Every year brings new sales and marketing strategies promising to revolutionize the way organizations engage and do business with one another. But there are a few fundamental practices that haven’t changed despite all these revolutions that may hinder true progress. Over the next few weeks, we will examine some crucial business practices that haven’t evolved with the times. First up: enterprise email.
Think about it: for the last 20+ years, professionals have spent hours filing emails (conversations) into folders, CC’ing colleagues for input, and forwarding when others aren’t included in the first place. Reuters says that the average professional spends 40% of their day in their email inbox, checking, responding, and organizing emails.
For now, email is a necessary evil. It’s the primary – and most practical – way to communicate with external contacts, share documents and files, and with the addition of tools like Google Suite and Office 365, combine calendars, emails, and contacts in a central location for individual professionals.
But therein lies the problem with email — it’s exclusively accessible to the individual user, not to key constituents who would benefit from access to this information, documents, and contacts – it’s knowledge.
The latest push in sales and marketing today, Account-Based Sales and Marketing, relies entirely on information sharing and enterprise-wide alignment. And yet, traditional email is not conducive to this kind of collaboration – it hinders it.
The result is a dependence on CRM and meetings to try to catch everyone up – requiring more administrative work for teams and more time away from doing actual role-specific tasks. Currently, sales teams only spend 1/3 of their day actually selling, according to a report from Docurated. As Account-Based Everything continues to grow, there will be a shift away from segregated information. This is when platforms, like SalesWise, will become more and more critical to collaborative organizations. This will go beyond sales and marketing efforts and touch all aspects of customer-centric organizations including customer success, product management, and more.
See how SalesWise has revolutionized traditional enterprise email driving alignment to key information across the enterprise today. Or, download our recent research summary, Connecting the Account-Based View to learn more about the inefficiencies between CRM and Email.
Shifting to an Account-Based Selling (ABS) strategy causes an organization-wide shift in all customer-facing roles – sales and marketing to customer success and renewals. It can be an intimidating task, but when implemented correctly, can yield significant sales opportunities. In fact, ~85% of marketers who measure return on investment (ROI) describe account-based marketing (ABM) as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach (ITSMA).
Still need some convincing? We’ve compiled three chief reasons for an ABS strategy:
Purchasing groups are larger than ever.
B2B sales, today, involve an average purchasing group of 5.4 people. Adding in that second decision maker decreases the success rate by 67% (Forbes).
While in the past, you may have sold (and only engaged) to the primary user (“Champion”), you are now likely selling to the champion plus the CEO, CMO, IT Director, and Sales Manager. With the number of vendors vying for the attention of these Heads of State, successful closes require targeted, personal messaging
Landing and expanding is more challenging than you think.
The land-and-expand strategy is nothing new, and fundamentally has the same principle as ABS: a sale is bigger than the relationship between an individual and a product. It’s between the account, or company, with the product.
ABS inherently enables and in some cases accelerates this process, because of expanded, targeted engagement. When you’re involving more people in the buying process from the beginning, capitalizing on the introductions makes expansion into other functional groups more natural.
You need a specific strategy to be successful – and ABS provides that structure.
Because ABS involves many functional groups (on both your side and that of your prospect’s), it requires a unified plan. Without strategically looking at your potential accounts, the data surrounding them and the key players and messaging involved, ABS will inevitably fail. And while other sales and marketing methodologies may get the job done without this level of attention to detail, ABS forces this structure and collaboration.
Sending a barrage of emails is not an effective sales strategy. B2B email-only strategies are the most unsuccessful of any industry with only 24% being opened. Of that, only 12% are clicked through (Sign-Up.to). While ABS requires a major cultural shift, the potential growth in ROI greatly outweighs the effort needed to make this shift. In some ways, it’s also a required evolution.
Ready to start implementing your ABS strategy but not sure where to start? Read our recent blog post, How to Implement Your ABS Strategy or learn how SalesWise can provide greater visibility to your sales leaders and drive additional incremental revenue when shifting to an Account-Based Sales strategy (see how it works). Schedule a quick demo with one of our representatives to see how SalesWise enables ABS teams.
Account-Based Selling (ABS) is the hottest strategy on every marketer and sales leader’s mind. But, as with any successful strategic change, you don’t just wave a magic wand and “ta-da!” it magically works.
The growth of ABS is largely due to the organizational shift to larger buying groups. Running a successful ABS strategy requires planning, organization, alignment between functional groups and, ultimately, a strategy for execution.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the key steps to implementing an ABS strategy within your organization.
