Categories
Account Based Sales Development account basedsales Social Selling

Social Surrounding: A Critical Aspect of Account-Based Selling

As a B2B seller, one of the most important things you should remember is that you don’t win companies. You win people.

Winning people involves building relationships with them. Relationship-building requires showing the other person that you genuinely care about them and the things that are important to them.

The good thing is that there are several tools at your disposal that make it easier to build long-lasting business relationships. You can use social selling techniques not only to improve your online presence and reputation, but also to find more information about your customers that can help you position yourself accordingly. And when you know how their world looks like and what their pain points are, you’ll have a better idea of how you can add value to their lives.

Now, the average sales professional has relationships with 3 contacts from an account. That doesn’t seem like a bad number. But buying decisions are made by committees, and in a typical organization, there are around 8 people who influence and contribute to the decision-making process. Even in smaller companies, most salespeople just have 1 relationship, when there are at least 3 people involved in a sales decision. 

This isn’t ideal.

Why You Should Nurture Several Relationships Within An Account

The average employee changes their job every 2.5 years. This may seem like a long time, but in B2B, that’s just a couple of sales cycles—which means that your contact only has a few chances to persuade the buying committee. And if your contact leaves, who will be left to champion your cause?

“The amount of flux that’s happening—the talent going in and out of businesses—means that a company’s priorities are shifting, ebbing and flowing all the time,” says Sales for Life CEO Jamie Shanks.

Think about it: If you have a relationship with a company’s chief information security officer, that person probably has a good understanding of what you’re talking about and what you can bring to the table. However, the other people in the IT department might not know who you are, or might not have any experience with your solution. And you’ll probably be more of a stranger to people from cross-functional departments such as legal, procurement, finance, or human resources.

So how can you build relationships with them?

This is where social surrounding comes in.

Using Social Surrounding for Your Target Accounts

The entire purpose of social surrounding is to get information fast, while automating much of its collection. The easiest and fastest way to go about this is to make this a part of your account planning process.

You can include your social surrounding research when selecting which accounts to prioritize—this process is tied to your customer accounts after all, and it will be easier to have all your account information centralized in one place.

Advanced search strategies for social surrounding

1. Browse a stakeholder’s LinkedIn profile and start collecting insights about them. Any useful information you can find should be captured.

2. In LinkedIn Sales Navigator, press the save button on someone’s profile to:

  • Follow the person. This way, any like, comment, or share will appear neatly in the Leads section of your Sales Navigator homepage.
  • Follow their company. This lets you easily access any content shared by their company page. You can view this in the Account section of your Sales Navigator homepage.

3. Use Boolean Search on the Bing browser to do research. Do these two searches:

  • person and company search
  • company and topic search

After using Advanced Search strategies to find out who the stakeholders are in your target accounts, it’s now time to do your research on them. Believe it or not, 92% of salespeople and CSMs don’t do any research because they think it takes too much time—and this is a mistake you shouldn’t commit.

Remember that the purpose of social surrounding is to speed up research so it takes less than 2 minutes per contact, instead of trawling the internet for the crucial data you need. These advanced search steps will allow you to automatically capture insights on the people that you want to have a relationship with, using both LinkedIn and Bing.

Conclusion

It’s difficult for sales professionals to build relationships within their customer accounts. You can’t exactly do site visits with every department, especially cross-functionally, because these departments might be located in different cities, states, or even countries—more so now, when there’s a global pandemic going on.

But it’s necessary.

You see, in all your accounts, there are two things that could happen. One, the buying committee will come together and reach a consensus, requiring you to have more advocates inside the organization. Two, if somebody in the buying committee leaves or is replaced, you’ll need to find out who the person is, what happened to them, and who will replace them.

Using LinkedIn and other social platforms to connect with the stakeholders within your customer accounts will allow you to monitor their activities and engage them, keeping you in a stronger position to influence and ensuring you’re ready to act should something happen.

Categories
Uncategorized

6 Ways to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full

Keeping your sales pipeline full seems to get more challenging with each passing year.

Quotas keep rising, but the number of people you can sell to seems to be decreasing.

How are salespeople supposed to hit their targets this way?

One of the leading causes of this problem is a lack of prospects. Think of it this way: When there aren’t enough leads at the top of your sales funnel, you would eventually be left with zero opportunities to close deals.

Unfortunately, most sales methodologies begin at a point where there are already prospects that you can convert. The focus more often than not is on closing, not on prospecting. 

But if you don’t have any prospects, you can’t close any deals.

That’s why building a strong sales pipeline is important.

What is a sales pipeline?

The sales pipeline is a visual representation of all the stages of your sales process, from your first interaction with a lead or a contact all the way to capturing a sale. It shows your selling performance at a glance, allowing you to easily see which activities and strategies are working and which ones need more work.

Now here’s the tricky part: There isn’t one foolproof, tried-and-tested way to build pipeline. Since sales pipelines vary from business to business, different sales organizations tend to have their own unique processes and rules for pipeline creation. At times, it even varies per member of the sales team.

