Qualifying a lead is every bit as important as finding the lead in the first place. For a lot of companies getting new business through the door is the be-all-and-end-all, but for others it’s about getting the right new business through the door to ensure that you can build a lasting and successful relationship with your new partners.
Over the last twelve months, the worst in living memory for most of us, there have been times where business owners and those tasked with finding leads have been left banging their heads against the wall wondering how they’re ever going to attract new business and, not only that, pitch for and win the contract. Fortunately there does seem to be signs of light at the end of the long, dark tunnel and those businesses who have persevered and adapted are likely to be those that reap the benefits in the immediate future, but that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going to be a long, hard slog for those who have persisted with their original strategies.
We recently wrote about the need to adapt to survive in the new world of marketing, and everything that we said is true – you will need to evolve as a business in order to grow in the coming years as we find our place in the ‘new normal’ world – and utilising sales intelligence is likely to be key here.
Getting a sniff of a lead, right now, might be a great feeling for business development teams, but finding qualified leads means that you’ll be able to forge a relationship faster because you have access to valuable information about the prospect and what they’re looking for. Not only that, you’re also likely to be able to call upon your previous expertise in the sector so that you can share knowledge of the industry and what it takes to succeed.
Now, we’re slightly biased here when it comes to sales intelligence because this is something we specialise in, but it can help to save weeks, even months, of relationship building and enable you to get around the boardroom table with a prospect (virtually or personally, who knows what the future holds), far sooner than your competitors who are likely to still be building a relationship over LinkedIn or speculative email marketing.
Here we’re going to talk to you about sales intelligence and how it can be used to help your new business teams get around the boardroom table, and how it can be used by internal sales teams to reach out to prospects and increase your conversions.
What is sales intelligence and how is it used?
Sales intelligence is something that is relatively new in the world of marketing, but can provide you with a wealth of information that you can use to develop a relationship with a lead who you know is advertising a contact, and put together a killer pitch to win the business. It exists to equip teams with a greater understanding of a prospect and what it is they’re looking for, and it’s this deep-lying knowledge that can be used to shape your pitch and initial discussions.
The data is collected from a variety of sources and interpreted in a way that can identify opportunities for prospects to grow their business. It could take a number of routes and forms, but ultimately comes together to provide you with the kind of information you need to create an individual strategy for each lead. You can find out what they’re looking for, the kind of budget that they might have available and even details about the person you need to speak to in order to get your foot in the door; and when you’re equipped with this kind of data you’ve not just build strong foundations for your pitch but you’ve already started building the rest of the structure.
How to use sales intelligence to your advantage
Once you’ve got the information in front of you it’s up to you how you choose to interpret and use it. You could reach out to a contact directly and build a personal relationship with them that ultimately results in a meeting, or you could play the long game and develop a presentation that they simply cannot ignore.
While the latter might involve a lot of work for little or no reward on some occasions, there are leads that will be blown away by the time and work you’ve put into your presentation and feel that you can provide them with everything they need and more.
Of course, there is a great deal of risk in this approach at the moment with many businesses unsure on what the future holds, so the tactic of establishing a relationship and holding frequent conversations might be the best approach – just for the time being.
When you’re speaking to your contact you need to listen to exactly what it is they’re looking for, and then use your sales intelligence to guide you down the right path. You know that they’re interested in the kind of services that you can provide, but so do your competitors, so it’s down to you to find a USP that sets you apart from the rest. It might not (necessarily) be a unique piece of software or a method that you use that your competitors don’t, but your sales intelligence and the relationship you’ve taken the time to build over email, social media or even on the phone might be exactly what you need to be the first name that comes to them when deciding who to go with.
Those early conversations could be about anything. Literally, anything. You could start chatting on LinkedIn about a piece of research the company has just published, or you might start commenting on Twitter about a blog post that really resonated with you. However you build that relationship, look for any opportunity to form a deeper, more meaningful friendship with the contact and you might just find that you’re given a little bit more detail than any competitors who receive the same top-line brief.
This intelligence can then shape your pitch and enable you to approach the prospect in a way that is much more likely to help you succeed. Rather than spending weeks working late into the night developing a pitch presentation that could go either way, you could spend more time focussing on exactly what the contact is looking for in-line with the budget they have available to show them just why you’re the best fit for them, and vice versa.
Lead generation has always been a long, hard slog. Even the best salespeople struggle from time to time and today it’s as though every avenue is blocked. When opportunities just aren’t there you can spend weeks reaching out to prospects only to get no reply or the dreaded “thanks but no thanks” response. By taking all of the time and leg work out of lead generation and utilising sales intelligence you can spend less time searching for new leads and more time focussing on what you do best. Whether you choose to spend that time building a relationship, putting the pitch together in less of a rush or identifying key opportunities to show why they should work with you, you need to capitalise on every qualified lead that comes your way in today’s market and ensure that you win that new business.
The old saying “knowledge is power” has never been more true, and whatever intelligence you can collect and utilise is going to make you an even more powerful force to be reckoned with. Sales intelligence is a key tool for any marketing or new business department, enabling you to reach out to prospects, connect with them and then implement your knowledge into the kind of pitch they can’t ignore.
So, whether you’re a salesperson on the phone or a business development team tasked with getting around the boardroom table, make sure that you call upon every ounce of sales intelligence that you can call upon before you start any conversations with your leads. It won’t just save you time, money and effort; it might just be the secret weapon that helps you grow your business in one of the toughest periods we’re likely to ever experience.