Define your Ideal Customer Profile
It’s important to keep in mind when executing an ABS strategy that you’re focusing on a handful of key accounts. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck trying to boil the ocean – you can’t send highly targeted, expertly personalized content to all of the thousands (or tens of thousands) of contacts in your CRM.
When you’re evaluating your accounts, you’ll first need to define the characteristics of your ideal prospect account, or Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Mine through your active pipeline to find the accounts that meet those criteria. Targeting the right companies dramatically boosts sales; increasing lead quality by only 10% can translate to a 40% improvement in sales productivity (Marketo). This isn’t to say you completely ignore those “non-ideal” accounts (and likely, the majority of your pipeline). Instead, continue with an outbound nurturing campaign utilizing some custom fields for personalization, but allows you to focus the majority of your efforts on your ICPs.
Define your Buyer Personas
Defining your target buyer doesn’t end after you’ve found the accounts. One of the defining features of ABS is that you’re touching multiple job roles within one ICP. The goal is to provide these contacts with compelling, useful content. Gartner found the typical B2B buying group now has, on average, seven different buying influencers. Mapping out the defining characteristics of each potential influencer provides a solid foundation for the messaging that will go to each.
In addition, these new contacts will play an important role if your long-term plan is to “land and expand” within accounts. Building these relationships early, and defining where your product or service adds value beyond the target buyer makes for an easier expansion into wider functional groups. In fact, when surveyed by Alterra Group, 84% of marketers said that Account-Based Marketing (ABM) had significant benefits to retaining and expanding existing client relationships.
Develop your content and messaging
If you’ve spent all of that time and energy defining your target accounts and individuals within those accounts, but don’t tailor your message to them, your ABS strategy will fall upon deaf ears and may even damage the relationship.
In this step, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyer: What are their pain points? What types of content would they find useful? How can our product solve their pains? These conversations should be about how this specific buyer can experience the most value in their role, not the high-level benefits of your product.
The good news is that you likely already have some content that can be repurposed to fit the specific personas. A good starting point is to map out your existing content and determine which pieces are relevant to a given persona and at which stage of their buyer journey. From there, decide which topics need to be tweaked and expanded upon, and which topics need to be created from scratch.
In addition, reach out to your team members in different functional groups, as they are subject matter experts in various aspects of your business. A member of your marketing team might be willing to put together a blog post for the CMO on your prospect’s side, or your Director of IT will be able to combat some of the potential barriers to buying your technology. Capitalizing on your internal resources not only takes some of the pressure off of the project leader but may provide insight unique to a person in that functional role.
Make the connection and diversify the messaging
Breaking through the noise and reaching prospects is a challenge most organizations go through. But once the initial connection is made, diversification of channels is vital to the success of your ABS strategy. While the message itself may be more targeted, endless emails and voicemails begin to lose their impact.
In a survey by Bizible.com, 87.5% of companies leverage email marketing, and 84.2% leverage social media marketing, making it a heavily saturated environment. Including personalized social media outreach, phone calls, and direct mail can help reach your prospects in a more personalized and effective way. For an even more memorable message, include physical mail and packages, or a video email that is customized to that individual recipient. These types of interactions are hyper-personalized in nature, leaving a lasting impression with your prospect.
As with any effective sales strategy, persistence through multiple touches is key – only now, you need multiple touches with multiple people. Only 2% of sales occur within the first meeting, and 80% of sales need 5 follow-ups to get the job done (Marketing Donut). Multiply that by the other influencers in the buying group, and that’s a lot of content to distribute and interactions to take place. A series thoughtful follow up connections with valuable content will strengthen the relationship, and ultimately be key in closing the deal.
This step is truly where the “sales” in ABS comes into play, and where the importance of team collaboration is imperative to the success of the interaction. At this point, it becomes necessary to look strategically at the players involved in the conversation – on both the prospect and internal sides. Having accurate visibility into the key accounts and relationships allows sales leaders to see the progress and sentiment surrounding the deal as a whole. For example, if your Business Development Representative hasn’t talked to a given account in several weeks, it may be time to encourage them to reach back out and re-establish the conversation. SalesWise allows you to see the complete and organized view of your Account-Based Deals, and quickly intervene when necessary.
While the principles behind ABS may not be new to the classic enterprise sale, the return on investment that this strategy can bring is well worth the organizational shift and groundwork to implement.
Not sure if ABS is right for you? Read our blog post, Four Signs that Account-Based Selling is Right for You.
Learn how SalesWise can provide greater visibility to your sales leaders and drive additional incremental revenue when shifting to an Account-Based Sales strategy (see how it works). Or, schedule a quick demo to see how SalesWise enables ABS teams.
Workfront, a cloud-based Enterprise Work Management solution, recently published their 2016 State of Enterprise Work Report (U.S. edition) involving 606 U.S. respondents at companies with at least 500 employees.
