How to tell if your salespeople or sales process is putting you out of business

Are your sales reps putting you out of business? This was the key question at a recent CEO roundtable that Kevin Hourigan, the president and CEO of Web design, Web development and Internet marketing agency Bayshore Solutions, participated in.

“What we uncovered was an eye-opening misunderstanding of the processes and support systems required to achieve sales expectations,” says Hourigan.

Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about how to use a straightforward sales funnel model to make sure your sales prospecting and marketing strategies (both online and offline) are helping you successfully reach your sales goals.

What is the sales funnel model?

The sales funnel is a graphical representation of the flow through your sales process from many general prospects in your target customer population narrowing to those that become your customers.

From the top of the funnel down, the general layers of narrowing phases are as follows:

■ Targets. The prospects, suspects or online searchers that are in the market for your product or service.

■ Leads. The people that have indicated interest or acknowledged a need for your product or service. Completing a quote request form on your website clearly defines a lead.

■ Opportunities. The people that are qualified and to whom you will present a proposal.

■ Sales. Your closed deals and customers.

Each business entity has unique conversion percentages for their funnel stages. Your historical sales data will show your specific rates. By way of example let’s use these: a conversion rate of 10 percent of targets who progress to leads, of which 25 percent qualify as an opportunity to receive a proposal, and of that 25 percent of these deals are won as sales.

Kevin Hourigan, President and CEO, Bayshore Solutions

How can you use this data to meet your sales goals?

Given these conversion rates, the key is to take your sales revenue goal and your real historical average sales deal amount and work back up the funnel stages to get a clear picture of how much you need to pour into the top to achieve your goals at the bottom. For a business-to-business firm example, if your annual sales target expectation per sales rep is $1 million, and your average deal size is $15,000, then you need to win six deals ($90K) each month to achieve that revenue. Applying the conversion rates back up the funnel, this translates into 24 proposals ($360K) per month and 96 leads per month with marketing and prospecting systems support to influence $160 million worth of prospects per salesperson.

How to use content to build up your website and drive new customers

The often-quoted term, “content is king” could be translated for today’s marketplace as, “Content is central to your survival and, if done right, to your success.”

“The factors that drive buying behavior today rely on content,” says Kevin Hourigan, the president and CEO of Web design, Web development and Internet marketing agency Bayshore Solutions. “A strong content strategy will be the distinguishing factor in companies that succeed in 2011 and beyond.”

Without it, adds Hourigan, your target audience will find another source for getting educated on the products or services you provide and, eventually, buy from them.

Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about how to develop and deploy the online content that will make and keep your business ‘king.’

What exactly is content?

Content is often mistakenly thought of as the words on website pages, brochures, articles, reports or white papers. Such a definition is dangerously short-sighted. In today’s marketplace, online content is anything presented to a visitor that shapes their impression of your business. This includes traditional written content (website messaging, case studies, blogs, articles, testimonials, marketing and e-mail campaigns) as well as visual content (videos, images and maps) and aural content (soundtracks, podcasts and audio clips). Equally important is the layout and design in which that content is presented.

A critical element of content is its syndication. Posting to your website is just the beginning. Distribute your content beyond your Web pages in as many variations, formats and places as are relevant to your prospective customers. Content syndication should include social media groups that feature reviews, helpful advice, interaction and problem solving engagement; video and photo sites such as YouTube, Flicker and Slideshare; bookmarking sites and other sharing portals.

How to achieve the critical balance of website usability, design, SEO and results

Beauty may often be in the eye of the beholder, but for business website design, beauty is as beauty does.

Kevin Hourigan, president and CEO of Bayshore Solutions, a Web design, Web development and Internet marketing agency, cautions business leaders that design itself is just a portion of today’s website requirements.

“Great Web design blends both art and science to powerfully balance all of the elements vital to the success of your website,” says Hourigan.

Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about how to ensure your website has a great design.

Why does great Web design = leads and sales?

This equation describes the cause and effect of a successful business website. ‘Design’ incorporates and balances all of the things that are important to your website’s success.

