Cracking a tough sales account was once like striking oil. The first good sales rep on site won exclusive mining rights. Sales reps aiming to displace the current provider were stuck dialing into dead-end corporate switchboard phone numbers, getting stonewalled by gatekeepers, never to reach their buyer’s voicemail box—let alone pitch their product to a decision-maker.
All of that has changed. Broad access to business data has democratized selling opportunities. This benefits smaller startups and newcomers, who can make their business case on the merits of their product (instead of being locked out of an incumbent vendor relationship formed on the golf course 20 years ago). The broad availability of data is a net benefit for buyers, as well, via product innovation and more competitive pricing.
In short, the sales landscape is a whole lot more competitive than it was 10 years ago.
Anyone willing to invest in premium marketing and sales intelligence has a shot at turning data into deals.
Direct Prospecting at Interested Buyers
Timing is everything in sales. The truth is that fewer prospects are ready to buy than most imagine (or hope). According to Hubspot, only 3% of the market is actively ready at any moment. Everyone else is either not ready (which could mean they’re not shopping, don’t have budget, or don’t have a need) or they are poised to begin the process. The train either has not arrived yet, or has already left the station.
Sales intelligence data improves a rep’s timing in their initial contact and tailoring their overall approach. When done right, it offers real-time insights on buyers without the time-suck. And buyers can weigh the merit of a sales pitch rather than deferring to the vendor with the greatest seniority.
Sales reps using this data can answer crucial time-saving questions in advance:
- What technology is the prospect currently using?
- What are their current projects?
- What are their future projects?
- What accounts are actively researching this topic?
This data provides an insider’s view of the business. Incumbent solution and service providers are no longer the only ones capable of interpreting or influencing a prospective buyer’s readiness. The playing field is leveled for new entrants. In addition to basic contact information such as direct-dial phone numbers and email addresses, sales reps can use sales intelligence insights to identify pain points, possible objections, and even differentiators to compare against prospect’s current solutions.
Verified Data Identifies Key Decision Makers Faster
Salesforce finds that 68% of a sales rep’s workday is spent not selling. The effort required to break entrenched sales partnerships takes time.
Verified sales intelligence act as a sort of “sales hyperloop,” with dynamic org charts at the center. They offer necessary information on the key contact and relevant influencers in that person’s circle. Since turnover alone causes 33% of data to become inaccurate every six to twelve months, refreshing data constantly saves time, too. In this case, sales reps can focus, uninterrupted, introductory calls and marketing campaigns that target influencers and decision makers in strategic ways. No Googling required.
About 80% of non-routine sales require five follow ups after the initial meeting. That means that sales reps trying to win over an account from a more established competitor need additional time to differentiate themselves. Cutting gatekeepers out of the equation ensures that each touch point is effectively directed toward sales conversion. When deals close faster, business grows faster.
Brand Integrity Limits Costly Setbacks
Buyers are more receptive to email than phone prospecting. When 72% of Americans favor email communication with businesses, sales reps are encouraged to send unsolicited emails. Some contacts are receptive and willing to forward your messages to the buyer, but others are all too eager to mark that content as spam.
Too many spam reports makes email deliverability take a serious plunge.
It happens like this: sales reps send unsolicited emails using the company’s primary domain. Incompatible or uninterested recipients mark emails as spam. ISPs notice an uptick in spam reports and scrutinize the types of messages coming from suspicious senders. If they see a domain sending lots of spam, even if it’s only stemming from one user, the brand’s reputation plummets among email providers. All email accounts from that domain are affected and forever unseen. It hurts businesses as badly as if they were using bargain contact lists.
Sales intelligence data circumvents the problem of deliverability by eliminating the need for desperate email marketing tactics. Sales reps using this data can gauge potential buyer interest in advance and craft relevant emails, making it unlikely they will be marked as spam. Business can continue to grow without ISP-imposed limitations.
Why Ignoring Sales Intelligence Data Sabotages Reps
Many sales reps seek refuge from their daily routine of discovery calls by researching prospects and potential purchase signals on their own. As a result, sales reps aren’t using their time to sell. They’re missing opportunities, booking fewer meetings, and hurting productivity.
Sales teams aren’t hired for their ability to conduct web research, peruse press releases, scour LinkedIn, or hunt down buyer intelligence. Sales reps usually lack the software tools necessary to conduct, gather, and enter research efficiently. And most sales teams don’t have consistent research processes or a way to scale research efforts . It simply isn’t an economic use of a sales rep’s time to conduct prospect research. Every minute devoted to research is spent not selling.
Increasingly, sales intelligence data is the “ticket to ride.” LinkedIn’s State of Sales in 2016 report finds that 62% of Millennials use sales intelligence in the pursuit of leads. That’s compared to about 46% of Gen Xers and 37% of Baby Boomers. In many ways, sales intelligence is the secret weapon that startups and Millennials are using to bring down enterprises and tenured sales reps. Legacy enterprise business relationships are being eroded by informed pitches from reps who understand the client’s pain points with their existing solutions and know how to make life better.
For those willing to embrace change, who prefer data-driven decisions, who don’t think “we’ve always done it this way” is a good answer to anything—the spotlight is on you. It’s time to level up the ranks of data-driven sales intelligence.
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