Prospecting is broken. The cold calls and phone books are gone forever. Sales teams — both inside and out in the field — are increasingly challenged with new interactions and touchpoints far beyond anything we’ve seen before.
But that doesn’t mean prospecting is doomed. In fact, the new approaches hold great promise, even with some challenges along the way. Here we’ll take a look at how to harness the discovery and connect with new customers in an increasingly digital and fragmented buyer’s world.
Today, there is a flood of information for reps to use for prospecting — from marketing to social media. But that same number of digital interactions before a sales conversation has led to even more confusion and time spent to get connected.
With this velocity of data hitting sales reps, we are losing one of the most successful aspects of the old cold calling days. It’s important to figure out how to both manage and take advantage of the personalized content available at our fingertips, all with the speed required to move through leads. And it will be all about the balance between connection and context, because buyers not only want that personal experience, they also expect it.
At Box, we found that about 30% of prospectors’ time was spent pulling all of the data together and writing a dissertation of sorts on the conversation they were going to have with potential customers. We needed to figure out how to make this whole process faster, so we compressed the time needed to make that conversation happen. At the core, it’s all about the operations.
As much as we may know about a potential customer, the flip side is also true: Customers may know as much about an individual sales rep as they do about a company or product. The information flows both ways. One simple Google or social media search gives the buyer all sorts of insights about you, the sales rep.
I always encourage our sales reps to build a network as well as their own persona. The need to take advantage of networking extends throughout the organization. Often our marketing department asks us to reach out or publicize content to expand the network. And we ask new hires to connect with all of the company’s executives. It’s everyone’s job to build this intricate network because the social side of prospecting and selling is a bigger part of the selling cycle than ever before.
The natural interaction with Millennials is texting versus picking up the phone. The latter is just odd and not natural to them. Having a son in college, we always call. We need to hear his voice and understand how he’s feeling. Texts or emails just don’t cut it. The same is true in a sales transaction.
It’s always good to think about the next stage of your prospecting — and when you finally can send a proposal. One thing to keep in mind? Never send a proposal over email. The minute you send it, your potential customers will start thinking of their own responses.
You have to hear what’s going on on the other side of the phone and the intonation in the voice. It’s still a hugely valuable medium outside of the direct face-to-face interaction. While the cold call may be gone, the phone call in a relationship today — whether prospecting or proposing — is still very important.
“As much as we may know about a potential customer, the flip side is also true: Customers may know as much about an individual sales rep as they do about a company or product.”