Inside Sales teams often struggle due to incompatible goals. If they’re judged on sales they focus on closing sales and look for prospects that are ready to buy right now, which is around 2%-3% of all prospects.
If they’re judged on leads they focus on leads. The natural temptation is to stretch the boundaries and hand over anything that looks like it might be a lead to make their targets. Often this wastes Account Managers’ time chasing leads that aren’t really leads and breeds a lack of internal trust.
In both cases the most important area takes a back seat – ie; nurturing and educating the 97% of prospects who aren’t ready to buy the first time you call them.
Many will buy eventually – IF you don’t throw them away because they aren’t ready yet and if you want to succeed in the long term it’s important to nurture them so when they are ready you’ve developed trust.
People still want to do business with people they trust but if your focus is on qualifying them and then moving on it’s hard to develop trust.
Your prospects get dozens of calls every day – if they’re important enough for you to call, many others are calling them too – and if you’re only qualifying them, you’re just another salesperson interrupting them. We know what prospects do and don’t want because they tell us:
- They don’t want you to waste their time.
- They don’t want to be sold to or qualified.
- They don’t want to be shepherded along a digital buyer’s journey and tracked.
- They want to talk about their business challenges before they’re ready to buy.
- They want to speak to people who understand their business and who can talk about their issues in their terminology.
Many companies say, “it’s Inside Sales’ job to sell, prospect and build relationships”. But in real life this doesn’t happen, especially if you only reward leads and/or sales. Building future pipeline always suffers at the expense of short term targets. When there’s an end of quarter push building relationships with people who aren’t ready takes a back seat.
If you want to build a trusted relationship with prospects who will buy eventually you need to give them value every time you contact them.
A much more effective approach is what I call Authentic Relationship Management.
It helps Customer Centric Inside “Nurture” teams build trust by;
- Providing value and relevant information with every communication.
- Communicating consistently via all channels – phone, email, direct mail, digital.
- Listening, paying attention, understanding your prospects’ issues and responding appropriately.
- Speaking their language.
- Only providing relevant collateral.
- Eliminating inconsistent and contradictory messaging.
- Keeping commitments and following through.
Digital marketing can assist but you need one-on-one human contact to build trust. The sales process (as opposed to the buying process) begins when one human being talks to another. Your success depends on how that first conversation goes. A Customer Centric Inside Nurture team needs:
- Predictive Analytics – to target the right companies that have a high propensity to buy. Nothing destroys credibility and wastes time more than targeting the wrong companies.
- Accurate Contact Information – A Customer Centric Inside Nurture person’s time is too valuable to waste on chasing the wrong people or wrong numbers.
- Senior Consultants – People who can talk to prospects about their business issues at their level using their terminology. Using junior people to qualify if senior decision makers are important enough to flick to an Account Manager is disrespectful. Prospects hate salespeople who know nothing about them, their business or their issues. The first conversation is the most important one. And every conversation after that.
- A One Integrated Database – That records every interaction with a prospect before they become a sales opportunity. Every interaction develops an overall impression. You need to have the full picture because a prospect will notice if you say contradictory things or ask questions they’ve already answered.
- Role Based Messaging – Different Line of Business executives all have different needs. You must understand their needs and perspective and talk to them about their stuff in their terminology.
- Content as a Science – Different content is relevant to different people and at different levels of their Buyer’s Journey. Customer Centric Inside Nurture people need to ensure that every piece of content they share is relevant to that specific person.
- Nurture KPIs – You need a new set of metrics that measure your nurture efforts. We measure the number of conversations, number of relevant insights identified, movement along the trust journey, education content sent with permission, areas of interest secured, identifying future buying intentions, etc. Of course, we also measure the quantity and quality of leads that eventuate.
The Authentic Relationship Management process generates high quality leads with trusted relationships already in place.
Sales leaders sometimes say, “we win one in five, so we need 5x leads in the pipeline” You don’t. You need better quality leads with trusted relationships in place. Your win ratios will skyrocket, your salespeople will waste less time chasing leads that will never convert, they will trust Inside Sales much more and your salesperson turnover will decrease. Fewer, better quality leads, means less stressed, happier sales people and more sales.
The future success of companies is in the investment in Authentic Relations before they are ready to buy.