Most B2B companies are using social media these days to find potential customers. They’re using it to connect with them in real-time and build relationships that lead to sales.
This is because social media has become an essential part of business culture. The average consumer spends about five hours daily on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter! That’s a lot of time for companies to connect with potential buyers—and win new clients.
Having More Than One Key Contact Per Account
If you work with just one person in each account and they leave, or something happens to them, you will be left without access to that client. So it’s much better to build a team of people who know you and your product well.
When you have one relationship in an account, you have a greater chance that the other people in that account won’t know you or your value proposition. If they don’t know you or your value proposition, they won’t be able to help you make deals. This can lead to wasted efforts because nobody knows who you are or why you’re there.
On the other hand, if you build multiple relationships within an account and with different stakeholders (for example, executives and mid-level managers), then these people will be able to introduce you to others within their organization who might also benefit from knowing about your product or service offerings. In addition, this strategy allows for more opportunities for introductions and referrals without relying solely on one person who may not always be available due to their busy schedule or priorities within the company.
The fact is that your customers are going to change too. That means that if you don’t stay involved in your customers’ lives and how they use your product or service, you risk becoming irrelevant—and potentially losing them altogether.
You’ve just sent an intriguing and persuasive email to a prospect. You get a reply. They’re interested. They want a demo. They’re ready to speak with you. And then…that’s it. All work and no follow-ups make Jack a dull boy.
When making outbound sales, it’s easy to focus on setting the hook. The initial contact. The opening email. But more likely than not, you fail to continue the conversation and close deals after your first outreach.
In this article, we’re going to explore the often-overlooked follow-up.
What is an Outbound Follow-Up?
You’ve just made a sales pitch. You’re excited and hopeful, but there’s one small thing you need to do before you can put your feet up: follow up.
Following up with a potential customer is a great way to ensure that the customer does not forget about you or your company after the initial contact at the top of the sales cycle.
A sales follow-up can be the key to landing a sale. Follow-ups are a salesperson’s prompt to the prospective customer to take action, whether making an appointment, scheduling a meeting, or placing an order.
Setting your follow-up schedule can be challenging. You don’t want to annoy your prospects, but you also have a limited time frame to get the appointment or sale. The best way to approach this is to send emails or calls, beginning immediately after your initial contact and continuing for about a week after.
Sales follow-up is essential because it helps create a friendly, familiar relationship with your potential customers. It also allows you to answer any questions they might have and ensure they understand exactly what they’re getting into if they decide to purchase from you.
How Many Follow-Ups Should You Make?
When you reach out to someone cold, you must realize that they might not be expecting your email. The best way to get through that mindset is by following up with them multiple times. The first time, you should send a terse and concise email explaining who you are and what your company does, along with a link to your website and an offer that will help them.
You can follow up three days later with another email or call-to-action, but if they haven’t responded, it’s probably time to move on to other prospects.
If the prospect responds positively, it’s time for a more extended conversation—maybe over the phone or in person!
If the other person is a colleague or someone in your network, you might have an opportunity to connect with them again. But if it’s a stranger, you should probably move on.
You can usually tell if someone is interested in your offer when they say something like “I’m interested in learning more about [product name]. Do you have any time next week?” or “I know our schedules won’t sync up but let me get back to you when they do! Thanks for thinking of me!” This doesn’t mean they will buy from you—just that they’re willing to learn more about what you’re offering.
Here’s a general outline you can follow. It is possible to tweak this depending on your product and what conversations you’re having.
1st day: Follow-up #1
3rd day: Follow-up #2
7th day: Follow-up #3
14th day: Follow-up #4
28th day: Follow-up #5
Two months after: Follow-up #6
One follow-up for each month after
What To Do (and Not Do)
DO: Be persistent but not annoying. Inbound leads are easy because they come to you, but outbound sales require a little more work and persistence, so don’t give up too quickly if someone doesn’t respond immediately. If they don’t answer their phone or email, try again later in the day or week. If that doesn’t work, send them another email or call them again later in the week (but not too much later).
DO: Take notes about what worked for each person you call so that you know where it went wrong with others and can adjust accordingly the next time someone from that company calls you back.
DO: Be specific about what you want from them. Don’t just say, “Please reply if interested in scheduling a meeting next week at 3 p.m.,” because many people will simply delete that email without replying or taking action. Instead, clarify why they should respond (e.g., “If interested in scheduling a meeting next week at 3 p.m., please reply with confirmation and availability details by Tuesday morning”).
DO: Send them your email only when you have something relevant to send them. Don’t send random emails just because you haven’t sent one in a while. That will annoy them more than anything else.
