As a marketer, when was the last time you procured a cable television ad for your product or service? Sent a direct mail flyer? Found yourself writing “thirty second radio spot” into your marketing budget? While these and other traditional marketing mediums do have validity, they certainly aren’t the go-to channels in this increasingly digital culture. If you do use them, it’s likely to drive your prospects to a more engaging interaction with your brand—that is, any situation on any medium that allows you to give them an experience by talking with them, not at them. Speaking of talking with prospects, when was the last time you picked up the phone? If you’re like many marketing purists today, you might think email alone is enough. Newsflash: It isn’t. Here’s why.
I know I just talked about some antiquated advertising methods, but I’m not counting phone calls in that group. Why? Well, you can’t get instant feedback from a radio or television ad. There’s no way to gauge the validity of a lead by sending them print collateral. Phone calls, though? Phone calls can provide real-time insight into which leads are worth pursuing and who just provided their phone number so they could get the free download. Oh, and phone calls work. Data shows that if you’re the first viable vendor to reach a decision maker, the average close ratio for your organization is 74 percent.
Compelling, right? There’s one surefire way to NOT be the first viable vendor to reach those decision makers: Send one of the 205 billion emails cramming inboxes daily and forget about it. Or, and perhaps even worse, throw the lead over the wall to the sales team without making any effort to qualify it. (FYI: Your sales team doesn’t appreciate that.)
I’m not saying email marketing isn’t a great way to connect—it is. In fact, it’s ranked number two (right behind web site traffic) on our list of most effective lead generation tactics from our 2015 survey report on lead generation. Moreover, my colleague, Daniel Newman, recently went in-depth on just why email marketing is still a huge tool for businesses.
What we’ve proven here is that both phone calls and emails work, but they work best as part of a comprehensive lead nurturing system. That’s precisely why your organization needs a dedicated Sales Development Team (SDR), the best way to help cut through all the noise at the middle of the funnel. Remember that sales teams should not be doing their own prospecting, so the point of these SDRs is to get the best leads to the best sales people—and quickly. Currently, the average SDR rep makes 52 calls per day, but it can take 18 to get a meaningful interaction. (For context, those numbers are pretty comparable to the 20.7 percent open rate in the U.S. for B2B emails last year.)
Social media plays a big role in the sales process, especially since most of the population today is connected to a smartphone or another digital device regularly. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and others have opened doors for every aspect of business, from marketing to customer service to product development. If it seems like a big jump to incorporate phone calls into your marketing routine, take a tip from my social selling friend Jack Kosakowski. Jack regularly reminds people to connect via social media to start a relationship, as most are comfortable in this type of digital communication. Then, take the conversation offline and pick up the phone.
According to Jack, “The role of Social Media in the sales process is to create, strengthen, and influence the sale. It should never replace the 1:1 conversation that has to take place on the phone or in person. The sales reps that have success using social are the ones the have a workflow built in using phone, email, and social in unison to communicate with their buyers.”
As for me? I couldn’t agree more.
Moral of the story: It’s your role as a marketer to do what you need to do to get your sales team—SDR or not—the best quality leads. Keep an eye on the funnel from end to end, making sure they have the right cultivation tools, training capabilities, and messaging. That might mean connecting on social, sending an email, making a phone call, or—(gasp!)—all three.
Don’t wince. You can do it!
What are your thoughts? How does your marketing department generate and nurture leads? Do you consider the telephone a marketing tool these days? I’d love to hear your thoughts.