Whether you work in sales or marketing, you’re all part of a revenue team. According to Gartner, in a typical firm with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decisions. Sales start and close over a period of meaningful, engaging conversations. But exactly what does it mean to be ‘meaningful’? And… what is the difference worth to your business, between a generic conversation and a meaningful one?
Below 4 sales and marketing experts share their sales strategies to creating meaningful engagement.
PRO TIP #1: First & Foremost, Identify Your Target Accounts
Unfortunately, a lot of selling cycles go wrong right at the beginning.
Most sales teams need some help determining which accounts they should target. There’s a cross-section of data points, where an account is not only the right fit for your business but is also displaying behaviors that indicate a purchase is likely to happen.
That’s exactly the ripe accounts that could run a strong sales cycle. But how do teams pinpoint them?
Sell With FIRE
EverString’s FIRE methodology helps identify this critical cross-section where an account is a good fit, AND there are signs of an imminent purchase decision looming.
Here’s how FIRE works:
- Fit – The account meets your criteria for an ideal customer (tech stack, size, etc.)
- Intent – There’s a project building towards making a purchase around something
- Recency – The intent behavior is something that’s happening now, not a year ago.
- Engagement – Do they know your brand? Have they been to your website?
At the cross-section of those 4 dimensions, there’s generally a lot of really juicy sales cycles for your team.
Set Your Aim Right From The Start
You’re about to put forth a lot of effort and investment to go after an account, you want to make sure you’re doing the work upfront to ensure the accounts you’re pursuing actually want to be a part of your sales cycle.
FIRE surfaces exactly where to place your best bets regarding resource allocation.
Imagine this: You’re a sales rep, and every account you call on:
- meets all of your selling requirements,
- AND was searching for a solution like the one you sell,
- AND had already engaged with your brand on some level.
You don’t have to evangelize your product or solution or run a sales cycle only to later find out they’re not a good fit. And you can skip over the part about telling them who you are as a company and what you’re all about.
Starting with the right accounts and choosing the appropriate time to engage, makes every step in this process a whole lot smoother and more efficient for your entire team.
Avoid A Sales Facepalm 🤦
The worst news as a sales rep is to be involved in a protracted sales cycle, only to find out later on, that there’s a reason things are stalled (and you could have found out at the beginning! *facepalm*)
We can all agree, identifying a list of target accounts is essential. But it can be complex and daunting, too because there’s so much data coming at you. So, consider the 4 dimensions of FIRE Methodology to be far more successful in the rest of your process.
Tim Harris, VP of Marketing at DialSource calls EverString his “fish finder”. He goes on to note that “Rather than fishing in the entire ocean with any lure you can manage, hoping you catch something beyond an old tennis shoe, I’d rather fish where I know there’s going to be great fish that are hunting down what I’m fishing with.”
PRO TIP #2: Capture Prospects On Their Terms
Armen Zildjian, VP of Sales at Drift said it great: The process you use to sell can differentiate you just as much as the product itself.
A Foundation Of Trust
When you demonstrate that you care about engaging with customers in a real way, you show that engaging with them is a priority of yours and not just another task you’re trying to check off your to-do list.
Doing this builds trust and solidifies the beginning of a relationship you can leverage across the entire sales cycle. Sales and marketing teams should identify target customers, and then meet them where they are.
No Canned Experiences
Consider this: You’ve spent so much time to drive your target accounts to your site, the last thing you want to do is greet them with a generic experience when they land there.
Instead of letting your precious prospect chicken peck across your website hoping to find something helpful, revenue teams can leverage technology like Drift to engage in a personalized, real-time way, at scale.
Play The Long Game
Don’t force users to convert on their first visit. Instead, do the following:
- Understand what your target customers have on their minds
- Seek to learn about what they’re looking for next
- Then, set up a sales strategy to engage them in the next step of the journey
- The next step might not be forcing them to fill out a form.
If you prioritize giving your website visitors what they want, you’ll create a meaningful encounter which makes them more likely to engage and more likely to set up a strong relationship that will last through the sales process.
Most of the tech we use is oriented to get ready to sell (for example: fill out this form, receive nurture campaigns, get scored, etc.). However, if you do the opposite and avoid shuffling visitors to a conversion point during their first visit, then they’re more likely to (inevitably) come back.
Get Ready For Your Close Up
Video is another way to build meaningful engagements with other people in the buying decision, beyond the person visiting your site. If you provide value or help answer a question, your video is likely to be viewed and then shared with the rest of their team.
PRO TIP #3: Use Conversations As Building Blocks
Let’s admit it: Phone calls get a bad wrap. Sales Development Reps (SDRs) often feel overloaded, as they face endless call out lists and ongoing rejection.
Yet, the phone can be a critical tool. How many large deals have transacted without a single phone call or video/voice call? But, you need to earn the right to do it.
