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Shortening the Sales Cycle by 70% Through Effective Outreach Using Sequences and Task Automation

Social-Intelligence
OVERVIEW

When a business takes off and lead volume expands while system infrastructure and processes remain invariable, a ‘good’ problem may manifest. More leads, more problems - am I right? This can certainly be the case when short-term solutions are piecemealed together in the absence of a foundationally durable sales system. 

When Social Intelligence came to us, they expressed a need for a full sales system overhaul to unbind their team from trivial and timely tasks so that they could direct their talents toward closing deals. Despite expressing that they felt a bit under water, the team had many pivotal strengths that we wanted to fine-tune and accentuate through automation.

Manual Processes
A Fragmented Sales System

We are now running a more efficient sales process with relevant, useful data capturing and automation of tasks to make our team lean and effective. So many small tasks were taking up our time and attention and Revenue River cleaned it right up for us, freeing our team to close significant deals and grow our business. 

Bianca Calhoun Lager

President Social Intelligence

Bianca Calhoun Lager

President Social Intelligence
Bianca-Calhoun-Lager

ASSESSING THE CHALLENGE

CHALLENGE

Social Intelligence had invested in HubSpot but didn’t fully utilize the portal’s capabilities for a period of time before partnering with us. Most of the team’s existing workflows triggered one-off email campaign automation and no automated lead routing had been assembled. Instead, the team lead received an email notification for all inbound leads and manually assigned the lead to himself or a teammate.  When leads came in through form submissions, important lead qualification data wasn’t effectively being captured, so little lead segmentation existed. Moreover, there was no lead nurturing process in place.

To keep up with a high volume of leads, the team was creating manual tasks to follow up on. Depending on the rep, initial outreach differed and various templates were utilized. If a lead wasn’t qualified or lost relevance over time - be it they left their former company or simply went dark - a note may be left in the contact record, but nothing could be distinguished in reporting to account for these disqualified leads. 

If a qualified lead did result in an opportunity, it was placed in one of two pipelines: Direct Sales, which is comprised of end users, or Partners Sales, which includes white-label services sold by Partner Accounts. The deals within the Partner Sales pipeline were easy enough to track if they were in the sales team's control, but the services sold by the Partner Accounts themselves were not. The issue with this is, while the Partner Account deals contribute to Social Intelligence's revenue stream, the inability to easily track these was skewing their data.

Another issue the team ran into is once a contract is signed and a deal is technically marked ‘closed-won’, ROI isn’t truly achieved until Social Intelligence's services (social media screening reports) are ordered through their CSM team. The existing sales funnel needed to be altered to the flywheel model to better nurture the extended customer success process.

Overall, a lack of a streamlined, systemic process resulted in scattered data points; low quality data made it difficult to find patterns or useful insight from their customer database. The system operated, but it wasn’t doing the team any favors.

Sales System Architecture Map

A TEAM’S STRENGTHS WILL HIGHLIGHT THE SOLUTION TO A CHALLENGE

SOLUTION

What made Social Intelligence so desirable to work with was their eagerness to learn paired with a willingness to scrap what wasn’t working to start anew. It also didn’t hurt that the team was incredibly consistent and reliable. Assessing their productivity, it was clear that the team dutifully logged all activities in HubSpot CRM including notes, tasks and calls. They also utilized both Zoom and Gmail integrations which automatically logged email and meeting activity within contact records. We needed to clear the path for their team by weaving in processes that accentuated their diligence and resulted in fruitful, data-backed insight via a modern sales system.

To free up the rep's time to focus on quality leads we drilled in on a personalized sales process gated only to leads who fill out BOFU forms which immediately marks them as an SQL. The forms collect pertinent information including industry, number of employees and interest. By capturing these fields we could effectively establish data segmentation, build out lead routing and setup deal automation.

After submitting a BOFU form the SQL receives an automated email informing them that a sales rep will reach out. We then implemented automated tasks, sales sequences, disqualification parameters, updated the sales pipeline and engineered an attribution model to lay the foundation for an inbound marketing strategy.

The Revenue River team created efficient and repeatable workflows and segmented lists that will help us immensely as we grow and utilize our data to make smart decisions about our sales/marketing processes. 