As we help drive greater productivity across the enterprise by democratizing relationship data and reducing email workload, we’d like to share key stats from Workfront’s report.
- “When asked what gets in the way of work the most, workers say wasteful meetings (59%) and excessive emails (43%) are the biggest offenders.” This is followed by excessive oversight (42%).
- “One in four office workers are calling for uninterrupted blocks of time to increase their productivity.”
- Other than uninterrupted blocks of time, respondents cited more efficient work processes (23%) and more/ better qualified people and resources (21%).
- “The amount of time office workers have to spend doing their primary job duties decreased in 2016, from 46% to 39%.” This aligns with a report McKinsey’s Global Institute Report highlighted with sales professionals spending 61% of their time on non-sales-specific tasks as highlighted by Hubspot.
- Respondents selected “While it has its moments, I really love things about my job” to the tune of 80%.
- “The overwhelming majority (76%) say the main reason they work is to pay bills. Coming in a distant second (27%) was the mental challenge work provides.”
Check out the report for subjects including:
- The Why Behind Work
- Work Hours
- Work Productivity
- Work Happiness
- Work Tools
- Work Communication
- Work Conflict
- The Future of Work
You can get a copy of the report at Workfront’s website here: https://www.workfront.com/resources/whitepaper/state-enterprise-work/
Leading a sales team is no small feat. From managing the pipeline and projecting revenue to overseeing the sales process and coordinating efficiencies, it can be a challenge to stay ahead and in-the-know with your whole team.
Here are a few traits we have found in some of the most successful sales leaders we’ve encountered. See how you can be more WISE as a sales team leader.
Oftentimes, willfulness is associated with stubbornness or disobedience. By no means do we endorse this style of leadership. Rather, we look at willfulness as a leader taking intentional and deliberate action. It’s no surprise that sales teams use technology to enable and manage their sales process. Did you know that 61% of employees typically access four or more systems to get the information they need to do their jobs (IDC)? WISE sales team leaders are willing to look at the alternatives.
Today, many sales teams rely on a CRM system to collect and utilize customer relationship data. However, a CRM system alone is always retroactive in nature. The reported data you are reviewing as a sales leader will always be out-of-date (and likely a sliver of what’s really happening). Instead, utilizing an event-driven SaaS program allows for you to be informed to prioritize and work more effectively to lead your teams. Event-driven SaaS programs, such as SalesWise, aggregate events from multiple data sources such as your email inbox, contacts, messages, calendars, shared documents, and more to optimize your workflow and provide a wealth of real-time, insightful customer relationship data.
Accessing insightful data doesn’t just allow you to see more information; but, it also allows you to be more insightful as a leader. What do we mean by this? Well, being insightful as a sales team leader means looking beyond the numbers to unearth new information and to utilize intelligent relationship data. With SalesWise, our customers uncover an average of 5 – 8 times more contacts and increase visibility by 300% beyond their CRM system. This is important because Gartner reports that there is an average of 7-8 people involved in most buying decisions. In today’s sales environment, it is essential to be relationship-focused.
When it comes to relationships, we aren’t just talking about the relationship with your current/ prospective customers. Equally important, if not more so, are the internal relationships between your sales team and other individuals/ departments involved in the sales process. Too often, sales get bottlenecked in the siloed structure of so many companies. In fact, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures (Salesforce). Moreover, 80% of line-of-business leaders in sales, HR, procurement, and more say problems arise because they have different internal systems/ applications that do not talk to each other (IDC).
Thinking strategically is a crucial trait for any WISE sales team leader. In order to enable sales, it’s necessary to bridge this gap between your sales and non-sales team members. We wrote about this democratic process recently as we describe the importance of making data accessible to all. In doing so, you create greater transparency which breaks down any functional silos and walls. Couple transparency with a no per-seat pricing model, SalesWise encourages your organization to provide this access to many staff members beyond your sales team (and makes it more affordable).
Lastly, WISE sales leaders embody an enterprising spirit! They’re always looking for a new way to do things better. They’re receptive and open to untried methods that will afford them greater efficiency, increased productivity, more engaged team members, and more. According to B2B Lead, 50% of a sales team’s time is wasted on unproductive prospecting. It’s no wonder many sales leaders aren’t just contemplating the sales numbers but also productivity numbers!
When asked what gets in the way of work, employees said wasteful meetings (59%) followed by excessive emails (43%) (Workfront 2016 Survey). What if there was a platform that could reduce both of these productivity killers? At SalesWise, we believe visibility (“transparency”) leads to greater, more effective sales productivity. We do this through our platform’s Card-based system, and we level the playing field by giving everyone access to customer relationship data. We reduce the need for frequency of sales catchup meetings and decrease email workload by 30%. Employees are more engaged – working together across the organization to enable a shorter, more productive sales cycle.
