Just as you’re getting your head round the fact that millennials are today’s major B2B purchasing decision makers, a new generation of digital natives, Gen Z, is starting to influence the world of work. They don’t know a world without wi-fi or Wikipedia. Their expectation is that information and knowledge is readily available and freely given. They research, they take what they need, they move on.
Naturally, their attitude and expectations are influencing how older decision makers operate too. Think about your own information consumption. Knowledge that would historically have been part of established quid pro quo system – quality journalism in exchange for money; industry insight in return for your email address and the ability to market to you, is now largely free. For organizations looking for MQL and SQLs with traditional sales and marketing practices it’s a confusing time. B2B prospects research intensely and then move on. All the intent signals are strong and then there is just silence.
As the harsh urban meme goes: ‘new phone, who dis’. Your hot MQL is just not that into you, or certainly they don’t want to talk to you right now. As a marketing leader, when sales keep telling you that their hot prospect has just ‘gone cold’, its time to look at how you sales marketing is structured.
Why prospects just aren’t that in to you
Having given all the right signals through their internet behavior, when sales connects with them, expect the majority of MQLs to give the sales cold-shoulder. Your MQL has got the information they needed and moved on.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have issues or challenges. It just means they don’t see the value of working with you to solve them. They almost certainly have an existing provider that can get them where they need to be and small adjustments to the ‘status quo’ are a lot more comfortable than embarking on the unknown.
To convince them otherwise requires a modern sales marketing approach, one focused on their success (at a personal and organizational level) and it has little to do with selling and everything to do with position.
How to build rapport
Empower your sales team with content that makes the prospect pause for thought. In a workplace scenario that’s usually improved results. Make it your marketing team philosophy to always deliver new knowledge that prospects will find valuable. Take time to brief your sales team on your content so they become people worth knowing, able to back up interesting content with their own insights that are relevant to your prospect’s business. Share market trends and insights, find out what their challenges are, share with them where you see opportunities in the sector and slowly begin to collaborate on how they can overcome the former and capitalize on the latter. In short, make the path to engaging with you easy and heavily weighted in their favor. Supporting your team to sell in this way is critical if they’re to stay in the game. Equip them with training and coaching on storytelling, business acumen and selling with insight. A modern approach to selling requires modern skills-sets, and without them your team will fall back in the familiar ‘pitch the product’ approach.
Expand the party
On average, seven decision makers now make up a buying team, so make sure your sales team isn’t limiting their conversation to just one of them. Each decision maker has job specific challenges they need to address. Your sales team needs to provide insight for each persona. They should encourage their contact to share the information they provide, or set-up meetings so they can start to expand their range of influence within the organization. Then, using their new sales skills, and insight driven collateral from the marketing team they can work with their key contact to help overcome objections or highlight opportunities until the decision-making team is engaged.
Over time, your cold MQL will move to a friendly business relationship where there is genuine business value for your prospect to speak with your sales team. Your MQL will also have the support of their wider buying group. Suddenly, that move from their status quo to a new way of working begins to look a lot less scary and more beneficial than it ever did before.
Repeat at speed
Getting your sales team to cultivate relationships like this takes time and you still have a pipeline to build and a quarterly target to hit. Help them copy, paste and customize. Good Sales Content Management Systems give sales people access to relevant insights for different personas, verticals and stages of the buying journey. They work best when they’re owned by both the content developers (marketing) and the content disseminators (sales). The major benefits are:
– Increased time selling: Finger-tip access to easily customizable content, based on a persona, industry or business challenge so sales can get on with selling
– Additional sales insight. Providing insight on who has viewed the content, who its been shared with and which pieces of content are most read – invaluable for both sales and marketing
Next time your team moans that their hot prospect has gone cold, stop and think about the why that might be and what you as a sales leader can do to help. Acknowledge what Gen Z is bringing to the world of work, recognize that millennials are now your major decision makers and equip your team with the skills, tools and content they need to engage with your new prospects on their terms. Your team, your business and your customers will thank you.
Rachel Bibby is the CMO of Strategy to Revenue, the award-winning Sales Enablement consultancy.
To understand how you can improve your sales marketing performance, speak to one of our team.