I recently spoke to the President of a fleet management firm who relayed that they had turned over sales leadership along with the entire sales force. The comment was that although the team was a bunch of great guys, the ‘donuts and pens’ approach just isn’t effective to close business in the modern world. More and more, this is becoming the vision and understanding of sales and executive leadership teams.
There needs to be a new approach as CEB & Gartner research have shown that 90% of decision makers refuse cold approaches through phone and email by default.
Let’s Talk About the 10% That Connect – What Happens?
I think we’re all aware that, especially in business, time is a precious commodity. Sales people understand that once you make the phone call or fire off that email, you have all of two sentences to capture someone’s attention and captivate interest.
Each interaction and every minute we spend with them must be worthwhile to the prospect, otherwise we’ll be quickly re-prioritized down the totem pole of responsibilities. Calling on the C-suite without a pre-identified synergy, value prop, and established trust can come off as offensive. Then, not only do we fail to move the deal forward but we also burn a potential relationship.
The old school thinking is ‘Oh well, onto the next’ and that’s why many B2B sales organizations are still living the 10% rule: 1 in 10 calls gets to a conversation, 1 in 10 conversations gets to a close. Well, I’m here to say that this is donuts and pens thinking.
This is not an isolated problem. In my home industry of supply chain and logistics, many firms have suffered huge sales turnover within the past 3 years including but not limited to UPS, DHL, and R+L Carriers.
When the problem happens so consistently, at some point we must stop to consider whether the issue exists at the employee or at the systemic business level.
Why Some Businesses are Pulling Away in Sales Results and ROI
I believe the major driver of the gap is that sales does not receive the support they need from marketing. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group found:
• Only 35% of organizations are strongly aligned on most marketing and sales efforts
• Only 39% are developing and executing against clear departmental strategies
• Only 24% can measurably connect marketing & sales efforts beyond closed deals
The sales leaders who are pulling away in results and ROI are those who call for marketing support to go beyond the basic brand awareness pre-funnel and top-of-sales-funnel activities. They’re looking for sales and marketing to work together on specific accounts, creating commercial insight and content that can be used throughout the entire sales process instead of ‘just’ the top of the funnel. These leaders are asking for marketing-for-sales support where there is a keen focus on the “why change” and “why you” conversations showing a direct relevance to the employees they want to target.
Sales should be driving marketing toward the right accounts, and marketing should be driving sales toward the right conversations. You see, these organizations that are pulling away in sales results and ROI are engaging in account based sales and marketing programs where both sales and marketing are accountable for driving revenue from select accounts.
Sixty percent of the organizations that have engaged in account based strategies for at least a year are experiencing a minimum of 10% improvement in revenue performance compared to their previous traditional approach.
Account Based Sales and Marketing Needs to Apply to Each Channel and Every Interaction
Many organizations that have adopted account based sales and marketing, and even have a VP of ABM (like Traackr, who has more than doubled revenue in under two quarters), are failing to apply account based marketing in every channel. On LinkedIn, the profiles of sales professionals are not demonstrating expertise to make the case on why they should be trusted nor communicating any specific value to the accounts they’re targeting.
Content is only being pushed out by marketing through sponsored updates, InMail, and re-targeted ads. Meanwhile, sales is busy pushing out templated messages which have no relevance beyond the industry level. There is no relevance at company, rank and individual levels and there is no effort to build a consensus within the buyers’ team.
It has become a tactical (non-strategic) volume game and we have found that the traditional lead gen approach on LinkedIn is leading to longer sales cycles.
So, What Happens When It All Comes Together?
In short, you win.
UPS, Schneider, and other successful companies have worked towards sales-marketing integration to reduce turnover and generate results that pull ahead of the competition. Schneider has seen 3000% return on investment for their marketing budget and even IBM has stated that a lead developed through effective social selling is 7x more likely to close.
Surveyed B2B sales organizations showed that aligned sales and marketing:
• Increased sales rep productivity (41% reported)
• Increased win rates (41% reported)
• Provides greater higher quality lead volume (39% reported)
• Improved access to high level decision makers (39% reported)
• Expanded market reach (48% reported)
• Improved the customer experience during the buying cycle (45% reported)
Now, sales leadership can continue to turn over and hope for different results or they can begin calling for a new approach which reliably leads to increased revenue performance. As I mentioned previously, account based sales and marketing approaches increase revenue performance by at least 10% more than the traditional methods.
What can a 10% revenue performance increase do for your company?
Inside my LinkedIn community, you’ll learn how an account-based sales & marketing focus through LinkedIn alleviates sales turnover by empowering consistent, sustainable and scalable performance across the sales force. You’ll also see what advancements the 10% revenue performance increase is enabling for businesses in supply chain, technology and professional services.
Thanks for reading.