One of the toughest parts of in sales is qualifying interest of buyers. Most of us become excited at even the littlest sign of interest from a prospect. Go on, you can admit it. It happens to me, too.
If someone makes a nice comment about what I do, tweets, sends a LinkedIn message, leaves a voicemail, sends an e-mail, etc. it gets me excited. I know I’m not alone in this. Let’s face it – we confuse conversation with red-hot interest.
However, qualifying buyers is something we’re not doing enough.
What the Data Points Out
Branding pro Jeremy Miller’s book Sticky Branding discusses a phenomenal concept on how you can begin to think of your buying funnel.
Let’s review it here:
A look into your active sales pipeline in CRM will likely reveal similar numbers. Out of 100 potential prospects, only a handful are in your opportunity stage ready to make a purchase in the foreseeable future. The majority just aren’t.
But the data goes deeper than this. And, it has broad implications on how you as sales professionals should begin spending your time.
While we all want to focus on the top 10% of the funnel – the part where deeper-level conversations are more natural and likely to occur – the real opportunity is in the 60% stack just below; where buyers presently don’t have a need or have a need and aren’t ready to act.
While your peers and competitors are focused on low-hanging fruit, the majority of them are completely ignoring that 60% stack. If you were mining for oil, this is the equivalent to going 200 feet into the ground vs. 1000 feet. There’s oil down there and no one is looking past the short-term.
Here Is What You Can Do
If you believe that buyers today are heading online to do research and conduct due diligence about virtually everything, then it’s time to put your Social Selling hats on.
It’s time to start engaging with that 60% stack very early on. Spending time on educating these potential buyers early on – even with snippets of information – can help keep you top of mind and current as their research becomes more detailed.
This engagement is different. It’s not what you’re used to. If you’re trying to add value for the first time in the top 10% stage, you’re likely too late. By this time the buyer’s views have been largely shaped by digesting information from others in the market. Commercially, however, this is what most sales professionals we speak to are doing.
Data from Corporate Visions reveals that buyers will choose to work with sales professionals who were first to add value 74% of the time. If you’re looking for a reason to justify educating buyers early on – even when no need may exist – let this data be that reason. And it’s simple to understand why: if you can be the face of helping to unearth information, educate them, etc. they begin to view you as a helpful resource.
Make no mistake, this requires careful planning and mindful execution. But the rewards more than justify the efforts.
How Social Selling Can Help
Alongside your other outreach efforts, use Social Selling to find and qualify buyers on where they are in the buying funnel. Once you complete this exercise, you can now start to engage and educate them regularly to offer insights about known and unknown challenges.
As you share content, keep in mind where they are in the buying journey. There may be no need to offer insights into parts of your solution that they presently don’t have a need for.
If you’re wondering whether you should share content just from your company, it’s best to mix it up instead. Offer education and insights from multiple viewpoints in the market. Remember, your job is to educate openly and honestly without bias.
If you do this regularly, you will successfully achieve:
- Getting and staying top of mind with the buyer and their inner circle of decision makers.
- Positioning yourself as an unbiased and helpful resource.
- Influencing the buyer positively, with the purpose of helping them reach their goals.
The Bottom Line
As I said earlier, this requires time and patience. Don’t expect overnight miracles. If you’re willing to practice this, you will have a long and successful career. And it’ll be due to the fact that your buyers will take care of you because you took care of them.
What’s your strategy for nurturing your buyers? When and how often do you engage them?