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Move Customers and Prospects Through the Sales Cycle

  |  March 31, 2004   |  Comments

Eight e-newsletter tactics to cross-sell, upsell, or just plain sell.

Commonly overlooked in newsletters is the role they can play in sales cycles. Analytics allow you to learn information about readers that plays a critical role in your sales cycles and revenue generation. Not only can you identify your readers by their specific email addresses, but you can also learn how they interact with your newsletter. Your sales reps will go wild when they get this information. You can become a hero by delivering a new prospect right to the sales rep's office door!

Here's your opportunity to deliver, big time.

Learn Who Your Sales Prospects Are

If your newsletter has a good reporting system, you can learn who's reading what and how much time they spend with your newsletters. Readers may be prospects who are already in a sales cycle with one of your reps.

Picture telling a rep, "Joe, you know that big prospect you're trying to get? Well, he read this article on product X and kept coming back to it. Have you talked to him about this yet? Maybe you want to send him that new data sheet." Imagine the possibilities!

Cross-Sell to Current Customers

Perhaps you have a customer who owns product Y. You find out he's frequently expressed an interest, through his readership patterns, in product Q. That little tidbit could be highly beneficial to the sales rep on this account. The customer is telling you, through his interactivity in with the newsletter, he has an interest in this product. This is something a sales rep can capitalize on.

Move Prospects Through a Sales Cycle

Once you find interested prospects, demonstrated either by readership patterns or through data from your sales teams, you can create a special newsletter intended solely to move the prospect into the sales cycle. Focus on customer stories highlighting successful product use. Or segment prospects by industry and show how your product can make their lives easier, in respect to their own industry.

Generate Quarter-End/Year-End Revenue

A newsletter is a great way to generate revenue from low-hanging fruit. If people were considering buying your product but wanted additional incentive, a newsletter can deliver that message quickly and efficiently. Send a special promotional newsletter with a "buy now and save money" message. You'll drive in some revenue that might otherwise have been delayed until the next quarter.

Send Personal Messages From Your Sales Reps

Nurture customers and prospects along by personalizing your regular newsletter. Segment your list by sales rep, and send newsletters out with the rep's name in the sender line. You can even include a message from that rep, along with the rep's photo. Customers and prospects will think they're getting a very directed, personal message, and a new communications avenue will open up for your reps.

Send Personal Messages According to Job Function

In the midst of a sales cycle, each job function looks for different proof points. A CFO may want to see a return on investment (ROI) justification. A CIO may want to understand how seamlessly your product integrates with her existing systems. Create segmented and highly targeted messages like these by versioning your newsletters. Offer more information through Webinars, white papers, case studies, and the like.

Measure Reader Interaction Over Time

With certain tracking tools, you can follow a customer's or prospect's interaction with your newsletter issue by issue. You can tell if certain readers are interacting more or less over time, providing yet another measure of their viability as prospects. This is an additional way to see how interested they are in your company and products.

Drive Your Readers Offline

You're probably scratching your head over this one, but let's be realistic. We're talking about moving a customer or prospect from the point of identifying a need to where the cash register rings. It's often a long journey that most likely won't be accomplished solely through newsletters.

Newsletters, however, do drive clicks. If you can get readers to email a sale rep or get them to a Webinar or event (e.g., a trade show) that will further educate them, you've accomplished your goal. They're moving along the chain.

How does your newsletter help with sales cycles? Share your thoughts.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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Kathleen Goodwin

Kathleen Goodwin is the former CEO of IMN (formerly iMakeNews), specializing in customer acquisition and retention through permission-based e-newsletters. For nine years, she was vice president of marketing for Ziff-Davis' publishing division, where she oversaw the marketing of all print publications and their early online siblings. She also serves as an advisor to early-stage companies and has been responsible for several successful new-business launches.

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