This is a continuation of my interview with Mark Galloway, President of OppSource. We continue our discussion of selling technology with a new, smarter and emboldened buyer.
BSS: Companies with committees are some of the more challenging sales environments out there. Got any tips you can share?
MG: Start with your database or in most cases, the lack thereof. We advocate with our clients that they develop an account role profile for a typical account. While the titles in each account seem to always be different, the roles are usually very consistent. We break up the roles into Economic Decision Makers, Lines of Business/Process Owners, Technology Evaluators/Owners, and End Users. Each of these roles have different interests and concerns which means you can’t say, position, or message the same to everyone in an account. Have this account role profile and then drive smart updates to the marketing database to fill in the contact roles that are missing. Without this database triage in place, most companies are mindlessly marketing to whoever they have in their database and that is not only wasteful, it is extremely ineffective with today’s collaborative buying environment.
BSS: Lots of firms use channel partners to move products and services. How is their world changing?
MG: Our clients who use channel sales models are finding they have to be much more collaborative with their partners than in the past. In the old days, they signed up a reseller, sent them on their way and hoped they would sell something. Today, they have to take a much more active role in managing and collaborating with their channel partners. It starts with educating them on not only their products, but on the business issues their products address. But it doesn’t stop there; channel partners need help with marketing and sales lead management, too. Everything from lead generation to lead nurturing to product provisioning and fulfillment. Just like manufacturers have streamlined and integrated their supply chains, the demand chain has to be streamlined and integrated too.
BSS: What's the most important piece of homework a business sales person must do today?
MG: I think prospects appreciate some of the same things they always have, but they really appreciate a sales person who knows their business. As stated earlier, we advocate a focus on “the customer’s customer.” Knowing the issues that end-customers have and how they want to buy and use our customer’s product/solution stimulates very creative thinking for how we can bring value to our customer. It’s this kind of creative thinking that sparks smart questions that prospects value and recognize as different than typical run-of-the-mill sales schlocks.
BSS: Do sales managers and CRM systems prompt the wrong activities with prospects today?
MG: Unfortunately, CRM systems were born out of SFA systems, which were originally designed for sales management. Most of the automation that exists in CRM today is concentrated around a “standard linear sales process.” Frankly, I haven’t seen a linear sales process ever, and certainly not recently. And more often than not, sales management is inspecting on activity for activity sake. As an example, many standard sales processes define doing a “standard” demo as a key part of the sales process. In many cases, prospects don’t want a feature dump, they want to understand how their business process is going to be impacted and where improvement or innovation is going to happen for their specific situation.
BSS: What's the BEST best practice you're seeing today?
MG: The velocity at which prospects research and consume information is incredible today. Timing your engagement with them has never been more important. We designed a best practice we call Moment of Interest Marketing™ into our standard lead generation workflows. Most of the clients we work with have way too much latency built in their prospect inquiry follow up process. Marketing collects inquiries and then batches them up for later follow up by inside sales or telemarketing. We instead try to enable either an online chat or outbound telephone reachout within 10 minutes of a prospect taking some kind of action with online content. We catch them in their “moment of interest.” They are emotionally connected to the topic and content you want to discuss and your chances of actually getting ahold of them are much higher.