In Search of the Perfect Sales Stack
There has never been a better time to work in sales. An abundance of technology is empowering our sales teams at every turn. But, with so much technology available, it can be difficult to figure out how it all fits together and what you really need to optimize your stack. So, let’s start with the basics.
When we talk about the sales stack, we should begin with the cornerstone. Data is the foundation of any strong and efficient stack, and with increasing volume and frequency, data sources have never been more plentiful. Without it, all the tools in the world won’t help you. Your data enables you to show a prospect that you did your homework and that not only do you care and know what you can do for him or her, but that you also understand exactly what he or she needs from you. Data empowers you with what we like to call the three Ps:
- Provides intelligence about true prospects – don’t let your sales reps waste time on people who will never be buyers; we need effective tools and the correct information to get to the right folks at the right time
- Prioritizes the follow-up activities – we want to make sure we’re spending time on the prospects with the highest probability of becoming our customers in the shortest period of time
- Presents prospect’s interest – your reps need to have enough of the correct information at their fingertips to carry on relevant, authentic and engaging conversations
The Right Data
Any sales intelligence platform worth its salt will have three critical components to support the three Ps above. Here’s what to look for in your sales and intelligence provider:
- Signal-based data: Static data is something people still buy (lists), which leads to great inefficiency. You not only waste one cycle, but all the follow-up cycles, putting you further away from your goals. If your provider is merely bringing you finite and dated lists, it’s time to get with the times and move on to signal-based data.
- Real-time updates: You need to know as soon as something changes. If you care about who’s using what technology and want to know someone added a free trial of your competitor’s technology, for example, then to be part of that sales cycle, you’ll need to know as soon as it happens. That’s why real-time data is critical.
- Highly and easily accessible: You want your real-time, signal-based data to reside exactly where your reps live and breathe. Whatever platform you use should easily integrate or work alongside this data seamlessly. If your reps have to look through too many sources, they might not bother or perhaps they’ll find the critical nugget they needed after it’s too late and the deal is dead. You want them to be able to look within their everyday environments and applications. To ensure your data is maximized, make it available in any CRM you’re using or through a browser that’s easily accessed alongside your other tools.
All of this creates an ideal scenario. Imagine your sales development rep (SDR) getting an inbound lead with targeted data through your marketing automation or CRM, which then scores, routes and prioritizes that lead effectively. That rep will now have targeted messaging to create instant rapport and credibility with the person he or she is trying to engage – speaking of whom, let’s talk a little bit about how tools and data can help ensure your reps are actually reaching the correct people to begin with.
Predictive scoring uses statistics, machine learning, data mining and modeling to analyze current and historical facts to predict events. At the very least this will lead to accurate lead scoring, better targeting and prioritizing to fill your funnel with prospects that you’re not already talking to. Furthermore, you’ll know how to avoid the prospects that are similar in nature to the deals you typically lose. In other words, you’re maximizing your efficiency by helping your reps avoid the wrong people and find the right ones.
Sirius Decisions reports some interesting findings about predictive scoring that should help you conclude that your sales cycle absolutely needs to include it if it doesn’t already:
- 90 percent of users agree that predictive lead scoring provides more value than traditional (map and point-based attribute and activity) lead scoring approaches.
- 98 percent of respondents say they would purchases predictive lead scoring again.
- 88 percent of respondents agree that they are receiving value from their predictive lead scoring platforms.
In short, the vast majority of those who are using predictive lead scoring are reporting overwhelmingly positive results that lead to higher conversion rates and revenues. But, not all providers are created equal. So, what should you look for?
You need a platform that analyzes all of your data, including buying signals, average customer value to close deals, etc., to identify best opportunities. The best providers also afford a high level of company optimization rather than a simple cookie-cutter solution. When it comes to predictive scoring, cookie cutter just doesn’t cut it. You need a platform that matches your unique space, while also fully integrating with your CRM; these systems need to be paired up, tied in and talking to each other fluently.
