High Quality Sales Intelligence: Part 3 - Higher ROI?
Aberdeen Group has produced significant sales metrics that easily justify the return on investment (ROI) of sales intelligence year-over-year for best in class companies in the areas of Revenue/Account, Bid/Win Ratio, Average Deal Size, Market Share and Lead Qualification Rate
While it is good to know that investing in sales intelligence technology pays returns, what is left out of these types of studies is an analysis of when in the sales cycle sales intelligence pays the highest returns on investment. If you accept the premise that establishing relationships with senior executives gives a salesperson a real competitive advantage, it only stands to reason that high quality, in-depth sales intelligence on senior executives can pay the highest returns.
The book, "Selling to the C-Suite"
, is based on in-depth interviews with 500 senior executives (all CXO levels) across many industries. The authors wanted to find out what was most important to them in dealing with salespeople. In that research, they devote a chapter, "When Do Executives Get Involved?
" to three studies that focused on when in the sales cycle they got involved.
Consistent in all three studies was the finding that 80% of executives usually or always get involved early in the buying cycle
; their motivation at that stage is to understand current business issues, establish project objectives and set the overall project strategy. What jumped off the page at me was how those senior executives used the Internet to inform themselves on business problems - they searched based on the problem confronting them.
Give it a try. Type a problem like "customer retention" into Google, look at the top 10 organic hits. Look to see if any solution vendors are listed. Did you find any? What does that tell you about marketing strategy of solution vendors?
The point is two-fold: executives are focused on researching ways to solve their most pressing business problems early in their buying cycle; once they set the vision, they delegate downward to others to find specific solutions. That is when they are least involved and least likely to meet with salespeople.
That leaves the salesperson with two challenges:
1. How does she/he know when the executive is in that early buying cycle?
2. If you find an executive that is in that early stage, how do you know those key pressing business problems they are faced with? If you knew what those were, and had some insight into why solving them was so important, you could engage them with an approach around those issues and ways in which they could be addressed. Your chances of getting a meeting with that executive would be much higher.
For # 1, no easy answer, but triggers would be helpful as clues to when the timing might be right, e.g. a recent merger of the executive's company with another. News stories would also be helpful to gain these timing clues.
For # 2, there is a definitive answer: high quality sales intelligence based on high quality research that provides the salesperson with an executive profile that hits on those pressing business issues the executive is facing.
If you have enough executive profiles, you can look for similar business problems across an industry vertical like banking. You can decide whether to approach each bank separately, or run a marketing campaign to all banks around those business problems to uncover those in the early stage of their buying cycle.In either case, arming your salespeople with these executive profiles may gain your sales organization the highest ROI.