Forrester’s pronouncement of the death of the B2B salesperson recently made headlines. But, I ask, is it really a death, or a chance at reinvention?
Here’s the situation: it’s not news that the buying process has changed. And at Marketo, we talk about this a lot from the marketers perspective, but what about sales? How does this new digital-first world effect the traditional B2B salesperson? The process needs to adapt to ensure continued success.
Below are eight key strategies B2B salespeople can utilize to excel in the new way of sales:
1. Know Your Customer
Good news–this tenet has not changed. The even better news is that it’s easier than ever to achieve this. In the online arena, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount and quality of information that’s available to you about your B2B customer. Simply use your web resources to research the customer: what information is public? Have there been any important leadership changes in the company? You also need to understand the digital body language of your contacts. What information have they been accessing on your website? What topics are they searching for? Which subjects are they interested in based on the emails they open? You must tailor your responses to them. As one of my customers told me, by using digital body language, the sales team suddenly felt like someone “turned the lights on”. Now, that team is selling with full visibility.
2. Utilize Your Resources to Drive Revenue
Sales and marketing are now a team sport. It’s time to play nicely! Treat your marketing colleagues to a coffee or lunch. Learn what’s important to them, and also share what’s important to you. Determine a common set of objectives so that the sales, marketing, and revenue departments can all work together as one cohesive unit in the name of success. Alignment is absolutely key here. You must agree on definitions (such as what determines a lead, MQL, SQL, and so on) and what your lead handoff processes look like.
3. Prioritize, Prioritize, and Prioritize Some More
You have the information, but you need to know where to spend your time. Find the prospects in your sweet spot that are indicating a strong interest in what you are doing. By scoring your leads from demographic and behavioral perspectives, you can focus your time on the most sales-ready leads. If your marketing team is using a marketing automation tool that syncs with your CRM, your marketing team can pass critical lead information to you, making it easier to know who is ready to buy.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Recycle
And I don’t mean paper and plastic (but even with this, I highly encourage you to do so!) The focus is on lead recycling, which is defined as the process of passing a lead from sales back to marketing because the lead was not yet ready to commit. Simply stated: don’t waste your valuable time on leads who are not ready to buy. If you are working with leads that are not able to complete the transaction for whatever reason, then it is a good idea to recycle them. Don’t worry—the marketing machine will keep them warm with lead nurturing, and your time is freed up to work with customers who are ready to move forward.
5. Be Responsive, at Scale
The technology exists today to allow you to respond at scale. Work with your marketing teams to think through the customer’s buying journey and automatically respond with information that the customer is likely to want based upon their behavior. By listening and responding on multiple channels at scale, the customer will recognize that you are there to support them as their concierge sales person. That user experience in itself will differentiate you from the competition.
6. Be Creative
Try alternate approaches; whether it’s different subject lines, different ways to respond to various behaviors, different calls-to-action, or different assets. Test, measure, and share the results with your colleagues so that you all can learn, improve, and be on the same page. And don’t be afraid to test responding and interacting with prospects on multiple channels! Build out your social profiles and embrace social selling.
7. Be Genuine
In all your customer engagements, maintain your unique voice and be straightforward. At the end of the day, customers will appreciate your directness and your human touch. This will be another way to set you a part from the competition. Even if you are communicating mostly online, don’t underestimate the power of a personal phone call to touch base.
8. Contribute to the Top-of-the-Funnel
I always try to have at least three engines driving leads. Marketing can certainly be a huge driver for your cause, but you should also seek to build relationships with your existing customers as a way to generate referrals. In addition, you can build relationships with partners and influencers who know companies in your industry and can provide trusted advisor status to help you engage. Another engine is to target prospects who fit your profile of a great customer or who have something significant happening in their business right now (and thus would greatly benefit from your solution).
Q1 has come and gone but you still have plenty of time to make 2015 your best year yet. Reinvent yourself as the salesperson who sets herself apart from the rest and thrives in this new way of sales.
How are you adapting to the new B2B sales landscape? Let me know in the comments below.