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GIFs are gaining traction in the world of digital marketing. They are engaging and effectively catch the interest of your audience. The New York Times reported that in 2017 over five million GIFs were being shared on Facebook every day. That number has surely gone up since then. But do you know how to make a GIF and use it for your own marketing purposes?

It’s not as hard as it would seem. Below we’ll walk through the steps involved in making a GIF. We’ll teach you how to make a GIF online that will engage your audience like never before. But first, we’ll start off with some basics.

What is a GIF?

A GIF is not a short video file, although it looks that way. It is, in fact, an image file that contains various image frames that cycle through to create the appearance of a short video. I could go into loads of technical details, but that is the basic understanding you need to make your own GIF.

How to make a GIF

There are various ways to make a GIF. It depends largely on the device you are using. Below we’ll cover some basic steps to create a GIF with various devices that you can then use in your campaigns, on your website, in multichannel campaigns, and more.

How to make a GIF on your iPhone

First: You need to open the App Store on your iPhone and search for the word “GIF.” Some options will come up, and you’ll need to choose one. The most popular GIF creating app seems to be GIPHY.

Second: You’ll need to follow the prompts the app provides. It’s very user-friendly and will guide you through how to make a GIF in no time.

There are other GIF app options for the iPhone, and they are all fairly user-friendly, meaning you’re unlikely to have any challenges regardless of which app you choose.

Plus, GIPHY is now available on the Android operating system. And it’s just as intuitive as GIPHY for the iPhone. So now you also know how to make a GIF on Android!

How to make a GIF from YouTube

You can use the browser version of GIPHY to pull a selection from a YouTube video and turn it into a GIF. Just follow these steps:

  1. Find the YouTube video you want to use to make a GIF
  2. Copy the YouTube video’s URL address
  3. Navigate to https://giphy.com/ and click the “Create” button at the top of the page
  4. On the following screen, paste the YouTube URL into the box. As soon as you paste the URL, you will automatically arrive on a new page
  5. This new page will display your video. You’ll select the desired duration in seconds and then slide the slider to the part of the video you want to isolate as your GIF. Then click “Continue to Decorate”
  6. Select the options you want then click “Continue to Upload”
  7. On the next screen click “Continue to Upload”
  8. On the final screen, you’ll see options to embed the GIF in your email, copy a link to the GIF, and you can even download it as a GIF file if you right click on the GIF itself and select “Save image as…”

Note that GIPHY also allows you to follow the same steps above to create a GIF from a Vimeo video. With these steps, you’ll be able to pull your favorite video and select a portion of it to turn into a GIF.

Many people think you need specialized tools to create a GIF. Various individuals have asked me how to make a GIF in Photoshop CC or CS6. But those tools are not necessary. You just learned how to make a GIF without Photoshop!

How to make a GIF from your own photos

You may want to make a GIF by combining your own photos. And that’s easily done. There is a free image editing app called GIMP. Simply download the app and follow the steps provided and you’ll know how to make a GIF in GIMP. You can learn how to do so here.

How to use your GIFs in your marketing efforts

Once you have created your GIF, it’s time to put it into action. GIFs are extremely engaging, and you should leverage every chance you have to put them out there for your audience to see. They will help you engage your audience and are very helpful for lead generation.

Here are a few ways you can use your GIFs in your marketing efforts:

Email marketing

When someone opens an email, and there is an animated GIF within, you’ll have their attention—assuming your GIF isn’t boring or blurry. Include GIFs in your lead nurturing email campaigns. Test them in your email newsletters to see if they impact click-through rates. Incorporate them into multichannel campaigns. Ultimately, use them in any email you want, if it is appropriate. In other words, don’t use a GIF in an invoice email—you get the picture (no pun intended!).

Social media

People are increasingly turning to social media to engage their audience. GIFs work wonders on social media. They are fun, and your followers will share them more than photos, articles, or other posts because of that. Use a GIF in a post and include a call-to-action, and your click rates will increase.

Landing pages

If you build a lead generation landing page to capture new leads, place a GIF on it to capture the attention of visitors. But be careful here, if the GIF is too engaging, your visitor may be tempted to forward it to a friend rather than completing your lead gen web forms.

The best way to use a GIF on a landing page is to place it on your confirmation page. Once someone completes your form, they arrive on a confirmation page. You can place your GIF there to continue to engage them after you’ve effectively captured their information.

Conclusion

GIFs are a great way to engage your audience. People love them, and many will continue to watch a GIF over and over if it’s good enough. And if it’s tied to your brand, all those views will print your logo and company name into the minds of your audience.

With the steps above you can create a GIF with ease. If you’re not using them, start today. They are a great way to engage your audience and are free, quick, and easy to create.

The post How to make a GIF that will attract leads like a magnet appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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You’ve probably heard the term content marketing tossed around during marketing meetings. But do you fully understand what it is and what it entails to succeed at it?

Let’s start with the basics: what is content marketing? According to Content Marketing Institute:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Simply put, content marketing involves creating helpful, engaging content that is meant to educate, not overtly sell your product. In fact, it is incredibly effective at creating and expanding brand awareness, and ultimately converting leads. According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing results in conversion rates six times higher than other marketing tactics.

But how do you master the art of content marketing? 

Here are 15 tips that will turn you into a brilliant content marketer. 1.  Form your strategy

Forming a content marketing strategy is an essential part of a powerful content marketing presence. There are a lot of steps involved, but those who define their strategy from the beginning are typically far more successful at content marketing than those that do not.

What should your strategy include? How should you go about creating it? This is a topic that is beyond the scope of this article, simply due to the extensive nature of the information involved. To really dig into strategy creation, I recommend this super helpful guide and checklist that can lead you through the process.

2. Define your unique value prop and create content that supports it

Every marketing team should define their company’s unique value proposition (UVP). It is a statement about why your particular product or service provides unique value to the consumer that your competitors don’t.

While you create your content marketing strategy, you will likely create your value proposition. Once you have that in hand, use it to guide the content creation process. Create content that speaks to the pain points that your value prop solves for. You don’t have to mention your company or product—that can happen down the road. But you do want to make sure your content aligns with your UVP.

3. Develop buyer personas

Buyer personas are another essential piece of a strong content marketing presence. And just like your UVP, you’ll likely develop these while you build out your content strategy.

Buyer personas are profiles of what your typical buyer looks like. If you work in B2B marketing, there will be various decision makers at your prospects’ companies. So, you’ll want to develop various buyer personas to reflect that.

The best way to build buyer personas is to send a survey to your customer base to gain the insight needed to build them. Ask questions that will help you define attributes for your buyer personas, such as:

  • What is their title/role in the organization?
  • What are the biggest challenges in their daily jobs?
  • What are their primary objectives that are not being met?
  • What pain points could be solved by a product like yours?
  • What are their demographics, such as age, gender, etc.?
  • Which type of content do they prefer to consume?
4. Focus on the most engaging type of content

When you survey your customers to build out their buyer personas, you can ask them what kind of content they typically enjoy consuming. Then, you’ll want to focus on those types of content. Some of the most engaging types of content used in successful content marketing programs are:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Podcasts
  • Case studies
5. Blog on a consistent basis

If you don’t have a company blog, consider starting one today. You’ll need to write about issues and challenges that your prospects and customers face. Then provide solutions to those, without trying to sell anything. You’re just educating your audience, and through that, you are establishing yourself as an authority in your space.

