For me there is nothing better than a good salesperson in front of a potential client, qualifying them, developing them, and working on closing the sale.
And although in some circles the reputation of the salesperson is somewhat stigmatized, this is simply and largely because of a lack of understanding of good and necessary sales work.
The imagery of a used car salesman that pressures and deceives is not real (in the great majority of businesses) and above all is not what most sales people see as good long-term strategy.
For me, a good salesperson is not good because they are extroverted, intelligent, or very persuasive, but rather because they are a professional who understands his work and respects his client.The key in sales is to listen to your client and know how to ask qualifying questions. Click To Tweet
This is fundamental in order to be able to position one product or another, be it a solution or information, educating the client, or even redirecting them towards another solution.
It is more valuable to develop a relationship based on the real interest of the client than to go forcing something that most likely ends up going wrong and being a waste of time for both parties.
The qualification process is essential towards segmenting the interests of the client and being able to position something of value that develops the relationship, which in marketing terminology is to segment in order to do content-based nurturing.
And of course, a good salesman is always ready to interact with potential clients. He is attentive to an opportunity and he is ready to develop his image to position himself. In other words, they know how to find clients, how to prospect.
He is attentive to an opportunity and he is ready to develop his image to position himself. In other words, they know how to find clients, how to prospect.
This is an essential function in all organizations; you can call them SDR, Inside sales, Account Executives , Business Developers, Customer Success Reps, or Ambassadors. But they are the best assets in acquiring clients.
They, too, unfortunately also come with their “buts”:
- The first obvious one is the cost; Any human resource represents a very important cost (an expensive one) of which you’ll always need more.
- Complaint # 1 is “we do not have enough resources…” to cover the market, to reach goals, etc.
- And the #1 cause of losing opportunities is that the salespeople have not had enough time to qualify and position themselves properly in the opportunity.
- The development of the relationship with the client is essential, but the reality is that salespeople are generally not good at nurturing. That is often a job of medium and long term capacity, and the objectives by which the sales teams are measured by are often only short term. But is also due to the lack of the right content at hand, and that can be easily changed using technology.
- Sales teams using traditional methods of cold calling and messages, events and fairs, are not being efficient prospectors and talking to those who visit us at a fair or event is not optimal, because while sometimes something comes from it, it is always at the expense of a lot of invested time.
- The leads marketing passes via their campaigns usually do not improve the situation. Generally, they arrive without having been properly qualified, or at the very least without any prioritization. Sometimes the aggressiveness of the sale is too much and the client closes off because he was not ready, or, on the contrary, we arrived late and the timing has passed the moment to influence. But most often they simply do not have a real project.
- And lastly, with respect to being available and accessible clients and potential customers, a common complaint is; “My clients participate in places where I am not. I need to be in the loop, but I can’t be everywhere (forums, fairs, social networks, emails, calls). There is too much irrelevant information in social media and having sales teams “aware” of what happens all across the internet is just not feasible.
This reality has led us to try to approach the solution traditionally in two restrictive ways:
- A) Limit the market that each salesperson covers. The top x, named account, above X millions or X employees and therefore the budgets and number of salespeople available limits the size of the market we can address (addressable market).
- B) Limit the functions of the position. What we discussed before in terms of removing the tasks of generating demand, prospecting, social networks, content and, in some organizations, even the sale, leaving the salesperson only as an account manager once they have obtained the client.
Actually, both options self-impose a limitation simply by taking a linear view of the problem, continuing with the existing situation instead of looking for solutions that address the essence of the problem.
Consider what transformation is needed and then what tools or solutions can make it a reality. This is the approach we take here.
Is cold calling dead? Outsourcing or specializing the prospecting
Some functions like cold calling (which I’ve done for years) are tremendously unpleasant, both for the salesperson and for the prospective client. Not to mention rather inefficient.
cold calling is bad for the customer and the salesforce, besides plain inefficient Click To Tweet
In my opinion, the reductionist approach – outsourcing to others or task specialization – is an erroneous concept that makes more difficult the sale to actually occur.
