We all know that life never pans out exactly as we had planned it. When we set out on a journey, we have one idea of how we will get there, the things we need to accomplish to stay on course, and the tools needed to pull it all together.
Rigid planning can turn out to be a fool’s errand, however. If you are not allowing yourself to be open to circumstances that arise, to new ideas that pop up along the way, that could spell the difference between success or failure in any endeavor.
That’s because life simply doesn’t happen according to the books, or in straight lines. Just below the cold data and exacting plans there is nuance and subtlety. You must be open to these intangibles in order to pick up the signals.
In our hyper-connected era where even average lay men and women have access to warp speed communication tools, and terabytes of information at their fingertips, those looking to sell services and products can find themselves overwhelmed with trying to figure out what makes potential customers tick.
A good example of this dynamic happens daily in the B2B world of tech buying. In the last few years many technology companies have switched their sales and marketing from traditional “spray and pray” type campaigns to Account Based Marketing(ABM) operations.
At its core ABM relies on an approach that tailor’s content and messaging to directly target specific customers and prospects. Using ABM allows marketing and sales teams to spend their precious time focusing like a laser on a few potential high value clients rather than endless lists of potential buyers who may or may not be interested.
Although ABM can be expensive to implement, and can take longer to generate results, it has proven more and more popular as a strategy to increase sales because, well, it works. According to Forrester, 91% of marketers that use ABM have indicated a larger deal size, with 25% reporting their deal size being over 50% larger.
And according to McKinsey, more than half of the firms in a recent industry survey said that ABM spend was already 25 percent of their overall marketing budget, and they were planning on increasing it by more than 10 percent annually.
One of the quickest and most popular ways to scale up an ABM program inside a company is to use proprietary software solutions that employ Artificial Intelligence(AI) to help sellers identify companies showing strong interest in the products and services they have to offer. These tools monitor target accounts, provide data that help to understand how that company is set up, assess what in a target campaign is working and what’s not, identify where more involvement is needed from the marketing team, and even predict the chances of success with that particular company.
But is all this data enough to provide a truly tailored message that will get the right people to say yes?
According to Emissary, which provides insider consultants to enterprise sales and marketing teams, reams of data about a particular company will certainly set you out on the right path to the sale, but they may not be enough to help you reach your destination which is the close. The company recently conducted a survey of tech buyers who had purchases of $250,000 or more, and found that for sellers to be successful it wasn’t enough to simply understand a company’s organizational structure. Sellers were expected to understand how to work within that structure.
The survey reported that “66% of buyers said a seller’s ability to work within client culture helped drive the ‘yes’. It creates an opportunity to demonstrate cultural fit, to foreshadow what a relationship can look like.”
In other words, buyers now aren’t just looking to buy a product. They are looking to establish meaningful relationships that they can take into the future together.
One of the main reasons for this is because buyers are simply overwhelmed with information and the need, brought on by the pandemic, to quickly add or upscale current technology within a company. Automation in marketing and communications means it’s possible to send thousands of emails with the click of the mouse. Benchmarking data shows sales emails in the software/IT space increased 119 percent versus January of 2020. Marketing emails from the ever-growing ranks of software vendors were up 25 percent over the same period.
Now more than ever, sales and marketing teams need not only to stick to the hard cold data, they also need to pay attention to the often-overlooked psychological factors. This means identifying the emotional reasons why companies need to upscale. The result can turn an ordinary pitch into one that adds value to your product and may very well win you the sale.
“The job of a seller is to diagnose client needs and position their solution as closely as possible to those needs,” said Former Emissary CEO, David Hammer. “But the X factor that causes a buyer to pick one provider over another (usually offering a very similar product) is often the value that surrounds the product. Sellers who win are those who get to that level of understanding early enough in the sales cycle that it impacts entry points, messaging, proposals, and other actions. Before they even start selling, they know the white space in an account, the unsolved problems that are preventing the organization from achieving those business goals.
“No morsel of insight is too small, and if you assemble all the pieces correctly, you’ll have a much more compelling case on your hands when it comes time to engage your accounts.”