Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Add the Correct Attributes and Complete the Sales and Marketing Puzzle

In iLantern’s last post, I discussed the science versus the art of selling. Our fundamental belief is that the role of sales and marketers is to add attributes to create a holistic view of leads and to determine their position in the sales cycle in order to move them through the funnel.  If you believe in that statement, then you are open to seeing what tools help to add attributes so that sales and marketers can do their job more effectively.  There is no clear path to nirvana, no magic bullet that will do the work for you 100%, but there are tools available to make it easier. 

How does sales add attributes now and are they asking the right questions?
They get on the horn and start asking questions to the person that they have identified as the decision maker or someone who can point them in the direction of the checkbook holder. They should have a list of questions that help them to complete the puzzle of their seemingly nebulous lead. Here are some of our questions?

1. Do they have budget?
2. Do they fit the firmographic profile for our target base?
3. Are there compelling events that have occurred that could alter the decision process?
4. Have we located the decision maker?
5. Do they have a need for our services or product?
6. Do we know who else is bidding for the project?
7. Do we have any existing relationships that we can foster?

There are more questions even, but first and foremost, the bottom line is: do they have the budget?  Your lead can love your product, but if they don’t have the deniro– they ain’t buyin’.  Even though that is the most important question, like I said in the last post, it can come across as rude if asked straightforwardly, and furthermore; we all know that “buyers are liars”. Even if they didn’t have the budget, they don’t need to tell you. A good sales rep will do their best to gather information, triangulate and test the boundaries of questions that have been answered – testing the validity, and then make a proper assessment of whether to keep pushing or can the lead. A process that takes longer than watching water boil. Sales reps don’t have that luxury. The clock is tickin’.

Do marketers add the right attributes? Or are they still batch and blasting?
Marketers have a different role.  They aren’t getting on the horn; they are supplying the collateral, the content, the events, the buzz around the product to move people from cold to warm, warm to hot, and hot to sales. They have the luxury of automation to help communicate the right message to the right person.  But even though everybody claims to focus on segmentation, do many businesses actually implement segmentation based on the entire picture? Do they have one message and just spam it to their entire list still, even after everything written about the reasons not to do that?  Is the answer as simple as adding event data to help complete the puzzle, so the message actually resonates and helps to segment a list based on earnings and whitepaper downloads, bankruptcy and webinar sign-ups?

Adding attributes can be automated. Why, then, are we using our sales and marketing teams to make these discoveries and not prioritizing their time to act on the information that is easily spoon-fed with the right tools? Their role is to add attributes, so why not give them the tools to do it? Then, sales and marketers can focus on what humans are really good at: building trusting relationships.  Knowledge is power – a clichĂ© we all know. By having the right tools, knowledge can come easily, completing the puzzle that much sooner, leaving more room for marketers to send the correct message and sales to use their people skills to close more deals because the right questions were asked and answered, truthfully. The data doesn’t lie.

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