Businesses have always needed outstanding salespeople, and that need becomes especially apparent when the demand exceeds supply. This is the challenge that many organizations are now faced with as the world attempts to rebound from a year of stay-at-home orders, social distancing guidelines and economic setbacks. But if recruiters can’t find the right talent – not even for a salary that people would normally jump at – what can businesses do? Will they be forced to scale back their plans for growth, putting their entire operation at risk?
If it weren’t for data, that would have been a genuine concern. Instead of going on a never-ending crusade to hire a growing number of salespeople as businesses scale, they should instead ensure that their existing sales professionals have access to quality, impactful and highly actionable intelligence. This will allow businesses to convert sales from a cold-calling machine to an intelligence division that can achieve steady sales growth, no matter the size of the team.
Evolve From Smile-and-Dial to Successful-with-Data
There was a time when sales operated on a dartboard mentality, assuming that if they reached out to as many people as possible, they’d be more likely to hit the bullseye. This strategy often involved a barrage of emails and phone calls as salespeople spent the day, month or week trying to hit their goals. But that’s not how modern-day sales works. To get ahead, sales professionals must be strategic in every action they take – and in order to do that, they must rely on data.
Information is the lifeblood of every sale. Sales teams need to know and fully understand what customers want and need in order to fulfill expectations. This is a must; with limited resources, organizations do not have time to smile-and-dial. While it may have been effective at the dawn of telecommunications, this cold-calling strategy is too broad and too impersonal to make a difference. Today’s sales professionals must be focused in their actions; they need to be organized, strategic problem-solvers who know their prospects before making contact.
Sales professionals can achieve by using predictive analytics, real-time buyer activity and multi-channel intent to enter the conversation with the knowledge they need to assist their customers. This will allow them to remain hyper-focused on the customer’s needs and provide a personalized message that drives optimal conversions, ultimately delivering the revenue-generating results that they seek.
Use the Right Tools to Excel with Limited Resources
In addition to being tasked with doing more with less, sales teams are also challenged by the need to identify the correct buyers and the best time to engage them. But this has become harder than ever. While intent data was once considered to be the solution to these problems, it is often fragmented and overly expensive. And that’s just one of the issues – intent data is also plagued by its own confines, limiting sales professionals to single types of intent. This inevitably leaves significant gaps in either validity and/or scale, preventing the level of growth that’s needed in today’s competitive market.
Intent data should not be ignored, however – far from it. But it’s clear that sales teams need more intelligence to improve sales efficiencies in reaching the right prospect at the right time. It’s important to recognize that not all intent signals are created equal – if they are limited to vague categories such as “IT security” or “HR,” or if intent merely highlights a one-off buying signal, the benefits will be limited.
In order to discover and refine the total addressable market (TAM), salespeople will need more specifics than that. They need to dig deeper and utilize intent signals that highlight content engagement, product installations that can show a propensity to buy, and better information about the company itself including media and news. With the right tools, sales teams of any size can better understand customer intent and make smarter decisions.
Take Advantage of Data to Turn Barriers into Sales Opportunities
Sales professionals have endured their share of challenges in recent years, especially as the number of prospects increased. That’s a good thing, to be certain – the digital era has opened sales to a world of additional opportunities, but it also means there are more prospects to weed through. It is paramount that sales teams prioritize their current target account initiatives with the power of data and intelligence. This is especially true at a time when many organizations are operating with limited resources. By using the right data tools to identify and reach the companies with the highest likelihood of converting, sales teams can take the “pain” out of this painstaking process.
Peter Cannone is CEO of Demand Science. He is a veteran of the tech industry having served as General Partner at Optum Ventures and the chief executive officer of UpCurve, Inc., part of New Media Investment Group and Fortress.