Want to know learn how top sales professionals are using data to strengthen their businesses?
Mark Hunter, CEO of The Sales Hunter, helps companies (and their salespeople) close more sales without discounting prices. He says, "We do this by showing salespeople how to prospect more effectively to attract the customers who are most likely to see the value they provide."
ReachForce recently spoke with Mark about the use of data in sales.
When you offer workshops, how do you talk about data as it relates to the sales process? Can understanding data better prepare the salesperson?
Salespeople discount the value of data far too quickly. It's the data that can tell us whether or not a prospect is really a prospect or merely a suspect. When we use data properly, we're able to focus our time better. I'm a firm believer that sales success comes when we spend more time with fewer prospects.
A key part of effective prospecting is being able to qualify the prospect quickly. There is nothing worse than spending valuable time with a prospect only to find out at the end they're not a valid prospect.
What information should be collected during the prospecting process to make sure your prospect is valid?
Four questions need to be answered as early in the prospecting process as possible.
1. Is the prospect the decision maker?
2. What are two critical needs the prospect has that you can help them with?
3. What is their timeline for making a decision?
4. What is their value of money?
Traditionally, salespeople have felt they are the only ones that can answer these questions; yet there are very good interactive systems available to marketing and sales that, when used properly, can help get the salesperson the answers to these questions - so they can determine if the prospect is even worth spending time on.
Consider the sales teams you've encountered. How have you seen them utilize marketing automation?
Marketing automation has become accepted because it can work, and salespeople have finally learned how to become part of the process. Early on, my feeling was that salespeople were not as involved in the process because they simply didn't want to accept change. However, the process wound up being driven by other departments - including marketing. The lack of sales involvement early on created systems that looked great on paper, but when put into the real world failed to deliver.
I like to use the evolution of CRM systems as an example everyone can relate to. First-generation CRM systems were designed by IT teams and finance departments with little input from salespeople. No wonder there was so much money wasted early on with CRM systems. Today, sales is just as likely to own the process as any other department; and in turn, the value of a good CRM system is now priceless.
What kind of automation techniques are you using?
For our company, we rely almost exclusively on the internet as a platform for us to distribute information across numerous media platforms. Using information as the base, we are then able to create engagement with people with whom we can begin to see whether they would be a viable prospect. We use different media platforms and different levels of information, which allows us to access different audiences. The more we segment, the more impactful our messages become, which in turn creates more leads. To do all of this, we rely on automation to not only distribute information, but also to distribute it at optimum times of the day, week, and month.
Our use of these systems over the years has allowed us to see annual patterns that our typical prospects tend to follow. Knowing this type of information allows us to tailor (even more) how we distribute and what we distribute.
What lessons did you learn while collecting this information, and could you use them to share any tips with our readers as it pertains to data driven marketing?
This is the biggest lesson: don't get locked into one model thinking that you won't need to change it. We are always testing. The challenge is to be able to test in a way that you can measure results effectively and then be able to do something with what you've learned. To do all of this properly requires us to pay attention to what is happening outside of our competitive set. By monitoring what is happening in other industries, we are often able to gain the first advantage in our own industry.