We have been very active in the Nordic market for a while now. I decided to reflect on a few findings we have made when discussing with sales people and professionals and of course following the social networks. My perception is that lot of people are aware that doing modern business requires modern sales tools and new methods. But what and how, there’s no clear consensus. Here’s our take:
1. The world of sales and marketing has changed - but not fundamentally
There has been lot of discussion on how fundaments of business-to-business sales is changing and it will never be the way it was. There certainly is a truth in that - but also lot of misperceptions. The biggest change is not that cold calling is dead - the change is that it is not enough. Sales and marketing is becoming smarter but it still needs and will need human contact and persuasion in all parts of the cycle. When you are trying to approach somebody with your services, they usually answer "send me an email". Instead of just writing an email to her you can as well put it to your marketing funnel. It is a "marketing permission" at its finest and another good way of enhancing your inbound machine.
Cold-calling as we know it is dead. Still, approaching people isn’t. A Typical cold call would be: ”Hi this is Pietari, I would like to meet you to show you my service offering.” Whereas, approaching a person you would rather put it like this: ”Hi this is Pietari, it would be nice to set up a discussion based on the new marketing strategy you told you were looking into in the last conference.” In the best cases that call would be backed with efficient content creations and account-based marketing tactics. Look at Marketo for example: efficient sales organization that utilizes content marketing and account based marketing tactics as it should. Yet, checking out their (now removed) job ad there is a requirement: ” Outbound prospecting US Fortune 1000 companies via cold calling, email, and other marketing campaigns"
2. There is a huge amount of data about an organization that we can use in sales - and it’s good for all parties
As one head of strategy in a big insurance corporation put it: ”I don’t want sales people to waste both of our time by asking about the same questions one can find answers from the internet. I want that she is able to start an interesting discussion from there.” So instead of asking the person like ”tell me about your company”, you could ask: ”Your CEO said that you are looking into new market segments. I was wondering how your sales is organized to meet that challenge? I've seen a lot of challenges there. That’s something I would really like to dig more into if that is okay with you”. And if you've used smart targeted marketing campaigns so that your company pops up on the decision maker’s screen it’ll smoothen the discussion a lot.
Understanding the company, their needs and challenges before engaging into a discussion is good for both. The biggest reason for being hesitant to vendor meetings is because vendors don’t understand clients' needs - and from the vendor’s point of view sitting in a meeting that ends up nowhere is as useless. Limiting these meetings is beneficial for both parties. Data plays a big part in that game.
3. Finding the right sales opportunities is never about precision - it’s about finding the right direction
Imagine if you would be a doctor and the success rate from your treatments would rise from 10% to 20% - you’d be fired if not prosecuted. But if you are a person working for sales and marketing and you can double your hit rate using right tactics you are a celebrated professional whose services and thoughts are widely listened. In the world of precision every miss is a fatal failure - in the world of scoring every goal is celebrated, and luckily sales and marketing belong to the latter. Does every CEO change mean that the new CEO is looking into the company’s strategy? No, but the probability sure is greater.
Very simplified example: If your hit rate would grow from 10% to 20% you would either have a 2.5 day work week or double the sales with the same work. And who wouldn’t like that? By utilizing data we at Vainu could be seen as a very lazy sales organization (We make below 10 sales call attempts per person per day). Or we could be seen as a very active one because we book close to 15 meetings per week. How do we do that? By finding the right direction for utilizing data.