The accusation of “fake news” has risen to the forefront of American consciousness, thanks to the 2016 U.S. presidential election and ensuing claims about what information is factual, and what is … “alternative facts.”
In sales, accuracy is paramount. Sustainable long-term pipeline and revenue are not created by approximations, best guesses, or ignoring known inaccuracies. Deals are closed with accurate information.
This is most important when your sales team hears “news” about a target account – and that news seems to indicates that your prospect is about to make a purchase.
If true, this news is invaluable! Company events like new planned projects, C-level executive moves, rounds of funding, and layoffs or hiring sprees all indicate change. And change means dollars.
… But what if it’s fake news?
A: You look uninformed, and B: You just lost the opportunity (and probably future opportunities at the account.)
If you don’t start with verified data from trusted sources, you’re wasting time chasing “leads” that aren’t really leads. You also risk damaging your company’s reputation, and yours, by representing yourself as ill-informed and ineffective.
There are some easy ways to quickly fact-check your lead data. In fact, many of the same tips that news experts offer for spotting fake news apply to spotting questionable sales data.
Make accuracy part of your sales plays by:
- Considering the source of your information
- Double-checking the context
- Check deal-killing biases at the door
- Take advantage of the many available tools
1. Consider your source
We already use critical thinking skills to determine if the news is false. Use the same skills to determine if your insider scoops and other tips are valid.
Before you dive into outreach, consider:
- Where did the information came from, and how old is it?
- Is the source reputable, like a news organization or a company insider?
- Have you received reliable information from this source in the past?
Look for red flags at this stage: If you got your hot tip from a chat forum, or a disgruntled former employee, your data may not be as solid as it seems.
2. Examine the context
Credible news content is reported consistently across various news outlets. Good B2B sales data is no different (because, let’s face it, fact is fact).
Consider the information it in context: Is it consistent with what you already know?
If you heard your target account is investing in new cloud technology, but then the COO leaves the company along with several senior developers … it might be a good idea to double-check that tip you got.
3. Abandon your biases
When reading news, experts advise that you consider whether your biases could affect your judgement.
The greatest “sales-killing mental bias” is cognitive error: entering into a sales scenario with a preconceived notion, and then looking for information that supports and reinforces your belief.
The result: You won’t have a handle on the facts, and your assumptions about your buyer, their company, or deal-making in general are very real barriers to closing the deal.
For example, our recent study found that, despite a reputation for playing it safe, women are more likely to select new upstart vendors, while male buyers stick to established, known vendors (see below). A little counter-intuitive, no?