According to the Workplace Research Foundation, increasing employee engagement investments by 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year. Meanwhile, highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity.
Why wait to get WISE? As a sales team leader, it’s time to get in the know with end-to-end visibility into the sales process to prepare your team for anything. Know everything. Be prepared for anything. Get SalesWise. Visit www.saleswise.com.
It’s election week and the topic of democracy this electoral season has been a hot one to say the least! While we’ve all probably thought about what it means to be a democracy as a nation, have you ever asked yourself what it means to be a democracy as a business? What might that look like?
By definition, a democracy is control of an organization by the majority of its members. While we wouldn’t suggest suddenly introducing an electoral vote for your company leadership, we would recommend looking at “control” as the ability for your members (a.k.a. staff) to work seamlessly together. As The Beatles so eloquently put it in their 1969 Abbey Road hit, we’ve got to “Come Together.” Too often, organizations – and subsequently their data – are siloed. McKinsey found nearly 80% of senior executives surveyed in a 2005 study said that effective coordination across product, functional, and geographic lines was crucial for growth. Yet, only 25% described their organizations as “effective” at sharing knowledge across boundaries.
Departmental silos are a growing pain for businesses of all sizes. The burden often lies with the executive leaders and management to foster a democratic environment to help their teams break down these business barriers that prevent growth.
Understand Their Experience
To do this effectively, organizational leaders must first look at the employee experience. What does it take to get it done?
When it comes to complex sales organizations, a sale can cross several job functions during its sales cycle. While there’s much discussion on the customer’s experience during that journey, there’s little-to-none about the impact internally. Sadly, when asked what gets in the way of work the most, 59% of workers said wasteful meetings followed by excessive emails at 43% (Workfront 2016 Survey). Many office environments have become dependent upon status update meetings and CC/ forwarded emails to share customer information and keep their siloed teams in-the-know.
Data Access for All
Technology can be a solution to reducing meetings and emails. However, with the per-seat license fees and lack of complete data traditionally associated with the CRM and other SaaS solutions, it can quickly become challenging and costly to fully democratize your data.
To truly create a democratic business, you must practice the principles of social equality. Why shouldn’t accounting have access to the same relevant data your sales team has on a customer? Democratizing data means making it accessible to everyone.
At SalesWise, this is what we do best. We believe in creating greater transparency and in helping teams to work more intelligently with 3X the visibility of what’s going on. Reducing email by 30% on average with our customers, we believe in empowering your sales and non-sales teams to simplify the process and shorten the overall sales cycle. Seamless communications and data access enables your business to work as a democracy. Not just for the benefit of your customers, but for your internal teams too.
To learn more about SalesWise, visit http://www.saleswise.com/the-platform/.
“People are certainly valuable resources, and the information they hold is useful, but far more so if shared with others” – Graham Walter “Information is Power”
Oscar Berg, Digital Strategist and Author, published a great deck about the Democratization of Communication. The deck, available for download below, highlights the opportunities of increasing the visibility of communication — sharing of knowledge.
Traditionally, communication is siloed and fragmented — locked away largely in individual emails, especially in business settings. As Oscar points out, the notion of siloed inboxes gives folks the perception of “safe”. However, this “safe” mentality locks away knowledge and powerful insights.
We are big proponents of Oscar’s message of democratizing communication, and indeed, relationship data across the enterprise. Increasing visibility and accessibility to relationship data enables whole organizations greater productivity and reduced email workload as highlighted in ‘Corporate Email – The Problem You Know You Have‘.
Email is the atomic unit of business. From sales to marketing, from customer success to finance and legal, email is the workhorse of how we communicate with our prospects, customers, partners, vendors, and employees. Just think about how much of your workday is spent reading and writing emails. Emails carry our critical documents around. Emails are the invitation and acceptance for every meeting. Despite all the other communication apps today like Slack and Skype, email is far from dead. Email remains the atomic unit of modern data-driven businesses.
So why has there been so little innovation around email? At best, there has been new clients that allow us to triage our inboxes (Google’s Inbox is such an attempt). But then why are inboxes still the bane of our workday and often work night?
Why do I have to be CC’d on so many threads that do not require any response, and why is it so time-consuming to organize them? Why can’t I quickly access any critical email unless it is actually sent to my inbox? Why can’t I see all the emails across my company that relate to a key account?