Consider these statistics from IMPACT on the effectiveness of blogging:

  • 77% of internet users read blogs while online.
  • Smaller businesses that publish blogs see 126% more lead growth than those that do not.
  • Upon reading recommendations from a blog, 61% of online consumers in the US made a purchase.
  • Companies that publish blogs generate 55% more website visitors and 97% more inbound links to their site.
6. Map your content to the phases of the buyer journey

As your prospects move through the journey on the way to being customers, different types of content, at varying stages of the journey, will be more effective at moving them further along. You’ll want to map the kinds of content that prospects at each stage need to see to that particular stage.

Here is a template that will help you do that:

7. Create a content calendar

Once your strategy is finalized, and your content needs have been assessed, you need to create a content calendar so that your content tells a story over time. This helps you be more organized and ensures that you fill all the content gaps that need filling. I recommend creating a quarterly content calendar. You can always tweak it as you go, but having content creation mapped out over the next few months will help you be more strategic about what you create.

8. Focus on quality over quantity

High-quality content is the bedrock of content marketing. It’s right there in the definition above, “valuable content.” One high-value, engaging piece of content is worth 100 pieces of crappy content. Plus, if you do put out sub-par content, readers will take notice and will shy away from you when they need answers to important questions or solutions to common problems.

9. Repurpose your content

Do you have a killer eBook or white paper? Repurpose the content within to generate even more pieces around that same topic. You could slim it down and publish a blog article on the topic, or pull the numbers and key takeaways and create an infographic. It’s a great way to squeeze the most juice out of your content creation efforts.

10. Align social media with your content marketing calendar

When you create your content calendar, share it with your social media manager. They hopefully also have a calendar that lays out social posts for the next month or quarter. They can use your content calendar to gain insight into what’s coming their way and can plan posts to promote it. This will dramatically increase your social return on investment.

11. Share your content with social media groups

Social media groups, particularly on LinkedIn and Facebook, are great places to share your high-value content. You already know the people in those groups have an interest in the topic, as the group will revolve around it. So make sure to share in those groups as part of your content marketing strategy.

12. Prioritize content marketing over paid search

According to Kapost and Oracle, content marketing generates three times the number of leads that paid search marketing does. That’s surprising, as most people would assume that paid search advertising would blow content marketing out of the water when it comes to lead generation. But not so, says Oracle’s report. So, allocate more of your budget to content marketing, and a little less to paid advertising.  

13. Use content marketing to drive SEO  

Creating valuable, educational content that solves problems for your constituents can be the heart and soul of your SEO efforts. This is particularly true for blogging. Google takes notice of high-value content delivered on a consistent basis and rewards you by increasing your position in search results. To be sure, populating your website with valuable content results in 434% more search engine-indexed pages than companies that don’t publish web content.

14. Drive engagement with killer content

You can use content marketing as the key engagement driver in your lead generation efforts. Nothing will engage your audience more than valuable content. The numbers tell the story; according to OptinMonster, 72% of marketers report that content marketing increases engagement. Engagement leads to conversions, which leads to revenue growth. You do the math.

15. Use marketing automation to distribute your content

You can have great content, but if you don’t have ways to distribute it, what good will it do? Of course, you can distribute it on social media, and that will go a long way to driving traffic to your site and your content.

But, with marketing automation software, you can easily distribute your content far and wide, ensuring it gets to all your customers and prospects. capabilities make it a breeze to send your content to your constituents. Use an email drip campaign to get the word out. Or incorporate email blasts around your content into a multichannel campaign. None of that is possible without marketing automation.

Conclusion

It may come as a surprise to learn the extent of the benefits you gain from content marketing. Marketing, in general, is in a constant state of transition, and older outbound tactics, although still viable, are giving way to inbound strategies. Content marketing should be your number one inbound marketing strategy. Follow the tips above, and you’ll be sure to drive more lead conversions, more closed deals, and increase revenue growth.

The post 15 tips to master content marketing appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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We’ve all received a random call from someone trying to sell us stuff. It can be annoying to your leads, and you have to prepare yourself for rejection. But cold calling is an essential element of a successful sales strategy.

There are many effective tactics you can employ to turn a cold call into an opportunity. Below we’ll cover the 18 best cold calling tips and tricks to ensure you qualify and convert more leads with your cold calling efforts.

1. Use a customer relationship management (CRM) solution

In order to succeed at cold calling, you need to have lead data at your fingertips. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is the gold standard these days for customer and lead data storage.

You can use your CRM to store personal contact data, as well as behavioral data that helps you understand who your target is before you reach out. A CRM can also automate various parts of the cold calling process (more on that below).

2. Leverage an auto-dialing tool for cold calling

If you use an all-in-one CRM, your system will also include sales tools, marketing automation, and customer support functionality. One of the features that come in some all-in-one CRMs is auto-dialing.

Auto dialing lets you create a list of leads to call and the system dials each one of them in sequence. Reps don’t have to manually dial each number, which saves loads of time and lets them make more calls in less time.

3. Create voicemail drops

Another feature you get with an all-in-one is the ability to leave voicemail drops. You pre-record a number of voicemails that you plan to leave in various scenarios.

If you make a call and no one answers, you can select the appropriate pre-recorded voicemail and with the click of a mouse leave that message and move on to the next call.

4. Record your calls

Recording your calls lets you refer back to them if you forget something from the call. It’s not a common feature in most CRM solutions. However, some do include it. For example, if you decide to select Agile CRM as your all-in-one, you’ll have the ability to record every call you make.

5. Take notes in your CRM during the call

If you integrate crm-telephony with your CRM, you can make calls from your CRM rather than using a traditional telephone. You open the contact record of the lead you’re reaching out to, click call, and the system dials their number.

Then, while on the call you can take notes on the screen while you speak. Those notes are then attached to the contact record’s call history following the call. You can then reference them later once you complete the call.

Check out how much telephony and CRM integration increases productivity.

6. Utilize post-call automation

With an all-in-one CRM, you can automate loads of tasks that you would otherwise do manually following the call. You create an automated workflow, and your flow steps take place automatically once you complete the call.

This could include sending a follow-up email, creating a task for yourself to follow up in a few days, and more.

Read more about post-call automation.

7. Research your target and their business

If you practice B2B cold calling, it’s important to research your lead before you call. Check out their website. Read their social media pages and their blog. If you see on their Facebook profile that they are a vintage car enthusiast, casually mention that you’re saving to buy one.

Do it subtly, and you’ll establish an instant connection, and they’ll give you more face time, leading to more leads converted, and more deals closed.

8. Leverage the data in your CRM to prepare

In addition to researching leads in the ways described above, you can learn a lot about the lead by digging into the data you have on them in your CRM.

You can see which content they have downloaded, which web pages they have visited, and so on. This will provide you with insight into their product interests, which will help you prepare the most relevant talking points for the call.

9. Personalize your outreach

With access to all the data in your CRM, you can personalize your discussion with them. For example, if their office is in Wisconsin, and there was a huge blizzard there yesterday, you can mention it and say you hope everything is ok up there. Personalized communication work wonders for building trust with leads.

10. Talk about benefits, not features

Don’t call a lead and jump right into the features of your product. First, you need to establish a connection with them by personalizing your conversation.

Once you get to talking about your product or company, tell them how it benefits companies like them. They don’t want to know about a great new product update; they want to hear about how that will make their lives easier and solve their problems.

