Think about what used to define a sales strategy. People searched in the yellow pages for a business, performed a cold call, and spent the next 30 minutes going over their company’s unique value proposition and differentiators. And every minute was worth it, as the prospect most likely only knew about them through print advertisements or word of mouth
Today’s sales strategy, however, has completely changed. Thanks in large part to social platforms and other digital media, prospects often know about your company before you ever have that first interaction.
“Buyers do not value their interactions with salespeople as much as they did in the past,” Gartner Vice President Tiffani Bova wrote in the Gartner report, Tech Go-to-Market: Future Sales Leaders Must Broaden Their Thinking to Compete. “As a result, sales teams must adjust processes and skills to learn to guide buyers through their purchase cycle.”
As Bova contends, sales—and the right sales strategy—is just as important as it has always been, but the way companies go about the sales process has evolved. That’s because today’s prospective customers are at the helm, deciding when the sales process will begin and how the interaction will take place.
Let’s take a look at three reasons to rethink your sales process:
Your Customers Know too Much
Today’s customers often know more about your company than what’s detailed in your sales presentation. As a sales rep, remember that every time you approach a new contact, they probably already know a great deal.
Instead of starting with the elevator pitch, put your prospects in the driver’s seat by asking them what they already know. Since you’re beginning with such an open-ended question, be prepared with an appropriate response no matter what they say—be it positive or negative. Don’t treat customers like novices who know nothing about your business. Expect that they already know your company and are ready to hit you with the hard questions right away.
It’s a Visual World
Today’s consumer is also increasingly visual. Therefore, sales presentations need to be a lot more creative, visual, and interactive. According to an infographic compiled by Neo Mammalian Studios, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text and 65% of the population is comprised of visual learners. Accordingly, your sales strategy should be rich with infographics, PowerPoint presentations, videos, and multimedia elements. Remember that a story is always more memorable than quick facts and stats, so be sure to share the story of your brand with all of your prospects.
Technology Has Evolved
With so many technological advances available—from CRM software to email marketing automation services—operating your sales strategy as if it’s the 20th century puts your company at a disadvantage. There are a myriad of technologies available to help you keep track of leads, assess how quickly prospects are moving along the customer lifecycle, and track the closing likelihood of each and every deal. Your job as a sales rep is to choose the ones that will support you and your work best. As much as you wouldn’t drive a Gremlin cross country, make sure you’re using the proper sales technology to put you in the fast lane .
Finding the business decision maker is key to turning business contacts into quality leads. Learn 3 quick tips to uncover the right business connections.
When it comes to lead generation, everyone knows it’s quality over quantity. However, it can be a struggle to find quality leads and, at the end of the day, sales reports often list a long number of dead-end leads, as opposed to a short list of quality prospects.
In fact, 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales, according to the 2012 B2B Benchmark Report by MarketingSherpa. And only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales.
The key to finding quality leads starts with identifying the right business contacts. Finding business contacts is easy, but finding the right individuals can be far more difficult. While you may have an excellent sales pitch, you can’t get very far when you aren’t pitching to the right person—the one who has the power to make decisions.
A long list of dead-end prospects will only slow you down and stunt revenue growth, which is why identifying the right contacts is paramount to finding quality leads. But where does one find these decision makers?
1. Business Databases
An effective way to find quality contacts is through third-party data providers, such as Hoover’s. With valuable information on 100 million people in more than 85 million companies, Hoover’s has an extensive business directory that can help sales and marketers build targeted lists. Users can search for information using 50 data points, helping to narrow it down to the right prospects.
2. Social Media
Social networking platforms, like Facebook and LinkedIn, are great resources to finding quality business contacts. According to a Forrester Research study titled The Social Behaviors of your B2B Customers, decision makers in North America and Europe are increasingly turning to social media for business purposes.
For example, 71% of respondents used Facebook to connect with peers, while 57% have liked a brand or vendor. Moreover, the main reason many B2B decision makers use Twitter is that they view it as “primarily a consumption channel.” With B2B decision makers using social media for both consumption and interaction, sales and marketing departments can comb through the feeds to identify quality business contacts, discover top industry players, and tailor an appropriate marketing strategy to attract their attention.
There’s no better place to find solid business contacts and quality leads than tradeshows. Almost every business sector can take advantage of these events, which are often brimming with prospects and key industry leaders.
Is your company expanding its core competencies or releasing a new product? Tradeshows are a great way to connect with potential customers, identify dealers, reps and distributors, and most importantly, create buzz and awareness about your company’s brand and products.
Consider having your CEO or product manager speak at a trade show or set up appointments for attendees to meet your head of sales or marketing. This will help to establish brand awareness and thought leadership as well as create a list of quality business contacts, which may turn into promising leads.