On LinkedIn one-on-one, personalized marketing can be quite powerful.
However, the amount of time spent chasing down every possible sales lead does not always yield the optimum ROI.
In order to achieve balance between your efforts on LinkedIn to generate more sales leads versus actually closing and ultimately servicing those customers, you have to ensure you've set up your sales funnel correctly.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with a sales funnel expert, Marylou Tyler, the Bestselling Author of "Predictable Revenue" and "Predictable Prospecting."
Tyler, who serves as a sales enablement strategist for clients including Apple, Bose, Mastercard, UPS and many others, shared the three biggest mistakes she sees in many companies' sales funnels - and how to fix them.
Tip 1: Know Your Value of Each Lead
With Tyler's background in computer engineering, she views the sales process from a systems perspective. One of the first key indicators of a functioning sales funnel is to understand the value of your leads.
"Know the value of your leads that are coming into your big bucket," Tyler told me. "Some leads are minors, some leads are whales. I look at the lead types that are coming in, because they have different values."
This understanding will help you predict revenue, as well as the cost associated with your inputs of time and energy.
When working with clients, Tyler helps companies identify and target the specific accounts that will have high revenue and high close rates.
"The hardest thing for sales reps is to really say, 'Okay, is this worth my time?' They'll chase anything because they're human," Tyler says. "We love everybody, we want to talk to everybody, but we have to really pick and choose. The only way you can do that intelligently is to know the value of that lead."
Back to LinkedIn for a moment.
Because the platform is such a highly visible, trusted social network for professionals, and because you're able to use it to demonstrate industry-specific expertise with targeted individuals, along with sharing high-value testimonials on your profile, you can land more of what what Tyler calls the "coveted lead."
"They're high in value, but they're low in volume," she says.
Tip 2: Specialize your Strengths
Once you understand prospecting, you also have to determine how to best close and service your accounts.
Tyler says that while solo entrepreneurs don't always have this luxury, she suggests larger companies specialize their sales roles - from prospecting, to closing and servicing - to improve the outreach process.
"There are different skill sets that are needed," she says. "People still make mistakes and they try to get their reps to do all things. The bottom line is we're all stressed when we have to do that, because some of our skills are not in those areas."
Tip 3: Consider Reverse-Engineering
Tyler suggests mapping the sales process out and not being afraid to move it around so that it makes sense for your company's goals, capabilities, and achievable revenue.
"We're doing it backwards, but we've always done it backwards since I've been a programmer working in operating system design," she says. "We get the tool first and then we try to cram our business process into the tool and it doesn't work. You have to do it the other way around."
When you're able to combine those three key elements (Lead Value, Specialization and Reverse-Engineering), your sales funnel will be far more effective, according to Tyler.
Read, Listen and Apply!
There's much more to the entire process than one can capture in a quick blog post, so I'd suggest you go here to listen to my entire conversation with Tyler to glean everything she shared about the sales funnel process.
She also shared additional tips on another intriguing topic - how to combine the warmth of storytelling and emotion with cold, analytical data to get the best prospecting and sales cycle possible.