September 26, 2023

AI, Omnichannel Marketing, and Summer Slumps

A few months ago, I asked for questions on LinkedIn to fuel an article. I’m a little late for the Summer Slump question, but slumps can happen at different times in the year so hopefully this answer will help next time you feel yourself heading into a slump.

 1)    How are small businesses using AI in their sales efforts?

 Here is a short list of things I have seen with my coaching clients:

  •  Identifying search terms – Reps can use AI engines to identify common SEO search terms for services like signage, direct mail, and omnichannel campaigns. Common search terms can be used in email subject lines, copy, and LinkedIn posts to create longer-form content like blog posts.
  • Prospect emails and a cadence of messaging, including voice mail scripts, emails, and LinkedIn messages about a specific topic. Reps can ask the AI engine to create multiple emails for a specific topic like improving response rates, increasing point of sale purchasing in a retail store, or B2B omnichannel lead generation.
  • Personalizing content sharing emails – reps are using AI engines to take a standard piece of content like their company’s blog post and personalize an email message to specific customers sharing the content.
  • LinkedIn Posts and personalized messages – This is the best thing since sliced bread for reps who struggled with a blank screen. They use it to create topics and posts, from direct mail and hot Pantone colors to signage and wayfinding.  Describing the persona, you know what to target, and asking for an educational post helps to keep it from being too pitchy.
  • Some reps need help to write a grammatically correct response to a customer email. Now they can prompt an AI engine to write a professional email. It’s especially helpful when a customer is angry, and the rep needs to respond in a way that will calm the situation. Reps add the customer’s email to the prompt, and the AI engine writes a response that they can tweak easily.
  • Proposal Cover Letters – Reps who have a problem writing coherent emails will struggle with things like proposal cover letters, RFP question responses, and any other need to write something grammatically correct and coherent. AI is a big help with all of these activities.

AI integrations with CRM systems can do more, like lead scoring and building prospect lists. With third-party tools, sales reps can also use AI to prepare, update, and manage prospect databases saving time and streamlining the execution of direct marketing campaigns.

In today’s digital age, the seamless integration of artificial intelligence (AI) has paved the way for innovative approaches to content creation. AI engines with advanced voice analysis capabilities can revolutionize a company’s online presence. By dissecting the distinct voice embedded within a company’s website, these cutting-edge systems can comprehend the tone, style, and messaging and replicate it effortlessly in the content they generate. This transformative process ensures a consistent and authentic brand voice across various communication channels, fostering a stronger connection with audiences and enhancing the overall user experience.

 We are at the tip of the iceberg on how AI will change sales. The biggest advice I can give owners, sales managers, and reps is to work with it. The more things you try, the better you get at the prompts and the less time it takes to generate what you need.

 2)    How are reps adjusting to the fact that more B2B buyers prefer to buy with limited involvement with sales reps?

I could write a book on this one.  B2B Buyers rely on reps they consider trusted advisors. They take their calls, share their problems, and ask for opinions and advice. B2B buyers don’t want to talk to reps who can’t add value. Selling is not about pitching products. It is about helping customers solve problems. To solve a problem, a rep must understand the customer’s industry, objectives, challenges, how they use their products, how they could use their products, and the results they can generate. Professional sellers prepare, invest in themselves, and always work on improving their skills. They ask great questions, which leads to great conversations and sales opportunities. Selling is evolving quickly, and the best reps are also evolving. AI Chatbots will take over for the reps who get specs, send pricing, and keep their fingers crossed.

That said, it is much more difficult to get the attention of key B2B stakeholders. It takes a dedicated effort through many different channels, including traditional means of phone and email, as well as physical and virtual networking and sharing thought leadership via blogs and LinkedIn posts.

 3)    Are sales teams using omnichannel marketing to support their sales efforts in attracting prospects and upselling existing clients?

Good lead generation requires frequency and consistency. Sales reps often need to improve at both. If reps are responsible for prospecting and account management, they almost always tilt toward account management. If reps are good, existing account revenue will grow. However, the dual role often leads to fewer new customer opportunities. If reps are bad, companies lose customers and can’t find new ones to add.

Lead generation is critical today. It makes great reps more productive and covers up the sins of bad reps. Lead generation has to be omnichannel because customers and prospects interact in multiple channels and because omnichannel delivers better results than single-channel messaging. It’s better when omnichannel marketing is personalized and automates the follow-up messages based on the actions the prospect or customer has already taken. Lead generation is ideal when it includes a sales interaction when the customer’s actions show that their interest is building.

 4)    How can sales reps avoid the customer summer slump and keep the sales cycle moving?

This is a multi-part answer:

  • First, fill the pipeline with more opportunities. If reps only have a few things to work on and the decision makers for those opportunities are out or preoccupied with other business issues, decisions slip. Reps who know the summer or holiday months will be slow should fill their pipelines with more opportunities earlier in the year. A healthy pipeline has upside so if a decision slips, there is another one to take its place and reps can hit their monthly sales goals even in slower months.
  • Second, reps shouldn’t slow down because their customers are out. Reps should see the summertime as a way to get ahead of competitive reps who take their foot off the gas. Too many reps feel the slowdown and slowdown themselves.
  • Thirdly, figure out the types of businesses that are busy when your existing clients are slow. If you sell event signage, there will be many events in the summer. If your business slows during the holiday, target markets that are busy during the holiday season like retail, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Start talking to customers in the winter about what they’ll need in the summer and vice versa.  If reps wait until their pipeline is light, they will likely be too late to influence decisions in their favor.
  • Lastly, customers buy because there is a reason to buy. Understand what your customers will need following a slow period and create a compelling reason for them to get started during your slow months.

The sales profession keeps evolving with the addition of new sales models, specialized sales positions, proactive CRM systems, powerful tools like AI, and changing B2B buying practices. Great reps keep learning and because they do, they overcome challenges and capitalize on the opportunities the market presents.

Use the contact form below to ask a question or to learn more about business development solutions from the Evolve Sales Group.

 

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