It’s a simple concept really. Viewing your buyer as an enemy to be conquered is the wrong way to go in B2B sales transactions. You must align yourself with the buyer and create a win-win for everyone. When the buyer views you as an advisor, you’ve accomplished one of the most critical tasks in B2B sales – earning the buyer’s trust… trust and credibility go hand-in-hand.
Position yourself on the same side of the table with the prospect. It’s really the only way to go. They can sniff out when you are in it to get that commission check. Don’t be that guy. Here are some ways to gain a prospect’s trust in the B2B sales process and non-verbally communicate that you’re on each other’s team:
- Understand your buyer’s challenges – both company-wide and challenges they face in their personal day-to-day. This means that in your investigation of the buyer, you must (1) uncover some pain points, and more importantly (2) truly understand the impact those issues are having on the business and on them. Buyers are not logical by nature. They are emotional. If you can appeal to that sensibility in the sales process and position your product as a solution to a problem, you’re already halfway to the finish line.
- Help your buyer see the big picture. Think about your own business needs. There’s a laundry list at any given moment, right? Try to get your buyer to imagine the impact your solution will have on their company. Show them not only the specific benefits but what their world will look like with your solution in place.
- Take it away from the buyer if you start to have doubts that it can help them. This may seem counterintuitive but the take away is one of the most powerful weapons in your B2B sales arsenal. The moment you doubt whether your solution can be useful to your buyer, take it off the table. Often, the buyer will start explaining to you why it’s needed in their organization, thus reinforcing their fervor for your product. But don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal – they’ll beckon you back, in many cases.
- Honor your commitments. This is step one to earning trust with your buyer. Be there when you say you will. Never bait and switch. Do what you say you’ll do. When you lay that simple framework of honoring your commitments, the buyer will more readily start to see you as an ally.
Don’t be a bad, greedy guy. Be a good guy. Be the assistant buyer. Be on the same team. To quote Zig Ziglar, “It’s impossible to strike a good deal with a bad guy.”
By now, surely you’ve heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge unless you live in a vacuum. The challenge is this: dump a bucket of ice water on yourself or donate $100 to the ALS Foundation and then call out three of your friends to do the same. Talk about a campaign poised for success. It’s a campaign that went viral with such ferocity that it’s been dubbed by some as the “Harlem Shake of 2014.” As I look at my Facebook feed, it seems every celebrity I know is hopping on the bandwagon too.
The results? After the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media, public awareness and charitable donations for ALS soared. On August 18, 2014, the ALS Association declared that it had accepted $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time frame (July 29 to August 18) in the prior year. These donations came from both existing donors and a whopping 307K new donors. Quite the success, I’d say, and for a wonderful cause too.
But what can we, as B2B marketing professionals, learn from this campaign? Here’s a few that come to mind:
- A strong call-to-action does exactly what it’s supposed to do… incites action. Part of the genius of the campaign is that the call-to-action is well-defined in all facets. Challenge participants call out three specific friends to also participate within a 24-hour time period. It’s not a vague call-to-action; on the contrary, it’s very specific in who it targets.
- Video is the ultimate viral medium. Did you know that visual media is processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text? If you haven’t already added video to your B2B marketing mix, you’re behind the 8-ball. There’s something visceral about seeing people, things, places. If a picture tells a 1000 words, surely video tells a million.
- Your brand’s activities go over better when they are inspired by a higher ideal. I’m not saying that you have to marry your brand or campaign to a charity. But quite simply, when your company’s efforts are guided by strong morality and character, that positivity engrains itself in your culture and it shows. It can be as easy as stating a company mission as “We do what we say we’ll do with no exceptions.” It shows high ideals and gives your brand credibility.
At the end of the day, Lou Gehrig’s disease is a mysterious, lethal affliction and we couldn’t be more pleased that such a noble organization like the ALS Foundation is reaping the rewards of a well-designed, well-executed campaign.
Way to go Bill Gates and the rest of you who have taken the challenge and donated.
Let me start with a quick story… Last week, I was researching a Salesforce.com app on the AppExchange. I decided to install it in our sandbox to see how it functions. I hit the “Get it Now” button and started going through the motions of installing the package in our environment.
No exaggeration… not even 20 seconds after I had hit the button, I get a call from one of the sales reps who works for this application’s parent company. He decided to lead with, “Hey Garrett, I see that you downloaded our application. How is it working for you?”