DO: Follow-up with them if they reply to your email with a question or comment. You don’t have to write an essay every time, but at least acknowledge that you received their message, so they know you read it and care about their response.
DON’T: When you send an email asking someone for their information or a quote, you mustn’t make them feel guilty about not responding. If they haven’t responded yet, that means they’re busy and haven’t had time to get back to you yet. If you contact a prospect and they don’t respond, it’s not necessarily because they’re ignoring you. It could be that they just haven’t had time to reply. Or maybe they’re waiting for something else (like a response from another sales rep). Or perhaps they’re just not interested in what you’re selling.
You’ve reached your first revenue milestone once a customer makes the initial purchase. But your sales opportunity doesn’t end here — it’s just beginning. While products sold are a great way to measure revenue, there’s so much more potential beyond this initial transaction.
Cross-selling is a term that gets thrown around a lot in business, but do you know exactly what it means to cross-sell?
Cross-selling is the concept of encouraging a customer to purchase additional products in conjunction with the primary product. This is critical and very powerful in the subscription business model, where recurring revenue is the goal.
What is Upselling?
Millions of dollars are wasted every year because of the inability of salespeople and other customer-facing staff to upsell effectively. A lack of precise questioning on the value of a product often leads to costly, low-quality purchases that never even get used.
Upselling is a strategy focused on encouraging these purchases through improved and enhanced products, but it can be challenging to pursue. Your first business sale was only part of the way towards financial growth; you must now do everything possible to ensure that customers will return for upgrades and add-ons. Here is where upselling comes into play.
But take note – The idea behind an effective upsell is to build rapport with clients and show your expertise so that they understand you’re suitable for their needs.
What is a Renewal?
A renewal sale, or a repurchase conversation (“repurchase” only if it is the same product/service), occurs when a customer has a question, concern, or issue needing resolution.
The challenge is that customers will likely not come directly to you with a renewal question unless they have some form of complaint, issue, or problem. A renewal discussion often occurs at the right time. There are five primary categories of renewals — based on the date when the existing contract expires –, and each can be handled differently based on the company policy and sales strategy.
For anything you sell (SaaS, recurring billing, etc.), renewal conversations constitute a significant component of any sales strategy.
One Thing in Common
Salespeople are constantly using different strategies to find leads. This can be limiting, though, since new sales reps may not have the tools they need to find leads. Enter outbound marketing: one of the best tactics you can use to reach leads and generate new business. Using this method, you’ll be able to get prospects and stay on their radar intelligently.
The best salespeople always reach out to their leads and existing customers to stay connected and make sure they’re both happy with the deal they’ve struck. The more they build that relationship, the easier it’ll be to find that next opportunity together – an upgrade, an expansion of services, or a renewal.
Sales, like any other profession, is a game of numbers. Hopefully, you already have your sales machine in place and are starting to see sales trickle in for your product or service. The next step is to build a stronger team to handle these incoming sales and help you reach even higher numbers. Renewals, upsells, and cross-sells are highly effective at achieving this goal.
Outbound sales sequences are a foundational component of an outbound sales strategy. Think of them as your digital playbooks: you create the structure that guides how your team initiates and closes new business opportunities.
How to Analyze and Improve Your Outbound Sales Sequences
Sales sequences are among the most potent tools that outbound sales teams use to close deals and provide value to potential clients. Sales sequences allow reps to execute predictable, consistent workflows. But not all sales teams are using outbound sales sequences — many still rely on organic email outreach, cold call/cold email, or general best practices. This can result in wasted time, missed opportunities, and unsatisfied customers.
Your Targets Should Be Clear and Defined from the Get-Go
Your outbound sales strategy is only as good as your target.
So what makes an outbound sales sequence successful? It all comes down to knowing your target audience. Your target for each sequence should be either a persona, industry or specific company. Once you know who you’re talking to, it’s easier to tailor your messaging and get them excited about using your product. You’ll also be able to create a consistent tone that resonates with them.
If you can’t define your target audience clearly, it’s impossible for any of this to work. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, how will you know how to sell them?
The amount of time and effort you put into your outbound sales sequences depends on who you’re targeting. Your sequence may last longer if you’re targeting a VP-level persona, and you may need to manually touch the lead more often than you would a lower-level persona.
In other words, the more critical your target customer is to your business, the longer your outbound sales sequence should be. The longer the sequence, the more chances to make an impression on your target customer before they become part of your company.
A/B Testing is Crucial to Success
Do you know how your outbound sales sequences are performing?
If you’re not testing, then you’re flying blind. And we all know that flying blind is a bad idea when trying to land a plane full of passengers!
Why? Because even the best product in the world won’t be able to sell itself if the sales sequence is poorly written and structured.
