A lot is changing in the sales landscape, and we're not talking about Artificial Intelligence. Toyota is moving away from commission sales towards more consultative selling, and customers are more knowledgeable than ever before about products before they even chat to a sales person.
Rather than lament at these changes, the reality is that a new era is approaching for the sales people that are willing to pivot and take advantage of these changes.
The changes are being driven by the consumer. There's more information within easy reach of the modern consumer then there has ever been. From reviews, to guides and videos, you can type any question into Google and find a raft of answers ready and waiting.
And if you feel that this may only apply to couples looking to buy a fridge, or someone reading up on a new iPhone, remember this: 77% of B2B purchasers prefer to do their own research before ever speaking to a salesperson.
Here are some of the key areas of sales that have changed.
Finding prospects isn't just about sponsoring the local golf course or buying a list. Businesses understand that long-term relationships with their clients works for both parties. This means sales people need to find a great fit client, and understand that cold, meaningless outreach is dead.
Please note it's the 'meaningless' part that is dead. You can absolutely contact someone cold, but good prospects are numb to having their ear chewed off with a 3 minute sales pitch with no breaks.
For good lead generation, consider the following:
- Identify someone that has genuine need for your solution.
- Find a natural connection to leverage.
- Add value to a cold call by being personal.
- Understand their business and challenges.
- Be honest if you can't assist in helping them.
- Feel free to make recommendations.
Lead generation for sales doesn't need to be a chore. We've found that it can be fun when both the prospect and the salesperson are getting value from the process.
Consultants not salespeople
96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders. This is great news for the sales person rich with experience and insights that add value.
When someone reaches out to you for advice, it's a good thing to point them to a blog you've written that answers that question. Or you may have a guide that helps a prospect identify their problem. Pointing people to these resources isn't a way to palm them off, but instead shows that you're genuinely interested in helping them and their business by showcasing that you have the knowledge to help.
Rather than sell, find a solution. Some of the best sales people we've ever come across have not been salespeople, they've been problem fixers.
In a lead generation context this means being open and curious in the first couple of calls or meetings. Doing so helps you find out if they have a need for your solution and whether you're a good fit for them.
If you sell a product that everyone wants then your job is slightly easier.
Remember that in an age where digital is taking over, many people value personal relationships - even in a working environment.
Seeing a contact on LinkedIn that's doing something interesting does warrant a like or comment. This doesn't mean making it incredibly sales focused, but means taking an interest in their business.
If you see a synergy between your business and theirs then work on aligning the two. But make sure you're adding value.
Tips and tricks for sales lead generation
- Set-up Google Alerts for news that relates to your industry, or a problem your solution fixes.
- Analyse a prospect's activity online and use some recent news to create a natural introduction.
- Look on LinkedIn for common connections, and ask about them in your initial outreach.
- Tailor your sales outreach by referencing a specific web page or guide they downloaded. Ask for their feedback or why they were looking into that particular guide or article.
- Identify a bad fit prospect so you can quickly disregard them when flags appear and focus on good leads.
- Don't be afraid to ask existing customers for recommendations on people to talk to. Be warned, if you're a real asset they may keep you as their secret!
If you're looking to generate leads you could go hunting for them, and all of the above are good ways to get started. The other avenue is to improve the effectiveness of your website and social media assets in generating leads.
Lets say you need 500 leads a year for your average conversion rate to pull in enough business to hit targets. Let's also say that each closed lead is worth $1,000 (to keep things simple). This means in an average year you'll close $500,000 from 500 leads.
Your website could generate 500 leads for you with 50,000 visitors at a website conversion rate of 1%.
However, if your website still attracted the same amount (50,000) but got 0.5% better at converting leads, then you'd have 750 leads to convert. If we keep your current close rate this means $750,000 in sales, which is a massive 50% increase in revenue from a 0.5% increase in website conversions.
This is where a lead generation agency can come in. Rather than focusing on giving you leads that generally don't close, they look at using marketing to optimise you sales funnel. An alignment between sales and marketing is essential to effective lead generation.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Learn more tips and tricks for effective lead generation in our free guide here.