I replied, “Ummm… I haven’t even gotten to the page to install it yet.”
It felt weird. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for addressing inquiries quickly, but this was just strange. So, how soon is too soon? Well, I guess it depends on what exactly the call-to-action was. If your B2B sales prospect has just downloaded a 64-page eBook, calling them five minutes later to ask how they enjoyed it is probably a little too soon.
There’s a caveat to be made clear here: if the B2B sales prospect has completed a Contact Us form or some other hard call-to-action, timeliness may work in your favor. There’s a report out there which indicates that if you call the prospect in the first 0-30 seconds (yes, I said seconds), your qualification rate doubles over calling the prospect in 30-60 seconds.
Bottom line? If a buyer completes a form to contact you directly—requesting a price quote, product demo, or a simple request for more information—then you should call right away. If, on the other hand, a buyer contacts you indirectly—by completing a form to download a whitepaper, access video content, or view other gated material—then you should nurture, rather than call, the lead.
Here is some common sense advice for not coming off as creepy:
- If the prospect has just downloaded a long-form piece of content, you should probably give them some time to digest it.
- You probably shouldn’t call a prospect and lead with something like “Hey, I see you’re looking at our page which describes the yellow widgets…” It gives a really creepy “Big Brother” feeling.
- If you feel you absolutely MUST call immediately, perhaps it’s better to present yourself as a resource should they have any questions… a softer approach.
…and to the rep that called me after I downloaded the Salesforce application: If you’re out there, I’m ready to talk about your solution. It’s been a week… Why haven’t you called back yet?
As I sat in a session at Dreamforce last year, the presenter played this video and I about lost it. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen it before, as it was produced by Scofield Editorial way back in 2009. Since then, I must have seen it a dozen times. I thought I’d share it with our audience here for a fun little Friday break.
The videos that people find the most amusing are the ones we can relate to. If you haven’t seen it before, give it a watch. I’m sure you’ll relate… no matter which side of the table you normally sit on in the B2B sales vendor-client relationship.
For related information, some highly recommended reading from our blog can be found here:
When negotiating with your prospect, you’ll often run into someone that likes what you have to offer, they trust you, but they want to haggle on price. Maybe they are just haggling to haggle and maybe they really are trying to make the price more palatable. Either way, there’s a statement you can make which will carry you a long way in negotiating price with your B2B sales prospect:
Mr. Prospect, I gather that you like what I have to offer and that you see value in how it can help you. I also understand that you’re simply trying to get the best price, but let me tell you how I often look at purchases like these. The only time you will be concerned with the PRICE of the product is RIGHT NOW. From that moment on, you will only be concerned with the QUALITY of our product. Isn’t it better to invest a little more than you’d planned now, rather than look back and wished you’d invested a little more later?
If you’re comfortable that you’ve properly built up the value of your solution, that’s when you should make a statement like that above. However, if you think you may need to go back and build value in your product first before even answering the price objection, do that.
At the end of the day, you have to deftly remind the prospect that cheap and good seldom go together.
I heard one of the most profound, yet simple, things I’ve ever heard while driving down to our Houston headquarters the other day. Every couple months, I drive from my home office in Dallas to the SalesStaff headquarters in Houston and I always get some salesy audiobooks to listen to. This trip I chose one of the classics: The Secrets of Closing the Sale by the man, the master, Zig Ziglar.
As I sat back watching the cows fly by in my side window, my ears perked up when old Zig started talking about one of the most paramount weapons in a B2B sales professional’s arsenal: trustworthiness. My curiosity already piqued, I listened intently and the cows seemed to matter a lot less.
Zig went on to say that, in the profession of sales, one way to exhibit trustworthiness is simply to be kind, polite, and friendly. Then he quoted famous hotelier Leona Helmsley:
“I don’t hire people that have to be told to be nice. I hire nice people.” - Leona Helmsley
It struck me like lightning. I found it ironic, first of all, that these words would come from a woman renowned as the “Queen of Mean.” But beyond that, the message was profound.
I think there’s a difference to be drawn here between impolite salespeople and those that are very matter-of-fact in the way they help prospects and customers. Plenty of successful salespeople aren’t bubbly, but that doesn’t mean they are energy vampires that suck the life out of a room.