11. Prepare persuasive data and statistics

If you can go into a call armed with hard numbers, you’ll be well prepared. For example, if you can tell your lead that Company X tripled revenue in two years after starting to use your product, the lead will envision themselves in that situation.

You can tell a lead all day how great your product is. But numbers speak volumes and are hard to contest.

12. Make the call about them and their needs

When cold calling, don’t start off by boasting about your product or company. The discussion needs to revolve around the lead and their needs.

Ask questions that will reveal their pain points. Ask them what their biggest challenges are. Allow them to talk about themselves and their needs. Once they do, you can offer a solution that will benefit them directly per their unique use case.

13. Stroke their ego

Because you will have done your research, you will know a lot about your lead before the call. If they have won awards, for example, you can mention that and congratulate them.

Tell them that you came across them and noticed how successful they are and how impressive their work is. Tell them that you try to only work with clients who are highly successful, and you see that in them. A little flattery will go a long way and help you get that first meeting.

14. Find common ground to establish rapport and trust

Converting leads requires trust. Leads must trust you to feel comfortable doing business with you. As mentioned above, if you research well you can find some common ground to touch on during the call (such as having a shared interest in camping or trading stocks), you’ll be more successful.

Bring up those topics during the call and your discussion will become much more casual and comfortable. That will build trust, and they will be more likely to give you a chance to elaborate on your pitch.

15. Provide some free helpful content

Your first cold calling attempt shouldn’t be centered around selling your product. The objective should be to start a dialogue and influence them to see you as a helpful resource and potential partner, not a money-hungry wolf.

Tell them since they work in X industry, you thought this eBook or case study might be helpful in providing them with new ideas. If all you do is try to convey that you’re here to help them, they will see you as a partner in a potential mutually-beneficial relationship.

16. Know your script but don’t read it

Many sales reps use cold calling scripts to drive their calls. But, to me at least, it’s super obvious when someone calls me and is reading a script. It sounds robotic and disingenuous.

New reps can use scripts, but it’s always best to use them as a guide rather than reading them word for word. For experienced reps, I recommend scrapping the call script altogether. Instead, create bulleted talking points and touch on them in a casual, more fluid and natural way.

Plus, if you rely on reading a call script, you won’t know what to do when a lead asks an unexpected question that you don’t have in your script. So, use them cautiously.  

17. Use lead scoring to prioritize your calls

When you use an all-in-one CRM that includes marketing automation software, you can leverage lead scoring to identify the most sales-ready leads. You can score leads for demographic data and actions they take. And that’s all tracked in your CRM.

The more they engage with you, the higher their score rises. When they reach your established lead scoring threshold to be considered marketing qualified, the system automatically passes them to sales. This lets sales focus on calling those that have displayed buyer intent and leave the rest for additional nurturing.

18. Measure performance to constantly improve

With an all-in-one CRM, you get access to extensive metrics and analytics. You can keep tabs on who is making the most calls, who is creating the most opportunities, and who needs support to improve their performance.

Continual improvement is essential for growth. And you can’t continue to improve without hard metrics and reporting that gives you the insights to make data-driven decisions.

Conclusion

Above we covered some key cold calling techniques that really work. Cold calling may seem like a pain to many, but it’s an essential evil if you want to qualify and convert more leads and grow your business.

Follow the tips above, and you’ll realize the importance of effective cold calling.

Do you have any anecdotes, personal experiences, or tips about cold calling that you’d like to share with our readers? Please share them in the comments section below!

The post 18 cold calling tips and tricks to qualify and convert more leads appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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Managing your schedule can be a huge time drain. Not to mention that the back and forth involved in manually managing your scheduling process can be a giant headache. Trying to find the right time for both parties. Endless email chains and rescheduling. It’s a pain, let’s face it. But, those days are over! With the advent of online scheduling software, you can now automate the entire scheduling process.

This frees up loads of time to focus on other things like forming a strategy and growing your business. Plus, there are ways to automate other parts of the scheduling process that increase productivity even further. Below we’ll discuss nine tips for using online scheduling software and other automation processes to manage your schedule like a boss!

1. Find the right scheduling software

You need to select the right software solution to manage your online scheduling process. There are loads of free tools that do this—some better than others.

Some online appointment scheduling solutions are a part of larger systems. For example, Agile CRM is an all-in-one CRM offering complete contact management, sales, marketing, and customer support automation on the same platform. With all the other features included, using an all-in-one CRM allows you to leverage the best online scheduling software.

One of the many tools included in an all-in-one CRM is online appointment scheduling software. And because it’s tied to all those other modules, you can click to a contact record, see their appointment history, manage your calendar, and more, all from one system.

This saves lots of time as it eliminates the need to switch between various applications and screens throughout the day.

2. Use online appointment scheduling

Online appointment scheduling is pretty straightforward. You have an online calendar. You select the dates and times that you are available, as well as the length of the time slot.

Your calendar has its own unique link, and you share that link with anyone who wants to schedule a meeting with you. Contacts select the time that’s most convenient for them, and the meeting automatically shows up on your calendar.

You can also choose to automatically send a confirmation email to your customer or prospect with a calendar file included. Moreover, when you are on a call with a prospect or customer, you can record the call and take notes while on the phone, and those are automatically attached to the contact’s call history in your CRM. Learn more about Agile CRM’s post-call automation features.

3. Place your schedule link everywhere

Once you set up your calendar and have your unique link, it’s time to share it! Place it on your social media pages so your followers can easily access it. Include it on your website with the rest of your “Contact Us” info.

You can also include it in your email signature so that anyone you communicate with can easily book an appointment. If you post regularly on social media, include it in each post at the bottom saying: “If have questions or would like to speak with me, simply click the link below to book an appointment.” Ultimately, put it everywhere you can so the maximum number of people can find it.

4. Use automated reminders

If your scheduling app is part of an all-in-one CRM, you can use CRM automation to ensure you never miss a meeting.

Project management capabilities allow you to set up reminders that arrive before the meeting to notify you that you have an appointment. You can also automate that process. With system triggers, you can tell the system to send you a reminder at a specified time before the meeting.

Plus, you can tell the system to automatically populate the reminder with all the contact’s information, so you’ll be fully prepared for each meeting.

5. Leverage alerts when someone books a meeting

How do you know when someone books a meeting with you? It automatically shows up on your calendar, but if you don’t check it, you won’t know that it was scheduled.

However, an all-in-one CRM lets you include a flow step in your automated workflow that sends you an alert the moment someone books an appointment. You can even tell the system to send you an SMS text message, so if you’re away from the office, you’ll still be alerted.

6. Send automated emails to prospects and customers before meetings

Email automation is another benefit of using an all-in-one CRM. You can set up a workflow that will automatically send a reminder email to the customer or prospect you’re to meet with. You can set it to be sent a day before the meeting, an hour before, or whenever you want.

Once the workflow is configured in your CRM, you set it and forget it. The system will send the email at the specified time with no need for your participation. This helps reduce no-shows.

What would a workflow like this look like?

Here’s an example of the steps and actions that automatically take place (in sequence) when you use online scheduling and an all-in-one CRM for automating the process:

  1. A prospect or customer opens your calendar link and books an open meeting slot…
  2. The meeting automatically appears on your calendar…
  3. You get a system alert and/or email (depending on your preference) notifying you that someone booked a new appointment…
  4. A confirmation email goes to the person who booked the email, which includes a calendar file, so they can save it immediately to their own calendar…
  5. Prior to the meeting, you get a system reminder and/or email reminding you about the meeting…
  6. The person you’re to meet with also receives a reminder email at a set interval prior to the meeting…
  7. After the meeting, the system can send an automated follow-up email to the contact thanking them for their time…
  8. The system adds all the notes you took, the call recording, and all other post-call automated activities to the contact’s call log history for future reference.

