B2B-sales: Rise above the white noise
Rise above the white noise
The world is your playground. The million-dollar idea is at your fingertips. Your value proposition is near perfect, and you know that everyone will need your brilliant product. Sales will be a cakewalk. Obviously, not the case. One of the biggest challenges in today’s B2B sales is the exponential growth in the numbers of ideas, options and solutions available for your prospects. This constant flood of marketing will take a toll on decision making people. No one has the time to go through 70 emails and 50 missed calls every day, and why should they? No matter how good your solution is, if you can’t rise above the white noise, you will be ignored. If you want to accelerate your company’s growth, the days of half-hearted prospecting are over.
Sales development is key here, especially if you’re short on resources. More pipelines bring more revenue, which in turn means more new customers. For that to become a reality, you need a working strategy, the right people, inspiring leadership, and precise execution. I will share with you some of the more compelling points, that are needed in my own project in the coming months, as we will be launching an online portal and platform, together with a brand store.
The five whys
“To be successful today, your sales process and sales development strategy must align with the way your prospects think”. This is called the buyer’s journey. To be a step ahead of your competition, you need to know the reality of your prospects’. You need to walk in their shoes. In the modern B2B buying process you need to take into consideration and pay close attention to these five whys.
|PROSPECT BEFORE||PROSPECT AFTER||CORRESPONDING SALES STAGE|
|WHY LISTEN?||Crazy busy||Curious||Introductory meeting|
|WHY CARE?||Curious||Interested||Discovery call|
|WHY CHANGE?||Interested||Active||Pipeline opportunity|
|WHY YOU?||Active||Committed to you||Forecast opportunity|
|WHY NOW?||Committed to you||Committed to now||A win|
Column one reflects the why stage. Column two is where prospects start when you begin communicating with them. Column three is where they hopefully end up if all goes well. The fourth column is how the Prospect After stage aligns to a traditional sales process. As you can see, moving a company from prospect to customer can take an enormous amount of work. But then again, it is comforting to know, that you only need to do it one step at a time. Whether you’re sending email, making a phone call, or building a whole strategy, come back to these steps and questions, and see where you are at the time, and where you want to go next. Your prospects need to take these steps in order, so plan accordingly.
Inbound and Outbound
Gaining new customers are often divided in two categories: inbound and outbound. Inbound prospects are those who take action in response to marketing activity (filling out a web form, signing-up for a trial, attending a webinar, etc.). Outbound prospects are those whom you target with proactive outreach (calls, email, etc.). I am starting business in online sales with a couple of teammates, and it feels all too easy to think of sales through marketing efforts only. While marketing can be extremely cost efficient, it can never fill the pipeline. It might be true, that you can build a business with social media marketing only, but if you are looking for scalability and rapid growth, it is not enough. If you think your pipeline is full through marketing results only, your revenue has more room to grow. The following data is from Inside Sales Metrics and compensation research (http://sdrbook.io/ISMETRICS).
|COMPANY REVENUE||PERCENT MARKETING-SOURCED PIPELINE|
However strong your marketing is, inbound leads only take you so far, and there is more pipeline to be found via other means. Outbound calling should be one of them. Arttu shared some good thoughts on how cold calling is dead, and I do agree. But to be precise, it is the cold that’s dead, not the calling. Intelligent outbound prospecting is today’s jam, but how can you do it?
Intelligent outbound prospecting
The core of intelligent outbound prospecting comes down to creating compelling conversations. We all know, that when you like someone, it is a lot easier to listen to them. Robin Dreeke, an FBI veteran, and relationship development expert shared this simple advice:
“Suspend your ego to get people to like you.”
Suspending your ego means putting what you want aside for a moment. You must be genuine and truly interested in the prospect to break down the natural resistance they have when being contacted by a seller. This might be the toughest thing to do in all of sales. This is where you implement a buyer-based messaging. You need to be fully fluent in prospect challenges, motivations, and status quos. For example, when you receive inbound leads, you dissect each of them one by one and identify where they came from, what they were interested in, and then have a real conversation focusing on the right things. It is almost counterproductive to be generic and ask the same questions from everyone (e.g. “I’m contacting you because you stopped by our booth and I wanted to know if there was anything I could help you with”). If they downloaded an e-book about sales growth, then make sure your conversation focuses on that. Find a way to bring more value to your prospect about the thing they were interested in, and make sure you do that each time you contact them.
Discover the why
Discovering the why of your prospects will help you tremendously to be genuine and interested in them. Pre-call planning is an essential and easy tool to enable exactly that. It is easy to assume that pre-call planning requires deep, detailed, and lengthy research, but you can do it in less than 10 minutes. Bertuzzi shares a technique she calls 3-C. “You can quickly uncover a few bullet points on the Company being targeted and the Contact being prospected and prepare a few Conversation starters to weave into their messaging.”
|Google News||Prospect personas||Recent award, accolade, quote|
|News & events / investor relations||LinkedIn profile||Something they shared on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, etc.|
|Financials / growth stage||Tenure + previous work history||Big trend in industry / role|
|Glassdoor reviews||Shared connections, groups, associations||Relevant research / customer stories|
Luckily, you don’t have to know everything about the prospect, just enough to show that you’ve made an effort. This simple pre-planning technique helps you answer the following questions and rise above the white noise.
“Why are you calling them?”