There’s a reason why the best-selling products don’t use generic email templates: they know that it’s not just about writing copy that’s good enough but also about writing copy that converts.
That’s where A/B testing comes in. By running A/B tests on your emails, you’ll be able to learn what works best for your audience and what doesn’t work at all. You’ll also be able to see which versions are most effective at getting signups or sales from customers who have given their contact information in exchange for information about your product or service.
You might think that having a great product is enough, but if no one knows who you are or what you do—let alone cares—then how will anyone buy from you?
Use the “Right” Mix of Sequences
As you’re reviewing your sequences, make sure you look at the types of steps involved in your email and call sequences. Some sequences lend themselves to more calls, while others are email-heavy.
But no matter what sequence type you’re reviewing, make sure you have a mix of step types. This is what makes sellers appear authentic and genuine to buyers. And that quality, in turn, ups the likelihood of a response and builds rapport.
When building out your outbound sales sequences, make sure you have a mix of step types.
It’s easy to think that all you need is an email. But if your buyer is expecting a call or LinkedIn message, they’ll be disappointed and annoyed when you don’t deliver on the expectation you set. This will hurt your chances of getting a response and building rapport with the buyer.
So what does it mean to have a good mix of step types?
Let’s say your sequence has three steps: email, call, and LinkedIn touch. If those are your only three steps, it might be time to add something else there! If this is true for you, think about what kinds of calls would work best in this case—maybe two emails followed by two calls? Or perhaps a series of emails followed by one call and then another email?
Consider Adding More Steps to Your Sequences
Yes, you can add another step to your outbound sales sequence.
If you’re following a sequential sales process, you can use the same logic to determine when to add more steps.
The reply rate for each step will tell you how well your target audience is receiving your product and give you insight into where they’re getting hung up. If your first step has a low reply rate, then it’s likely that people aren’t interested in what you have to offer. If the second step has a low reply rate and the third step has a high reply rate, then it’s possible that people are interested but don’t know how they can get started with what you’re offering. And if all three steps have high reply rates, then it means that people are ready to buy!
If you want to increase your sales success rates, try adding another step and see how much impact it has on your overall reply rates.
Note: It’s easy to feel like you should keep adding steps to your outbound sales sequence. You want to be sure that you’ve exhausted all possible resources, right?
But what if adding another step doesn’t help?
It’s tempting to add another step to your outbound sales sequence because it seems like it could help—and it might! But you also have to consider the cost of doing so.
Every time you add a new step, there are associated costs: time spent creating and refining the content and time spent running A/B tests on the content (if applicable). It increased the cost for each contact who will receive the additional message.
So before you start adding more steps, look at how many contacts are still clicking through from your last step (or from the first step). If their click-through rate is still high, go ahead and tack on an additional step if you think it might help! If their click-through rate has dropped significantly, you can feel confident that you’ve exhausted all resources and won’t see any gains from adding additional steps.
Change the Focus of Your Language
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “outbound sales?”
If you’re like most people, it’s probably “pushy” or “annoying.” But if that were true, why would we keep doing it? Why would companies spend so much time, energy, and money on outbound sales when all they get in return is a bad rap?
Because it works.
The truth is that inbound sales—when your customers come to you—aren’t enough anymore. With so many options for customers to find what they want (and for them to do it without talking to anyone), it’s no wonder that inbound sales have become less effective than ever before. That’s why outbound sales have taken over: because they work! They get your potential buyers’ attention in ways that other techniques don’t.
The key is not being pushy or annoying; instead, it’s helpful. Your buyer doesn’t care about how great your company is, how many awards you’ve won, or how great your product is. They care about how you can make their job easier and make their business more money.
Do you ever wonder why your outbound sales sequences don’t seem to be as effective as they should be?
It’s not your product. It’s not your salespeople. It’s not even the market.
It’s all about the buyer.
No matter how great those things might be, your buyers aren’t interested in hearing about you or your company. They want to know how you can make their job easier and how you can help their business make more money.
So what does this mean for your sales process? It means that it’s time for an overhaul! You need to start making it about THEM, not YOU, from the very beginning of your outbound sales process until the end.
If your job was to prospect for potential clients looking to buy from your company, what strategies can you use to help close more deals?
Ten years ago, just about any business owner that possessed a camcorder, a tripod, and the ability to turn on the recorder could film a commercial. These days, video marketing needs a little more creativity and professionalism. Video offers a personal touch when communicating with prospects and lets them know that you care enough to put in extra effort for them.
If you’re looking to create a video that will truly stand out, then it’s essential to follow these guidelines:
Keep it short and sweet. Keep your sales prospecting videos under two minutes. This ensures you can get your point across without overwhelming your customer.
