But just over the last few weeks of selling for our Internet start up I’ve found several examples where taking this data is best ignored.
I’ve been on a wide-ranging mission to get into new accounts – most of them in the Fortune 1000. This campaign has been going quite well [in my biased opinion because (a) I'm using Social Calling techniques and (b) we have an interesting product.] On meeting with some of these accounts, I found that some of them did in fact have needs and a few may indeed end up becoming customers.
But a big majority of them had not concluded “75% of their sales cycle on the web” before meeting with me. They had not defined their need formally. They had not gotten to that stage.
When we met they brought up something in their area of responsibility that they thought could be improved by something like the product we were discussing – the one I had brought to them. Some of them were then open to discussing this possibility from there.
So a group of companies entered our sales funnel without having completed their web research. They spoke to us first and put us in the driver’s seat. Sure they may decide down the line here to send someone out to do some web research on alternatives to our product but who has the edge then?
This happened because a sales person was proactively prospecting not because we have a great website, great SEO or a great blog.
OK, in some cases buyers have formalized their need and then they, or someone they delegate, go out and scour the web for solutions. This is when your SEO and inbound marketing needs to shine. This is the case where we sales people need great fellows in our marketing department.
The danger for sales people is interpreting this scenario where the buyer goes out looking for solutions as they only scenario. It’s the ultimate excuse to ditch cold calling. Very tempting. I mean it’s backed by fact, right?
But it’s not always true and I’m finding evidence that it’s most often false with the “whale accounts” we all strive to land. Every now and then, execs from these “whales” will find their way to your website but if you look at the statistics of business sizes out there you’ll see it’s one big “iceberg” with the huge majority of businesses being tiny. By pure statistics your website is likely to gather far more “sardines” than “whales”.
I’m no fan of traditional (aka dumb) cold calling. But I am a fan of smart prospecting. For sales people to rely on inbound leads to make their numbers is tantamount to professional suicide unless you work for an exceptional marketing company like a Hubspot where buyers flood to your website.
So sales people if you hear “buyers complete 75% of their buying cycle on the web before speaking to a sales person” you might want to stick in some ear plugs while you carry on prospecting.