A sales cycle is imperative for any company. Until a few years ago only big companies had access to tools, methodologies and techniques that were often far away from what a small and medium size businesses could afford.
But this has changed + It is still challenging.
Modern marketing and sales are powering an incredible success that small and medium size companies can replicate by using the right tools, understanding the sales processes and the role of automation to scale.
Video is becoming one of the main tools for marketers and sales professionals when defining a sales cycle. Their goal is often the same: the need to accelerate a sales process, increase engagement and improve ROI.
Did you know that the first usage of the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is often attributed to a newspaper article published in the early 1900s? Crazy, uh? This simple phrase delineated how a single still image could quickly and thoroughly convey more meaning and essence than even the most eloquently written description.
Before co-founding Sezion I spend almost 6 years working in an advertising agency commanded by one of the best copywriters I’ve ever seen. Estíbaliz has something that goes a few steps beyond the “special thing”. She uses words, meanings, imagination in a way that I can only simply admire.
Now imagine Estíbaliz’s copywriting on steroids. Is there anything more compelling than a video? I mean, it combines everything that keeps our eyes opened, regardless the screen. Don’t you think?
These are some of the top benefits for using video marketing:
- A video helps us understand complex information. This is probably why 45% of marketers use it for lead generation.
- Online video represents 50% of all mobile traffic. Actually, 96% of marketers are planning to use video in their content marketing.
- Using the word “video” in an email subject lines boosts open rates by 19%.
“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an adage that still holds true today – but with more power and attention-grabbing persuasion than ever imagined by the sales forces of a century ago.
It’s obvious that video has become an essential part of the sales strategy for the majority of marketers and sales professionals. What is not that obvious is how small and medium size businesses can integrate marketing videos within a marketing and sales strategy. This article will help you better understand how, why and when Bill N. integrated video marketing during his company’s sales cycle, and how he automated the entire process.
Regardless the product or service you are selling, every sale should be based on a strategy. Strategies are incredibly useful because they follow more or less the same pattern, which makes a sales process easier. It’s similar to what happens with an amazing copywriting or with a memorable song.
In sales and marketing that’s what we call a sales cycle. A sales cycle is a sequence of marketing phases, usually predictable, that a company must navigate to sell their specific service and/or product.
If you are a small or medium size company creating a sales cycle, you need to establish a structure that works for your product/service and, specially, for your target audience. And here is where things can get tricky. Back in the days of one-to-many marketing this used to be a little bit easier (but it has never been easy, though). It was the era of one size-fits-all messages.
Maybe big corporations could invest in complex CRMs that allow them to create personalized marketing strategies according to their managed data; and they still do. But what about the sales cycle for small and medium size companies?
A Basic Sales Cycle Structure
Well, the good news is that in general you will follow more or less the same structure.
- Prospect for leads: Prospecting is the process of finding new potential customers.
- Setting a sales appointment: Once you have collected leads in the previous phase, you want to make sure your sales development representative (SDRs) set as many meetings as possible according to your segmentation strategy.
- Qualifying your sales leads: there are several ways to qualifying a lead, but what matters is the result. The most common one takes place during an intro call where a sales rep will ask smart questions to the sales lead in order to know more about his needs, interest, time frame, and any other question relevant to your business. This is the heart of customer segmentation and lead qualification: you want to make sure you don’t waste time on leads that are not a good fit for your offering.
- Sales presentation: A sales presentation is usually the core of the sales cycle. Old-school marketing used to do this right away, but modern marketing, powered by marketing automation and inbound marketing, has changed some of the rules. Why? Because the way potential customers search and find information has drastically changed: they need more time; they need to be better informed; they do their homework. The first step of a sales presentation is frequently seen as a consultation meeting. The goal usually is to help, to answer questions and then to sell.
- Close the sale: depending on your industry and the type of product or service you offer, this could take days, months or even years :-/. For most of the small and medium size companies here we are talking about weeks or months, which is better news than years. This is the most important step of the sales cycle.
Of course, you can add more iterative steps, like for example asking for referrals or even addressing the prospect’s objections, which is extremely important and could also bring an opportunity to your game.
Modern sales cycles are proven to be more effective when a company is targeting individuals instead of just a big target audience. Since every individual has different needs and specially different ways of understanding things, the content of every sales cycle should vary greatly from one potential customer to another and from one product/service to another.
How can small and medium size businesses apply this techniques? Modern sales and marketing have added one more word to their names, bringing the full power of the cloud to their armies.
Sales and marketing automation allow a one-to-one marketing approach that uses all the available data from a potential customer to accelerate the processes and increase the engagement towards each individual.
Take a video or an image as an example. What began as a sales cycle featuring one single, still, rather generic picture that would intrigue a large portion of the viewing population, has evolved. Sales automation can be powered with personalized content. If we are talking about video, we would be then talking about a system that blends thousands of moving images with words and sounds that are specifically targeted toward one specific, highly-motivated target market of individual potential customers. That’s the power of personalized video. We’ll talk more about that later.
Bill N. designs and sells customized ergonomic office furniture created to relieve common discomforts that arise from repetitive motion and poor support often found in typical office furnishings. A generic photograph or illustration of one of his chairs will draw interest from a large segment of potential customers. However, by applying personalized marketing Bill’s company can expressly appeal to human resource managers’ needs. Do they have the same needs than a creative director? What motivates them? See my point?
