Account-centric sales is the new status quo for complex B2B sales. Why? Today’s buyers are better educated and empowered in the buying process than ever before, and therefore interactions with prospects must be strategic and personalized to stand out amongst the noise.
Since sales is no longer dictating the flow of information, sales professionals enter the sale further down the decision process. “Now customers are deciding when and where the sales engagement will actually begin as well as how and where that interaction will take place in more of a pull model.” (¹Gartner, 2013) According to sales experts, personal interactions are still considered the most influential part of B2B sales, but today’s buyers value them less in their decision making.
Proper lead handling can be the difference between meeting your quarterly numbers and coming up short, and it is vitally important that reps and management alike have strategies in place to make sure leads are handled properly.
- All Leads Should Not Be Treated Equally
It is important to recognize that each lead is actually a unique person, and therefore should receive an individually tailored response. They have raised their hand with specific interests, issues, and needs in mind, and if mishandled could result in a lost opportunity. Many organizations still use a manual process where SDR’s (sales development reps) or MDRs (marketing development reps) receive each lead and decide how it will be handled. However, sales is always going to be more efficient when they are having interactions with prospects as opposed to spending their day deciding if they should follow up or route to someone else.
- Take Ownership of All Your Account’s Leads
Your CRM platform may not be set up in a way in which incoming leads are automatically associated to existing accounts. It is common that 50% of organizations’ leads could match to existing accounts, but due to CRM limitations, they are not visible to the AE’s (account executives) who own these accounts. Lead to Account matching is one preferred method to solve this problem, and gives AE’s full visibility and reducing mishandled leads.
- Leverage Leads to Gain Momentum
Take the power to engage back into your own hands by using incoming leads to further the conversation. Rather than waiting for a lead associated with one of your accounts to be qualified, act first and leverage the opportunity to gain a new contact while their interest is hot. Complex B2B sales provide a unique challenge in that you are not selling to just one individual, but to a buying group within the organization. Leads provide a great opportunity to connect with new people you might not otherwise find through your own investigation.
- Before the Call, Be Informed and Prepared
Acknowledging you have far less power in when and where you can interact with your prospects means it is important that you maximize each call. Since, the customer will likely already by educated on the product, be prepared with an understanding of their business and role in the organization to heighten the conversation and make the most out of your personal interaction.
Your next move.. While it is more difficult than ever to control the sale, there are ways in which you can empower yourself to navigate successfully through the high tech sales landscape. Take advantage of the tools available to optimize your CRM and create a workflow that gets you more wins, faster.
Lindsey Meredith is a Sales Evangelist writing on emerging trends in high tech sales at LeanData.
¹Press Release. “Gartner Says Sales Organizations Must Upgrade Skills and Processes to Meet B2B Technology Buyer Expectations” (11 September 2013)