Look… here’s the deal. People just don’t buy sometimes – why? Because they either have no money, no desire, no need, or simply because they don’t trust the salesman. The latter is a factor that you never really can put a number on. How many deals have you lost because they didn’t trust you? Hard to know, because the prospect would never come out and say, “I think you’re a schmuck and I don’t trust you.”
So the first way to combat this is to treat people politely and amiably. I’ve known plenty of B2B sales professionals who have had a less-than-happy disposition, and in thinking back, they didn’t do too well. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions to the rule, but by and large, if you treat people how you want to be treated, you may have a leg up in the B2B sales world. If you’re a B2B sales manager, you’d be served well to hire nice people, rather than hire energy vampires that have to be told to be nice.
For related information, some highly recommended reading from our blog can be found here:
B2B appointment setting is a tough gig. Day in and day out, call after call, “no” after “no”, these reps get in the trenches and represent your business to hundreds of customers each week. The inclination may be to set them up on a cold calling list which harkens to the olden days where salespeople would sit around with a phone book and make sales calls- but that’s certainly not the best way from our experience.
Take it from the experts here at SalesStaff, if you do your best to give your B2B appointment setting team warmer leads, it will be a win-win all the way around. But where do you find warm leads to call? In this age of digital marketing and sales, there are spots in your funnel where leads may fall out. Your B2B appointment setting team may be the answer to getting them back in the mix.
Here are some sources of warm leads you may have available in your sales pipeline:
- Clicks and opens on your email marketing campaigns or newsletters. This is a dataset of prospects who probably have some clue about who you are since they’ve at least seen your email.
- Prospects that follow your company on LinkedIn. Your social media manager can easily go to LinkedIn and pull a list of prospects who follow your company’s LinkedIn page. These may need to be sourced for email and/or phone number, but it’s worth the effort.
- Deals that never closed. Inevitably, there will be a number of prospects that your sales team never closed. Send your B2B appointment setting team out on them to try and revive those deals.
- Industry trade association members. We have plenty of membership organizations in our industry (like the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals). You should probably have a few in your space too. Find them, and find out how to get a hold of the members.
Bottom line: Give your B2B appointment setting team the warmest leads possible and they’ll convert more.
Please take advantage of our complimentary resources:
There’s a new set of survey results out, released by Demand Metric (some of which we highlighted in a recent article). I keep finding lots of telling results in this survey and I encourage you to download it.
In their report, marketers and B2B sales pros answered a couple questions about their perception of the marketing collateral their company generates. Apparently (but not surprisingly), 75% of marketers consider marketing assets somewhat (67%) or very (9%) effective. Unfortunately, among their B2B sales counterparts, only 46% of salespeople agree.
Only 46% of B2B #sales professionals think that the #marketing collateral they are provided is adequate.
The main subject of the survey is the impact of poor B2B sales interactions, finding all kinds of disagreement between B2B sales and marketing teams, each seeing challenges with the other’s performance. Reading further into the study, B2B sales pros claim that some of the issue with marketing collateral relates to collaboration, as only 25% of sales respondents feel that they weren’t tapped for their expertise in creating marketing assets. This finding coincides with a Brainshark survey released late last year which found that 70% of B2B sales reps say that they get their collateral from marketing but 42% of those say they “rarely” or “never” have a say in the development of that collateral.
The takeaway? Though we’re conscious that there needs to be a good feedback loop between B2B sales and marketing teams, one area of improvement is in the development of marketing collateral. There should be heavy cooperation between the two departments in this area. Make it so.
Other Findings in the Demand Metric Survey:
- Regarding the incidence of bad sales meetings, the majority of respondents see them as occurring either sometimes (48%) or rarely (29%).
- 52% of respondents believe it takes a upwards of a few months to properly recover from a bad meeting and only 30% see the recovery process as taking place more swiftly that that.
To get better at follow-up, download our whitepaper, Be a Follow-Up All-Star: The 1-2-3 Method:
“We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose. We have to embrace a notion that for Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job. And if others are going to help us, that’s great because we need all the help we can get. And if we screw it up and we don’t do a good job, it’s not somebody else’s fault. It’s our fault. ” – Steve Jobs
I read that quote yesterday and reflected on a presentation I heard from Guy Kawasaki last year. B2B sales does not have to be a zero-sum game. That’s the premise that Kawasaki posited at a presentation I attended last year – well actually it was that “the world” is not a zero-sum game, but I’ve drawn the connection with B2B sales competition.
