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sales pipeline

Compelling Events Signals: Adding Meaning To Sales Intelligence

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. 

This was how Sales for Life’s sister company, PipelineSignals.com, was launched in July.

“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.

“I’m a big believer of exchanging $5/hour tasks for $500/hour value creators,” says Jamie.

“Your sellers need to be doing $500/hr value creators, so we’ll pull the $5/hour tasks out of their hands.”

Learn more about how Compelling Events Signals can help your revenue team achieve their sales goals. Book a meeting with us today.

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sales pipeline

Signals: The Most Important Puzzle Pieces in Social Selling

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.

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Blog pipeline development sales pipeline

Here’s What Happens When You Have a Weak Sales Pipeline

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. 

To learn more about pipeline creation,
check out The Fundamentals of Pipeline Creation.

We’d also love to help you optimize your team’s pipeline creation process. If this is something you think could help you, use this link to book a meeting with us.

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Blog sales pipeline Sales Process sales professional sales strategy

You’re Over Two Months into the Year…So Now What? Where is Your Sales Pipeline At?

We’re just beginning March. By now, your sales kickoff has been completed, and you have your comp plans in hand. All your sellers are now out in the market.

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Blog digital sales Digital Selling growth strategies market opportunities sales consulting sales organization sales performance sales pipeline sales professional sales strategy Social Selling

Social Selling / Digital Sales Investment: Opportunity vs. Opportunity Cost?

What is the return-on-investment (ROI) differential between two growth strategies?