Increasing your return on investment (ROI) by 2,000 per cent sounds, quite simply, too good to be true. For seasoned sales expert Abbie White, it’s her prosperous reality.
From managing a A$100 million portfolio as National Sales Manager at IBM to founding Sales Redefined in 2017, White has made it her mission to share her 15 years of knowledge with sales teams that aren’t quite hitting the mark.
"We’re closing the gap between sales and marketing to deliver a better ROI," White tells The CEO Magazine.
Acting as a "marriage counsellor" for sales and marketing, White’s radically fresh approach is based on proven concepts to boost profit.
"We hear daily from businesses that are struggling to get a ROI on their lead generation, and their belief is their marketing is not working," she shares. "Most often it is not that marketing is not working, it is that there is a big disconnect between their sales and marketing, therefore generating a ROI is almost impossible."
Lauded as one of the most dynamic sales experts, the CEO has been responsible for assisting the delivery of more than A$500 million in sales as well as working alongside leading organisations including Westpac and Telstra.
"Sales has become about maintaining disciplines and habits in the face of a noisy and highly distracting world." – Abbie White
Through identifying tactical wins and establishing targeted sales funnels, White is able to position teams for financial success. And with "ROI running through her blood", the sales leader shares her effective formula to boosting those three golden words.
Ultimate guide to increasing ROI
What is a return on investment?
ROI (or return on cost) is a performance measurement used to determine the ratio between net income and the investment to evaluate whether an investment is profitable.
What is SMarketing?
"SMarketing is when sales and marketing integrate and align on a common goal," White explains. "Start by creating a virtual sales and marketing – SMarketing – project team. Encourage your team to think SMarketing."
What is the key to increasing ROI by 2,000 per cent?
"The secret behind achieving a 2,000-plus per cent ROI on your lead-generation activities is to build a truly integrated sales and marketing campaign," she says. "Think of this as a sales funnel that takes prospects who have not heard of your product or service and nurtures them with multiple value-added touchpoints until conversion.
"It might sound obvious, but I can guarantee only a small minority of businesses are doing this well and therefore it creates a rare competitive advantage."
Steps to achieving a positive ROI
- Start at the top:
- Nut out what’s working:
- Find the low-hanging fruit:
- Nurture, nurture, nurture:
- Always follow up:
"To truly integrate your sales and marketing, it all starts at the top. Our most successful projects have CEOs or General Managers who lead from the front to set the culture, the process and the joint goals."
"Marketing teams often generate entire campaigns with no involvement from sales teams, who are arguably closest to the customer insights. The result is that many campaigns lack vital insights from the sales team and the content doesn’t truly speak to the customers’ greatest challenges. Around 70 per cent of content marketing produced never gets used."
"Right now, our highest-performing campaigns focus on what is critical and of top priority for the target market, not what is ‘nice to have’," White adds. "To find this out, research the content your audiences are engaging with and ask your sales teams what the hottest topics for their customers are.
"Using this approach for a remote work campaign during COVID-19, we secured a 2,065 per cent ROI for a leading global IT vendor."
"Most businesses focus disproportionately on new business and often overlook the gold that sits within their existing database and existing customers. The low-hanging fruit is nearly always your existing customers," she says.
"Sales are like relationships – many businesses are trying to get married on the first date and are missing the essential dating process," White explains. "Most campaigns we see in-market are one-hit wonders, which do not work and do not reflect how buyers today purchase.
"Always offer a soft and logical next step. For example, if a prospect downloads an ebook, try inviting them to a webinar as a second date.
"If you don’t offer a next step, you are leaving the opportunity on the table."
"Following up might sound obvious, but it is often overlooked. Around 80 per cent of sales take five follow-ups or more, but 44 per cent of sales professionals only follow up once. You can generate hundreds of leads, but with no follow-up process, you will never generate a ROI. Following up at speed is critical."
Biggest mistakes to avoid
- Disconnect between sales and marketing, which causes a "leaky funnel".
- Not having a follow-up process to nurture leads.
- A one-hit wonder campaign – one email, one webinar, one social post.
- Being product-centric not customer-centric, which is unlikely to resonate.
- Overlooking the gold sitting within your existing database.
- Taking a scattergun approach without any focus or strategy.
How to create steady sales all year round
"Sales is the lifeline of all businesses and like petrol in a car, you cannot decide to only put petrol in once per quarter – it is an ongoing requirement," the expert explains. "The more sales leaders can embed proactive habits within their sales team, with consistent prospecting, the more consistent the sales result will be.
"Most of the time the challenge is not that sales professionals don’t know what to do, but they fall into bad habits and need to reset.
"Sales has become about maintaining disciplines and habits in the face of a noisy and highly distracting world."
Making an impact
"If you look, sound, and do what every other salesperson does, you will never stand out among the noise," White says. "Lead with adding enormous value to your prospects and separate yourself immediately.
"Learn how to find ‘the third door’. Alex Banayan, author of The Third Door, studied the path to success for some of the world’s most influential people and compares the journey to getting into a nightclub.
"There are always three doors. The main entry, where you find 99 per cent of people hoping to get in but their destiny is out of their hands; the minority, who go in through the VIP door; and then there’s a third door, which most people don’t know about."
The biggest misunderstandings about ROI
"The biggest misconception is that you need extensive paid advertising to achieve a ROI," White reveals. "Some of our highest-performing lead-generation campaigns have had little to no paid advertising – a 2,065 per cent ROI was achieved with minimal paid advertising and the vast majority of leads were generated by leveraging the sales team.
"Our best results are where businesses think SMarketing."
The future of sales
"The future of sales is SMarketing. We will continue to see a hybrid approach to sales with both in-person and digital channels. This requires businesses to develop a strong digital sales strategy. Technologies such as AI will become more prevalent to help deliver growth and bridge the gap with insights.
"The future of sales is also about putting humans first. Only four per cent of the content we consume is from brands. What will separate high-performing sales professionals is the ability to develop their personal brand, leverage their social channels and tell engaging stories.
"Never take your foot off the accelerator and always have three times the pipeline you need to achieve your target. There will always be delays, deals lost and unforeseen challenges – be prepared."