Remember, all of that is automated. You don’t do any of it manually, aside from setting up your automation workflow. And once it’s set up, it will run for every meeting scheduled and every call you have. Talk about increasing productivity!

7. Sync all your calendars for an aligned view of your schedule

If you use a robust online appoint scheduler, such as that provided by Agile CRM, you get the ability to sync your online calendar app with the other calendars you use.

You can sync it with your Gmail, Outlook, and Office 365 calendars so that when someone books an appointment with you online, it is reflected in every calendar app you use.

This helps to ensure that you never miss a meeting, as you’ll have reminders coming from multiple calendars.

In theory, you could use your Agile CRM calendar for all your calendar needs. However, it’s quite common that people use multiple calendars.

Syncing your online appointment scheduler and its calendar with all your other calendars is a safeguard.  It’s a way to ensure you don’t check your Google calendar in the morning and see that the day is free, even though someone has booked an appointment with you on your online scheduler.

Conclusion

The days of manually managing your appointment scheduling process are over. With the technology and tools described above, you can:

  • Save loads of time to be used on higher-value tasks
  • Increase customer satisfaction by giving customers the ability to book at their own convenience
  • Maintain peace of mind knowing that automation completes every step
  • Reduce no-shows and never miss a meeting
  • Use your extra time to grow your business and increase revenue

That pretty much sums it up. If you’re not using online appointment scheduling software, start looking today!

The post 7 tips to manage your scheduling software like a boss appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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The entire purpose of maintaining a sales team is to close deals, win new clients, and grow your business. With the right tools—such as sales email templates—your team can close more deals in less time. Without the right tools—for example, if you don’t use a customer relationship management (CRM) solution—your team will struggle and so will your business.

Most CRMs include various sales email templates. And others, such as all-in-one CRMs that include sales enablement, marketing automation, and customer support features, provide sales email templates and marketing automation that makes sending them a breeze.

But how do you leverage sales email templates to close more deals and grow your business? Below we’ll dig in and provide tips to master the use of sales email templates.

Sales email templates for different purposes

There are loads of examples of sales email templates online. You can find templates for introductions, events, follow-ups, general check-ins, and more. Let’s cover some of the basics.

Sales introduction email templates

This type of sales email template helps you introduce yourself to new leads. They are basically cold prospecting email templates. They allow you to reach out to someone you have no previous connection to and introduce yourself, your company, and its product.

They help you get your foot in the door and start a dialogue. You can use them to convey the value prop of your product, how it stands out from the competition, and how it could solve common problems your leads face.

Here are some cold email templates to help give you an idea of how to start using them.

Identifying the decision maker

It’s quite common that you will send a cold email and get a reply telling you the lead is not interested. What do you do then? Do you forget them and move on? No!

Be persistent. Ask them if they could please refer you to someone else who you might be able to speak with. You’re looking for the decision maker.

And if you’re not sure whether the person you’re sending a cold email to is the decision maker, you can use a template designed to find the decision maker as an initial cold email as well. Check out a great sales email template to find the decision maker in this article.

Sharing educational content

When sales reps are prospecting, they should focus on educating their leads in the initial stages of the conversation. Don’t jump right to the sales pitch. Instead, send them educational blogs or eBooks that teach them how to solve common problems.

This will build trust and solidify you in their minds as an authority in your space. They will start to look to you when they need more helpful information, which means they are starting to engage. Interest will grow, and once they show enough engagement, then you can reach out with the pitch.

But first you need to establish trust and rapport with your leads, and that’s where a sales email template that shares content comes into play. You can also find a highly-effective sales email template to share content in this same article.

Tips and best practices to consider

The examples above just scratch the surface. There are sales email templates for loads of instances. Simply do an internet search for “sales email templates,” and you will find hundreds of examples.

But there are a few tips to consider that will increase your success when using them.

Use flattery

People love flattery. Do your research into who your leads are and begin your message by telling them you’ve read up on them and are very impressed. Tell them you aim to only partner with highly-professional clients who produce great results.

For example, you could say, “I pride myself on the quality of my work, and prefer to work only with those that are over-performers. You clearly fit the bill, so I wanted to reach out and connect.” If that’s not the case, find another way to flatter them.

No matter how you word it, starting your email with a compliment or other type of flattery will help you make the best first impression possible. Stroke their ego and you’re much more likely to get that first meeting.

Make the email about them

Don’t lead off talking about how great your product is. Instead, talk about them and their needs. You realized that they work in X industry and you’ve seen the work you do. It’s impressive.

Tell them that since you have shared interests and they are obviously a subject matter expert, you wonder if they might have time to throw around some ideas and share some perspectives.

This doesn’t come across as salesy but rather an attempt to form a mutually beneficial relationship. That will certainly help you get your foot in the door more effectively than leading by telling them your company is the leader in X industry.

Talk about benefits, not features

People want to know how they will benefit from giving you their attention. Their interest will revolve around how your company could provide lasting benefits to them and help solve problems.

If you get into the weeds about product features, you’ll lose them quickly. They don’t want to hear about a great new feature and how it works; they want to know how that feature will make their lives easier.

Use benefits-oriented language and avoid delving in too deeply about features, as you’ll have a chance to do that later once they are further down the sales pipeline.

Personalize your subject line

With the help of marketing automation, personalizing emails is a breeze, even when you use a template. Personalizing subject lines is no different; it’s one of the key best practices for effective email subject lines.

Personalized marketing is one of the hottest trends in digital marketing today. If you personalize an email subject line, it will immediately come across as more relevant to the recipient. So, embrace personalization and watch your conversions rise.

Always proofread and proofread again

Once you create your killer sales email template, you need to ensure that it is error-free and as clean as can be. Proofread it multiple times and even ask a colleague to look at it with a fresh set of eyes. Sleep on it and come back to it the next day to make sure it says exactly what you want it to say.

Pro tip: Always read your emails out loud before you call them final. As a writer, I can tell you that sometimes your emails and other content look perfect on paper, but when you read them out loud and hear them, you often spot things that sound odd and need revising. (For example, using the same word twice in the same sentence—it might read well but when you hear it, it stands out.) Reading emails out loud is simply another layer of quality control that you should always practice.

Conclusion

Sales email templates help sales reps send pre-drafted emails in an array of situations. That is all automated with the right sales enablement software. Reps can click the template they want to use, enter the contact they want to send it to, and send it with a click of the mouse.

It’s all about automating processes. Reps can automatically send sales emails while they focus on higher value tasks. Leveraging the right software and the right sales email templates will allow your reps to more easily get their foot in the door and engage potential customers. And the more leads they engage, the more deals they will close, and revenue will grow.

The post How to leverage sales email templates to close more deals appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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Buyer personas are key to growing your business. They help you understand who your ideal buyers are, what they need, and how to best sell to them. A detailed buyer persona helps you zero in on the pain points, challenges, and needs of your customers. It also helps you understand how to appeal to prospects and generate interest in your product.

