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Prospecting in the Human Base

by | Oct 31, 2023 | LinkedIn "selling", Prospecting, Social Selling | 0 comments

I recently read some interesting insights from a recent study, “2022 Sales Research Study” by Richardson Sales Performance by Richardson Sales Performance

This has some very pertinent information when it comes to treating virtual and digital selling platforms and tactics with a human touch.

THE STUDY

This comes directly from the study:

“The sellers, sales managers, and sales enablement professionals that participated in our study each answered six key questions revealing the specific challenges present in 2022. 

Our participants represent a range of tenures from 1 to 20 years. Half of the group fell short of their quota goal last year, while the other half reached 90% or more of their target. The vast majority (83%) of responders carry a quota. 

We explain what their responses mean about the selling industry. Even more importantly, we offer three key insights sellers can use to address each of the six core challenges discussed. “

While I’ll quote exact numbers from the study, I will paraphrase the topics and questions below.

INSIGHT #1 FILLING PIPELINE

When asked, “What Are the Three Toughest Challenges in Finding New Business to Fill Your Pipeline?” the top three answers were:

  • Accessing the right decision maker (15%)
  • Creating a targeted prospecting strategy (13%)
  • Managing gatekeepers (13%)

I found the challenge that came in eighth place with 7% interesting: “Learning and managing digital prospecting tools.”- when you hear the latest training guru tell you about their great tool, training, and/or 5-Step Plan to a Bajillion Appointments, realize that while they say everyone is doing it, they aren’t.

My takeaway here is that all of the digital selling training out there (social selling, virtual selling, AI, automation, etc) isn’t being seen as a priority for quota-carrying sales professionals.  Many trainers complain about salespeople looking for shortcuts; that’s because they feel like they are behind the eight ball and they are looking for an edge.

If you’re a quota-carrying salesperson, realize this: struggling to create new opportunities is not a challenge that you alone struggle with.

While I spend a bit of my time and content on my frustration with trainers who promise the moon to those who will hand over a credit card, I realize that if you, as a quota-carrying salesperson, can master some digital and virtual selling tools, it could give you the edge you’re looking for.

INSIGHT #2- BUYER CONSENSUS

Several questions drove this home from the study. One was on having a repeatable process to drive stakeholder consensus, and another was expanding business with existing customers.

We all know that you’re very rarely in a position where you’re dealing with just your one contact.  Recent studies show the average number of decision-makers in B2B deals is over 10- but let’s face it, every deal, every company, and every department you deal with can be different.  We know some people are involved, and we need to be on their radar.  The days of presenting to your one contact and then sending them a proposal and waiting to hear back are over.

We can ask who will be involved in the purchase and affected by the implementation of your product or service and ask them to be part of the process.  We can connect with them virtually and introduce ourselves.  This way, if they don’t make our meeting, at least there is some familiarity with us.

If our main contact leaves and we’re only connected with and know that person, we end up back at square one as ‘just another salesperson’ rather than their ‘go-to’ person/company for what we provide.

In terms of going deeper and expanding business both horizontally and vertically within a company, it comes down to old-fashioned networking.  The more people we begin to connect with and know our name, the better our chances of securing meetings and developing deeper relationships in an account.

INSIGHT #3- VIRTUAL=MORE DISTRACTIONS

When asked what the biggest challenges were to be selling virtually, there were two answers tied at first with 23%:

  • Higher level of distraction during virtual meetings
  • Inability to track the digital buying journey

Let me address the second question first- were we really ever able to accurately track the non-digital buying journey, or is this answer tied to unrealistic expectations of sellers thinking that since they are using technology to sell, there should be better metrics and feedback???  I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this….

There is definitely more of an opportunity for distraction in a virtual meeting. We all have been in meetings with our cameras turned off while we checked email or worked on another screen.  Or, we have our camera on, and we’re just not engaged.

To have better virtual meetings- HAVE BETTER VIRTUAL MEETINGS!

Here are a few tips:

  • Start with sending an agenda to everyone who is going to attend and ask them if there are specific items that they want to cover.
  • Respect your time- start on time, end on time.
  • If you’re going to run over, ask permission.
  • Limit slides and make sure you talk to the camera.
  • Don’t look at your phone or other screens unless you are referencing something, and make sure they know that is what you’re doing.
  • Ask questions of attendees by name.
  • Have high energy and make sure you stay on topic.
  • Don’t end the call without having a next step in place.
  • Follow up the meeting with a recap email or video.
  • Sending a proposal? Send an explainer video, and before you send it, schedule a meeting to review the proposal with ALL of the decision-makers.
  • Don’t be boring.

If you find that you’re not connecting during virtual meetings across multiple industries/companies, ask someone to work with you on your delivery and get coaching.

Also, whenever possible, try and meet in person.  While meeting virtually is more convenient for almost everyone, meeting in person can be a game-changer

 

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