done with integrated sales and marketing?
There are lots of API integrations, but here are some common applications: By using a good CRM, not only can salespeople integrate activities and tasks into their email program, but they can also offer embedded lead generation to come from email campaigns, websites and ad landing pages. Signups can trigger welcomes, send out an education series of emails and notify clients on anniversaries or birthdays. Website eCommerce can streamline common transactional items to allow salespeople to work with more complex sales cycles. All of these actions have full management reporting for activities and results. Keep in mind that both solutions still require internal labour costs to create content and coordinate actions between the two teams.
Your marketing and sales could coexist in harmony
I’ve just tugged on the rope regarding sales and marketing integration. However, the point is to inform you about the benefits and provide you with some idea of their practical uses. Your marketing and sales tug of war could in fact, exist in harmony. I welcome your thoughts and inquires.