The lack of standardization in pipeline creation poses several risks, such as:

  • Difficulty identifying specific areas for improvement
  • Less accurate sales outcomes
  • More good leads getting stuck in dead zones

That’s why salespeople who can create, maintain, and improve pipelines will have a higher chance of thriving in today’s cutthroat world. 

How to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full

Having plenty of sales opportunities prevents you from relying on bad sales practices that could harm your bottom line, such as offering discounts or guilting prospects. A full sales pipeline allows you to confidently set the price your product deserves, knowing that there are plenty of other opportunities you can fall back on. This results in a larger average deal size, more referrals, and positive feedback.

1. Always be prospecting

Spend time every day to look for new leads on LinkedIn, look for buying triggers in the news, and reach out to new prospects via email and phone.

Your prospecting efforts need to be consistent. You see, if you let yourself take a day off one time, you’ll be tempted to do it again a week later, and then the week after that.

And before you know it, you won’t have new leads in your pipeline anymore.

Try blocking some time on your calendar, setting an alarm on your phone, asking another salesperson on your team to keep you accountable, or writing “prospecting” on your daily to-do list. Force yourself to prospect daily—whatever it takes to make it a habit.

2. Upsell and cross-sell.

Sure, working non-stop to attract new customers is exciting. However, if you want to increase revenue without ramping up your lead generation efforts, upselling to existing customers is key.

You see, with new customers, you need to establish trust before they’ll even listen to you, let alone buy your product.

In comparison, your existing customers already trust you. Since they already purchased from you before, they’re much more likely to buy from you again—provided they’re happy with your service.

It’s also a lot cheaper to sell to existing customers than to new ones. According to the 2016 Pacific Crest SaaS Survey, the median Customer Acquisition Cost for upsells is just $0.28 per $1. This is a bargain compared to the $1.18 spent to acquire $1 of revenue from a new customer.

So take the time to regularly check in with your existing customers. Keep providing them with value and identify win-win opportunities to upsell them.

3. Incorporate social selling.

Social selling is necessary to survive and thrive in today’s modern, digital sales environment. The sooner you embrace this, the faster you will meet quotas, grow your pipeline, maximize your profitability, and elevate your team’s skills.

The SPEAR Selling strategy is an effective way to fill your sales pipeline and prospect more efficiently. First, a seller needs to be accountable for their own territory by visualizing their Total Addressable Market (TAM). This allows them to see clearly where gaps and opportunities lie, and they can apply signal intelligence against accounts in their TAM so they can objectively Select and Prioritize the most promising prospects using data-based Signals.

From there, the seller moves on to Planning—developing executive business plans for the top accounts. Engagement starts after, powered by synchronous and asynchronous video.

Next, the seller Activates customers by applying the signal intelligence and the stories they have created against their accounts. The seller should gauge the customers’ feedback—also known as buying intent—before moving to the Reprioritize phase. In this last stage, the seller will redevelop their TAM based on all the data they have gleaned.

4. Ask for referrals.

Your current customers are the best source of your next customers. They believe in your value proposition; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have bought your product.

So once a customer has crossed a certain lifetime value with you, ask them to refer you to someone in their sphere of influence who can use your product.

“Traditionally, when B2B salespeople ask for referrals, they would ask the customer to determine who they should be introduced to,” says Amar Sheth, Sales for Life’s COO. “That’s actually very dangerous. It’s not a smart thing because the customer now has to think about it, which means that there’s a high likelihood that this request may not even be fulfilled.

The best way to go about it, Sheth continues, is to aim for an introduction to a specific person.

“if you could find out who they’re connected to using the power of social media, then you can ask for strategic referrals,” he says. “Using tools like LinkedIn, you can determine who they’re connected to and ask for a strategic and precise referral. This way, you can enter accounts of your choice, not just the choice of the customer.”

5. Know your top customers and focus on them.

a. Grow deeper in existing accounts

In time, you’ll observe that your team closes more deals with companies from a certain industry. For example, if you close six times more deals with mining corporations than food companies, then it makes sense to focus on mining corporations. 

The same logic applies with roles within a company. If historical data says you’re more likely to win a deal when you work with the research team versus the culture team, you should get an introduction to a research team member ASAP.

b. Focus on account retention

Account retention entails building relationships with your customers and maximizing revenue from every single one of them. But it’s not a one-way street: You have to provide more value to your existing customer base as well.

Your sellers should ensure that the customers they have acquired will have a great experience with your company and will stay satisfied with your products and services. Some strategies include improving customer support, offering discounted renewal rates, and rolling out multi-channel engagement campaigns for existing clients.

6. Automate as many processes as possible.

The simpler and easier prospecting is, the less you’ll dread doing it—and the more efficient you’ll be.

There are several CRM tools that you can use to make sales pipeline management easier. You should set reminders and create automated emails to reach out to prospects. Always try to move them further along the pipeline, even after the deal goes cold. Automation lets you focus on warm leads while keeping an eye on cold ones, as well as prospects with longer buying cycles.

Conclusion

Creating and maintaining your sales pipeline isn’t an overnight affair. You have to take good care of properly plotting your pipeline in a customer-centric manner, and this is a process that could require a lot of trial and error. But the result will always be worth it.

