Posts

Four Signs that Account-Based Selling is Right for You

Four Signs that Account-Based Selling is Right for You

One of the biggest sales strategies in 2016 was Account-Based Selling (ABS), and 2017 has been building on its momentum to drive today’s B2B sales. With the breadth of channels and depth of information sales and marketing teams have access to, gone are the days of “any lead is a good lead.”

Account-Based Selling has grown due to the strategy’s effectiveness in breaking through the noise surrounding digital marketing. While in the past there may have only been one or two decision-makers within the buying process, Gartner found that now 7-8 people are typically involved in all areas of the buying process, especially in enterprise tech sales. This buying process calls for a solution that engages with multiple functional groups within a single organization, rather than addressing a singular buyer persona.

According to the 2016 #FlipMyFunnel Account-Based Marketing Benchmark Survey Report, 64% of B2B marketers who don’t currently have an account-based marketing program plan to implement one in the next year.

Is your organization ready to take the plunge into ABS? If you’ve seen the following signs, you’re ready to make the strategic switch.

You know your target audience

This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but the first step to implementing an Account-Based Selling strategy is knowing the key accounts your strategy will focus on. According to the 2016 B2B Marketing Data Report, 75% of records analyzed lacked the necessary data on prospect industry, revenue, and employees crucial to effective ABS. The foundation of ABS is that your sales and marketing efforts are focused on the account at large, rather than a specific job role (“persona”) within an organization.
Furthermore, ABS is built around quality over quantity – if you don’t have a precise knowledge of your target audience, ABS as a strategy will be ineffective. With the traditional funnel, the top of the funnel is filled with as many prospects as possible. ABS, on the other hand, engages fewer accounts, but they are much more targeted and representing the ideal customer profiles (ICP) with a higher likelihood to close.

You’ve exhausted your inbound marketing strategy

This isn’t to say that inbound marketing is dead, by any means. But the B2B ecosystem is incredibly saturated, and may not be the most effective for your target market in 2017. With a market that is moving towards a group-buying process, inbound marketing loses effectiveness because it is difficult to consistently produce messaging that resonates with everyone (FunnelEnvy). A strategic combination of inbound marketing and ABM will establish your organization as subject-matter experts, while delivering highly-targeted content to those accounts deemed most important.

You have strategic, valuable content (Or, you’re ready to create it.)

If you’ve been using an inbound marketing strategy, it’s likely that your organization will already have some valuable content that can be tweaked and expanded upon. But remember, the success of ABS relies on attention to detail for an entire organization – not just the champion (or at least, the target personas targeted within the account).
This presents an opportunity for perfectly crafted content that speaks to the specific problems and needs of each point of contact. While your old content marketing strategy may just speak to the problems of a specific user, you may now be reaching six different functional roles within one organization.

True sales and marketing alignment

In an ideal world, an aligned sales and marketing strategy would be the industry norm, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Sales and marketing alignment are critical to an ABS strategy. Misalignment, then, inevitably leads to failure. Organizations with aligned sales and marketing teams are 67% better at closing deals (Marketo) and generate 208% more revenue from marketing efforts (MarketingProfs). In fact, Account-Based Selling and Account-Based Marketing can almost be used interchangeably – the process relies heavily on the collaboration of the two teams. This is because sales typically owns the account relationship, while marketing is generally responsible for the messaging and branded assets. In order for sales to provide the most valuable content available to their highly-qualified targets, they need to collaborate with the larger marketing initiatives.

Enacting ABS is no small task because it requires a fundamental change in mindset – both in your sales team and by your sales leadership. Clear communication and accurate forecasting to organizational leaders are imperative to the success of ABS. But when the signs are all present, account-based selling can be one of the most effective ways to land large accounts and expand within them.

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.

Sales at a Stalemate

Sales at a Stalemate?

It’s still January and though you have set your sights on a banner year, your sales pipeline may be telling a different story. Why is it that sales seem so much harder these days? And, how can your sales team cut through the noise to create meaningful connections and successful sales?

Finding the Connection

With advancing technologies and growing corporations, the sales cycle has become even more complex. Where sales used to be one-to-one, now most B2B buying decisions involve 7-8 people (Gartner). That’s a lot of decision makers! How can you possibly make all the connections?

Traditionally, connections are tracked in your CRM system. However, with growing contacts, the feasibility of updating all those records becomes wholly inefficient for your team. In fact, today’s sales professionals update an average of 60 CRM records a day, and only spend 33% of their time actually selling (Toutapp)! There’s a need for a better way.

The reality is that much of sales relationships are fostered through your sales team’s inbox. Whether that’s an email, meeting, or shared document, a lot is taking place in the space between your team’s individualiz inboxes and CRM database. That’s why, with SalesWise, sales professionals discover an average of five times more contacts.

An essential step in creating meaningful connections is to first identify all those connections. Don’t get lost in the space between.

Making the Connection

Thank goodness you now have all the cards and players before you. But, what now? How do you make that connection meaningful? You’ve likely heard it before – as Entrepreneur recommends, you have to help your prospect buy rather than simply trying to sell to them. According to CSO Insights, sales teams have a 56% greater chance to meet quotas if they engage a buyer before that buyer is contacting the seller.