You can find buyer persona examples and an easy to use buyer persona template online. But to use them effectively, you must understand what they are and how to leverage them to increase sales and grow your business. Let’s dig in and start with the basics.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a detailed profile of a hypothetical key decision maker who is involved in deciding whether or not to purchase your product or service. It helps you define who your potential buyers are and what makes them tick. An effective buyer persona includes information such as:

  • Position in their company
  • Which department they represent
  • Their pain points and biggest challenges
  • Their goals for the future
  • Age, gender, and personality type
  • How you should speak to them
  • And ultimately, how your product can solve for their challenges
What is the purpose of a buyer persona?

When you create a detailed portrait of your ideal, most common type of buyer, you can market to prospects in a more relevant and personal way. You can speak directly to their pain points and challenges and illustrate how your product will help solve for those challenges.

The key is to use buyer personas in your marketing efforts to:

  1. Illustrate to prospects that they have a problem they were not aware of
  2. Reach out to them in a way that resonates with and engages them
  3. Spark their interest in your product or service
  4. Provide information on how your product or service will solve for that problem
  5. Provide real-life examples of how your product or service has helped their peers
  6. Convince them to buy so they can use your product or service to solve that problem
Why are buyer personas important?

Buyer personas help you deliver the right message to the right person. Too many companies make the mistake of assuming they know who their customers are and using those assumptions to drive their outreach.

Taking this approach leaves you open to sending irrelevant messages to the wrong people. For example, if you’re reaching out to a sales manager but are talking about how a marketing automation solution will help them, you’re sending an irrelevant message that they will most likely ignore.

Alternatively, executives don’t want to hear about features; they want to hear about how their business will grow and realize success by using a product. If you send them feature filled information rather than benefits filled information, you will likely lose them instantly.

Detailed buyer personas will ensure that you deliver the right information to the right decision makers, which will help increase engagement and interest in your product. This will lead to more deals closed and revenue growth.

Creating buyer personas

To create a great buyer persona, you need to do considerable research. As mentioned above, if you go on assumptions you will end up with buyer personas that are inaccurate and don’t capture the right details about each person involved in the decision-making process.

Send surveys to your current customer base to gain insight into what they need, where their challenges lie, and how you can solve for those problems to make your customers more successful.

Then, apply that learning to your buyer personas and use it to speak to your prospects in a more relevant and engaging way.

It’s also helpful to provide customers with an incentive for completing the survey so you can receive more data. The more data you have, the more accurate your buyer personas will be.

This incentive could be a $5 gift card for the first 100 customers to complete the survey. Many more will complete it, but this tactic will spur them to action. The data you gather will be worth far more than $500.

But what questions should you ask in your buyer persona survey? These questions will vary depending on your unique business and its distinct customer base. But here are a few to get you started:

  • What is your age, gender, marital status, and other demographic info?
  • What is your highest level of education?
  • What is your job title and role in the company?
  • How long have you been with the company?
  • Where is your company located?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face in your day-to-day job?
  • Name one thing you want to change that could make you more efficient at your job?
  • How many employees are at your company?
  • Which technology and tools do you use every day?
  • What are your goals for the next year?
  • What is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of achieving that goal?

That is just a sample of the types of questions that you could ask in your survey. Be as creative as you want but try to keep your survey to 20 questions or less. Otherwise, your response rate will decline.

Make it as easy on your customers as possible. And don’t ask for their name or any other personal information in the survey as that data is irrelevant to the task at hand.

Once you have all that information, you can start to look for commonalities in the responses. Then you can build your buyer personas based on the common traits and responses you receive.

Pro tip: When you send your survey to capture information to inform your buyer personas, don’t flat out tell your audience that this is your motive. Rather, tell them that you would like to understand better who they are so that you can serve them more effectively, per their needs.

Conclusion

Buyer personas help differentiate average companies from exceptional ones. Without the information compiled in your buyer personas, you are shooting in the dark.

Not only do buyer personas help sales understand who they are selling to, they help your marketing team personalize their marketing outreach.

Don’t hesitate to create an array of buyer personas. Some companies have ten or more, and that’s ok. It all depends on the diversity of your business, the number of products you sell, and the diversity of your customer base.

With solid and accurate buyer personas in place, you will be able to reach out to prospects and engage them in a way that is much more relevant to their needs. This will build trust and help you close that deal more easily. That’s why buyer personas are so important to growing a business and maintaining a competitive edge in your respective market.

Those that develop detailed buyer personas will generate more leads, convert more prospects into customers, and grow more rapidly. Those that make assumptions like those mentioned above will fall behind quickly.

Do you have any anecdotes about buyer personas that you’d like to share with our audience? Or any questions about buyer personas that we could help you with? Let us know in the comments section below! 

The post How to create a detailed buyer persona appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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You may have heard of account based marketing but not fully understand what it entails. So, let’s start with the basics.

What is account based marketing?

Account-based marketing differs from traditional marketing in a number of ways. Instead of placing the focus on creating a high-volume stream of leads through lead generation, you focus on generating the right leads and reaching out to them in a deeper, more engaging way.

You look for those that are the best fit for your business rather than casting a super wide net and hoping to convert a smaller number of them. You study your buyer personas and identify leads that are an ideal fit for your product or service.

Once identified, you learn as much about those leads as you can. You focus on addressing their pain points and pushing out content and other outreach that speaks directly to solving for those unique pain points.

But how do you excel at it? Here are 10 account based marketing best practices to grow your business.

1. Develop buyer personas

Buyer personas form a central and critical part of effective account based marketing. Buyer personas are mocked-up profiles of those that make the decision whether or not to buy your product.

To create buyer personas, you develop a fake profile for each type of buyer who participates in the buying decision. They could be directors, managers, or anyone else involved in the decision-making process.

You map out variables like their pain points, challenges, goals, personality types, position in the company hierarchy, and the strongest selling points your product provides to solve for their pain points and help them achieve their goals.

Developing buyer personas helps you zero in on those that are most likely to buy your product, so you can go after them. You do this rather than blindly cold-calling any old lead that has a name and email address in your customer relationship management (CRM) database.

2. Create ideal customer profiles

Ideal customer profiles are much like buyer personas but with one primary difference. While buyer personas focus on individual people who make buying decisions, ideal customer profiles encompass the entire organization you’re selling to.

It’s common in B2B account based marketing that multiple people are involved in the decision-making process. Creating ideal customer profiles takes them all into account and results in a profile of the company itself.

Often, two or more people in the same organization have competing objectives and goals, and your job is to create a pitch that satisfies them all. That’s why ideal customer profiles consider every variable that could derail the deal so that you can please everyone and make the sale.

3. Gather the data to create buyer personas and ideal customer profiles

How do you gather the data to create these tools? You can’t just assume you know who your prospects are without doing any research. You need to conduct market research and customer surveys to accurately identify who they are and what makes them tick.

Send surveys, compile the data, and look for commonalities across your entire customer base. Then and only then can you gain the insight to create buyer personas and ideal customer profiles to a high degree of accuracy.

4. Develop audience-specific messaging

Power users need to hear about the features and benefits that will allow them to work smarter and more effectively. And top-level decision-makers want to hear about how their company can grow by using your product or service.

Rather than taking the traditional approach and developing product messaging that is applied across the board to every lead, develop messaging that speaks directly to each buyer persona and each ideal customer profile. In this way, you can ensure that you’re always touching on the right points when speaking with a particular prospect account and its employees.

