If you are a small business or a startup, Resource Crunch is your everyday reality; in budgets, people and time. You want to build your sales pipeline, retain good customers and grow revenue as optimally as possible. As a business owner or founder you are wearing multiple hats, juggling with reality and long term vision, and, trying to run the company as optimally as possible. The truth is, while you are doing all that and looking at how to grow your sales, you are probably ignoring some super easy, no cost channels that are simply low hanging fruit.
No matter what product or service you are selling, how big you are, where you are located, which markets you service, you definitely have three assets - Clients, Employees, and Website. The key is to focus on Word of Mouth or Network Marketing and Inbound Marketing.
So, here are three strategies to leverage those assets to the hilt and lose some of the stress you are carrying around on showing growth!
Get referrals from current and past clients
Sales by nature is focused on moving forward and the next deal. This is especially true in a growing company where client team is typically split as pre-sales and closing sales, and, post-sales or relationship managers. While everyone is usually in sync in delivering service to the client, none really focus on leveraging that great service back for the company.
10% increase in WOM = sales lifts between 0.2 – 1.5%.
Let's look at the real numbers. A recent Marketo study showed that Referrals are the most efficient channel of acquisition with a nearly 11% conversion rate (on average) from lead to opportunity. At the same time, they have 2X the conversion rate of traditional cold calling techniques.
The second advantage of Referrals is that it actually deepens and establishes existing relationships even further. A typical positive client journey follows the below four steps process -
This journey from user to influencer actually allows for a two way gratification. It is not all about you, clients (B2B or B2C) with positive experiences actually like being actively involved with your growth. Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4-6 people about their experience (source: Bright). On social media, 58% of consumers share their positive experiences with a company, and ask family, colleagues, and friends for their opinions about brands (source: SDL). It gives them the satisfaction of being part of your journey as sponsors as much as users. Even more, as promoters they have a vested interest in engaging more with the product and therefore create more business from existing channels that have control over.
Get all your employees involved
Companies often overlook the power of the network of employees beyond the sales, marketing and executive teams in enabling new and more sales. Since they are not directly client facing, it is easy to forget that these employees form as powerful a network and are the true brand ambassadors of the company. But, in today's world of social influence, every employee is and can be client influencing. Especially, as they are natural promoters of the company.
Tools like Salesforce, Nimble, DataHug, and, several others offer great ways to integrate the professional networks of teams into target achieving lead generation. Especially for small companies, to make the most of the power of referrals, every employee of the company should be onboarded onto CRM system. At $15 per user, Nimble is a no brainer for small company teams.
By simply being transparent and inclusive, companies can create collective success in growth goals.
Even if you don't have a CRM system yet, the easiest to do is get your employees involved in talking about the company in offline and online channels. This can be done by offering incentives, direct or general, aligned with company and particular growth goals. Even if you cannot afford cash/equity incentives, getting everyone involved creates positive resonance and emotional buy-in into the company leading to greater productivity, retention and cycle growth. By simply being transparent and inclusive, companies can generate internal sales momentum and get everyone in sharing the dream of collective success.
Add a SignUp button on every page
You have a website, a facebook page or a Linkedin page. there is no getting around that. So, let's put that to good use. Yes, you know content marketing is a great tool for building a brand and, also, lead generation. And, you are putting out some form of content, maybe not regularly; perhaps, a newsletter. But, did you know that between your website and your social pages, you can create a channel just as powerful as direct referrals? And, there is one significant reason why this is step is signifcantly more ROI than any other. To set it up and run it is a one time investment, that need no additional resources to keep it going.
You can go to any length to incorporate content and digital assets into your sales plan. However, the simplest and most rewarding step you can take in this direction is to add a Sign Up to Updates button to every page on your website and social presence. On your website, add a opt in button at the bottom of every page. If you have a section reporting the latest and greatest you have been up to or spoken about, make sure you have a button there. On Facebook, use the "Call to Action" button as a static way to sign up to your newsletter or email campaigns. Even if you, as the CEO/COO is sending out the weekly or monthly action letters, you can easily manage this channel while enabling your sales team with a continuous stream of marketing qualified leads that they can act on.
between the website and social pages, you can create a channel just as powerful as direct referrals.
The Sign Up button is a crucial part of an integrated sales and marketing strategy. It can take any semantic form such as the simple signup, download, click to redeem, get the ebook etc. If you have more resources, this tool can be expanded to be more powerful and dynamic to address specific needs of the company. For example, you can target specific content aligned to specific sales goals.
To make the signup button effective,
Encapsulate the value upfront
Don't have a plain "Sign up for updates" link. Instead entice the visitor to become involved. You can certainly use image but at a basic level, use the subscription box to say, in as few words as possible, why a customer should give his/her email. As a post-submit action, create a quick thank you page that details what they get from the sign up and how often. If you can, link to past newsletters that gives them an idea. This is also the place in future where you can nudge along their decision journey by pointing them to more articles relevant to how they landed on your site in the first place.
Make it visible but not intrusive
here are several services providing discrete subscription plugins. If you have a custom site, then you can either have your designer add one. Or, you can use one provided by your site builder or third party tools. SumoMe offers several user friendly and free tools to optimize the flow of subscription services and is one I can recommend based on experience. As added bonus it has tools that allows you to test and track how visitors navigate your site.
Set up a new backend list
Don't confuse new and potential prospects with existing users. Make sure you link to a new list in the storage backend such as MailChimp, ConstantContact or simple Google sheets that then can either feed into your CRM system or sends messages to the execution teams. Even if you are sending the same information to both sets (hopefully, only at the beginning), this is a good way to keep track the channel effectiveness in the long term.