Cold Calling Is History. Relationships Are The Future

Cold Calling, Cold Emailing, Cold Messaging
Are all selling tactics consigned to the pages of history?

We have all moved on. Become savvier as buyers. We research in our own time, at our own pace, gathering more impartial information than was ever possible in the days of a product demonstration from a salesperson. If buyers can glean all of the information on your product, and bear in mind, most vendors “products” and solutions will do the same. Then what do they then crave next?

It’s a relationship and one built on trust.

How do you get there, when there are some many trying to do the same thing?

Get personal, Create experiences.
Buyers, B2B or B2C, want to be treated as individuals, want the selling organisation to address them in a personalised way. Not the “whatever the question, the answer is my product”. Being personal means understanding their unique situation, empathising with their challenges, not sending the generic outreach (paid) content that reads like spam. Consider the Apple or Nespresso stores in the B2C space. They have created an experience. In the corporate world, a similar experience can be achieved.

Buyers can read all the corporate content they want, but what they want to see, hear and read is from advocates of the company, the brand, the experience, from all departments, not just the sales team. Salespeople do have a significant role to play too, by sharing stories on how they have solved challenges for clients. Through personally written blogs or articles make your organisation personal, genuine, honest and trustworthy.

It is a challenge to aggregate efforts across an organisation to achieve this. It’s a process that takes time, a change of mindset, but one we have seen pays off handsomely.

Modern Selling: Trust Inside and Out

Employee trust in their organisation is affected by their leadership and is critical to maximise employee motivation, engagement and to align employees with company goals and objectives.

Research tells us that only 51 percent of employees trust their senior management, and only 28 percent believe CEOs are a credible source of information.

Is it really true that many CEOs don’t really believe that internal organisational trust is directly connected to their company’s bottom line and instead believe that trust is merely a “social virtue?”

Secondly, trust extends outside the organisation too. We have also seen research that asked hundreds of technology buyers who evaluated a SaaS software product why then didn’t end up buying it. Executives cited that the #1 reason they didn’t buy was a lack of trust and respect for the salesperson they were working with.

Without internal trust within an organisation surely you are encouraging a ‘just turn up and do minimum’ mentality?

‘Employee engagement’ being hard wired to ‘Customer loyalty/experience’ is becoming the topic of the day. With disengaged employees, how can an organisation be deluded to think that this will not affect customer loyalty and ultimately the bottom line? Engaged employees who are motivated and believe in what they do can have an infectious positive impact on customers, leading to customer buy-in and loyalty.

This engagement can be seen externally with the posts, articles, blog and Vlogs engaged employees produce. Not the re-share of the corporate post, but their own enthused opinion on the environment they operate in. This doesn’t have to be the domain of the sales team, all departments can engage on social. They then become advocates for the organisation.

Disengagement occurs when people put in enough effort to avoid getting fired but don’t contribute their talent, creativity, energy or passion. Gallup’s research puts a cost of $250 billion to $300 billion a year on the cost of disengagement and that is the bill just for the American workplace.

So what can the senior leadership do to inject trust into their organisation?

We suggest lead by example and be an advocate of trust instead of an obstacle. See leadership as “getting results in a way that inspires trust” through character, competence and demonstrated behaviour and align organisational systems and structures around trust.

In the words of Campbell Soup CEO Doug Conant, “The first thing for any leader is to inspire trust.”

To develop high-trust relationships with your clients, you must address trust within your organisation first. Allowing employees, the freedom and trust to express themselves on social platforms is a great way to engender greater trust.

Engaged sales people who trust their leadership feel comfortable in a transparent culture where leaders, customers and peers operate in an open environment. This encourages development through coaching which benefits both the customer and the sales person and ultimately the organisation by encouraging customer loyalty and therefore growth.

Why are only 33% of vendors hitting or exceeding channel sales targets?

Research from Investec suggests that only 32 per cent of vendors are hitting or exceeding their channel sales targets. Surprisingly only 52% are frustrated at missing the number. I am not sure why it isn’t 100%, but that’s a different story.

What is going on in the world of the channel to have such a big miss and what suggestions are there to close the gap?

I was the UK channel leader for a vendor, whose business model was indirect, so I can empathise from the perspective of the channel sales teams on how to engage and help grow your partners business. It is one of the most challenging sales jobs, but also one of the most rewarding.

I have now had the opportunity to review other vendors approaches to channel programs and the way they can harness growth across their base. One of the key areas I have seen is flexibility from the vendor to listen to the partners’ advice on how to engage with them.

The vendor is no longer in a position of power, especially with newer more nimbler competitors entering the market. Investec, research suggests their needs to be a cultural shift from the vendor with their partner engagement and channel programmes.

According to the survey, businesses that consider their channel programme to be ‘highly successful’ rake in £50m per year from their top five partners, compared with the £16m hauled in by those who consider their programmes ‘unsuccessful’.

As well as simplifying the partner programme, transparency and mutual support is needed. We have seen accelerated growth from vendors who have adopted the above, but also and this is vital have embraced a more modern sales approach through social selling.

Helping partners move to social should be incorporated into new partner programmes. For example aligning MDF to purchase Sales Navigator licenses, linking social presence to medal status, or helping curate content. Channel Account Managers need to be coached on social selling methodologies so they, in turn, can empower their partners for greater success.

Five things the Buying Committee wants from their Salesperson

The challenge facing business to business salespeople is getting tougher. The buying committee could be up to 14 people in technology sales.

How does a modern salesperson grapple with that level of complexity across a disparate group of individuals with potentially competing agendas?

Social and in particular, Linkedin is a powerful way to make connections across the buying team, and share appropriate content and insight to help inform them on their decision making journey.

In a recent piece of research from the team at Linkedin after interviewing buying committees, combined with my own experience the following provide some insights on modern sales approaches that will help the sales team to prosper going forward.

We have discovered that the buying team craves credible information from trusted sources when they decide to consume it. The speculative brochure through the post probably ends up in the bin. Buyers are researching in their own time, looking for insights beyond the corporate marketing speak.

Trust is a huge component, and lack of it can lose a deal for a salesperson. Laying the foundations, start even before the buyer has recognises they have a problem. Through social posts, a salesperson builds their credibility, demonstrates knowledge and can provide examples of where they have helped their clients, thus repositioning them in the mind of their prospects.

Relevance and responsiveness are essential to help a buying committee decide in your favour. Open, honest and well-timed communication can that can demonstrate that the salesperson is in for the client, and not just their quota can make the difference.

Clients want to work with organisations who are also in it for the long term. Turning up, near the end of the quarter, pitching the latest product because it’s on a special offer, are no-nos. Clients want vendors that think strategically. It may be counter to the forecast cycle within the selling organisation, but acting long term pays off.

Finally, nobody wants a cold call. It is according to this buyer a “desperate act” that demonstrates a lack of confidence.

We call the above modern selling.

A modern sales team knows the answers, they consistently create informative content (on whatever platform) that generates reactions, stimulates conversations, and brings them closer to all the members of the buying team.

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