Engagement Tools Are Also Important
Once you gather all that good data, you need to ensure you’re being personable and connecting with the prospects and customers you have identified. We’re all being constantly bombarded with data and sales pitches across so many channels every day that we need to find a way to rise above that noise through personalization without being overbearing. Your outreach needs to look as though it were written especially for your target. Be sure any engagement tools your SDRs use are fostering authentic conversations.
Here are some of the important considerations to keep in mind when it comes to your most critical engagement tools to help foster the kinds of conversations that close deals and increase sales revenues:
- Automation: Although personalization sounds like a highly manual process, good technology informs us it doesn’t have to be. Automation can easily replicate personalization and also goes a long way to ensuring you never let a good lead slip through the cracks. It enables you to effectively manage your team and sales processes without micromanaging. For example, if you have a rule of 8 touches before moving on, automation technology can help ensure those touches are effective, while avoiding redundant outreach. The last thing you want to do is turn off a warm lead by overdoing it. Automation also enables effective multi-variant testing and tracking to determine which campaigns work and which should be adjusted or discontinued.
- Outbound Email Messaging: Email is still a critical marketing tactic and cannot be neglected if you’re running adata-driven sales campaign, despite the misguided notion of some that it’s a dated channel. By using the right data-enabled tools, you can effectively put your outbound email messaging on steroids without overwhelming your prospects. There are a multitude of tools that instantly improve messaging, and thanks to updated platforms and artificial intelligence, once you’ve evaluated your click rates and tests, SDRs can use technology to easily ensure cadence and consistency, while basing content and tone according to the tastes and needs of individual recipients. You want to make sure this is all layered over existing systems (e.g., Gmail, LinkedIn, Salesforce) and that you can segment your prospect lists by personas and use cases.
- Social Prospecting: Introduce social prospecting via the big three: LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, but tread carefully to avoid social media backlash. Mine those nuggets of information to personalize and humanize your approach. Remember these are people you’re sending those messages to, and social media is a perfect platform to humanize your interactions with customers and prospects alike. And remember, data analytics are key to finding the right leads with which to engage on social platforms.
- Dialing for Dollars: Prescriptive dialers serve up the right leads at the right time and automatically transcribe those calls. This means you can analyze each call based on objections, outcome, tone, filler words, length of call, etc. Managers can use all this to coach their sales people much more effectively than ever before. Scripts aren’t always necessary when you have the right technology and people, but the right data can certainly enable strong messaging outlines and other touchstones for effective calls, including training, testing and role-playing to ensure each sales rep is well equipped to jump on the phone as needed.
- New Tools and Channels: While telephone and email remain at the center of the sales stack, expect more sales and marketing professionals to turn to other channels to augment outreach. Video and messaging are being used with increasing frequency in the b2b landscape as marketers step up their digital and social experimenting.
While desktop unification took sales operations to new heights over the past few years, multichannel orchestration will improve those efficiencies exponentially. Whereas unification merged email and call management, orchestration will take this concept a step further by not only tracking and planning communications across channels over time, but also by providing valuable insights into processes and trends, thereby maximizing time and priority management.
Using Technology to Solve the Sales Stack
Remember, the purpose of all this data and technology is to ensure your own relevance. All of these tools will enable you to easily develop templates for your targeted messaging that will connect and engage with the right people. Once you find what works for you and your team, it’s time to double down and make it sing. With the right data, approach and technology,there’s no reason 2016 can’t be remembered as the year you solved your company’s sales stack, crushing your quotas and hitting your sales revenues out of the park!
Contributed by: Ilya Semin, CEO and founder of Datanyze. Back in 2012, Ilya created the prototype for a technology tracking tool to help his sales friends better prepare themselves before making cold calls. A few years and many iterations later, Ilya’s prototype evolved into Datanyze, the preferred sales intelligence platform for hundreds of high-powered sales teams. Ilya earned his Masters in Computer Science in Russia and received his MBA from Babson College.
Sign up for the free insideBIGDATA newsletter.