5. Segment the decision makers at each prospect account

Because there are so many people involved in the decision-making process, you must communicate with them in different ways. What resonates with C-level decision makers won’t resonate with lower level employees who still have a say in the decision to purchase.

You can easily segment the contacts at each prospect account using a powerful marketing automation solution. Then, you can interact with each of them in a way that speaks to their unique challenges within the organization.

Segmentation and marketing personalization are key these days, and account based marketing is where those tactics will come most in handy.

6. Align your content with your audience

Each person at the prospect organization has different needs, and you need to deliver content to each of them that speaks to their individual pain points.

Executives want to know how your product will help their company as a whole, while power users need to know how it will help them in their daily jobs.

Instead of sending blanket emails with the same content to everyone, account based marketing calls for segmentation to deliver the most relevant message to each person in each prospect account. It’s one of many key account based marketing tactics you should be using.

7. Use the right technology

To excel at account based marketing, it’s important to use the right account based marketing software. As mentioned above, using CRM and marketing automation allows you to segment and personalize, which makes account based marketing much easier.

These days, more companies are opting for an all-in-one CRM because they include CRM, marketing automation, sales automation, and customer support functionality on the same platform. This type of technology provides maximum insight into who each individual contact is, as well as insight into who the company is as a whole.

8. Align sales and marketing

Effective account based marketing is only possible if sales and marketing are closely aligned. Marketing needs to be able to use the data stored in your CRM to know which content to push to whom and when.

Sales needs to help inform marketing when that approach needs tweaking and when it’s working. Also, with the help of automation, marketing can automatically push notifications to sales when someone becomes marketing qualified. This is made easy by using lead scoring, which we’ll cover next.

9. Score leads

As leads take actions such as viewing content, visiting high profile web pages, etc. marketing can score them based on those actions. This helps sales and marketing both maintain insight into who is sales-ready and who still needs more nurturing.

Without lead scoring, sales reps would be shooting in the dark as they reach out to prospect accounts. Lead scoring helps both teams maintain insight into where each lead and the account as a whole is in the sales pipeline.

10. Measure your results and refine your approach

No good marketer or salesperson moves forward without measuring the results of their work. With the use of advanced campaign analytics and CRM reporting, you can easily see which tactics are working for your account based marketing efforts.

If you are seeing that specific tactics and content isn’t resonating with your prospect accounts as you expected, you can course correct. But that’s only possible with metrics that provide constant insight. So be sure always to measure if you want to continually improve and grow your business.

Conclusion

The point here is clear. Account based marketing depends highly on knowing who each contact and account is, in and out.

Score leads, and create personas and profiles that tell you exactly who you’re marketing and selling to, and what they need to hear for you to convince them to buy.

Follow the tips above, measure your results, change up your approach as you go, and you’ll be sure to excel at account based marketing and grow your business like a pro.

The post 10 account based marketing tips for growing businesses appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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A/B testing is a tried and true marketing tactic to increase engagement and drive more conversions through your website. You can A/B test a number of marketing tactics, such as emails, landing pages, web forms, and more.

There are plenty of A/B testing statistics out there, but the bottom line is the same: A/B testing allows you to find the most engaging approach to a particular marketing tactic and use that to increase engagement and conversions.

Below, we’ll dig into some tips for increasing website traffic and conversions using A/B testing. But first, let’s cover some A/B testing basics.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing consists of trying out two different approaches to the same marketing tactic (i.e., an email or a landing page) to determine which option works best for your audience.

Most reliable marketing automation (MA) systems will provide A/B testing tools to help you to uncover which tactics are working well for you and which are falling short.

You can A/B test the subject lines of your emails, the body copy, embedded images, and so on. Your MA system will send a sample of your email to two smaller sets of the overall targeted audience, then tell you which produced the best results.

Or, if you A/B test your landing pages, your system will send half of your audience to one version and the other half to the other version for a set amount of time. Then with the results, you can select the one that is producing more conversions.

A/B testing lets you hone in on the most engaging of two options so you can use that one to drive up engagement and increase website traffic.

Tips for effective A/B testing

Because you can use A/B testing on a number of marketing tactics, let’s cover some of the tips for using it on various marketing outreach touch points.

Email marketing

You can leverage A/B testing on various elements of your emails to increase conversions and drive more sales. Here are a few examples:

Subject lines

As mentioned above, A/B testing allows you to test two different email subject lines to determine which one produces the best open rates. If your email open rates are low, it’s probably time to A/B test some new subject lines. If no one is opening your emails, no one will read the awesome content you have inside, so be sure to A/B test to find the best style, tone, and length of your subject lines.

Email body

You can also use A/B testing on your email body copy. Once someone opens your email, what they find inside will determine whether or not they click on yourcall-to-action (CTA). If your click-through rates are low, you should consider A/B testing different body copy for a given email. It will increase click-through rates and drive more conversions on your website.

Images and videos

Images and videos in your emails can be highly engaging elements of your efforts. But if the images and videos you use are dull and unenticing, they won’t engage people in the way you want.

Try to test different videos or images for a given email to see which ones are engaging your audience. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to click through to your website and convert.

Landing pages

There are various elements of your landing pages that can make or break conversions. Once someone arrives at your landing page by clicking the CTA in your email or social media post, the objective is to get them to take the desired action (in other words, to convert). A number of variables impact whether they convert, and here are a few:

Web forms

Do your web forms contain too many fields and ask for too much information? You’ll notice if this is the case because your conversion numbers will drop. Try A/B testing various forms with different data fields to identify those that ask the right questions. You’ll know that you’ve found the right recipe when conversions start to rise.

You can also experiment with the placement of your web forms. If you place your form on the right side of the page, does your form convert more leads? Or does placing it on the left side result in higher conversions? You’ll never know unless you A/B test both approaches to determine which one is more engaging and converting more leads.

Images and videos

Much like videos and images in emails, the visuals you place on your landing pages have a great impact on your ability to convert leads. Try not to use videos that are so engaging that they distract the viewer’s attention away from the CTA, which is ultimately the most important part of the page.

A/B test different images and videos on your landing pages to see which ones result in higher conversions. Again, you want to go for engaging, but not distracting.

Calls-to-action buttons

Your CTA button is normally embedded in your lead form. However, if you are not gating your offer with a form, your CTA button could go anywhere.

It needs to be highly visible. In fact, it should be the first thing that the viewer sees when they land on your page. If it’s not tied to a form, you can make your CTA button large and span half the page if you like.

It’s important that your CTA uses a color that helps it stand out and contrasts with the rest of the material on the page.

Additional A/B testing opportunities

You can use A/B testing on other elements of your marketing efforts. Here are a few to get you going:

Font sizes

Depending on your audience, some might prefer larger text on your landing pages and emails, while others may prefer smaller text. Although, viewers typically prefer larger text these days. But don’t make assumptions, A/B test font sizes to see which produce more conversions.

Font colors

Your font color will likely follow the stipulations laid out in your brand style guide. But that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up to see if other colors work better. You should use A/B testing on the text color of your landing pages and emails to see which produces the best results for your unique audience.

Conclusion

The point of A/B testing is to experiment with different approaches to your marketing efforts and find the tactics that increase engagement, produce more click-throughs, and result in increased conversions on your website. You can learn more about the benefits of A/B testing here.

By following the tips above, you’ll be able to zero in on the recipe for success that will increase traffic, boost conversions, and grow revenue.