Kawasaki went on to say, “There are two kinds of people: eaters and bakers. Eaters think the world is a zero-sum game: what someone else eats, they cannot eat. Bakers do not believe that the world is a zero-sum game because they can bake more and bigger pies. Everyone can eat more. People trust bakers and not eaters.”
If you see the world as one where you get a bigger piece of the pie at the expense of someone else, you’ve got it all wrong. Just bake a bigger pie and everyone wins. Genius.
Let me break this down a little bit. You don’t have to be locked in a death-grip with your competitors. Do you want to win deals? Of course. But in the context of a B2B sales environment, if you (along with your competitors) do a great job for your customer base, it boosts your industry because people start believing in your set of services. Raising the water-level makes all ships float higher.
Real-world example: Services like Buffer, Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite specialize in social media management. They are effectively competing for dollars from organizations that want a better way to manage their social media presence. But that doesn’t have to mean that if one wins a customer, the others must lose one. By offering a quality application, all of them have collectively increased the market demand for social media management tools by persuading the marketplace that these tools help make marketing easier and more efficient. They bake a bigger pie by adding potential prospects to the larger pool.
In SalesStaff’s world of B2B appointment setting and lead generation, there have been too many fly-by-night Lead Generation companies that have provided poor service over the years. Now that there are extremely viable options in the sales lead generation space, we (with our competitors) have bolstered the image of lead generation as a service and thus, baked a bigger pie. You get it?
That’s my food for thought for the day. Let’s bake a bigger pie together – network with us at Dreamforce in October:
Do you remember that Marketing class you took in college? Maybe as an elective or core study? I remember the few I sat through back at old Texas Christian University… and they were great courses that prepared me for the fine art of influencing people with ideas – classes that taught about branding, marketing strategy, public relations, and the basics of advertising. But the truth is today’s marketer looks less like Don Draper and more like your barista at Starbucks – youthful, hip, in touch with what audiences like, Social Media maven, etc. I generalize, but you get it.
My college courses left out a few nuggets that are omnipresent in my day-to-day role as a marketing professional:
Everything is measurable… yes, everything
Now that marketing has gone digital, there's no shortage of stats. The marketing department can become bean-counters in their own right. We measure EVERYTHING in digital marketing – from the normal stuff, like number of clicks on my email marketing campaign, to the ridiculous and granular, like how many times viewers skipped my branding roll on the first 10 seconds of my Youtube video. At the end of the day, measurables drive marketing and there is no lack of them.
Engagement (not impressions) has the trump card now in marketing campaigns
Marketing and advertising used to be about how many people you could get to see your campaign – on the TV, in a magazine, etc. Now, it’s about how many people you can get to ACT on your campaign. Did they click through to my landing page? Did they Tweet out the hashtag I put at the bottom of the TV screen? Today, it’s all about how many people you can get to respond and chatter about your brand or products.
When it comes to content marketing, prospects respond to quality way more than quantity
This has become second nature now. You can have 10 blog articles out there that are made to highlight an SEO keyword, but lack any real value or thinking points. What is that going to get you? Maybe some web visitors, but also some people that are disillusioned by your crappy articles. If you want to set your marketing efforts apart, focus on the quality you offer to your audience.
Give proper credit for your sources
It’s not uncommon nowadays to rehash others content. We do that quite a bit on our blog. We’ll highlight some things that another marketer or sales pro has talked about and offer our angle or commentary on it. Perfectly within the “unwritten” rules of marketing. But make sure that you credit your sources. You never want to be known as a plagiarizer. It’s like a comedian who steals bits from other comedians and passes them off as his own – it’s really just weak.
Marketing and sales are the most intimate bedfellows
No one ever taught me how close Sales and Marketing are – or at least how close they really should be for optimal performance. They’re so close that sometimes the line is a bit blurred – with salespeople often managing inbound marketing leads directly, or categorizing lead generators and appointment setters as marketing pros (see Should the Sales or Marketing Department Own the Inside Sales Process?). Either way, you can’t understate the feedback loop that must exist between the two departments to get it right.
Marketing people are a little weird
I’ve worked with dozens of marketers in my career and we’re all a little bit quirky. We get excited by strange or funny Tweets, often returning volley with a quip of our own. We can be snarky. We’re usually articulate. But what would this digital environment look like without smart marketers to make their impression on it? Probably still like this:
If you'll be at Dreamforce this October, we'd enjoy the opportunity to network with you a bit. Please oblige: