An Evolved Customer Demands an Evolved Lead Management Approach

A little over a half a decade ago, the buzzword “Sales 2.0” began to bandied about, and it soon found itself the title of an influential conference for sales and marketing people. The objectives of Sales 2.0 were defined as: Lead Management approach

  • More predictability (knowing what is coming down the pipeline)
  • Higher velocity (closing deals faster and with less cost of sales)
  • Higher volume (closing more deals)
  • Higher value (generating more revenue at lower costs)
  • Higher customer satisfaction (creating and sustaining long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty)

Those are all long-standing desires for sales. But none of these things really touches on the most interesting thing at the heart of Sales 2.0 – the changing and expanding role of the customer, and how it radically modifies what a salesperson needs to do to stay successful. Thanks to the Internet, buyers no longer have to learn via salespeople – they can get out their laptop, tablet or smart phone and do the research they need to do on their own. Significantly for sales, they do this in the context of their own business, noting aspects that are important to them and, at times, doing so in great detail. That means that, when the buyer’s ready, he or she is the one, often, who reaches out to a sales person – and the buyer comes to the conversation armed with a lot of information. In fact, because the buyer has researched with his or her own business in mind, the buyer may know more than the salesperson about the salesperson’s own company. That’s a pretty precarious position for sales to be in: how do you become a trusted advisor when you aren’t the best informed person in the relationship? According to DemandGen Report, more than 40 percent of B2B buyers begin their research on the web anonymously. That is to say, they don’t hit sites that record their data and they avoid filling out registration pages. The same study indicates that 80 percent of visitors to web pages are totally anonymous and are thus unknown to the sites’ owners. Only 1 to 2 percent of visitors identify themselves. This means that, during the crucial buyer research phase, you have no visibility into what these buyers are reading, where they’re going, or even what they know about your company. You can’t help them find what they’re looking for, because you don’t even know they’re looking. And if they do pick up the phone and call you, you have to start from scratch in order to learn what they know, even though they may have left digital breadcrumbs all over your website. Most of them don’t call, of course. Instead, marketing may discover them through its efforts and pass them on to sales as leads. But again, this is not informed by the buyers’ activities, and only 50 percent of those qualified and passed to sales are really ready to buy. How do you combat this inefficiency? By applying lead intelligence. This comes in the form of several technologies: specifically, web tracking and data mining. Web tracking allows you to see and understand the buyer’s path through your web content. It allows you to learn what he’s learned from you about your products and services. Data mining takes this a step deeper, delivering demographic, firmographic and contact information. Not only can this allow sales people to proactively reach out to buyers who are researching their companies, it gives sales people a chance to catch up with the buyers on the learning journey. Then, as the relationship starts, buyer and seller can be on a more even ground and the seller has a better chance to establish himself as a trusted advisor. In other words, intelligence allows salespeople to change at a pace near that of the customer, and equips them to enter conversations as well armed with knowledge as the modern customer. What’s the effect of this? According to Gartner, companies whose sales processes employ sales intelligence increase the quality and quantity of leads, and revenue increases on an average of 10 percent. How can you help your sales team with sales intelligence tools? Check out CallidusCloud’s approach to lead intelligence.

By Chris Bucholtz | October 7th, 2014 | Marketing

About the Author: Chris Bucholtz

Chris Bucholtz

Chris Bucholtz is the content marketing director at CallidusCloud and writes on a host of topics, including sales, marketing and customer experience. The former editor of InsideCRM, his weekly column has run in CRM Buyer since 2009. When he's not pondering ways to acquire and keep customers, Chris is also an avid builder of scale model airplanes.