Make sure your script is on point and tight. A poorly written script for a sales prospecting video can lead to even worse results than no video. You want to make sure you’re saying what you need to say to get those prospects on board with your brand message and sales pitch.
Keep it simple and easy to understand. Don’t overcomplicate things by being fancy or clever — it won’t work in this situation! Everything about this video makes sense for your audience, from start to finish.
#2: Always Leave a CTA.
A call to action (CTA) is simply an instruction that encourages people to take some kind of action. This could be signing up for something, buying a product, or even sharing the video with their friends.
It can be anything from signing up for a newsletter, downloading an ebook, sharing, subscribing, or following you on social media.
There are many ways of including a call to action in your video. Here are some ideas:
At the beginning of your video – If you want people to take action at the end of your video (for example, subscribe or share), then it’s best to include the CTA in the beginning. This way, viewers will remember what they’re supposed to do when they reach the end of your video.
In the end – This is probably how most people include CTAs in their videos. You can either ask directly for viewers to take action (for example, “please subscribe”) or use a subtle hint – for instance, by saying something like “make sure you don’t miss out on our next video.” You can also leave it up to the viewer’s imagination by asking, “what should we talk about next?”
#3: Be Prepared. Have a Script Ready.
We’ve all been there. You’re recording a video, and you realize that you don’t know what you’re going to say.
It’s not a good feeling, and it can make the difference between a successful video and one that flops.
To avoid this scenario in your videos, write down your talking points before recording. When it comes time to record, you’ll be prepared with ideas for what to say next.
This can be as simple as writing down bullet points on paper or in a word processor — whatever works best for you.
It’s common for people to get nervous about being on camera and forget what they want to say, so you must have everything written down ahead of time.
You can use bullet points or complete sentences, but it’s best if the notes are short and concise. Don’t worry about the length of the talking points — just get the main points out there.
Once you’ve written down your talking points, you’ll need to memorize them. Practice saying them out loud until they feel natural. If you’re not sure how to practice, try reciting them while driving or doing chores around your house.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask someone else for help if they notice something that needs fixing or improving in your presentation style. You’ll be surprised at how better people will react when they see that you’re trying hard — not just winging it!
#4: Connect with Your Audience.
When speaking to someone on camera, your eyes are the most essential part of your body. When you talk to your audience on camera, make sure that you look at them as they watch what’s happening in front of them with interest and focus.
When we speak to someone, there’s an unconscious connection between our eyes and theirs. To make it work in a video, simply turn the camera toward yourself to capture your face from the side while you’re talking. Then, turn the camera back toward whoever is listening to you so they can see what you see onscreen.
The viewer will be able to see that connection between their eyes and yours through this process — making it easier for them to feel like they know who you are and what you’re experiencing together in real-time.
Because video is an emotional medium, it’s important that your viewers feel connected to you through their feelings about what’s happening onscreen — rather than just watching passively from an outsider’s perspective.
#5: Add Some Personality To Your Videos!
A sales prospecting video is one of the best ways to get your message to your target audience in a way that they can relate to. It’s a great way to show off your personality, and it offers you an opportunity to be yourself.
For example, if you’re a consultant, you might want to show how easy it is for people to reach out and ask you questions. Maybe you want to explain why you do what you do, or perhaps you just want to give some tips on how they can get started on their businesses.
If you’re a freelancer or contractor, your prospecting videos should focus on why clients should hire you instead of everyone else offering similar services. Show them why they should choose you over all the other options!
When producing a sales prospecting video, it’s tempting to use stock images and generic music. You may think that having a generic look will help as many people hear your message as possible.
That might be true, but it also means that your prospects will be less likely to pay attention. If they’ve seen a million videos just like yours, they’ll tune out before you get started.
The best way to promote yourself is to show off who you are through the videos you create. Don’t hide behind the camera or pretend that you’re someone else — let your personality shine through so that prospects can see who they’re dealing with.
Here are some tips to achieve this:
Show off your office space.
This is a great way to give prospects a chance to see what working at your company would look like, but it also gives them a chance to see where the work they do every day happens. If you have any cool features like slide shows or other office amenities, definitely include those!
It goes without saying: people love humor, especially when it’s used effectively—and the best part is that there’s no wrong way to do it! Just make sure that whatever jokes or puns you use are appropriate for the audience you’re reaching out to
If you’re in B2B sales, you’ve probably battled a gatekeeper. They can make or break your sale. This is especially true of B2B mid-market sales. Gatekeepers hold the keys to the kingdom. If they don’t see an opportunity, they can ensure no one else sees it either. That’s why we call them gatekeepers.