“Why should they care?”
“Why is what you’re about to tell them truly valuable to their business?”
Time for outreach
After you’ve discovered the why, you will approach the prospect. Bertuzzi shared an experiment she did over a one-month period, where she “tracked and categorized all of the reps who were prospecting me personally”. Sales representatives from twenty-three different companies tried to book meetings with her, and this is what happened.
|NUMBER OF ATTEMPTS||COUNT||PERCENTAGE|
There are two things to keep in mind, if you want to have effective outreach: a multi-touch cadence and a multimedia approach. Cadence is the number and rhythm of attempts you use to reach out. Media are the methods you use (e.g., phone, email, voicemail, LinkedIn).
The point about cadence I want across is this: don’t give up too easily! People not answering your calls, or reading your email, that’s normal. On average, it takes between six to ten attempts (at least four by phone calls) to properly prospect a given contact. How often do you send one email, then make one phone call with no reply, and just give up, and move on to the next prospect? Maybe you even send the 9-word email after that phone call. I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it anymore. This is one of the simplest of ways to create more pipeline.
To build effective outreach, one media is not enough. Make sure you use voicemail and email, as they are the most effective, especially when paired together. Mix a combo that works for you:
- Other (*ghosting, texting, LinkedIn, other social media)
* ”Ghosting is calling a prospect, hoping to catch them live, and not leaving a voicemail message.”
Below you’ll find a sample cadence that was shared by Bertuzzi. This one doesn’t include social attempts, but only leverages the phone, email, and ghosting. Make one that fits your needs and suits your target market. The important part is to have a plan, and make sure everyone in the company execute it.
I want to share a few points on how to make efficient voicemails and emails. You know the feeling when you’re walking down the street, someone approaches you, and starts a conversation about electricity contracts. You don’t even think about it, you just ignore it, and automatically reply “no thanks”. The same happens when you send a lousy voicemail or bad email. We’ve prepared so well up until this point, we don’t want to start half-hearted prospecting now.
Most messages start with who you are, who you represent, and what you want. If the first eight to fifteen seconds of your message are irrelevant, the recipient loses interest, studies show. You have to find a way to break the pattern of not listening. When it comes to voicemail, you should be interesting, relevant, and human. Make sure you first show interest in them. You can do this by demonstrating relevancy. For example, you could reference something happening in their industry, with their role, at their company, or that they shared in an interview, LinkedIn or on Twitter. Think of it this way, if there was a forest fire somewhere in Sweden, you may or may not pay any attention, but if it was happening in Tampere, you would quickly give it full attention. Voicemail is no different. You can approach it with this thought: What one thing about this prospect can I include that will get them to tune in?
After you get their attention, make sure you have a specific ask in mind, for example: “to receive your copy of the [RELEVANT TOPIC] research, you can…”. Also, please don’t reference your previous attempts. No one cares that you called before and they didn’t answer, or that they didn’t reply to your email. Those are not good enough reasons for anyone to call you back, and at worst they come off as hostile. It is a lot better to build on the previous and offer something new. Lastly, remember not to expect a callback, that is not the point of voicemail. It is just one part of our multi-touch cadence. At some point we will make contact with the prospect, and at that time we have already told them a story of the value we deliver.
Here’s one example by Bertuzzi, to give you a better idea of how a good voicemail might sound like. The Key is to be different, relevant, and specific with the ask:
“Hi, Dana. I noticed on your careers page that you’re dramatically scaling sales hiring. In this highly competitive market, you have to get in front of the best talent before your competition does.
Our clients have integrated video and social collaboration to reach better candidates and shorten their hiring cycles. I’d be happy to share with you how.
This is Pat Smith from SomeSoft at 555.432.1212.”
Much of what was true to voicemail, holds here as well. You still want to be relevant, interesting and clear with the short ask. As you know, the spam is vast, and prospects are drowning in sales emails. I would like to offer a few quick tips on how to make that little extra effort, though. You can write an efficient sales email in three paragraphs, each with their own purpose.
- “The subject and initial sentence are the first and only shot at keeping the prospect’s finger off delete.” This is your shot at keeping them interested. If you don’t have a strong open, you will find yourself in the trash bin, and the next paragraphs don’t matter at all.
- In the second paragraph you pitch what’s in it for them. Personalize your message by telling what you can do for them (not what you do), and make sure to speak to a specific professional challenge. To put it blunt, people don’t generally care who you are or how your technology works. They just want to know what’s in it for them. The best kind of email generates interest, not educate on what you do.
- The first two paragraphs have been leading up to this point. Now you can have your call to action. Focus on a clear and simple ask.
Again, much like the voicemail, here’s an example of the type of email you would use:
Subject: Triple your SDR productivity
Want to turn 1 SDR into 3? Our technology can do the dialing, so your reps can have three times more conversations.
I noticed that you’re currently hiring for outbound SDRs. You mention they’ll be making 50+ dials a day. Industry averages say that gets them to 7 conversations a day. Reps at other high-growth clients (using our tool) are having 20+ conversations daily.
How can I get 10 minutes on your calendar to share more?
To put this essay to a few sentences, I would say it comes down to this. In B2B market, decision making people are accustomed to ignoring. Whatever your solution, odds are, you will remain white noise. The task today is to rise above. It’s not that hard, you just need to get in the habit of making an extra effort.