The lack of contact with self-educated buyers might be limiting the lead information that marketing is providing and could be causing your reps to reject potentially good leads, prematurely.
Lots of data but no insight
There is no denying that self-service has created a self-educated buyer and the lack of contact with these buyers is being felt at the sales and marketing level. And eventually on the profit of your company.
The quality of the leads that marketing is generating reflects the fact that nobody from the company is talking to the self-educated buyer. It should be no surprise then, that your rep’s lead follow-up conversations are uncomfortable and confusing for the buyer. In fact, every rep that I talk to tells me the conversations usually start slow and end fast.
But wait the CMO says, “we track the leads across our website and social media, we know what they’re doing, we’re delivering the right content at precisely the right time, for the right buyer and our predictive analytics determine the exact moment the buyer is ready to buy”.
1. How will the reps get someone who visited your website or signed up for webinar to buy your CRM system?
Just because they visited your website and seem to be actively looking for a solution doesn’t mean they’re buyers.
2. What’s stopping the reps from converting all of the marketing leads that they think they should?
A self-educated buyer that’s playing his cards close to his chest doesn’t make this any easier for your reps. And if the buyers not telling your reps how they’re making decisions, it’s highly unlikely your reps will be able to influence them.
3. How will a rep connect meaningfully with a prospect when he has little or no lead information about what problems the buyer is trying to resolve, how the buyer is making decisions or the criteria that they’re trying to evaluate?
The reps tell me that their conversations usually start slow and end fast.
4. How will the reps qualify a self-educated buyer that is reluctant to share details about their decisions, either because the situation is now competitive or because they’re still dealing with some internal issues and don’t know “how to buy”?
The reps are asking the right questions at the wrong time or with the wrong person and it’s causing them to reject marketing’s leads, prematurely.
5. What’s stopping the reps from helping the prospect who’s not ready to buy to understand what they need to do to get the right people on the decision team, recognize what’s holding the problem in place and get buy-in to solve it?
The reps have quarterly targets and really don’t have the time to waste working through a prospects internal issues if they’re not willing or able to buy something for another 6-12 months.
6. How would you know when it would be time for marketing to target buyers that are not yet ready to buy with content to help them recognize the internal steps they’ll need to complete and work with them to get buy-in before they pass a lead to sales?
The problem is that these prospects are stuck on HOW TO BUY not WHAT TO BUY. And until they work through their internal issues they’re not buying anything. Pushing product and solution content or challenging their actions isn’t likely to help them resolve their internal issues any faster.
Is it possible that our sales and marketing approach is causing some of the problems?
Relentlessly pushing facts and information about the customers challenges and our products are ONLY relevant for the 3% that are “ready to buy” (the low-hanging fruit) and largely ignored by the 97% that might be willing to buy but unable to get their internal ducks lined up.
The sales and marketing model, (whether challenger, solution selling, consultative selling, SPIN, Miller Heiman, whatever) is designed to push OUR agenda (product sale) and ignore the full set of internal offline purchase issues that buyers must deal with before they’re ABLE TO BUY.
The sales model is dealing with solution choice while the buyer is stuck on change management.
You’ll never hear a buyer say “we couldn’t figure out how to deal with the impact your solution would have on our politics, standard procedures, historical decisions, cultural norms, job roles and responsibilities, etc but we decided to spend $1MM on your software anyway”.
Data will not solve this issue
Algorithms will collect and analyze data to identify the 3% in a faster, far more efficient manner. They cannot possibly be effective for the 97% that’s dealing with issues unrelated to needs, identified problems or your solution offering. These issues are entangled in personalities and the idiosyncrasies that are unique to every company.
You’re an outsider and you will never know (regardless of how much you understand their business, speak their language, challenge their actions) what is holding the status quo in place. And whatever is holding the status quo in place is far more powerful that any solution you can offer!
What would you need to know or understand to be willing to help the 97% get unstuck?
The first step is to understand DEEPLY, how buyers are making decisions internally (to get buy-in and be able to bring in a new solution) if you have any hope of influencing those decisions.
Marketing can use the decision insights that recent buyers wrestled with to help prospects make their own decisions faster and generate better quality leads for reps in the process.
Marketing IS the Future of Sales.
I have worked with marketers that are now delivering 40% lead conversion instead of 4%. I have seen SDR’s flatly refuse to pass well developed leads to sales reps that “just don’t get it”. I have also worked with companies that couldn’t handle the organizational power shift that this new approach created and opted to return to the “old way” even if it meant less lead conversion, pipeline and ultimately, less revenue.
Change is hard for all of us in sales and marketing. Not just for our customers.