Without a doubt, B2Bs hate gatekeepers. They frustrate salespeople and hurt business relationships. The real trick is finding ways to overcome these obstacles. If you’re interested in selling to B2B companies in the future, it’s essential to know how to get around gatekeepers.
4 Ways to Get Past the Gatekeeper
You can’t just pick up the phone and call to accomplish this. Gatekeepers live to prevent salespeople from getting through. Here are four ways to bounce over, under, and around gatekeepers to reach prospects you otherwise couldn’t.
Whether a receptionist or an account manager, a gatekeeper is designed to keep you out. They’re tasked with filtering visitors, calls, and emails from prospects and determining if the person you want to reach will be willing to listen to what you have to say.
A gatekeeper has control over whether or not you can speak with your prospect, but they don’t have to be the end-all-be-all of decision-makers. Most gatekeepers are just doing their job—managing their boss’s schedule and ensuring they don’t get interrupted by unnecessary people.
You can win over gatekeepers by showing them that you value them as an essential part of the process and that you’re not just trying to get past them so you can sell something. You need to have a sense of empathy for their role in the company and understand how much they must be juggling on any given day. That way, when they say no, it won’t feel like a rejection from someone who doesn’t want to hear from you at all—it’ll feel like a rejection from someone who does want to help but just doesn’t have time right now!
#2: Make It Personal.
1. Handwrite a note.
If your prospect is someone who cares about personal touches, this can be an excellent way to break through their defenses.
2. Make an appointment in person.
If you’re able to arrange an in-person meeting, do so! It’ll help show that you’re serious about wanting to have a conversation with them, which can go a long way toward getting past their defenses (and gatekeepers).
3. Send swag!
If your prospect is the type who responds well to gifts or small tokens of appreciation, send them some marketing swag as soon as possible after making contact with their gatekeeper—it’ll help show that you’re serious about wanting them as an account
#3: Changing Your Perspective.
Every gatekeeper is a resource. Each of them has access to valuable information. They know where your prospect is, their schedule, phone number, and much more.
You must view each gatekeeper as a resource rather than an obstacle. Viewing each gatekeeper as an obstacle can lead to some frustration if you’re not careful. Asking for the name of someone’s assistant can be an excellent way to get around this problem and make sure you have the right person on the line when you call back.
You should also try to be polite and respectful when dealing with gatekeepers. Remember that they are people too and may be working in an uncomfortable situation themselves (for example, fielding calls from angry customers). Don’t take it out on them just because they’re not letting you through!
If you’re having trouble getting through to someone by phone, try sending them an email instead or following up later in the day when their schedule might be less busy.
#4: Bypass the Gatekeeper.
If you have a sales team, they probably spend most of their time on the phone and emailing leads. They may be spending more time doing this than they are selling.
You should be if you’re not using a CRM (customer relationship management) system to track your contacts. But even with a CRM, there are still plenty of people who aren’t using it as effectively as they could be.
Gatekeepers will always exist in some form or another — whether it’s a secretary or someone else who answers the phone or screens your emails — so it’s vital for you to find ways around them if you want to get through to decision-makers
The most effective way to bypass gatekeepers is to invest in sales data. Partner with a B2B data provider, such as Pipeline Signals, to secure your most important prospects’ direct dials and email addresses.
Once you have these contacts, send them an introductory email explaining who you are and why you’re reaching out. If they respond, it’s time to start building rapport and working on establishing a relationship over time.
Another approach is to research your prospective company and find out what their employees are talking about online. Look for groups or communities where they participate and join those groups yourself. This will allow you to engage with them online in a more organic way than sending an email cold call — which could see it as spammy or intrusive (and therefore not read).
Almost every prospect you speak with has sales objections or reasons for not buying your product. If they didn’t have qualms about the price, value, applicability to their situation, or purchasing ability, they would have bought it already.
While dealing with objections is an inevitable aspect of the sales process, it may be a significant stumbling block for moving prospects through the pipeline. Accepting the complaints and sending a breakup email right away may be tempting. If you’re going to be successful, you’ll need to learn how to find and overcome these concerns.
What is a Sales Objection?
Any concern a prospect expresses about a barrier impeding their ability to buy from you is a sales objection — an unambiguous indication that you’ll need to handle more areas of the buying process than you thought.
According to Brett Trainor in an Expert Talk, customer objections are a sign that they don’t grasp your value or your ability to solve their problem. When customers raise objections to a purchase, it’s a sign that they’re interested in what you’re offering. They enquire, demand more information, and express their worries.
Instead of being afraid of sales objections, learn to see them as chances to move your sales process forward.