That requires your team to get curious. Ask your prospects questions, and work to build more personal connections. Access to data will become even more crucial as you work to anticipate your prospects’ needs and respond to them preemptively.

Business Relationship Intelligence (BRI) allows for full-access to critical data unencumbered by traditional per-seat licenses. Just as your contacts externally have grown, so have your internal contacts. With SalesWise, there are no limitations on who can access crucial customer data. Strategic collaboration between your sales team, marketing, finance, procurement and other functions enable more capable responses to prospects and customers – which, in turn, leads to more successful sales.

Don’t let sales get stuck in a stalemate. SalesWise offers sales leaders 300% more visibility into your team’s relationships and interactions with prospects and customers. Know everything. Be prepared for anything.

Learn more about SalesWise’s Business Relationship Intelligence platform by visiting www.saleswise.com/the-platform/.

Webinar with Cirrus Insight: Democratizing Relationship Data

Webinar with Cirrus Insight: Democratizing Relationship Data

We are very excited to be co-hosting a webinar with our friends at Cirrus Insight on Democratizing Relationship Data next Tuesday, Nov. 29th from 1:30PM-2:30PM, so sign up today! We will be giving away some fantastic gifts to randomly selected attendees (just in time for the holidays).

About the webinar:

Technology advances the cause of sales automation, but doesn’t always result in equal access to information for everyone in the enterprise. The way software-as-a-service applications are provisioned often leads to fragmented data sources and siloed access. This can make the sales force the de facto administrators of data, as they field inquiries from others across the company without access to Salesforce. In this webinar, SalesWise demonstrates the power of democratizing relationship data for improved productivity and insights throughout the organization.

This is completely free, and you’ll learn about the importance of transparency in today’s business – modern sales teams, customer success efforts, executive leadership, and more! Plus, you’ll get to learn about the great stuff Cirrus Insight is up to.

Register today and make sure to share with your friends and colleagues — the more, the merrier!

How Sales Leadership Platforms Transform the Sales Management Role

Sales leadership platforms take your existing sales software infrastructure and transform it, aggregating all the essential data you need to track what your sales team is doing. It automates data aggregation from the tools you depend on to get your job done, such as Salesforce, and brings it together in a way that makes perfect sense for sales. You cut out the time spent jumping between your communication apps, email, project management tools and CRM, and instead spend it on helping your sales team grow and reach its potential. To properly incorporate a sales leadership platform into your business processes, you need to understand how it transforms your sales management role.

The Starting Line Has Changed

Sales leadership platforms are focused on giving you the information you need to do your job effectively and strategically. Your typical CRM platform revolves around collecting prospect data and supporting the sales team, and many management features are added as an afterthought. You can make it work, but in some cases the software works against your goals, not with them.

A sales leadership platform looks at what you need to effectively manage a sales team and gives you the support tools you need to be a leader. You get a data canvas that presents all your sales team information in one place, instead of flipping through applications to try to get a view of the big picture. This big picture is delivered to you through an automated tool, which means neither you nor your sales team needs to spend hours compiling vital information. You can focus on sales strategies, nurturing your top sales representatives and finding ways to maximize your sales opportunities for your team.

In a typical sales infrastructure, your starting line has a lot of busywork before you get to the good stuff. With a sales leadership platform, you shift your starting line so you can immediately dive into the stuff that really matters. You can see everything that’s going on in a way that a traditional sales environment doesn’t offer.

Big Picture Visibility

As a leader, you should have a big-picture view of your sales team, but many sales technology solutions make it as hard as possible to understand what’s going on with your data. Sales intelligence is an essential part of getting the most out of your sales team and each sales opportunity, and that’s the approach sales leadership platforms take.

You see all the data that relates to a specific prospect instead of spending hours getting up to speed on what your sales team has done already. The right tools and platform give you this data so you can look at sales trends and potential ways to nurture high-value prospects, and they give you the luxury of focusing on ways to create real impact.

You aren’t playing catch up, you’re one step ahead of the game, which makes a big difference in helping your sales team achieve its goals. You become better able to accurately understand the true state of your sales pipeline. You get the comprehensive view you need instead of getting bits and pieces of data that your salespeople quantify. It takes some time to adjust to this shift, but once you do, you’ll wonder how you achieved sales goals with any other system.

The Love-Hate Relationship With Accountability

High visibility means that there’s a lot of accountability for the sales team as well. Underperforming sales team members can’t hide behind the top salespeople anymore. Your top salespeople are going to love a system that makes their job easier and lets them focus on the actual sales part of the job while the bottom half of your sales team can no longer blame bad numbers on the software or time spent on paperwork.

Your relationship with the sales team transforms because you’re not dependent on its reports to know what’s going on. You can change your sales strategy to focus on lifting up the top performers, nurturing those with potential and cycling inefficient sales reps out of the system entirely. You get to spend a lot more time on leadership and a lot less time on listening to excuses from your poor performers. A relationship intelligence strategy gives you the data points you need for effective decision making, which helps you become the sales manager and leader you aspire to be.

