Selling tips - sell to people not contacts

Selling to people has not changed dramatically over the past hundred years. You have a product or service, identify a pool of prospects and then discover how many of them you can help. Sure thats over simplified but when it boils down, those are some of the key components. What has changed a great idea over the past few years is not so much the overall process but the details of how to sell to people.

Most sales people do not have the opportunity to walk into the offices of their prospects, see the awards on the wall, photos on the desk and bag of golf clubs in the corner. These were the details a salesperson would use to break the ice, find some common interests and start a conversation. Without these insights, a salesperson is left to their own devices and would be left with being just another sales guy with a pitch. Get beyond the contact data of someones business card and get to know your prospect as the person and not just a contact in your CRM.

People buy from people. Business is done not necessarily with the company with the best product but more often with the salesperson who has found a connection with their prospect through a shared interest or a referral. In the post on the 8 ways to increase sales we outlined some best practices to follow.

More than 90 percent of executives never respond to cold-call sales or unsolicited emails.

Sales intelligence can identify connections between colleagues within an organization and prospects to reveal opportunities for meaningful sales contact. By arming sales professionals with actionable information from social sources, media outlets, company information and changes in business dynamics they are more likely to trigger sales. Sales professionals can quickly identify relevant connection points and build profitable, trusted relationships with prospects and customers that win more business and drive revenue.

‘It’s like watching an Ancestry.com commercial’

You’ve seen the commercial, a site that starts connecting the dots between you and your family and then builds a map of your entire family tree. It lets you see your connections to people you may never have known existed just by following the trail of connections through out history.

How can that apply to B2B sales?

  • What if you could identify connection across multiple social graphs and include people you may not be connected to through a social network?
  • How valuable would it be to have social streams from your prospects so you could see the updates, pictures and interactions they share?
  • Would it be beneficial to be able to follow these people so anytime they were mentioned in the news or online you would get an alert so you could show you are listening?

Early adopters of People Insights like Network Hardware Resale are already seeing an impact in lead generation, opportunities and revenue.

“Social media mapping is my favorite feature. It’s just so cool. It’s almost like watching that Ancestry.com commercial- it’s like ‘I got a leaf!’ It’s when you find that connection that absolutely breaks you into an account; and once you’ve done that, your energy in looking for more of those connections goes WAY up. That becomes your best lead gen strategy ever. Now you want to have and create personal relationships with people through social media so that you can leverage those relationships.” – Michael Lodato, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing at NHR

Leveraging people insights isn’t just a good idea, it’s the only way you will increase your lead generation and create new opportunities in 2012. As explained in the post 5 ways sales intelligence can increase revenue, research shows that:

  • 59% of the best in class companies have leveraged sales intelligence tools to identify or disqualify prospects with more accuracy
  • 53% of companies have been able to identify existing customers that have upsell/cross sell opportunities
  • 48% of companies have increased the quality of leads intheir pipelines
  • 28% use technology to capture and share sales knowledge internally.
  • 21% of companies reduce the amount of time doing sales research

For salespeople and sales leaders, understanding how to sell to people not contacts will be the difference between hitting or missing your number.

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