How to Deal with Sales Objections
While objections are one of the hardest and more unpleasant aspects of sales, they are not necessarily dead ends. Let’s look at how you can get around these potential stumbling blocks.
Taking care of objections
Dealing with objections is an inevitable and frustrating part of the sales process. The process entails specific actions and skills that every salesperson should be familiar with. Situational awareness, gathering background knowledge, leading with empathy, and asking intelligent, open-ended questions are just a few.
Being aware of the situation
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing objections that will address all of a prospect’s concerns. You’ll need a good sense of where you are in the sales cycle, the kind of the deal you’re chasing, and your prospect’s demands and interests, among other things.
Understanding the conditions that shape a prospect’s objections is critical to effectively addressing them. As a result, you must retain situational awareness as your talks with a prospect proceed.
Getting a lot of background information
This argument follows the previous one: comprehensive background information informs effective, actionable situational awareness. Investigate your prospect’s company and, to some extent, the prospect themselves.
What are the company’s current challenges? What problems do the prospect’s industry peers regularly have? If you’ve previously worked with similar-sized firms, try to recollect their concerns.
And, in the event of your contact, be aware of their responsibilities. What authority do they have to make decisions? Daily, what areas of the company’s operations do they deal with? What are the most common issues that someone in their job faces?
If you know all of this and more, you’ll be in an excellent position to answer objections gracefully.
Empathy in leadership
Objections are a normal part of the sales process, and they often — if not always — reflect legitimate concerns. When your prospects push back a little, you must avoid being visibly upset and impatient with them.
Every great sales effort starts with empathy. You shouldn’t sell to a prospect solely to make money; you should sell to them because your product or service is the best fit for their problems. As a result, you must always keep their wants and interests in mind.
You may set yourself up to anticipate and effectively answer their objections if you stay on top of their problems and circumstances and approach them with compassion and understanding.
Posing open-ended, thoughtful questions
Every other element on this list can be bolstered by the capacity to ask meaningful, open-ended questions. If you want to comprehend and effectively resolve the objections raised by your prospects, you need to go to the bottom of their problems.
Asking them meaningful, courteous questions and providing the opportunity to address them thoroughly is an excellent place to start. Avoid queries that can only be answered with a single word, “yes or no,” and don’t be afraid to use silence to your advantage.
There could be more underlying objections that the prospect hasn’t expressed or has merely hinted at. Before you can react successfully, you’ll need to ask open-ended questions to assist you in uncovering all of the objections.
Allow your customers to express themselves. Determine their issues – and put yourself in a position to anticipate their objections.
For over 9 years, Sales for Life has been training sales professionals across the globe in the art of social selling. It’s a concept that didn’t exist back when the company was established.
And it was our CEO Jamie Shanks who pioneered the concept while looking for customers for his sales consultancy business.
“My little consultancy was making no revenue, I barely had customers, and I would stare at my laptop, trying to figure out, how do I prospect for myself?” he tells top sales trainer Victor Antonio in the podcast Sales Influence – Why People Buy!
That’s how Jamie created the Sphere of Influence sales play, which lets you discover viable leads by leveraging your happy customers’ existing social networks.
“I started using LinkedIn and reverse-engineering and finding these backdoors and these hacks,” Jamie recalls. “People didn’t realize you could use a tool like LinkedIn for the left and the right brain, [for both] research intelligence and engagement.”
Being the first to occupy the social selling space was a learning experience. He quickly found out that, surprisingly, a lot of B2B companies would still insist on traditional sales methods despite the availability of social media platforms.
So he devised a social selling and account-based sales enablement certification that will teach revenue teams how to prospect easily and efficiently—but later found out that sellers usually had too much on their plates to apply what they have learned properly.
“A seller knows inherently that 11% on average of their week needs to be, unfortunately, spent on research. They need to gather intelligence about their key accounts—what’s happening, are competitors going into that account, are there job changes, relationship roadmaps?” says Jamie.
“We’ve been teaching this ad nauseam, but Pareto’s Law kicked in and people just don’t have the time to do it.”
Compelling Events Signals: A Seller’s Secret Weapon
When the pandemic hit and the demand for digital sales training increased, Jamie came up with the idea of building a new company focused on Compelling Events Signals—specific events and insights that distinguish the most promising target accounts from the rest of your total addressable market.
Compelling Events Signals help revenue teams identify areas of opportunity and risk within their account lists, allowing sellers to focus on nurturing the accounts in their pipeline that have a higher probability of producing positive results.
“I told my business partner that I wanted to tackle this idea of building a managed services firm or a business processes service firm, in which we will monitor signal intelligence at a global scale on behalf of our customers and actually deliver this intel directly to the sellers so they can gain back their 11% a week [of research time],” says Jamie.
