How to generate sales leads? If you are a sales rep this question might be keeping you awake every night.
I recently saw Jeff Bezos’ interview. He is the Chairman and founder of Amazon.com and he mentioned an important point in his speech.
He said :
“I have always been asked, What will change in the world in the next 10 years? But, I have never been asked what will not change in the next 10 years. I believe that the second question is far more important than the first one.”
He said ” We run a large B2C sales business ( i.e Amazon.com). In our business what’s not going to change is customers wanting low prices, more selection and faster deliveries.”
This got me thinking!
What if we apply this principle to B2B sales and list down what will never change in our business?
B2B sales follow the 80/20 Pareto principle, which means 80 % of your revenue will come from 20 % of clients.
Organisations are becoming laser focussed on consolidating their customer base. They are assigning a limited set of large accounts to each of their sales reps. They want them to keep these customers engaged. Organizations want sales reps to create value and build deep relationships with these customers.
Sales research shows it is six to seven times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. By keeping customers engaged and happy, organizations can consistently generate 80% revenue from the customers.
As a sales rep, two questions keep me awake at night. How do I create significant value for this 20% of customers? How do I make them always prefer me over my competition for all their purchases?
In this blog, I have made an attempt to give structure to your business development activity. Which can help you to generate a sales pipeline for the coming quarters.
I have spent 15 + years in B2B sales. I have experience selling complex IT solutions to large organisations. And in doing so I have come up with the Knowledge, Innovation, Solution Framework, aka KIS for business development activities. This framework is inspired by Jeff Bezos’ theory of what won’t change in the next 10 years.
For this, I asked myself a question. What won’t change for B2B customers for the next 10 years?
I narrowed it down to three things: 1. Knowledge 2. Innovation 3. Support
Let’s look at it separately.
Pre-internet days Salespeople were the sole custodian of product knowledge. We lived in an information asymmetry era that valued salespeople a lot. They were important because of the knowledge they carried about the product and the solution they sold.
But the internet has changed the world and our customers’ behaviour. Today’s customer doesn’t need to depend on Salespeople for product knowledge. There are other online avenues where they can get to learn about the product and services.
But, in both eras, customers would still want to gain knowledge on the products and services you have to offer. So, one thing which will never change is customers’ want of knowledge of the product or services they have to buy.
Customer enablement is a key business development strategy for many organisations.
A customer who has learned from you becomes your student, advocate and a happy client. A happy customer sells for you in his organisation when you are not selling.
Organisations like Microsoft, Cisco, Salesforce are the best in creating customer/ student communities. These customers become strong advocates of their products in whichever organisation they work for.
Imparting knowledge to customers need not only be through formal training. It could be also done by creating rich online content libraries. The customers can use these for educating themselves at their convenience. Quickbooks has done this very well. They constantly educate you on how to use their application through short high-quality videos on their YouTube channel.
Organisations try to create content and avenues to impart knowledge to customers. Yet, they lack a structured approach to measure the effectiveness of these programs. As a B2B sales rep, managing a few strategic accounts, you should take your customer enablement seriously. You need to build a cadence around it, at least for accounts that have the probability of contributing to 80 % of the sales quota.
Below are different Formats to impart knowledge to customers
1. Marketing Events: Webinars/Offline Events
Post-COVID, Webinars are completely taking over the online world. Yet sometimes the content doesn’t deliver much value to customers. Sometimes these webinars exist for the sake of it. But, there is a great opportunity if the sales teams assist the marketing team to structure these events. The sales team understand the customers’ challenges better than the marketing team. And so the sales team can help the marketing team brainstorm better ideas. They are capable of suggesting topics that add a lot of value to customers who attend these events. If you succeed in creating quality content for your clients, you encourage the clients to keep returning to you. Returning customers are the best source to generate sales leads.
2.Hands-on/ Demo Session:
Product demos are one of the biggest engaging tools for a prospective client. It helps to build credibility and stands out from the competition.
If you can give customers the opportunity to visualize the benefits of the solution you offer through Demo sessions it becomes a great way of influencing your prospective customers.
Free Assessments are the smartest way of qualifying customers. Try to devise an assessment that helps customers identify gaps in their current environment that you can fill through your product or service. This is the easiest way to get your customers hooked and generate more sales leads.
4.Training / Certification :
Customers who understand how to use the product use it more often. Customer training teaches users how to make the best use of the product. Your customers are more likely to buy more through upgrades if they are aware of the full benefits of using the product.