The post How to use A/B Testing to increase conversion rates appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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A healthy sales pipeline is essential to the growth of any business. Leads flow smoothly and consistently through the pipeline when it is managed properly and supported by the right tools. When it is managed poorly leads get stuck and conversions drop.

If you haven’t defined your own sales pipeline and the stages involved, don’t worry. There are plenty of free sales pipeline templates online.

The technology available to sales teams today allows them to maintain a healthy pipeline and continually move leads through to conversion. Companies can grow at a steady rate by following sales pipeline management best practices and leveraging the right customer relationship management (CRM) software. Below we’ll cover 13 best practices for increasing sales with proper sales pipeline management.

1.  Use the right technology

Using the right technology is key to increasing sales. Many growing businesses are increasingly realizing the benefits of an all-in-one CRM to drive growth and manage their pipeline. That’s because an all-in-one CRM includes sales enablement tools, marketing automation, and customer service automation all on the same platform.

A CRM stores so much data that sales reps can know exactly who their prospects are and better prepare for sales calls and meetings. It also allows reps to automate various processes that they must otherwise do manually. The best practices below revolve around using a CRM to manage your sales pipeline. But the first step is putting a CRM in place, so you can receive the associated benefits.

2. Align sales and marketing

A CRM allows you to easily align sales and marketing efforts. This helps keep the sales pipeline healthy and flowing. Marketing can run campaigns and sales can log in and see which leads are consuming which content, which web pages they have visited, and obtain additional insight into each prospect.

Misaligned sales and marketing teams can have a devastating effect on your bottom line. When you use a CRM with built-in marketing automation, those two teams form a tight synergy that allows you to better manage your pipeline and close more deals.

3. Lead scoring

All-in-one CRMs provide the ability to score leads. You can score leads on demographic information such as job title, location, industry, etc. Your system also tracks all the behavior of each lead visiting your website. You can score on anything you want, such as content downloads, visits to important web pages, and more.

Once someone reaches the score that you deem to be high enough to consider them marketing qualified (or sales-ready), they automatically get passed over to sales for outreach. In this way, sales can focus on only the most sales-ready leads and leave the rest for further nurturing. This ensures that leads are always in the correct sales pipeline stages.

4. Precise sales forecasting

CRM reporting and sales pipeline metrics allow you to maintain an accurate picture of how many deals you’ll close in the future based on how many are in the pipeline and the rate at which your reps normally convert them.

Having this view into the future helps you identify areas that are holding leads up and ensures that you have an accurate idea of future revenue.

5. Regularly assess your sales pipeline with advanced reporting

Other benefits of powerful sales reporting include the ability to regularly check in on the health of the sales pipeline. A good CRM will provide you with a dashboard where you can log in, quickly check the metrics that you need to see most and check back out a minute later.

Regularly assess the health of your sales pipeline to ensure that there are enough leads in each stage and that reps close opportunities at the rate you expect.

6. Identify bottlenecks in the pipeline

Your CRM can track where each lead is in your sales pipeline by using system tags. Your system will update their status each time a lead moves on to the next stage in your pipeline.

You can check to see how many leads are in each stage at any time of the day or night. If you see that leads are getting stopped up in one particular stage, you can investigate what to address in order to keep them flowing through each stage at the right pace.

7. Use advanced telephony

Advanced telephony features are available with some all-in-one CRMs. Telephony helps your pipeline by allowing reps to make more calls in less time. They can queue up a list of leads to call and the system dials each one in sequence so the rep doesn’t have to do that manually. This will naturally result in more leads entering the sales pipeline, which will lead to increased sales.  

8. Nurture Leads

Reps can use the extensive amount of contact data in your CRM to nurture leads through the sales pipeline. They will know which content leads have consumed and which web pages they have visited.

With that knowledge, they will know which topics and products leads are interested in and can formulate their lead conversations around those interests. This logically results in more lead conversions.

9. Personalize interactions

A CRM makes it easy for reps to personalize their interactions with leads in the sales pipeline. Armed with so much insight into who each lead is, they can cater to their needs, pain points, and interests.

They can make the lead feel comfortable by discussing things that the lead is interested in. This allows them to form a rapport with leads, which does wonders for their ability to convert them into customers.

10. Use system triggers to send alerts

You can use your CRM to send an alert to a rep when a lead reaches the scoring threshold and becomes marketing qualified. Instant alerts and reminders allow the rep to reach out as soon as someone becomes marketing qualified, while they are engaged.

If reps wait too long, a competitor might engage with the lead first and win them. Alerts and reminders help the rep reach out in just the right moment, which helps bring more leads into the sales pipeline.

11. Online appointment scheduling

Online appointment scheduling allows reps to create an online calendar with a unique link. They send that link to leads and leads view open times slots and schedule meetings at the times that suit them. Then the appointment shows up on the rep’s calendar while the rep focuses on other things.

This benefits the pipeline and increases sales in two ways. First, reps can spend the time normally involved in going back and forth to schedule a meeting on speaking to other leads and closing more deals. Second, reps will get more meetings if leads can schedule their own appointments at the times that are most convenient for them.

12. Sales gamification

Sales gamification introduces an element of competition into the sales process. Reps compete against one another in various challenges such as calls made, deals closed, and revenue generated.

Competition sparks motivation and introducing gamification into your sales process results in your reps working harder to win those challenges. This leads to more calls made, more deals opened, and more leads converted into customers.

13. Maintain a clean database

Use the tools available in your CRM to maintain a clean database. Features such as duplicate lead merging help keep your data clean. Reps will lose time if they go to call a lead and the phone number is incorrect.

If other data is incorrect, they may call the lead by the wrong name or make other easy-to-avoid mistakes. That will have a negative impact on the health of your sales pipeline as reps will not be able to reach as many leads, meaning fewer will enter the pipeline, to begin with.

Conclusion

Growing your business and closing more deals is easy with the use of an all-in-one CRM. By automating processes and aligning your teams, your reps can reach more leads in less time. And the massive amounts of data there allow reps to form better relationships with leads and convert more of them into customers.

The common denominator is having the right technology in place to facilitate all of that. By putting the right CRM in place and following the tips above, you’ll maintain a healthy sales pipeline and continually increase sales. 

The post 13 CRM sales pipeline management practices to improve sales appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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Growing a small business requires you to be creative and try new tactics. The most successful small business ideas for growth are those that allow you to work faster, smarter, and maintain satisfied customers. You may have seen posts that contain lists of the top ten small business ideas, or similar articles. But we’ve taken it a step further and provided 31 small business ideas to accelerate growth. Let’s dig in:

1. Invest in a CRM

Small businesses need a customer relationship management (CRM) system to streamline contact management. A solid CRM houses loads of data about your customers, allowing you to maintain insight into their interests, needs, personal information, and so on. It’s difficult to compete in today’s highly competitive business landscape without a CRM in place.

2. Leverage marketing automation

Marketing automation is another piece of technology you should invest in if you want to accelerate growth. It allows you to send marketing emails, build landing pages for lead generation, score leads as they move towards conversion, and much more. And if you use an all-in-one CRM, you’ll have marketing automation already built into your system.

3. Automate processes

Small businesses need to be as efficient as possible with limited resources. You can automate tons of processes that would otherwise be done manually with the right technology—such as CRM and marketing automation.

For example, you can automate data entry by using forms to automatically capture prospect data. Automation frees up time that you can spend on higher-value tasks such as forming your growth strategy.