Above all, you should never stop prospecting.

A lot of people only prospect at the start of the sales cycle, and that’s not a good strategy. As a seller, you should always find ways to drive new business, no matter where you are in the customer life cycle. You need to be intentional about it, and all your actions should be centered around the creation of new opportunities.

Remember: Building sales pipeline for the sake of building pipeline is meaningless unless you understand what you need to achieve by what date as milestones to get you to your goal. You need to be pointed about the actions and activities—the only things that you control—you should do to achieve that goal.

Categories
Blog Sales 2.0 Sales Advice Sales Enablement

Sales Glossary: What Is a Buyer Persona for Sales?

Know your buyer.

Whether you’re in marketing or sales, it’s important to keep this in mind when targeting customers and crafting messages. Emails, phone calls, and even face-to-face interactions become infinitely more valuable when you consider the needs, fears, and goals of each customer.

But your buyers aren’t cut using the same cookie cutter. The priorities of a VP for marketing, for example, would be different from those of an operations manager—even if they’re both from the same company. In fact, according to advisory firm Corporate Executive Board, a buying decision requires, on average, the input of 5.4 decision-makers, champions, and influencers. That’s a lot of different ideas, perspectives, and knowledge to consider.

This is why a buyer persona (also called prospect persona) are so important in sales. They help sellers better understand their customers, allowing them to book more meetings, generate more pipeline, and increase revenue. The number of personas your company has depends on how many different personalities or roles you sell to.

So what exactly is a buyer persona?

HubSpot’s definition of a buyer persona applies to both marketing and sales:

“A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. While it helps inbound marketers like you define their target audience, it can also help sales reps qualify leads.”

But though both sales and marketing follow the same definition—the process of building a profile for your ideal customer—each department’s goals vary.

  • Marketing wants to craft resonating messages, increase traffic, and improve conversion rates.
  • Sales wants to book more meetings, grow pipeline, and generate revenue.

An effective buyer persona will allow your team to achieve these three objectives:

  • Identify commercial insights that will create an impact by driving behavioral change
  • Save time and effort by only creating content tailored to your customers’ needs
  • Generate useful customer information in a more efficient manner
buyer persona creation

Planning Your Buyer Persona

The first thing you need to do is to identify the information you need in order to create a buyer persona template. In “The Sales Development Playbook” by Trish Bertuzzi, she outlines sections to address for prospect personas.

  • Target Title: What role does your prospect currently hold? Is your prospect a VP of Sales? A Chief Marketing Officer? A Sales Enablement Manager?
  • Role and Responsibility: What does the job entail for each of these positions?
  • Challenges and Obstacles: What are some of the major challenges specific to each role?
  • Professional Success Metrics: What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) relevant to each position? For the sales team, performance is usually measured by meetings, revenue, and year-over-year growth, margins, and P&L. On the other hand, marketing measures success according to impressions and views, as well as the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) that were created, converted and have subscribed. 
  • Risks and Fears: On a more psychological level, what are some risks and fears that relate to each person’s position? For example, a VP of Sales might worry because others in his position only last 18 months, so he feels like he has very little time to make an impact on the bottom line.
  • Consequences of the Status Quo: To make a difference, you first need to know what needs to be changed. What are the old tactics that aren’t working? Are the sales and marketing team encountering recurring issues?
  • The Big Win We Deliver: How does each position contribute to the success of the company? Do they generate pipeline and revenue? Do they facilitate alignment? This helps you objectively determine if it’s worth it to invest in regular training for your team.

Putting It Into Practice

Different companies have different ways of creating a buyer persona. We’ll show one way of doing so in the situation below.

The Scenario:

Company X wants to target the heads of human resources (director or above) of companies with 250 or more employees.

Step 1: Identify your target prospects’ titles and roles. Map out everyone that sits in the buyer committee—you need to form relationships with as many of them, not just the main decision-makers. This sets the stage for the kind of content your team will create—your outreach efforts should appeal to as many of the buyers as possible.

Step 2: Gather demographic and firmographic information about your prospects. Determine what each prospect wants to accomplish at the company, and how you can help them achieve their goals. Generating great commercial insights will debunk myths and paint a clearer picture of the opportunity cost, so it’s critical to understand what your buyers need.

Step 3: Strategize how you’re going to help your prospects. Remember to speak the language of your buyer, and to craft messaging that addresses their pain points.

Step 4: christen your buyer persona with a name like “Marketing Mary” or “Fred, VP of Sales.” Include a photo to further humanize this abstract persona. As trivial as it may seem, this gives your sellers a more complete picture of who you’re targeting.

sample buyer persona for sellers
A sample buyer persona.

Salespeople, like marketers, can use buyer personas to better understand both current and prospective customers. The best personas are based on market research, but they can also be built from interviews and trends based on their own database.

As Bertuzzi maps out in her book, creating a grid of your ideal buyers’ thoughts, fears and values will help you to not only better understand them, but to also leverage insights accurately, efficiently, and consistently to book meetings and close deals. Good luck!