I’ve had two epiphanies lately. The first happened when I was recently preparing for a webinar I conducted with Ray Makela, CEO of Sales Readiness Group. We were getting our content ready, and it dawned on us how naturally what we do at Sales For Life, which is helping with modern digital prospecting, connects to some of the best global sales methodologies.
The same thing happened again when I was on a call with Bruce Wedderburn, Chief Revenue Officer at Integrity Solutions. We were talking about a conversation we had at an event in Lake Tahoe about their sales methodology, and how it connects with what we do here at Sales For Life.
The epiphany was this. All of the existing core sales methodologies have historically been, and continue to be, masterful at account management, and winning deals and servicing customers. But, only focusing on core methodologies leaves you with a gap in your sales pipeline. This means that you, the account executive, are missing out on a portion of sales quota attainment from marketing or inside sales team. That means there will always be a gap in your sales pipeline, which could be as great as 20% or 80%.
Modern, digital selling can help you close that gap. If we use a baseball analogy, what we’re doing here at Sales For Life with digital selling is helping you increase your chances to get up at bat more often, and get on base. The other core sales methodologies will help you run the rest of the bases.
To close that gap, you need to learn to fish, and to prospect.
And to help with this, I share a simple process map where we connect the modern, digital selling we do here at Sales For Life to those core methodologies you’re using every day.
1. Build the total addressable market of your territory. You need to think like the CEO of your own territory. Just like when you’re creating a great business plan, you have to research your territory and map out all your potential accounts. Then you can present your findings to your frontline sales managers.
For example, if your territory is in Texas, you might have 341 accounts that you can prospect. Out of these, 100 accounts might be your existing customers—that means the remaining 241 accounts are non-customers. These 241 accounts are open opportunities that you’ve likely never spoken to.
Now, you as the account executive need to build a plan to prioritize which accounts in this open opportunities list to target first, turn into opportunities and eventually customers.
Organizations use a variety of methods to help them segment these accounts. Thomson Reuters is particularly effective at this. They separate their open opportunities accounts into A, B, C, and D, where:
A = high value, high potential accounts
B = high potential, low value accounts
C = high value, low potential accounts
D = low value, low potential accounts
They then have a percentage-weighted mix of those accounts they focus in on and the activities level they will devote to them.
2. Account selection and deselection. Next, you need to start thinking about account selection and deselection. Best in class prospectors are using the sphere of influence – they look at their accounts based on social proximity strength, mapping the territory of the existing customers they have and identifying where relationships in their existing customer base can aid in creating opportunities in accounts they haven’t won yet.
You should also plot the asymmetrical competitive advantages your customers have. This means looking at where you have relationship disadvantages compared to your competitors – perhaps they have strong relationships, or have worked with people in those companies you want to target in the past. Mapping this out can help you deprioritize those accounts.
3. Create an engagement plan. How will you conduct research that will push customers off their status quo, and help them think boldly and differently? You’re applying triggers, referrals, insights, and competitive market intelligence to think through your plan. You then storyboard a group of sales plays that you’ll execute against those accounts, telling them definitive stories that they’ve potentially never heard before.
4. Engagement mechanics or strategy. After you create your engagement plan, you need to consider what tools and processes you’re going to use to engage customers, and how to identify propensity to buy once you start engaging people. This is where we love to use videos, and LinkedIn points drive.
At this stage, as a modern, digital sales leader, you need to think through your entire activation cycle, and ask yourself the following questions:
• How many sales plays will you run?
• How long will you run the sales plays before you replace this account? Will that be 30 days, 90 days?
• What is the cadence and sequence between these sales plays where you can start to fail fast in these accounts, qualifying in and out of accounts quickly so you don’t waste your time?
• How many touch points will be inside each sales play?
Eventually you’ll activate an account, and create an opportunity. This is where the other core sales methodologies kick in, to help you think through your qualification process, your sales presentations, your proposals and negotiations, and pricing strategy—and ultimately winning the account and implementing and customer success.