Whitney Van Pelt

Business Development Manager Social Intelligence

Whitney Van Pelt

Business Development Manager Social Intelligence
SocialIntelligence

THE FEATURES OF FOCUS

BUILD

Automated Tasks

The bulk of manual task creation occurred in the prospecting phase and in the customer success phase, so that’s where we started. Once a contact owner is assigned to an SQL via the lead routing workflow (determined by the custom properties ‘interest’ and ‘number of employees’), a task is automatically assigned to the contact owner to review the SQL and if applicable, enroll them into a sales sequence. By automating this process, we could help ensure leads didn’t slip through the cracks.

On the CSM side, once a deal is marked closed-won (a contract has been executed), we setup automation that assigned and notified the CSM. This then triggered the creation of a task for the CSM to reach out and encourage the customer to order reports within 30 days. Once reports are ordered, the customer becomes an ‘active customer’ and enrolls in a task workflow that annually notifies the CSM to reach out for a renewal opportunity. Through use of automation the CSM can achieve more organized, long-term engagement.

Sequences

Working with the Social Intelligence team, we created a sales sequence based on their typical outreach and cadence with leads. The team decided that 4 emails would suffice over a 6 day period, along with a final follow up task to call the contact if they don’t engage with the templated emails. Each email may contain sales collateral, links to their resource page or blog, and of course, the rep's meeting link.

The sales sequence eliminates the majority of manual follow-up tasks in the prospecting stage. If a meeting is booked (logged meeting activity on the contact record via the Zoom integration), a deal is automatically created in the applicable sales pipeline (known by the custom 'Interest' property collected on the BOFU form). Since launching in October, 20% of SQLs enrolled in the sales sequence have converted into an Opportunity.

Data Hygiene 

Previously, the Social Intelligence team was not marking leads as disqualified. Per best practice, we implemented a disqualifying process to help keep their database clean, specifically for future marketing initiatives. Disqualification reason is a dropdown with the 5 most common reasons a lead may be unqualifed. Instead of throwing away any SQL marked as “went dark” or “bad timing”, these leads are reverted back to a subscriber status to be segmented for lead nurturing. Should that lead engage with marketing in the future and reach a certain lead score threshold, they can re-enter into the system as an MQL, and eventually as an SQL should they again contact sales.

Sales Pipeline

To differentiate ‘customers’ from ‘active customers’, we extended the pipelines to include ‘reports ordered’ as a final deal stage after ‘closed won-lost’. Once a deal is marked ‘closed won’, the deal transitions ownership from the sales rep to a CSM. Again, we wanted to shift toward the flywheel model to promote focus on the customer delight stage. In doing so, the team can better close the loop by expanding the buyer’s journey to include renewal customers.

We also added a third pipeline specifically for Partner Accounts. Since this is a harder pipeline to track and accounts for a select portion of deals, we made it much shorter.

Since implementing more streamlined pipelines, the sales team could take on a more focused approach to moving qualified deals through the funnel more quickly and efficiently. In the three months post-launch versus the 3 months prior to launch, the direct sales pipeline accumulated a 30% increase in total number of deals AND still shortened the total average sales cycle by 70%.

Attribution

Once we implemented an attribution model we could better understand where leads were originating. Customers with a lead source of ‘digital marketing’ primarily came from organic search, and those with a lead source of ‘web inbound’ originated from direct search. At the moment, the majority of customers come from imported lists, outbound sales prospecting, and tradeshows. There’s a lot of opportunity here for the Social Intelligence team to draw in more leads through digital marketing, and with attribution in place we can now track how their marketing dollars are performing.

A FOUNDATION TO BUILD UPON

RESULTS

The Social Intelligence team wanted to iron out an automated sales system so that their sales team could allocate more time to harvesting better deals. The goal was clear: we needed to steer away from a means-end approach by implementing a more automated, streamlined process.

To no surprise, as soon as the system launched the Social Intelligence team began to utilize the sequence tool and promptly addressed assigned tasks. The end result has been a shortened, more efficient sales cycle.

The results have been encouraging which is in full credit to the Social Intelligence team's collaboration. After the system launch, a mind-shift occurred where the team began to reflect on what other existing manual processes could be restructured into more efficient alternatives. This forward-thinking, comprehensive understanding will only further open up channels for a more optimized system and strategy.

 

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