Changing your sales process foundations takes time and an adjustment period, but the short- and long-term benefits are substantial. You create strategies with the big picture in mind, give your top sales performers the tools they’ve always wanted and eliminate the time spent catching up on vital information.

Are you ready to change the way you handle sales, for free? Check out Saleswise today, without any risk, and see what it’s like to focus on your sales leadership instead of reading a novel’s worth of sales reports from your team. You can’t buy time with money, but you can free up a substantial amount of time by increasing your productivity and automating data aggregation and entry. There’s no set up, no data entry, and data aggregation is automagical.

Future of Sales – Reward on Excellence

The tech-fueled social world is a wealth of information. Buyers no longer have the time or patience for aggressive, uninformed sales people who don’t deliver on promises. Indeed, the future of sales hinges heavily on evolving customer relationship management (CRM) trends – namely relationship intelligence, where only excellence reaps rewards.

A Holistic View of Sales

Think holistic co-ordination, and rowing scenes from boat races come to mind. In order to smoothly propel the boat forward, all the team members must pull their oars in perfect sync. It’s the same with sales. Your sales force is the boat, and all the other departments working in the background are the oarsmen. The sophisticated tools and information your sales and marketing teams work with are the oars. Unless the various departments work in tandem, your sales force will flounder about like a ship without direction.

The Current Sales Scenario

Until recently, the sales and marketing departments of businesses have been working toward what they thought was a sound enough goal – the bottom line, or profit targets. Profit is almost always the metric productivity and excellence are measured by, and so CRM solutions are bandied about towards this ambition.

Disconnect Between CRM Solutions and Ground Reality

While CRM employs technology to combine market research with data analytics and provide customer insights, the overall customer profile is murky and incomplete at best. Why is this? The answer is the huge disconnect between these solutions and operational control.

CRM solutions are often framed by executives who don’t actually connect with customers, and so their efforts are mostly disjointed. Indeed, you can collect all the sales and marketing data you want, but it’ll be nothing but a pile of useless junk – unless you have a cohesive record of what happens to customers within the spheres of customer service, sales and marketing. When sales, marketing, strategy and execution run alongside each other rather than harmoniously integrate, customer retention is lacking and your business’s bottom line is threatened.

Relationship Intelligence

The new metric for measuring excellence is based on customer retention. Linda Sharp, in her book, Customer Relationship Intelligence, calls this metric, “relationship value.”

Atomic Unit of Sales

According to Sharp, every single touch point between your company and your customers or latent customers is an “atomic unit of sales.” Each of these units should be measured from the consumer’s perspective, instead of your business’s standpoint. Only then can you convert prospects and leads into sustainable sales.

Customers Are Your Partners

The whole business-sales-marketing process is a symbiotic relationship where you and your customers are equal partners. You have something your customer wants – products and services – and your customers have something you want – their money and continued patronage. The entire process is a continuum. So why don’t CRM solutions have some sort of framework that measures customer relationship value?

Relationship Value

In her book, Sharp defines relationship value as a “relative numerical value” that can be assigned to each of your company’s interaction with the customer. But how can you use it to measure your customer relationship?

Sharp outlines the use of a real-time tracking system to record Customer Relationship Intelligence (CRI). It is important to know what interactions leads to something, and also what that something is. Conversely, it is just as important to know what interaction prevented the conversion of a prospect into a lead. To measure individual customer relationships, and thereby relationship value, you must set up a system that automatically adds or subtracts the relative numerical value every time your marketing, sales or customer service department interacts with your buyers. In other words, relationship value should be measured with each atomic unit of sales.

Why Build a CRI Framework?

The problem is that the reactions of different customers to the same situation are wildly inconsistent. However, within the CRI framework, it is possible to know which actions will keep a particular customer happy under a given situation. You can boost your productivity when using CRI as your basis for making informed customer-related decisions.

Your Actual Profit Center

The profit center of your business is not the sale of a particular product or service. That may be the source of temporary gain, but when you think about it, your customer could just as easily get the same things from your competitors. How, then, can you measure profits if not in terms of your products or service? The answer is so: customer service is the actual profit center. This viewpoint is contrary to the current business practice of tagging customer service as a cost center, but customer service has to be removed from the slot labeled ‘cost center’ and put where it rightly belongs under ‘profit center.’

Until now, customer service has been viewed as a pesky problem to deal with, and not as the relationship-building opportunity it actually is. In this setup, you may believe you are focusing on excellence. If you are, then your perspective of excellence is skewed, because what you’re doing is beaming your focus on short-term gains with sights set on turnover. In the process, you lose sight of a more durable reward in terms of customer retention.

Saleswise is a comprehensive springboard that helps you harness and aggregate all the CRI you need, to reap the rewards of excellence and to propel your business to success, primarily in the form of customer retention. Visit our website today, and see how our free service can help you and your business grow.

Sources :

  1. http://www.managementexchange.com/sites/default/files/media/posts/documents/CRI%20eBook%209780979965715.pdf