4. Focus on the customer experience

The customer experience is set to become the most important variable in consumers’ buying decisions. It will soon overtake price and product as the key driver of customers’ purchase choices. Do everything you can to deliver a world-class customer experience.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself how you would like to be treated. Then go out of your way to treat your customers in that same way.

5. Hire top talent

It’s worth the investment and extra money you’ll spend to hire top talent. It’s an investment in the future of your business. Hiring the best employees will ensure they produce the best results for your company. It will also positively affect the customer experience.

So, don’t skimp and try to save by hiring people without the appropriate experience just because it saves you money. It will cost you more money in the long run.

6. Deliver great customer support

It’s crucial that customers can contact you easily when they have an issue and need support. Ensure your customer support team knows your product well enough to resolve issues on the first try. And make it a priority to respond as quickly as possible when they reach out. Delivering great customer support is an incredibly important small business idea.

7. Get aggressive with social media

You should create a company page on various social media sites. The most important ones for many businesses are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Post daily and share news, new content, and other helpful information that will engage your audience. You’ll be surprised by how much traffic a strong social media presence will drive to your website.

8. Provide product training to your employees

Your employees need to know your product inside and out. They need to be able to confidently answer product-related questions when they speak to a customer or prospect. Otherwise, prospects and customers will lose trust in your ability to support them and deliver a great customer experience.

9. Write a blog

Another important small business idea for growth is to create a blog. Write about topics that will educate your audience. Provide tips and tricks that will help them work smarter. Educate them on industry trends so they can be more competitive. And always be sure to share your blogs on social media.

10. Grow your email list

It’s essential that you constantly grow your email list. You always need new leads in your database. You can’t grow your business without finding new leads and marketing to them. Learn best practices for growing your email list.

11. Make it easy to subscribe to your email list

Put a form on your website homepage that allows people to subscribe to your list easily. Put it on other high-traffic pages as well. You can also include a link to your sign-up form in your email signature and on your social media sites so that people can find it in multiple locations.

12. Make customer satisfaction a priority

Satisfied customers stay longer and provide a recurring revenue stream that helps stably grow your business. They also speak positively about your brand to others, which amounts to word-of-mouth advertising. Focus on improving the customer experience, as mentioned above, and you’ll maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.

13. Generate a positive work culture

Happy employees work harder, have higher morale, and stick around longer. Employee turnover has a horrible effect on your bottom line. Keep them happy by asking them how you could improve the workplace. Implement their feedback, tell them about it, and they’ll see that you truly care about their wellbeing.

14. Know your customers

Your CRM stores loads of personal and professional data about your contacts. With this data, you can maintain deep insight into their interests, pain points, past buying behavior, and more.
Your relationship with your customers should be a partnership. Getting to know who they are and what they need will help you convey that to them, which will increase customer satisfaction and help you grow.

15. Provide onboarding for new customers

You need to train new customers on how to use your product. The extent of that training depends on your product. But if customers can’t successfully use your product, they will leave you for a competitor.

16. Engage in corporate social responsibility tactics

Many miss this small business idea, but its key to growth. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly important. It helps you develop a positive reputation as a company that gives back to the community it serves. People increasingly take that into account when comparing vendors. Get out and volunteer, donate to charities, and tell your audience about it.

17. Develop a brand style guide

Branding is one of the most important things for business growth. You need to use consistent branding so that consumers recognize your brand when they see it. Read about how to create a brand style guide.

18. Create vision and mission statements

Your vision statement is where you want to be in the future. Your mission statement is how you plan to get there. Create these documents and share them with all your employees so that everyone understands and is working towards the same goals.

19. Focus on what sets you apart from the competition

Create a value proposition that highlights the unique value that your product brings to the market. Research your competitors and identify areas that you excel in, which they don’t. Then focus on those areas in your lead generation outreach, email marketing, social media posts, and any other customer interactions.

20. Develop messaging documents

How do your employees talk about your company and your product? It’s important that everyone speaks in the same way when interacting with your audience. Consistent messaging ensures that you don’t create confusion in the market.
Create messaging documents with talking points and share them with all your employees so that everyone describes your business and product in the same way.

21. Use service level agreements

Service level agreements outline the type of service you will deliver to your customers. They are contracts that you must adhere to. Using them gives customers peace of mind as it tells them what they can expect.

You can also use service level agreements to hold employees accountable for meeting the required level of service you have committed to. It’s a small business idea that will generate trust among your customers.

22. Offer multiple support channels

Customers need to be able to reach you on the channel that they prefer. Offer customer support via email, telephone, social media, and online live chat. Your customers vary, and so do their preferences. Offering multiple support channels ensures you are catering to the unique needs of every customer.

23. Define the customer journey

Map out the stages of your sales funnel. Understand what prospects need at each stage to move to the next. Monitor leads as they pass through those stages, so you can identify bottlenecks when they arise. This helps you keep leads flowing through the funnel on their way to becoming customers.

24. Create content that aligns with your sales funnel

First, you need to define the customer journey and the associated stages of the sales funnel, as mentioned above. Then, you will know which type of content is needed at each stage to move leads on.

You wouldn’t send a new lead a how-to guide. And you wouldn’t send a customer an introductory one-sheet that tells them about your business. Mapping content to the sales funnel allows you to deliver the right content at the right time and increases engagement.

25. Personalize your interactions

You can personalize your interactions with prospects and customers when you store so much data about them in your CRM. You can greet them by name when they call as you’ll have that information right in front of you. You can personalize your marketing so that it’s more relevant to them. Personalizing your interactions will help you close more deals and grow your business.

26. Send an email newsletter

Sending is a great small business idea. It’s a way to keep customers informed about new developments at your company. Send them periodically to alert customers about new products, special offers, new content, and more. Keeping customers in the loop will keep them satisfied.

27. Generate customer testimonials

Prospects will trust the word of your customers more than they will trust you when you tell them how great your product is. Find satisfied customers and ask for testimonials. Then post them on your website and share them on social media. It’s a great way to drive more conversions and grow your business.

28. Engage with industry influencers

Industry influencers are people with a high profile in your industry that others look to for advice. They normally have huge followings on social media. Try to engage with them so they will share your content or mention you in their posts. It will put your brand name in front of loads of new potential customers.

29. Nurture your brand advocates

Brand advocates are customers, employees, or anyone else who advocates for your brand. This normally takes place on social media. Your customer may post about how great your product is. That’s a brand advocate, and when you find them, you need to nurture them. You can be alerted when someone mentions you on social media by using social listening tools.

30. Speak about benefits rather than features

This is a great small business idea that many fail to recognize. People want to hear how your product will benefit them and make their lives easier. They don’t want to hear a technical explanation of the feature that will deliver that benefit. Ensure your whole team knows how to speak in terms of benefits and doesn’t overly focus on features.

31. Provide user guides and training videos

User guides and training videos help ensure your customers can use your product to the fullest. That results in more satisfied customers, which in turn results in increased brand awareness. These things are essential for small business growth.

Conclusion

Growing a small business is easy if you follow the right tips. There are loads of small business ideas that you can implement for under $100. The list of small business ideas above will help drive your growth. Get creative when thinking of ideas to grow your small business.

The most successful small business ideas are those that allow you to work faster, smarter, and maintain satisfied customers. Meeting those objectives will certainly drive growth.

Do you have any tips for growing a small business that you’d like to share with our readers? Please let us know in the comments section below.

The post 31 small business ideas to accelerate growth appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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