Technology is great when it’s used effectively for the right reasons. But far too often sales enablement technology simply allows us to do harmful and ineffective things quicker and in greater volume.
Sales enablement technology is becoming more and more sophisticated. Artificial intelligence, Account Based Marketing (ABM) platforms, email tracking, autodiallers and so on are enabling more salespeople to reach out more often to more prospects.
But the search for newer, better, faster sales enablement technology is seeing a counter-trend emerge – one that focuses on creating better understanding of the people who really matter – the prospects. And this includes you, because you’re someone’s prospect.
Prospects are overwhelmed by more cold calls, more emails, more “targeted” ads, more online content, more connection requests. If everyone is doing more, faster to the same prospects it just becomes white noise. The more you try to reach them the less notice they take.
It’s easy to reach out to 50,000 people with one email, track who opens it, see who clicks on a link, analyse how long they stay on a page of your web site. Then you can do it again and again to refine your message and optimise your results.
But look at it from the perspective of the prospect. You’re someone’s prospect – how many emails do you get where you think “oh no, not THEM again”? How many of your prospects think that about you? Do you find it hard to trust a company that keeps sending you information on stuff you really don’t care about without making an effort to understand you and what your needs, desires and priorities are?
Many companies think that if they send out a heap of emails and get a 4% response they’re doing well and it’s a successful campaign. But what about the 96% that didn’t respond – what do they think about you? And what do they think of you the next time, and the next?
The same applies to cold calling. If you’re a senior decision maker, the type of prospect that every company wants to reach, what do you think of a company that uses junior Sales Development Representatives to “qualify” you and make sure you’re important enough and have enough money to pass across to a ‘real’ salesperson.
How can you trust someone to help you when they have little or no business experience, don’t understand your business, can’t talk to you about your issues in your terminology, just want to know if you’re a BANT qualified lead and if you aren’t ready to buy now throw you away like a fish that’s too small.
No wonder prospects delete 90% of emails without opening them and hide behind voice mail and gatekeepers as the volume of emails and calls escalates.
But slowly – far too slowly – vendors are beginning to realise that not only is the “more calls, more emails, more content” approach counterproductive, it’s actually hurting their brand. Because how can you trust someone who continually bombards you with generic messages you really don’t care about in the hope that every so often they’ll hit a target?
Technology is changing. People aren’t.
Human nature hasn’t changed much, if at all, since Dale Carnegie wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People” in 1936. People still want to be listened to and understood. People still care about what THEY care about, not what you care about.
Companies don’t buy stuff. People that work for companies buy stuff. Prospects are people – and people want to buy from people they trust. People trust other people who listen to them, who understand them, who care about them, who want to help them succeed.
The pushback from prospects who suffer from the use – or rather misuse – of sales enablement technology is leading to a slow realisation that there has to be a better way.
Sales enablement technology is brilliant if it’s used effectively
It can significantly improve targeting, allowing you to focus on your ideal prospects and tailor a message they care about rather than using a generic scatter gun approach. It allows you to do much better research so you can understand what your prospects really care about, what their issues are and what their priorities are.
Progressive sales organisations are focusing on defining their target markets much better, identifying the specific companies in those markets, identifying specific individuals at different levels in those companies, understanding their individual needs and priorities from their perspective – which is based on a combination of their industry, their role and their company – and tailoring different messages to address what each of them care about.
The CEO of a pharmaceutical company has a different perspective from the CEO of a distributor or a software developer. “We need to sell more” is a common issue across many companies but the fine details will differ considerably.
And even in one company the perspective of a problem, its impacts and the potential solutions will be different for the CEO, CMO, Sales Director, CFO and COO.
By focusing on a smaller group of ideal prospects, by understanding their priorities, their perspectives, the consequences of inaction as well as the risks of taking action and by working with them to solve their issues, the very best sales organisations are building trust and achieving much more with much less effort.
This trend, away from “more, more, more” towards “better, better, better” is growing and will become first a wave, then a tsunami. Companies that embrace sales enablement technology to understand their prospects better, to personalise their messages and to build trust will find it’s a surfboard that will enable them to ride the wave away from their competitors.
Those that use the technology to pump out more of the same, to talk about themselves, their products and yes, even their benefits will find it’s an anchor that will pull them to the bottom as the wave rips over their heads.
Barrett's annual Sales Trend Report (2019)