Different aspects of design address distinct purposes, channels and end-users. There are specific requirements when designing for:

  • Look and feel: communication of corporate brand and message.
  • SEO: competitive visibility and ‘friendliness’ to the various search engine crawlers.
  • Devices: consistent experiences for users of computers, smart phones, iPads, etc.
  • Results: navigation and usability to accelerate lead or sales conversions.

Great Web design produces an attractive, consistent approach for all audiences of your website: people, engines and devices.

How to make sure your website is making you, not costing you, money

Back in the 1890s John Wanamaker,
notable U.S. retailer and founder of Philadelphia’s first department store
said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t
know which half.”

This old quote is why Kevin
Hourigan, president and CEO of Web design, development and Internet marketing
agency, Bayshore Solutions, is so passionate about Web marketing.

“When correctly implemented, you
can clearly measure and effectively manage your website’s profitability,” he

Smart Business spoke with Hourigan
about how to ensure your organization’s website is a revenue-generation asset
versus an advertising expense.

How can you tell if your
website is making you or costing you money?

Let’s look at the process:
marketing and advertising produce leads and prospects, of which a percentage
converts to sales, which eventually fuels profits. With website marketing
initiatives including SEO,
, online
, social
, engagement, etc., the hard costs
associated with those activities are readily known. Therefore the straight-line
comparison of Web marketing costs to number of leads produced and sales dollars
as a result will yield this information, if you are tracking the data
correctly. The vital key is tracking, and unfortunately an alarming amount of
businesses are not tracking correctly, compromising their ability to understand
if their Web marketing is making them or costing them money.

How do you track correctly?

The tracking information that is
going to help you truly see your Web marketing performance picture does not end
where the majority of Web analytics and Internet marketing tracking tools leave
off. Unless all sales are processed on the firm’s website, correct tracking is
a much more complex process. Web traffic analytics and conversion to leads,
inquiries, requests for quotes, etc., can get you to the leads-generated
number, but you need to connect this number to the amount of sales that result.

Marketing that is on its A-game
delivers ‘cost-effective leads that quickly convert to sales.’ Therefore it is essential to track all your marketing activity, and
all of the associated metrics, through to the sale. Making this connection
enables you to make informed decisions on keeping the half that serves your
business and tossing the half that doesn’t.

How your Web site can be the quickest way to achieve your 2010 sales goals

It’s September — the last month in 3Q 2010 — and many businesses have to meet their third quarter scorecards while ramping up fourth quarter activity in light of their year-end goals.

According to Kevin Hourigan, the president and CEO of Bayshore Solutions, there are specific actions you can take using your Web site to connect with customers, convert them and gain some fast wins.

Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about how a company can utilize its Web site to cost-effectively and quickly attract customers to drive growth.

How can you use your Web site to boost sales fast?

Bar none, the best Web strategy for sustained growth is an integrated and holistic approach. However, many times I’ve advised companies who need to shore up sales quickly — before they can redesign or build their Web site or fully deploy the Web initiatives they need for ongoing success. In this situation, the tactic to apply first is paid search.

Paid search is advertising online through major search engines such as Google AdWords or Yahoo/Bing search. It uses a bidding system to show your ads on search engine results pages (SERPs) to people searching for the keywords relevant to your product or service. Today’s Internet opportunities offer a variety of applications of paid search, from targeting via keywords entered, to demographic and behavioral aspects in social network advertising (like Facebook), to advanced techniques such as remarketing, which enables branding on par with a national footprint specifically focused to your familiar prospects.

Why is paid search the fastest way to connect to prospective customers?

Paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) ads are shown to people who are actively searching the Internet using the terms (keywords) describing your product or service. You are not interrupting them in their daily lives; you are offering an answer for their query — at the tips of their fingers. They are already in the ‘I have a need, and am researching how to solve it’ or, ‘I am ready and motivated to buy’ phase of their purchase cycle. When paid search is implemented correctly, you can reach them at their time of need, connect them directly to your product or service information and generate the lead, or, in eCommerce situations, close the sale then and there.