Your customers all want the same things.
They rarely get it.
It’s often very difficult for them to get what they want from sellers. Salespeople are given mantras like “ABC, Always, Be Closing” and expected to produce results.
They typically aren’t allowed to complain.
When organizations struggle they often blame each other. Marketing blames sales, sales blames marketing, executives blame both. Underperforming sales teams are treated as a cost center.
Customers are ignored in all of this and they take their business elsewhere.
Who’s really to blame here?
Do inside sales teams have what they need?
The immediate answer is, of course.
Managers and executives cite their organization’s policies, training and support. They mention the great lengths they go to — doing everything they can to prepare their sales team.
Here’s the problem with that.
Almost all of that interest is directed towards the sales team. Yes, there’s a certain amount of focus your sales teams need to be successful, that’s what sales enablement is all about. However, there’s a certain amount of focus that needs to be shifted elsewhere.
Which is why so many sales teams struggle.
Where should salespeople focus their attention in order to close sales consistently? The answer, when you hear it, is actually quite obvious.
You focus on customers.
Many salespeople are focused on what they think customers want rather than the things that actually matter to them. This changes a customer’s perception of your salespeople, shifting from a trusted advisor to a pest whose only focus is separating them from their money.
Naturally, customers refuse to buy from these salespeople.
So what’s the solution?
What your inside sales team needs to close more sales
Your sales team needs data.
This data needs to be collected at three distinct levels if you’re going to be able to build a sales team that performs well consistently, whether the economy is up, down, or stagnant. These levels are as follows.
- Macro data: Your sales team understands the profile of your ideal customer. These profiles (different for each industry or level) provide them with the high-level information your salespeople need before they begin a conversation with the marketing qualified leads (MQLs) they receive. Data at this level gives your sales team the knowledge they need to get past decision-makers, build rapport and move customers through the sales funnel.
- Meso data: At this level, your sales team has information on the specific customer segments you’ll be selling to. You know who these customers are, and you have a general sense of their expectations. If you’re targeting outdoor ecommerce companies, for example, you know how customers in this segment are performing. You also know the amount of the revenue they bring in on average, what they’re focused on, and what they believe they need to grow their company.
- Micro data: You have the data on specific companies – what your customers expect, their desires, goals, fears, and frustrations. The core issues that keep leaders up at night and what they’re looking for from your company. You have the contact info for key people in the organization, including gatekeepers, decision-makers, influencers, and stakeholders. You know as much about their company as their veteran employees do.
Here’s the problem.
It’s common for companies to expect their salespeople to get all of this data independently. But it’s extraordinarily difficult for inexperienced salespeople to gain access to this kind of information, even if it’s exactly the kind of data your salespeople need to close the sale.
So, where does this data come from?
- Macro data should come from your marketing, customer service, and accounting teams. Marketing should supply you with front-end data – demographic, psychographic, and ethnographic data and data derived from analytics (e.g., web, predictive, sales, etc.). Customer service teams should be available as a resource to provide you with answers to customer service questions (e.g., what’s our customer’s biggest objection or complaint? Which customers stay the longest and why? What would make customers happiest?). Accounting should be able to provide you with hard numbers – which product or service delivers 80% of our revenue? Which products cost our company the most money? Which products generate the most commissions for our sales team? You’re looking for internal quantitative data you can use to make decisions.
- Meso data should come from marketing and sales data. Analytics via your CRM should provide you with trends you can use to identify customer trends (when we look at deals we’ve one, what do these customers have in common? Why did these customers buy from our salespeople? What do these customers expect from us? Did they get that? Are they still active customers?)
- Micro data should come from managers, customer service, and salespeople directly. This is data from a specific customer or prospect; any intel-gathering should be documented in your CRM system. This gives your sales team the vital insider, hidden, or implicit data needed to close more deals.
Let’s look at some examples of these various classes of data and how you can collect them.
Answers the big questions.
- Qualifying customers who are both willing and able to buy
- Ideal customer demographics, psychographics, and ethnographics
- What do your ideal customers in ## demographic want, need, avoid, fear, etc.?
- Where do ideal customers in ## demographic spend their time (online and offline)?
- What motivates customers (overall) to spend more
- What boosts customer churn?
- How do customers measure success (from their perspective)?
- Paid and upaid internships
- 1099 to W2 work arrangements
- Temporary or trial employement
- In-school recruitment programs
Answers big questions about cohorts (e.g., user, customer, or prospect groups).
- Cohort analysis of customers, orders, products
- Identifying customer problems
- Outlining customer desires, goals, fears, and frustrations
- Discovering risks to customers and how to eliminate these risks
- A list of customer objections
- The psychological triggers of specific customer segments and cohorts
Answers customer or prospect-specific questions.
- A list of key people (e.g., gatekeepers, decision-makers, influencers, stakeholders)
- Preferred contact methods (e.g., email, text, phone, video, chat, etc.)
- Customer experience (CX) data from specific customers
- Customer segmentation (e.g., promoters, detractors, and passives)
- Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) received
- Qualified leads received
- Conversion rates (deals won/lost)
- Lead source performance
- Lead capturing, qualifying, and scoring metrics
This list isn’t intended to be comprehensive; it’s merely here to convey the point. A deep and intimate understanding of your customer improves sales.
This isn’t accidental, though.
There’s a crucial piece of the puzzle that’s missing here. We’re missing the value formula. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and founder of Palantir, outlined his value formula.
This formula is the secret to value creation.
- Create X dollars of value for others
- Capture Y percent of X.
That’s the formula in a nutshell.
This formula isn’t common knowledge; in fact, most salespeople don’t even know that this formula exists! Their employers haven’t shared this information with them.
How do I know?
Salespeople continue to send me pitches like these.
Did you make it through all that?
If we’re using Peter Thiel’s Value Formula, where is the value in this email? Did this salesperson create any value for me? Is there any compelling reason why I, as a customer, should give this salesperson any of my valuable time?
This guy will never get me on the phone.
Is it his fault?
Probably not. It’s more likely that his employers haven’t provided him with the intel on my business he needs to create value and stimulate conversation.
And that’s the problem.
Sales enablement provides your sales team with the support, process, tools, and training they need to perform. For many organizations, this doesn’t include customer intel. When it comes to understanding customers, sales teams are typically on their own.
This approach is doomed to failure.
According to research from the Mckinsey Global Institute, data-driven organizations are 23x more likely to acquire customers.
What does this tell us?
Top performing sales teams use sales enablement + customer data to outperform their competitors dramatically. If you’re lucky, your sales team offers one of these; if you’re unlucky, you’re left to fend for yourself.
Does your inside sales team have what they need?
The immediate answer is, of course.
While competing sales teams pass out mantras like “ABC, Always, Be Closing” and expect their salespeople to fend for themselves, you’re doing the opposite.
You’re building a data-driven sales team.
You’re 23x more likely to win new customers; it’s no surprise they’re bringing all of their business to you. You’ve taught your salespeople to focus on customers. You’ve provided them with the macro, meso, and micro-level data they need to attract customer attention and create incredible value.
For customers, it’s an obvious choice.
With the right sales enablement programs and a clear focus on doing what’s best for your customers, you’ll find it’s easier for your sales team to attract, win, and retain your ideal customer, no blame necessary.