One theme dominates the shifts in the B2B sales and marketing world — technology. That’s because technology enables us to target prospects and customers more efficiently, personalize our outreach, build relationships from remote locations and integrate our sales and marketing process. As such, it empowers B2B leaders to be more successful than ever before in engaging and selling customers.
While the three transformations I cover below are not new, as they continued to prove their worth in 2017, they all became more widely entrenched. Read on to find out whether your organization is keeping up with the latest winning strategies or has opportunities to increase sales and marketing successes.
For marketers, account-based marketing (ABM) is the hottest thing since sliced bread. Its popularity is not surprising given the results it’s producing for many companies. SirusDecisions’ 2017 State of Account Based Marketing Studyreports that ABM “is fueling high performing b-to-b organizations; companies are realizing significant benefits including increased account engagement, better conversion to closed deals and higher average deal sizes.”
ABM flips traditional lead-based marketing on its head. Instead of casting a wide net for leads and then filtering through them to determine which ones are good matches, you start with the sifting process. You look at the whole market, decide which accounts you want to bring into your fold and then go after them using a highly customized approach.
In the past few decades, automation has diminished many avenues of employment. Secretaries, better known today as personal assistants (PA’s), once were omnipresent in offices, but are now few and far between. Many more workers used to line the floors of factories. Retail salespeople are fast becoming an endangered species. After all, who needs a salesperson to help them buy a mobile phone when they’ve already done their research and read the reviews online?
Gradually, technology and automation are taking over large spheres of our lives and the economy. And given that machines often offer increased efficiency and accuracy over humans, that’s not surprising.
Your company offers an exciting technology product that’s leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. If you could just get your prospects to try it out, they would no longer be able to live without it.
It’s exciting when they sign up for free trials. But then, what do they do? In many cases, they never use their trial.
How will they ever know what they are missing?
To say the least, it’s frustrating. While it may seem as if you’ve accomplished your goal when someone signs up for a free trial, there’s inevitably a big gap between the number of people who sign up and the number who become customers.
It’s not just true for your business. It’s an industry-wide phenomenon.
According to a study by the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, the top inside sales challenge is training and development. As a result, almost half (45.7%) are increasing their internal training programs.
Training, however, can be a daunting task. After all, inside sales training should be at least as thorough as training for field reps and probably more so. That’s because inside salespeople need the same skills and expertise as road warriors, plus they have additional challenges because they are not face-to-face with the customer.
For example, it’s harder to establish rapport with someone when you are not sitting across the desk from them and cannot make eye contact. Likewise, it may be more challenging to understand the lay of the land within a corporation. After all, the rep can’t see whether they are talking with someone in a cubicle or corner office.
Here are some key skills and areas you need to train your inside sales people on so they can do their jobs with the ease and confidence that leads to sales success.
“Our research shows that inside sales roles are growing 15X faster than outside sales.” — Mary Shea of Forrester Research.
If you’re managing B2B sales, you’re likely either expanding your in-house sales team or seeking to grow it by outsourcing some or all of the function. Much of the tremendous growth spurt of the inside sales function is due to technology which has enabled reps to be productive without the cost of face-to-face meetings. So, whether you’re using internal or external resources, understanding the technologies that provide the foundation for success is essential.
As a telemarketing company that serves B2B organizations, we know the ins and outs of technology. After all, our success depends on it. So to save you some time when assembling your technology stack, here’s an inside look at what works for us.
The field sales person used to be a lone ranger. He operated beyond the walls of the corporation, with his own schedule and tactics. Yes, he’d call in once in a while for help from customer service and marketing, but his efforts were not part of a finely orchestrated sales strategy.
Today the tides have turned. Technology has enabled inside sales people to be more efficient and successful in working with prospects and customers. CRM keeps the sales process organized, the Internet provides ready access to research, emails and social media aid in communication and online meetings can often achieve as much as the face-to-face alternative.
At the same time, field sales people earn 12-18% more than inside sales people. Plus, there are associated costs of travel and downtime while en route to the next client. Therefore, it’s not surprising that inside sales is growing at an average rate of 7.5% a year while outside sales is barely holding its own with an average increase of 0.5% a year.
That, of course, brings up the question of how to integrate inside sales with field sales to get the best of both worlds. After all, despite all the efficiencies of an inside sales team, there is still something incredibly powerful about face-to-face meetings.
Here are some insights to help you maximize sales results:
“Succeeding in business is all about making connections.” — Richard Branson
When you bake a chocolate cake, missing one ingredient can lead to disaster. Without baking powder, it goes flat. Without the sugar, it’s bitter. The same applies to the outreach tactics for account-based marketing. When you mix them together, they all work harder. I’ve previously written about two ingredients for successful account-based marketing — phone calls and personal emails. Today, let’s dig into the third — social media. How do you leverage social platforms the right way?
You have to approach social media outreach carefully because, contrary to some beliefs, it is not advertising. It’s more like an ongoing business networking event that you can attend at your convenience.
It’s helpful to think about business functions where you meet in person. Have you ever been to one where someone has approached you to sell you their product or service? How did you react? If you’re like most people, you probably excused yourself to make an emergency trip to the hors d’oeuvres table, ending the conversation as quickly as possible.
Are you ready to increase sales close rates? If so, you may not need to invest in the latest technology, hone your sales techniques or take a new marketing strategy for a spin. Instead, boosting close rates could be as simple as helping your salespeople to rediscover the basics: Putting customer interests first, listening actively and empathizing with their concerns.
Account-based marketing is becoming a go-to strategy for B2B marketers who want to take control of their outreach (rather than waiting to see who finds them) and shorten their sales cycles. What may be receiving less acclaim, however, is the starring role outbound calls play in executing account-based marketing strategies.
If you’ve done your research correctly and know who to contact, when you make an outbound call, there are two possible results. One, you connect with a decision maker. Two, you end up in voicemail. You need a plan to make the most out of either situation.
Here’s how to craft your message for live calls and voicemails.