Making Prospecting Smarter
Finding the right prospects is one of the most important steps in fuelling an effective sales strategy, and that starts with lead generation. For a compelling sales pitch, the ideal lead has to be defined: what makes for an interested sales prospect? Where are they based? How much do we need to know about them?
Once answered, all of these come together to give an outline of your ideal customer. Making sure you’re speaking to the right person is paramount for any salesperson:
- You need to manage your time effectively
- You require the most relevant information possible to make a valuable sales pitch
- Focussing your interest on the decision maker and key influencers cuts down the approval process
When it comes to leads, you need to make sure you’re dealing with the right person.
But in B2B, finding the right people is only half the battle: you need to identify what business hat they’re fashioning as well as the person sporting it. And arguably, how do you determine the true value of your product or services without first understanding their underlying business needs? You’re potentially saving precious time, resources and people by finessing your buyer personas, but without a company-first approach it could all be for nothing.
Smarter prospecting starts with account based selling. So, what is it and how can it help you identify, win and grow your accounts?
Account based selling techniques target key accounts that fit your ideal customer profile and identify all decision makers and key influencers within it. Simply put, you’re treating them as a market of one rather than taking a one-size-fits all approach. And while pitch personalisation should be considerate of the people you’re talking to, you’re going head-first into identifying the businesses that matter most.
When hunting in B2B sales, the business is always the first port of call when it comes to qualification. Even when you’re getting an inbound lead, making sure you equip your sales team with the right knowledge creates an impactful first impression.
Why take an account based sales approach?
Does your sales strategy include tactics to hunt down companies in a particular market? Whether you take a vertical approach, seek companies in certain geographies, or look for companies of a certain size (SME, mid market, enterprise teams), an account based approach is for you. Creating the most comprehensive buyer persona won’t cut it if you don’t have a way of targeting those highly convertible businesses in an effective account-based way.
What you’re likely doing in B2B is solving a company-level problem for that tailored market. Individual problems still need addressing, sure, but often individual problems arise from solutions needed at the top – see them as filtered down company challenges. If an individual isn’t being effective, it’s likely that they don’t have the tools available, and that’s on the company to create better efficiency within their team – it could be changing the team structure, giving more employee training, or investing in a product or service like yours.
You’ll also benefit from fewer barriers to entry when approaching prospects – you’re not wasting your time trying to find the right contact details of a specific individual, you’re using your time purposefully to call up companies and let the gatekeepers point you in the right direction of the decision makers. In equal measure, you can learn a lot from the wrong contact – collecting information on who the right person is, how to contact them, and gaining insight into what their behaviour is.
So we don’t need to tell you this but: account based sales is more time efficient than going head-first into contact data.
When is a contact-based approach a better fit for sales strategy?
It’s somewhat rare to find that an individual problem creates a wider company challenge, but it does happen. Take a department of one – where the decision maker is the only key influencer – for example: if the solution is very niche then you need to refine your pitch to that one individual. But this only works best if every contact with that title has a very specific problem that runs true for all verticals and businesses, like if the solution is resolving the Head of Payroll’s challenges.
Likewise, if the solution is broad like targeting employees for benefits then it may be wise to take a contact-based approach instead.
Why does contact based approach fall down?
Fundamentally: it’s rare that you only need to sell to one person. Of course, we’re not talking about one-man-bands, but even a team under 10 people has several perspectives of the challenges their company faces.
Pitching to one person costs your sales team valued time and resources, for what will evidently have a low conversion rate. This is often the case because of a few very important factors:
- Contact data churns at a much higher rate than company data – even well-resourced and dedicated teams struggle to keep up with the complex nuances of contact data. It’s either out of date by the time you acquire it, or it’s redundant by the time you come to use it.
- Companies are full of opinions and not every member embodies the underlying challenges their company faces. Tailoring your message to one individual is a crucial mistake to make – you’re putting your faith in that one person to represent every hurdle the company has to jump. At the very least, it’s a buying group, not a person.
- You need to use the power of business context to make your sales pitch compelling – using a generic message for all discovery calls results in fewer hooks for a lead to latch onto. Bonding over your love for animals won’t get you anywhere unfortunately, we’re talking about real challenges the business needs to overcome to provide relief for those individuals.
- Contact-first research is time consuming – chasing contacts to find that they later doesn’t fit the customer profile creates inefficiencies in your sales process. You don’t want a salesperson to fixate on one person that led to them wasting their time.
- There are more barriers to entry in finding the right people. Why? Because in order to build a relationship with an individual, you need to know how to contact them, and it’s tricky building accurate insight with…
- Inaccurate contact data could send you on a wild goose chase that doesn’t result in conversion as your salesperson has spent too much time finding the right person, only to find that they no longer fit your persona.
What’s more, targeting the right people is time consuming. The issue is, if the time’s not used effectively, you’re not likely to even find the right people in the first place, making your efforts completely redundant. And it’s hard to know when you’ve hit the jackpot and found the right people
The customer acquisition process is one of the most frustrating and time-consuming steps in the sales cycle, so it’s important to get it right. While you need to identify and approach a prospect to make a sale, the business they sit within can offer you a wealth of opportunity in determining that initial intent, their propensity to buy, and what their challenges are likely to be.
Striving to find potential clients in the right places is the key to building a good contact list. Develop a clear lead qualification process that allows you to identify low-quality leads early on so you can eliminate those distractions and focus on the right kind of interest.
Ultimately, a perfect sales strategy will identify the right people, but only once the right company’s been sourced. What keeps you up at night? It’s probably not whether you’re targeting the right people or not. Thinking strategically starts with identifying the right companies you’re going after, because after all, building a strong understanding of company challenges will only strengthen your sales pitch.
At Zint, we believe that intent data starts from company insight. We’re founded on delivering you the right insight you need as a sales team, because we were built by sales leaders wanting to solve that very problem. Company insight leads to stronger relationships, eliminating the need to rely solely on contact data. We narrow down on contacts to ensure you’re approaching the right people, accurately.