If your customer is having a difficult experience with your product or your support they won’t tend to stay loyal to you.
With good customer training, customers will see the value of the product. The support they receive can impress them. In such a way the customers become more likely to recommend the product to others. These personal recommendations are likely to lead to new customers.
Providing smart and effective customer training will keep your customers happy. Happy customers increase subscription renewals, referrals, and upgrades which in turn help you in generating more sales leads.
5. Product roadmap sessions
Product roadmaps are a powerful way for salespeople to build a future funnel. They show your customer the direction in which your business is going ahead and what value it brings in for them.
When the customers understand the product roadmap of the products they are using they will know how to accommodate you in their future expansion plans. Giving your clients a clear picture regarding your plans for the future convinces them of your value. This also helps you attract more customers and build on your sales leads.
As a salesperson, we are agents of change. We sell products and services to our customers that help them in their innovations and affects their bottom line.
Seasoned salespeople are those who earn the seat of “Trusted Advisor” at a customer’s place. They are the ones whom the customer considers part of their extended team. We earn that seat only if we can innovate for customers.
Let me give you a world-class example of this
If you ever walk into a McDonald’s outlet near you, you’ll only ever find drinks from the Coca Cola family of brands. Be it Sprite, Fanta, Minute Maid or Coke itself. There’s nothing else you can get besides plain old water.
The relationship between McDonald’s and Coke is where both have helped each other. They have created a solid sales lead generation pipeline for each other. This relationship was not built in thin air. It started when one Coke sales executive met Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s way back in 1955. He gave him insight into how both organisations can benefit by offering a meal to their customers rather than selling it separately.
Since then Mc Donalds’, the world’s largest fast-food chain has only sold Coke beverages.
Coke has helped McDonald’s create new menu items with its own innovative ideas. In return, McDonald’s is Coke’s largest restaurant customer in the world.
Try asking any senior Coke executive ‘what are your largest markets?’ They would reply “The United States, Japan and McDonalds”.
Sales teams at coke have enjoyed a trusted advisor status with McDonald’s for over a half-century now. This has resulted in a mutually beneficial situation for both of them
That’s how strategic McDonalds is for Coke.
Organisations buy products for two reasons either to make money or save money. So customers’ need for getting an idea that will help them innovate and find different ways to make or save money will never change. How much ever science advances it’s unlikely that machines will do this for customers.
The support that you may offer your customers often comes in the form of after-sales service.
We tend to think that a salesperson has finished his work when he closes a deal. But, for a strategic account manager for large deals, this is where his work begins for a future sales funnel.
Organisations bucket accounts into strategic and non-strategic categories based on their buying potential. When a sales rep is managing a strategic account that means the account has the potential to deliver consistent large business.
As a sales rep ensure that your strategic account is enjoying good support. This will help you reduce your sales efforts for future business.
Good support could come in various forms. It could be:
1) Providing faster resolution to customers’ support issues.
2) Providing more resources to help customers with their support issues.
3) Conducting a regular support cadence.
4) Presenting a usage and product performance report to your customers.
Hernan Charry, director of marketing at Split One Technologies, says that their customer service is the reason almost half of their revenue comes from repeat clients.
When starting with a new customer, the project is broken down into two stages. They consist of goals for both the internal team (deliverables) and the customer’s experience (leads and revenue generated from the website) attached to each stage.
The Split One team does their best to make sure that their customer’s experience is excellent during the first stage. They also ensure that they are meeting their goals by working together, and between stages of the project. Hernan often calls the client to check in on how their business is doing. The high-touch service leads to a large number of repeat customers. These repeat customers then bring in new clients through referrals.
Another great service provider is SaneBox. It is an Email management software that effectively filters out the most relevant emails for you from your inbox. This way you do not waste hours reading and fishing through your emails. It removes the unimportant emails from your inbox. You do not have to go through the hassle of putting them in designated folders manually. The Sane box is thus known for saving you a lot of time and energy.
At the end of the week, they send me an automated summary of how much time I saved by not browsing through unnecessary emails. This is the best part of their service for me.
There is a possibility that you are aware of most of these techniques. But, salespeople often don’t organise these principles in a structured way for clients. They don’t track and measure the effectiveness of these initiatives in a structured manner.
That’s why I have created this template for you that you can use to track the effectiveness of these metrics.
So keep KISing, keep working on building your sales leads and keep selling. And follow us for more sales related articles.
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