“It’s a full services firm that takes on any group of customers, prospects, or white space that you want to monitor, and we’ll deliver that intelligence to every seller, directly into any sales tool you have so that you can buy back your time and take action right away,” Jamie explains.
How PipelineSignals Helps Sellers Achieve Their Sales Goals
“As a salesperson, it’s really important to understand that people buy from people,” says Jamie.
“[It’s important to monitor Compelling Events Signals because] people are the ultimate leading indicator of the priorities going into a business or leaving a business. When you track human capital migration, that singular change is an indicator. You’ll realize that when that CXO joins a company, they’ll want to shake things up. When the person you’ve been calling leaves, the whole priority in that whole project could leave the door.”
Let’s say a stakeholder in one of your happy customer accounts in Austria left the company last month to join another company headquartered in Brazil. Do you think your sales reps in Europe will tell your reps in South America about it?
Another example: One of your target accounts just hired a new COO. Where did that new person come from? How is that person connected to your customers and competitors?
“It’s intelligence that [your sellers] inherently know they should mind,” says Jamie. You need to gather all this information on a global scale so you can get a better picture of how you can maximize your chances of entering your target accounts.
And that’s exactly what PipelineSignals does.
“We’re giving you a name, a LinkedIn profile, a job title. What happened to them? What was the compelling event? Did they come from a competing customer and are now with a prospect? Did they just get hired? It’s this kind of intelligence,” says Jamie. “We can tell you who’s going into a company, who’ll be promoted into a company, who’ll leave a company, or if an IT department doubles or shrinks in half.”
PipelineSignals’ team of analysts is then responsible for gathering, cross-referencing, and processing all these Compelling Events Signals before delivering them to the client in an easily digestible format. All you’ll need to do is to combine these Compelling Events Signals with your other customer data, such as buying intent and product usage, to know when and how to best approach your target accounts.
Replacing $5/hour tasks with $500/hour value creators
Compelling Events Signals can make prospecting so much easier, boosting pipeline and reducing risk. Jamie knows this better than anyone else, his previous selling woes remedied by sales intelligence.
That’s why he decided to set up PipelineSignals: to pay it forward, helping other sellers achieve their goals and make a greater impact within their revenue team.
Selling isn’t easy. Just ask the 50 percent of sellers who, according to a TOPO study, fail to make quota—83.4 percent of which consider poor time management as the culprit.
The situation’s more dire now, with the pandemic forcing companies to quickly shift to digital sales.
“While a lot of sales organizations took their field sellers and just turned them into BDRs overnight out of the reality of COVID, those people do not have the skills and capabilities to drive sales pipeline,” says Sales for Life CEO Jamie Shanks, who recently guested on Sales Pipeline Radio, the weekly podcast of Heinz Marketing President Matt Heinz.
Listen to the podcast:
Solving this problem isn’t simply a matter of giving sellers more phone numbers to call or assigning them more activities to do. While this makes your team look productive on paper, it doesn’t always translate to actual results.
The answer lies in increasing your sellers’ efficiency, not workload.
Sellers have a basket of several accounts for prospecting, and they have to choose which ones to prioritize and focus their time on. Most sellers would call each one, going through their lists from A through Z or according to their industry or color codes.
Unfortunately, this method results in more losses than wins. You need to have a prospecting strategy that utilizes your sellers’ time and efforts in the most efficient manner.
What Signals Can Do For Your Social Selling Strategy
“[In the span of] over eight years, we ended up certifying a quarter million sellers,” says Shanks. “When you reverse-engineer a quarter million opportunities created, you start to notice a pattern…most of the opportunities created had what’s called a Signal attached to it.”
Signals have three main categories: Buying intent, workload consumption or product usage, and compelling events. The last one, compelling events, is further sorted into three subcategories. There is what we call a relationship roadmap signal, in which an advocate goes from company A to company B.There is the time in maturity event signal, examples of which include raising capital, installing a new executive, or increasing a department’s headcount.
Finally, there’s competitive intelligence, which can reveal yellow flags and red flags that can pose a risk to your target or customer accounts. A buying committee member showing a preference for a competitor’s product or service, or a newly hired employee who previously worked for a rival company—these are examples of competitive intelligence that can affect your accounts.
When utilized properly, these Signals can make your prospecting process efficient, positively impacting your social selling strategy. But how can Signals be gathered in the first place?
How to Use Signals In Prospecting
The cornerstone of effective social selling is efficient, effective prospecting. This isn’t just a matter of identifying companies and employees that are more likely to yield sales opportunities. Areas of risk—the asymmetrical advantages your competitors possess—should also be taken into consideration and, if possible, mitigated. You also need to consider the conversations you are having and the timing of your outreach efforts—why are you contacting this lead today instead of last week or next week?