In order to create a sales cycle that works you need to use the not-that-secret weapon of customer segmentation. It is advantageous to shorten the sales cycle by defining your target market and determining customer segments with similar wants and needs.
By segmenting your target market, you will increase your conversions by as much as two times, and who doesn’t want that to happen?
However, this also comes with a challenge. You will still be presenting broad-interest content to a large population who may, or may not, be in the market for your specific product/service. But, don’t worry, this is on marketing personalization’s payroll.
Bill N. focuses his marketing efforts on the segment of potential customers who are already aware of the potential costs in both lost production and health-related costs within an office. He can gather compile data regarding human resource manager visits to websites concerning such topics as carpal tunnel syndrome, lumbar support, stand up desks and footrests. A freelance creative director might be more concerned about the cost of the product, since it will come from his pocket.
Personalization and customer segmentation are closely related. To further shorten the sales cycle, and to vastly increase your conversion rates, you can generate specifically targeted content that addresses the needs and wants of a specific individual. As you can see, we have narrowed down from a group to a segmented audience to individuals.
By gathering a myriad of information concerning any potential lead, you can present a highly personalized eBook, video or other sales instrument. Actually, I’ve already covered some really smart marketing personalization techniques that have driven amazing results to marketers like you.
Bill N. can direct his marketing efforts toward this highly-specific interest market through personalized videos. He can identify an individual who has researched something as specific as ergonomic keyboards. Maybe that lead downloaded an ebook about the topic, which means that Bill N. now has more information about the new lead. He can create a personalized video to address that specific problem and how he will provide the best solution.
So, this would be a personalized video for “John”, an HR Manager:
And this personalized video would be perfect for Mike, a freelance Creative Director:
Marketing automation is one of the best allies for a personalized video strategy. Through a variety of information-accumulated sources – including completed forms, visited websites and downloaded material powered by an inbound marketing strategy – a vast source of personalized information is available.
Use it on your behalf! If you already have a CRM in place or even almost any marketing automation software, this becomes a lot easier… Even with a Spreadsheet!
For example, if you use any of these tools, you can automatically create a personalized video to increase engagement and accelerate a sales process with Sezion. Sezion helps you accelerate your sales processes and increase engagement by automatically creating the personalized videos and including them in your marketing messages.
This data can be easily collected automatically and can be used to personalized any type of marketing contact you wish to present to that potential customer. Pretty amazing stuff, uh?
Through automated systems, Bill N. can be confident automated, personalized videos are being sent to new leads on a regular basis, integrated into his marketing messages; with each video directly addressing that individual’s specific concern.
The bottom line: This ability will shorten your sales cycle exponentially and vastly accelerate sales.
Everything on the Internet is handled, stored, sorted and collected into data bases. Services such as Zapier can utilize this data in conjunction with hundreds of business softwares like Salesforce, Sezion or Webmerge to create personalized content, and do it automatically.
How To Create Personalized Content:
- Every response you receive from a subscription page, landing page, registration page, or contact form is captured in a data base.
- Personalized templates are created for PDFs, videos or other marketing techniques are built specifically for your product or service.
- Zapier has the ability to automate information gathering tasks between more than 500 apps. From a personalized video perspective, the information is accumulated and combined with the templates to produce a personalized video for every lead.
- The videos are automatically integrated within any marketing message (an email, SMS, landing page…).
- The individual is addressed directly and his/her specific concern is addressed and a personalized communication and solution is provided.
- Video has become the top rated marketing content method for ROI. Statistics compiled by Yahoo indicate personalization can accelerate sales by as much as 32%.
- Personalized video has shown to increase CTR by almost 1000% and email engagement levels by 10x. Companies like AT&T get a 300% increase in their conversions.
- With video, your sales cycle will shorten by combining both audio and visual content. Additionally, by personalizing videos you will instantly create a unique connection with potential customers.
- Projecting an identifiable image (a face, or building or locale) is more effective through video and works very well toward building a sense of trust and connection.
- With solutions provided by Sezion, it has become quick, easy and highly-efficient to create quality personalized video based on templates.
The Bottom Line
Understanding what your sales cycle looks like is crucial. There is no magic formula, but there are several tools and strategies that any marketer and sales professional can use. Count on marketing automation tools, segment your audience and customers and fuel personalized marketing messages during the sales process, step by step.
Grabbing your leads’ and customer’s attention is one of the biggest challenges you’ll find. Start by creating a messaging that will help you deliver unique value propositions according to your target’s needs. Remember, a sales cycle starts by delivering trust and curiosity in learning more.
If a video is worth three thousands words, then how about a personalized video? Analize your sales cycle to discover where it makes sense to integrate video personalization to accelerate specific sales process or increase lead engagement.
I’m always happy to help… Let me know your thoughts and/or questions in the comments below. Also, feel free to share your experience.
P.S. If you want to test the waters with personalized videos to increase your conversions, you can start for free now with Sezion or you can even schedule a time slot for a free demo/consultation with me.
P.P.S. Fair warning: if you do schedule a time slot for a free demo/consultation you can expect a personalized video/email within a few seconds (naturally :-p).