Welcome to your sales weekly roundup for February 10-17. This week we’re checking out Salesforce’s latest ebook, how sales managers can avoid being blindsided by their top reps underperforming and nine lessons in B2B thought leadership. Enjoy.
The following experts’ insights span the entire sales cycle—from prospecting to closing, expanding to referral. This awesome asset from Salesforce will leave you pumped for trying some new selling techniques this year. Here are some of our favourites:
Use content and email to sell
Before creating new sales assets, take the time to assess the effectiveness of current sales assets.
- Mark B. Levinson, VP and Group Director, Sales Services, SiriusDecisions
Use events to sell
A great way to sell at industry events and conferences is to bring customers to your events. Since your marketing team is investing its time and money to attend events, bringing your customers along for the ride will make your company’s presence at the event more impactful.
- Sangram Vajre, Co-Founder & CMO of Terminus, Founder of #FlipMyFunnel
Connect with prospects and get meetings—fast
Lead with an industry question to get the prospect to engage. Prospects are always hesitant to talk, so make it easy for them to share their insight on a current issue their industry is facing. Once they respond, then follow-up by asking how that issue impacts their own situation.
- Mark Hunter, CSP, “The Sales Hunter,” Author
Think like your customer
In order to think like your customer, you must focus on your customer. Your role is to create value for your customer, not just to communicate information about your company or solutions. Before you position your value, a prerequisite is having a deep sense of what your customer values. When you have done your research, you can begin to feel comfortable in your customer’s shoes, and begin the walk together toward mutual value.
- Donal Daly, CEO, Altify
Sales leadership trainer and author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness Kevin F. David writes on how sales managers can prevent falling short of monthly quota. Implement the following three strategies:
Be a Proactive Sales Coach: David notes 90% of salespeople, managers included, suffer from the self-serving bias. This bias inhibits their ability to learn from their mistakes. Chances are, if one rep is struggling with something, the others are also running into similar problems. The trick here is to catch the problems before they start affecting quota, and provide workshops/resources on how to fix them.
Get involved early in the sales process. If you’re a manager who is getting involved in the latter stages of a deal, say the sixth week of a two-month sales cycle, you might want to rethink your strategy. Why? You don’t know what mistakes your rep could be making, if any. For example, they didn’t connect with the true decision maker, prepare a good call strategy, or set clear objectives for their initial meeting with the prospect.
Ask the right questions. In a pipe review, don’t ask questions about the sales process (like “where are we with X account?”), ask them about the buyer’s journey. Here are a few suggestions:
- “What problems does this particular prospect have that we can solve?”
- “What are each decision maker’s decision making criteria?”
- “What specific actions has the prospect taken thus far in regards to evaluating this decision?”
- “Can you tell me how this prospect has made similar purchases in the past?”
- “What’s their timeline?”
- “What’s the process for actually buying a product?”
- “Are there other vendors involved?”
B2B Content marketing agency Grist released the results of its latest survey, which examines how over 200 senior executives at FTSE 350 companies view and use thought leadership. Among its findings are these nine key takeaways, brought to light by marketinginsidergroup.com:
1) Be useful. Senior leaders seek out thought leadership that helps them stay ahead of emerging trends (66%) and helps them make better, more informed decisions (60%).
2) Failure comes in threes. Thought leadership fails when it proves too generic (63%), lacks original insight or ideas (58%) or promotes the advisor rather than addressing client need (53%).
3) Let the client see the clients. The thoughts of clients (57%) matter more than any other voices or sources. Readers want to know what those they serve – or whose business they want to win – are thinking and doing.
4) Keep it short and punchy. Two formats – 800-word articles (63%) and 300-500-word blog posts (57%) – are preferred more than any other.
5) It’s complicated. Senior executives rely on multiple sources, online and offline, to get their thought leadership fix. Asked to identify from where they are most likely to seek out thought leadership material, respondents most commonly identified professional services/advisory firms (44%), industry events (43%) and online search (40%).
6) Facebook, the professional network? Facebook – more commonly associated with friendship and familial connections – was cited as the social network senior business executives were most likely to engage with thought leadership. Facebook was referenced by 79% of respondents, compared with Twitter (73%) and LinkedIn (68%).
7) Monday lunchtimes matter. Two thirds of senior executives seek out thought leadership on a Monday while the two hours between 12 noon and 2pm is the single most popular time slot.
8) The C-suite ignore most of what you write. Senior executives read on average 31% of all the thought leadership that comes across their desks. To get noticed – and read – copy needs to be truly compelling.
9) Readers want to be creators too. Asked to look forward and imagine content that would be most useful in the future, four in five respondents said that they wanted content that they – and their peers – were involved in developing.