The Crux of It
The heart of the problem is that email is linear in nature. You have an email address (“account”) and your email is… well, yours. You organize it in folders, or maybe you’re an Infinite Inbox gal, or even the rare Zero Inbox guy. But at the end of the day, email does not “self-organize”. It certainly does not understand the business context of why it’s being sent or received. It just piles up waiting for you to do something with it.
However, in the real world, few business relationships are about just one person. Relationships with customers and partners normally involve many folks — we are ever deeper in consensus buying and consensus selling. Think about it – the first interaction with a customer starts with email from a business development rep (BDR) prospecting. Then an account exec (“sales rep”) will jump in when there’s a viable opportunity sending loads of emails with documents and meeting invites. A sales manager or sales engineer may be copied in plus integration teams plus analysts plus marketing plus legal plus finance… they all join in for bits of the relationship which amounts to threads and threads of email. Each constituent being pulled in for some involvement or for-your-information. Loads of CC’s, forwards, and email thrown up everywhere. Beware if you are ever stuck on a 10-20-person thread. Should everyone copy everyone? Will that help? No. It’s a mess.
The Better Way
Where’s the punch line? Simple – email can be intelligently routed and organized around business relationships automatically for you. Instead of emails being associated with only the sender and recipient(s) and a set of “inboxes”, emails from an entire enterprise can be aggregated and automatically organized around business relationships. Communication now goes from linear limitations to expansive collaboration… without the mess.
Now, every email and every person involved with a customer or business partner is automatically self-organized with no copying or action required from anyone. A single view of all communication is created providing transparency and ease to understand who is saying what to whom. Layer on top smart and flexible access controls, and you usher in an era and culture shift of greater productivity through clearer communication.
Rather than searching for and staring at list after list of emails to understand what’s going on with a customer, you have a single, comprehensive view. We call this the CARD (or Cross Application Relationship Data). The CARD automatically organizes every message, meeting, document, and person involved – inside your organization and at the customers/prospects/partners/etc. The CARD is always up-to-date and always complete… even including the communication of those who left the company; thus, preserving and promoting continuity of the relationship.
The CARD… kind of like Google Docs for email – but better. Email Re-imagined. By SalesWise.
Drop us a note if you would like to learn more.
Why do we CC, forward, and receive so much business email? Simple – we need to keep folks up-to-date on what is going on with our clients, prospects, partners, and vendors. It’s far easier to just copy someone than to write a separate note or to leave a voicemail update. Easy, right? Yes, but it is a huge culprit of overflowing inboxes and wasted time.
One of the key drivers of CCs and forwards is simply due to email being inherently fragmented and silo’ed in individual accounts. Businesses and relationships are locked away behind usernames and passwords hindering transparency and collaboration. But the company is begging for greater collaboration — reference again to the huge number of CCs, forwards, but also add in the many meetings and intra-office communication tools (i.e. Skype, Google Hangout, Slack, other). The lack of openness in business communication creates a giant web of more technology platforms (and manual methods like meetings, office drop-bys, calls, etc.) to put a bandaid over the true problem — business email (and indeed, communication) is broken.
There is a better way.
With new technology and platforms, business email can “self organize” around key business relationships and eliminate the need to ever forward or CC folks again. Now, you can simply “follow” a business relationship and you will be notified of new emails, new documents, meetings, or new contacts involved — all without adding to your over crowded inbox.
How does this work?
It’s new technology that builds on the last decade of thinking around CRM with an eye towards making life easier for business professionals. We (the Wise guys at SalesWise) start by extracting all Salesforce.com records and clean them up — we know they are a mess — and create a master list of all your business relationships.
Next, we integrate directly with your Outlook/Exchange or Gmail and extract and synchronize all your business communications, contacts, meetings, and documents. This creates what we call a Master Relationship File or CARD (Cross Application Relationship Data).
With all this business information automatically in one place, things start to get interesting. Rather than shuffling emails and documents around to keep yourself or others up-to-date, you simply follow the Relationships (CARDs) important to your job. SalesWise does the rest – we send you one elegant digest each morning called the Wise & Shine that updates you on all activity including those emails that used to be the CC’s overwhelming your inbox. Of course, you can also login anytime to get a complete and updated view of every detail of any business relationship.
At SalesWise, we don’t think email is dead – we think it’s broken. In this case, less is truly more. Retain access to all key relationships — their communication included — without being bombarded all day long. Forget constantly cleaning up and organizing information now that SalesWise automatically organizes and shares communication for you.
SalesWise, the pioneer in Business Relationship Intelligence (BRI), is an Atlanta-based technology company that builds innovative solutions to empower team leaders and enterprises with real-time visibility and critical intelligence into customer relationships to drive alignment and productivity.
Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.