“A lot of this data can be found in tools like LinkedIn, and there are other tools like BuiltWith [that give] sellers in the public domain the information to make informed decisions,” says Shanks.
“It’s a mindset shift, of course, but it’s the process of mining that intelligence that aids the seller in account selection and prioritization.”
Think of buying intent signals as puzzle pieces that can help a seller segment their accounts based on order of operations.
“If I’m going to look at 50 accounts and figure out which are the five I should really be focusing on, who are the ones that are raising their hand, are Googling the right words, or have people interested in what we’re saying?” asks Shanks.
The real challenge lies in convincing the individual members of the organization’s buying committee. That’s why buying intent intelligence needs to be complemented by compelling event intelligence, which function as puzzle pieces that tell the seller where they should spend their time based on the macro and micro things happening to the people within that business.
These events should be monitored because they indicate changing priorities in that business, and changing priorities are typically tied to human capital. After all, people are the ones who set priorities. People bring priorities with them into a new business and, conversely, they take priorities with them when they leave.
How an organization grows departments and deploys capital is a leading indicator of where their business priorities lie—like if a company’s marketing department’s headcount is doubled, then we can infer that they want to strengthen their marketing efforts.
The Secret To An Asymmetric Advantage
Always keep in mind that an organization’s priorities affect its buying decisions. Knowing the motivations behind a company’s business moves and making them the rationale behind your sales plays will give you an asymmetric advantage over your competitors. Detecting the buying signals reflected in the digital world gives your sellers ample time to plan their sales moves well in advance, increasing their chances of closing a deal.
Not utilizing signals for your sellers would be akin to sending them to war unarmed. Even the best sellers would need sales intelligence to support and effectively close their deals. With sales intelligence and signals, your revenue team will be in the best position to succeed in social selling.
No sales team is perfect. Teams are composed of human beings, after all, and human beings make mistakes. That’s how people learn: By slipping up, acknowledging the wrongdoing, and not committing the same error again.
The last part is crucial, especially in sales, where even seemingly small mistakes should be fixed before they negatively impact the creation of sales pipeline—something a lot of organizations already struggle with.
“There’s so much effort and time that’s invested in the tweaking of sales pipeline management, but there’s not enough attention given to the main problem, which is how can we create sales pipeline in the first place.
How can we create it in a way that is standardized, prescriptive, and therefore, predictable?”
Amar Sheth, COO of Sales for Life
Below are some of the most common repercussions of a weak sales pipeline:
1. Working with too few opportunities in a pipeline
Closing a deal in the B2B landscape can take up to several months. With so many decision-makers and touchpoints, it is logical to expect slow progress in most accounts.
However, this only calls for more lead generation efforts. Working with too few opportunities in a pipeline will definitely have negative effects on an organization’s annual revenue.
“That’s the number one issue in sales pipeline,” says Sheth. “You can’t manage people if you don’t have people to manage.”
2. A stream of poor leads
This will result in fewer sales, thus taking a big chunk of the annual revenue of an organization. If your leads are always subpar, try reviewing your ICP to ensure that you’re targeting the right customers.
Check if you really understand your ideal customer profile criteria. How well have you defined and understood them, and is marketing and sales crystal clear on what that looks like?
3. The gatekeeper problem
It’s essential to work out who the decision makers are for every prospective account in the pipeline. Wasting time and resources on opportunities that can’t convert because you are negotiating with a person that can’t make a decision is a formula for negative ROI.
You need to have a proper qualification process when you’re guiding people and helping them understand what needs to happen and whom you should reach out to in order to trigger a sales opportunity.
If your sellers don’t know how to land meetings with a company’s more senior players or the classic decision-maker, you’ll eventually be building an inflated pipeline that doesn’t really have any credible quality of closing.
Approaching leads based on Signals is the most effective way to ensure that you’ll have an asymmetric competitive advantage over your competitors.
“What we suggest is that you apply Signals against your accounts,” says our Managing Partner, Jamie Shanks.
“Signals provide objectivity and clarity as to which accounts will result in opportunities, and which ones could prove to be a risk.”
These are just three of the several issues your team could encounter if their pipeline creation method is flawed. If one of your sellers experience one of these problems, take a step back to objectively assess your monitoring and pipeline management strategies to ensure your pipeline generates a stable revenue stream.
Sales for Life was founded with one goal – to become the most trusted sales resource for its customers. During our journey, we’ve had the privilege of serving thousands of sales professionals and leaders around the world, from start-ups to Fortune 50 corporations.