I was doing some research for a client and stumbled across the Richardson’s 2022 Selling Challenges Study.
It’s a survey of 500 sellers with 1-20 years experience and arguably a realistic balance where half of the group haven’t met their quota while the other half reached 90% or more. Their answers reveal that the pandemic and recent economic events have introduced an entirely new set of challenges for our sales teams.
And that many sellers and managers are rethinking and even redesigning their strategies. I was specifically interested in the prospecting landscape.
Participants were asked:
What are the three toughest challenges in finding new business to fill your pipeline?
- 15% - Gaining access to the right stakeholder
- 13% - Creating a targeted prospecting strategy
- 13% - Managing gatekeepers
- 12% - Keeping track of my prospecting efforts
- 12% - Identifying sales signals that indicate issues you can resolve
- 10% - Writing compelling messages to gain a meeting
- 8% - Prospect qualification
- 7% - Learning and managing digital prospecting tools
- 5% - Assessing, building, and executing a territory plan
- 5% - Delivering a concise value statement/message
Here’s what they had to say.
- MODERN PROSPECTING DEMANDS A HIGHER LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT
Richardsons Report: Customers need to see value in every exchange with the seller. Delivering this value means speaking to the specifics of the customer’s world by leveraging better research. For example, sellers can explore the customer's social footprint to stay current. By offering highly relevant content the seller develops reciprocity because the seller is offering something of value which, in time, may compel the customer to eventually offer something in return. Together these activities foster authenticity in the relationship because the seller demonstrates genuine interest in understanding the customer’s business.
- SELLERS NEED TO BECOME MICRO MARKETERS
Richardsons Report: Becoming a micro-marketer means identifying the ideal customer. Sellers need to determine which customers can benefit most from the differentiators of their solution. Once sellers isolate these prospects they can “bread crumb” value by repeatedly and reliably offering insights, thought leadership, case studies, or relevant research. Making this approach work means committing to a communication cadence consisting of numerous touch points across different channels using different media.
- COMMUNICATION MUST BE CUSTOMISED
Richardsons Report: Customers can and will disengage quickly and easily if they don’t perceive value or immediately feel that there is a reason to speak with the sales professional. Avoiding this outcome means drafting a value statement. A value statement is an effective tool for sales professionals because it offers a template for written communication that is concise, and clear. To be persuasive, the value statement must be tailored to the customer and leverage the market intelligence within the selling organisation.
Is social selling the answer?
I wrote a separate article outlining the 8 reasons why reps are feeling the squeeze. When you understand why things have changed, it can make it easier to know where to start to make changes.
We have trained our own sales team to make better use of their social footprint. In reality it’s a change programme as it requires a completely different mindset and the point Richardson’s make about sales people becoming mini-marketers rings true.
But with more people involved in the buying process it is a great way to broaden your influence and one of the fastest ways we’ve seen to get a conversation going with someone new. It’s also spectacularly good for overcoming the gatekeeper problem that traditional sales routes fall foul of as they’re simply not there. If you’re reading this and would like to hear about our experiences so far then why not connect with me on LinkedIn.
The good news is there’s an easy way to create targeted prospecting strategies
We realised some time ago that organisations needed help to find people that were in buying mode, to help those people rise to the top of a very visible and actionable funnel, and give those people a personal and on-brand experience.
Is this you?
We were seeing sales & marketing teams trying to manage this process in a mix of spreadsheets, email engines that weren’t designed to handle cold data, and disparate analytics platforms - piecing the results together in an attempt to create a single picture for sales. It’s too long winded to write let alone deliver.
And sometimes even worse than this, clients would license data and then never use it because it was just too hard to get a campaign off the ground. Or they’d use it once or twice but struggle with the consistent momentum a lead gen campaign demands to get results.
So when lockdown struck, we took the opportunity to build something new that would solve this easily – especially for businesses that don’t have large (or any) marketing teams, and don’t have enterprise level budgets.
It solved the number 2 toughest challenge on Richardson’s survey list – delivering a targeted prospecting strategy.
As I read through the Richardson survey, these are the top 5 findings that stand out to me. Assuming your business can answer number 1, then we can help you solve the rest.
- Offer something of true value
- Be genuine and authentic
- Commit to a communication cadence which has numerous touch points across different channels
- Personalise communication
- Repeatedly and reliably offer relevant insight
Source: Richardson’s 2022 Selling Challenges Study
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