Conversations lead to a better understanding of intention and the potential for taking action. They also help unlock a ton of understanding that you can’t gain from digital interactions.
Phone calls help you gain a lot of contextual data, such as:
- Pausing points
- Excitement points
- What things do they respond most to?
- Where you lose their interest?
The results of phone conversations are inherently difficult to measure, since they’re not clear-cut positive or negative, one way or the other.
Here’s what to do: Review the standard calls you have, and determine “buckets” or categories of outcomes. You can likely classify your calls something like this:
- They want to move forward immediately.
- They have lots of questions before proceeding.
- They’re interested but expressed some challenges.
- They’re ready to buy, given some stipulations.
- (Or whatever else fits your process)
Then, tally up the results and make adjustments. You may decide to move the phone call to a different point in the buyer’s journey because people tend to want to stay anonymous until later in their purchasing cycle.
With all these call outcomes identified, develop a feedback loop that includes marketing.
- Review content on your website.
- Adjust where certain prospecting activities should happen during the prospect’s journey.
- Build the teachable moments mindset within your team. Listen to call recordings.
Track Activity Metrics… But Do It Differently
Don’t monitor the basic “how many calls” or “how many emails sent”, but instead monitor things like:
- How is the flow of your work?
- Are you enabled to do your job well?
- Are the things you’re doing getting results?
- Are your activities driving meaningful engagement?
PRO TIP #4: Go Beyond The Digital Noise
No one has enough time to answer every email or listen to every voicemail. Social media is getting more and more flooded with outreach. Joe Venuti, Sr. Director of Inside Sales at Sendoso underlines how well direct mail helps break through the digital noise.
By using the mailbox least utilized in today’s sales cycle, teams are finding avenues to stand out and engage your target or existing customers.
Curiosity Catches The Customer
People can ignore emails, cold calls, voicemails… but boxes are tough to ignore. Curiosity is going to win over. Few people can resist opening a wrapped box that happens to appear on their desk one day.
With so much digital communications available, direct mail is a way to personalize, human-to-human connection. Bring it back to human relationships and blaze a path to more meaningful conversations.
Direct mail can earn your sales team that 30-second follow up call or other outreach. Personalized research with a meaningful gift can make any prospect feel like repaying the favor, at the very least, via a conversation or a thank you email.
Direct mail is a great way to celebrate wins, too:
- Signed Contracts
- New Hires & Growth
- Product releases
Support The Entire Sales Cycle
Direct mail can make a difference at every step of the sales cycle.
For example: You’ve just set up a great new meeting, and you want to make sure your customer shows up. Digital e-gifts delivered right to your email with something like “Here’s coffee on me! Look forward to seeing ya soon.” Or even use the same method to re-engage if someone goes dark. It’s going to stand out a whole lot better than the typical “do you remember me” email.
Decide What To Send
Sometimes it can be tricky to determine exactly what to send, in the sea of gift and giveaway options.
Here’s how you can approach select the right direct mailer:
- Send different options to select sample lists
- Track performance and identify where you’re successful
- Build upon that at scale and automate whenever you can
Overall, don’t be afraid to start small with simple ways to engage. Get out there and try things. Find ways to test new ideas and then analyze the results.
Here are 4 more BONUS tips for sales strategies that help to create meaningful conversations:
1. Identify the 4-6 attributes of what makes a great account.
- Don’t do it in a vacuum. Include your SDRs, customer success and your marketing department.
- Get consensus around what those attributes are what make a customer ideal fit. Make sure your sales and marketing teams are aligned on which accounts you’re targeting.
- Static happens amongst team when you run campaigns to accounts that aren’t the right fit. Instead, get the data points and hold your teams accountable to run campaigns and activities towards those target accounts.
2. It’s all about video. Get ready for your close up!
- TOPO says there are 8-23 people involved in the buying process. That’s a lot of relationships to build.
- Since you can’t get each decision maker or influencer on the phone together, video is a great way to build a one-to-one relationship across a team.
- Use video in both your sales outreach and your follow up
3. Remember the 3 Blind Mice
- Ask a Marketer (1), an AE (2) and an SDR (3) to privately map the customer touchpoints as they see them (from 1st prospect to closed/won)
- Then, bring them together and discuss; Compare each map.
- Sales understands all the different touchpoints involved before they engage
- Marketing understands how hard it is to build up that conversation and how to help support them more
4. Just Like Mom
- After a demo call, in addition to tech follow-ups, send a handwritten note.
- It helps make that human-to-human connection.
- Then, track your metrics after that to see if you generate better results and stronger relationships moving through the sales cycle.
Want to see and hear our sales experts in action? Click below to watch the full webinar recording.
Massive thank you to co-hosts, AA-ISP, Tim Harris of DialSource, Armen Zildjian of Drift, Joe Venuti of Sendoso, and hi-five to our very own, Matt Amundson!