Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over, and it’s coming for sales next. According to Forbes, millions of jobs are on the chopping block due to the rise of sales AI and self-service e-commerce.
That said, there’s no cause for alarm. Sales isn’t dying, it’s merely transforming into a more efficient and effective beast. And sales intelligence is a tool in that transformation, automating your grunt work and elevating your knowledge so that you can focus on what matters: having a meaningful conversation with your prospects.
While technology won’t do everything for you just yet, there are plenty of ways to make life easier already. Here we’ll highlight four simple ways to upgrade your sales development process through better use of technology.
#1: Use Better Data in Sales Prospecting
In traditional sales teams, prospecting has often meant sourcing lists of businesses that loosely fit your description of who you’re targeting, and success was based on how many people from that list you’d contact. However, that approach just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. On average, over 50% of prospects are not a good fit to begin with and only 1% of phone calls lead to a meeting.
With more data available nowadays, companies should focus their efforts on the right companies through an even more detailed Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): a set of attributes and characteristics that best describe the companies that are similar to your best customers. In addition to firmographic data (industry, size, and location), you can also characterize companies based on things such as the technologies they use, recent changes in the company, or any other data point available.
The better your data, the better this ICP, and the better your conversation will be with your prospects.
#2: Score Accounts, Not Just Leads
Once you have your ICP defined, you’ll face a challenge: none of your prospects match up exactly to that ideal. That’s because you’ve characterized the makeup of a customer that doesn’t exist, one that’s the cheapest possible for you to acquire and maintain, and also receives the most value out of your offering. It’s your perfect picture of a customer that relies on your service, is ready to pay a considerable price for it and also acts as an advocate for your business, providing you with a constant flow of inbound leads.
As there probably is no single customer that’ll check all these boxes, your prospects will always have a varying degree of resemblance – something you should sort them by.
For example, let’s say there are three prospects with 98%, 85% and 69% similarity with the ICP respectively. You’d probably call them in the order of the proximity to the ICP, right?
The process of putting prospects in order is called account scoring. It’s similar to lead scoring. Account scoring measures the whole organization in contrast to the actions of individual persons from an organization. Lead scoring may include account scoring, and account scoring may be affected by leads from the organization. Neither should be neglected.
The basic concept of scoring either leads or accounts is rather simple. Pick the highest scoring lead or account, handle it as well as possible and go on to the next one. The challenge is in the scoring itself: which characteristics have the biggest impact on success? Select your initial characteristics, and if the results aren’t on point, fine-tune accordingly.
#3: Monitor Buying Signals for Sales Timing
In sales, timing is everything. An organization is rarely a static whole with unchanging needs, and your actions should be guided by these changes in the situation. A successful sales organization has a process to monitor buying signals.
Let’s take an example. In the staffing industry, when a prospect company wins a large contract, they’ll often require additional workforce. Logically, this should also increase their likelihood of being a good customer in a staffer’s eyes, increasing the account score for that company respectively.
The winner of the deal is, most often, the one reaching the decision-maker first during this window of opportunity. According to a study by Forrester, whoever reached out to a prospect first during this time of need closed the sale 74% of the time. After a few days, the score of the account should lower again considerably, as it’s more likely that someone has already filled the need you didn’t.
You may also want to look into negative buying signals, which indicate the worst possible time to reach out to anyone. For that same staffing company, this could mean calling during layoffs. However, those same layoffs could be beneficial for another type of company (say, law firm) – it’s all about understanding which signals have an impact on your sales process and scoring accordingly.
#4: Integrate fresh data into your CRM
What’s the most pointless and mind-numbing task you could be performing as a Sales Developer in 2019? Manual data entry.
Through integrations and APIs, all of your business-critical information can be funneled into any tool. But, in the case of sales development, this means that all the information you need to carry out a smarter conversation with your prospective clients should be in the tool you use every day— your CRM.
At Vainu, we’re developing a tool that tackles many of the things desired from a proper sales assistant – prospecting, account scoring, and identifying sales timing. Our technology crawls through immense amounts of public and open company data to find all the necessary information about companies globally and turn that into actionable insights.
And, once you know what you’re looking for, you can get that data directly into your CRM.