Closing Exhibition Sales Leads
Whether it’s outbound or inbound, leads are the life blood of any sales cycle. Most sales reps can’t get enough inbound leads (is there such a thing?), and some just aren’t cut out to handle a large amount of outbound calls. But that’s OK. As long as you make the most of every lead you acquire.
So, where to start? Keeping track of your leads is as good a place as any. To do this, most organizations use some form of CRM, or customer relationship management system. If your business isn’t one of them, take a few minutes to determine what you need from a CRM.
Evaluating CRM Technology Options
Priority 1: Figure out what’s most important to track when closing exhibition sales leads:
- What kinds of contact data do you need to collect about your leads?
- What data points do you need for business reporting?
- Do those needs change from lead to lead, or are they pretty static?
There are obvious things like phone numbers and emails and the like, but you also have to consider the finer points like a lead’s connections to your competitors and a record of prior deals you’ve had with them. You may find that it makes a world of difference to be able to track communications and have relevant files--like contracts and invoices--directly connected to a lead in the system.
Priority 2: Make sure the solution is user-friendly and intuitive.
People hate data entry, so you have to strike a balance between ease of use and functionality. The system you choose has to serve the needs of your sales team (by making it easy to input the data that will help them close deals) and your business interests (collecting the right data points on the back end to allow comprehensive reporting). If the solution is difficult to navigate and inputting data is a pain, then your sales team won’t adopt it fully. That means they won’t have the data they need when communicating with leads, and you won’t have the data you need to get an accurate measure of your business.
Priority 3: Is the software purpose-built for your business?
Now that you know your specific business needs, hold out for a solution that fits your industry. No matter how hard someone is trying to sell you on a be-all, do-all system, it is a simple fact that all CRMs are not created equal. A generalized solution might seem better at the outset but is likely to disappoint in the long run. A simple contact database might be easy to use, but might not meet your needs for robust reporting. A middle-ground solution is likely your best bet.
Evaluating an Existing CRM System
Already have a CRM system? Take a look at your current processes and be honest about how well they’re working for you. Various industry studies have shown that upwards of 62% of sales people poorly follow CRM best practices. Yikes! Those best practices are the whole reason you have a CRM!
To figure out why your sales team isn’t fully utilizing your system, and closing more exhibition sales leads, get answers to these questions:
- Is the CRM itself too cumbersome and complicated?
- Are you asking your team to find and input too much data or just the wrong data?
- Is your system optimized for your industry and your needs, or are you either lacking key functionality or carrying too many features that you never use?
- Is your CRM system well integrated with your other business tools, or does it feel tacked on for reasons no one can explain?
The best way to get to the bottom of the functionality funk is to get real feedback from your team. Ask your users why they hate it. Give them a survey or have a group discussion. However you do it, make sure you use what they say. When your team feels involved in the discussion, they’ll feel involved in the solution. Those good feelings transfer to their output. Your team will be more willing to stick with the process, and the data they need will be where they need it.
Closing the Cracks
Be honest, has your organization ever had a lead slip through the cracks because someone forgot to follow-up or wasn’t quick enough?
If the answer is “no,” then congrats! You’re one of very few organizations on the planet that is always on top of things—or, you just have a very low volume of leads (and if that’s the case, you might want to check this out). If the answer is “yes,” you are like most of the world and CRM is the key to closing the cracks and more sales.