Attendees of the IIN Sales Leaders’ Forum heard it first-hand…
At the Information Industry Network’s first Sales Leaders’ Forum on 27th January 2015, Raoul Monks of Flume Training chaired a lively discussion exploring the changing buying habits of businesses who purchase business information, advertising, events and media products.
Kyle Bell, Marketing Director at construction business Osborne, shared his perspective on how marketing decisions are made and the impact this has on the way media teams should approach sales.
Richard Myles of Flume Training reviews the key takeaways from the inaugural Sales Leaders Forum.
It’s tough to challenge the status quo
Marketing budgets are often decided upon based on pre-determined activities, i.e. things that have worked well in the past. Kyle cited that as little as 10% of his marketing budget is available for new areas, which is a small pot if you are trying to break into a business you haven’t worked with before. So how do you challenge the status quo and create opportunities that enable you to access the elusive 90% budget pot?
– The unknown is risky. All marketing decisions involve taking a risk and businesses want to minimise this risk. Sellers can help with this by breaking up the risk and selling in smaller chunks. It is better to get a small ‘in’ with a new target company and build from the inside. Matching cultures is important too as businesses want to work with like-minded businesses. You should try and work out how the culture of your company matches with the culture of your prospect. Take time to find this out and plan how you intend to get this message across.
– Identify the right prospects. Not all clients will change their mind (not at the exact point in time you want them to anyway). So focus on the prospects that are in the market for change. A lot of time can be spent chasing clients when they are not in the market for change. The cleverer you can be about identifying and chasing the right prospects, the better your conversion rates will be.
– Draw clients to you. You have far more chance of converting sales if the client comes to you, but admittedly you can’t just simply sit and wait. However, you need to be visible where your target clients hang out. What events are they attending, what publications are they reading, which websites are they browsing, and which social spaces do they engaged with? How are you connecting with them in these places and standing out as the right business / person to work with?
– Watch out for changes in personnel. Sometimes the status quo is so entrenched in a business, that the only way to get an ‘in’ is to identify new people in a business who have a vested interest in changing things around, shaking things up and trying something new. So keep close to changes in personnel, internal promotions and identify people in your target companies that may be more willing to listen and consider your solutions. You may need to enter the business with a different product or solution and build from a smaller scale initially, but if you can prove success, word will spread internally in the business, opening the door for wider change.
– The first 10 seconds counts. When you do get to speak to your prospect, make it count. The client has to trust you and feel confident to refer you and your solution within their business. Research and planning are vital. The client needs to know that you have done your homework to understand their business and priorities. They need to feel like you care and that they aren’t just another number on your call list.
– Advise and educate. Ultimately clients are looking for people who can help them in their role. If you educate and advise your client on things that will help them do the job better, make their life simpler, save or make them money, then you can become a trusted advisor. This means helping your client on a wider remit than simply telling them about your product.
– Make sure you pass the Finance Director test. Return On Investment (or ROI) is so important nowadays, so once you gain the opportunity to put forward a proposal, the likelihood is that it will be reviewed by several other people than simply your contact. Make sure it passes the FD test – it is far easier for a board member to say no to a proposal than to approve it. Find methods to sell in different ways beyond that which you can directly influence, which will require building up credible evidence that prove your solution can get results.
– Help your client sell-on internally. Your contact, once convinced themselves, is your advocate in the business, but you need to help them sell your proposition internally. Make this journey easy for them by discussing the hurdles in place and agreeing how best you can help them to overcome any potential blocks.
– Help your contact… help their business… help yourself. Overall, your client needs to be confident that your proposition is going to help them personally achieve their objectives, before ever taking the risk of introducing it to the rest of the business.Good sales people nowadays are intelligent, creative and focused on achieving results for their clients. If you focus on achieving business results and help your contact to do this simply and easily, you will find success.
The next IIN Sales Leaders’ Forum is on 12th March and we welcome new attendees and potential speakers. Look out for news of the next topic for discussion in due course…