When you undertake “scaling” by simply trying to take some parts away , like the prospecting, what will occur is that you essentially remove the beginning of the relationship, the first contact. That corrupts the essence of the relationship that ultimately makes the sale at the end, the trust itself.
All you’ve done is decrease your chances rather than increase them by trying to scale up when all you actually did in the eyes of the consumer is scale back.
And outsourcing this task does not let you wipe your hands off it, it merely conceals it from your responsibility, and often cheaply so.
The same inefficiency still exists and most likely the customer experience has been negatively affected by whomever you’ve put in charge of a valuable task that doesn’t care as much as you to get it right.
The problem with cold calling is not in the calling. It’s in the cold Click To Tweet
The point is that any interaction that is not preceded by a customer action indicating interest in what we sell will be more poorly received by that customer and therefore potentially less effective.
The salesperson needs to be well positioned from the first contact. This creates a greater possibility of finally producing a sale than if there are a series of steps, jumps between leads of the web team, those of customer service, those of prospecting and those who finally pass opportunities to the sales team. The process needs to be truly without seams, or feel seamless.
In many cases, salespeople have to start a relationship in quite a cold manner with a prospect, despite it sometimes being a prospect with which the company already has some time invested into them.
This jump can produce a disconnect where the customer is not comfortable with a highly focused and finish-line focused sales person at the moment of truth.
A relationship should be formed in a natural way that gives, asks, and that is developed in a cumulative manner where the client is informed, educated, but also responds to the qualification questions and, on their timeframe, commit to a purchase.
What usually happens when the prospector is not the closer in the sales cycle, is that the hunter-prospector only wants to know if there is a budget and compelling event, wanting to move the opportunity as quickly as possible up the ladder.
This can leave a bad taste in the client’s mouth, even to those that were already convinced that yours was the right solution prior to the call. This has been my own personal experience with one of the pioneer internet companies that, despite having had a very positive relationship with me for several years, the “closer” salesman literally ruined it by suggesting he only had a 30 minute window in which to close my deal.
No one likes the feeling that they are being sold to, and of course treating customers like anonymous leads does not inspire confidence either, nor does it create great results.
Clients can approach you from any medium, because of a doubt or because you have shared content that interests them. The important thing is that those who can develop the relationship are also those that generate the approach to customers or initiate the relationship.
The more “natural” the flow of the sales cycle for your client from the newly discovered opportunity to the negotiation of the sale, the more likely it is that a sale will in fact occur.
But does that mean that we can only respond to inbound requests?
While the ultra-orthodox Inbound Marketing types would answer “yes”.
But we can open the range of relationships for the company to many more types of interactions that are not considered cold calling and that actually help to warm up the relationship, or at least eliminate that effect of distrust by being a complete stranger at first interaction.
You can start by following them, liking what they share, commeting etc.. And instead of jumping to a cold call or email, share with them some relevant content.
To know what is relevant to your potential customers you can by segmenting them for specific keywords ( related to what you sell) . Then you can share some content in that line.
If they don’t open what you send, better change the line . But if you are sharing some general content about your line of business and after been read you sent a more specific piece about your product that get also read , that sounds like a sales ready prospect.
For that to happen we need to give possibilities and tools to those who can generate interactions with customers – our whole network of employees – so that they are freed of low-level tasks and can be scaled up and kept in the process from end to end in their new mission.
We will see later that combining the social selling methodologies and content to the service of these teams (which may not even be sales teams – they could be support teams, technicians, or anyone who is in contact with the customer) with an integrated marketing capabilities focus generates network effects with so much potential that they can potentially cover the entire addressable market in a much more personal and natural way than previous traditional methods.
In other words, we now have an ability to get our message out with effectiveness, and at the same time, with a scope that while not as massive as ads across advertising networks, can still address most or all of a typical B2B market.