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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

When I first started in sales, in fact for the whole time I’ve been in sales I’ve had to do my own demand generation.  Maybe, because I’m a new business person, but I’ve always decided that I didn’t want to outsource my success to other people.

I remember in my first sales job 25 years ago, Marketing was generally attending events where the sales team would stand on the exhibition stand looking to pounce on an unsuspecting prospect, where we could tell them what we do.  Customers would literally run through the conference hall, making sure they didn’t make eye contact with anybody on the stands. To be honest I thought this was a waste of time, I didn’t even understand the argument that we have to be there.  Why not pay temporary staff to stand on the stand?  It would be cheaper.

As I moved from “newbie” to a let’s say more “mature” salesperson I was able to get out of stand duty.  After a conference, Marketing would come back with stack of Business Cards, they would call them leads.  Here in sales we politely put them in the bin, when Marketing wasn’t looking. After all in my Territory, if somebody was making a decision, I knew about it.  Straight forward Territory management after all.  Most of the Business Cards were from people out of Territory, or didn’t meet any of the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timescale) criteria.  They are the MQLs of today.

My focus was always on outbound.  Researching who to call, calling the person up.  Pitching to them, hoping to get a next action and a follow up.  Pushing always pushing.  Call them back after the allotted time.  It’s when you find out that your objectives and timescales and the buyers objectives and timescales are not aligned.  Pushing always pushing.  You want something this quarter, the prospect has budget cycles. I found that sharing content with these people, snippets that I thought they might find interesting helped move things a long.  An article, a quote.  Little did I know that I had hit on something that my future self would like.

Back to the pushing always pushing.

In my last role we found buying cycles dropped from 18 months to 6 and then 3 months because of new entrants to the market, that placed the business under massive competitive pressure.  We went from selling on-premise to cloud.  We had a visionary sales leader that tried to understand what was happening, looking back nobody actually knew.  But, the important thing was we did something about it.  We bet on social selling.

Over the last 5 years, the buying process has totally flipped.  The sales process for all B2B companies has changed and all B2B companies have had to adapt.  Same with Marketing, we have three CMOs come to us in the last few months all have said “nothing works in Marketing anymore”.

What do they mean?  Advertising does not work, cold calling does not work, email blasts don’t work and under GDPR their are major risks, and events don’t work.  Now I’m not saying you are getting zero response, what I’m saying that the response is dropping and the direction is travel is such that when a plane is in a dive, you do something about it before it hits the ground. These CMOs are brave.  They are saying that what got them here, won’t get them there.  We see too often vested interest, saying there isn’t a problem.  We know there is and we all have to be brave to do something about it.

Thankfully every challenge is an opportunity.  Every cloud has a silver lining.

Here at Digital Leadership Associates we use content.  Just like I did 20 years ago to move our pipeline along. But as the world has flipped our clients are going on-line and doing their own research.  We all do it, your clients do it, the same as ours do.

So when those prospects come to us, inbound we call it.  Just so you know, we get three pieces of inbound everyday, through our use of content.  This inbound is fully BANT.  How is this?

They will have already dome their research, read the content, watched the videos, checked us out online.  They will have done their own comparisons, worked out their requirements.  Matched us to those requirements.  Gone and got the budget.  The inbound usually comes to when they are close to make a decision. So there you have it, leads and meetings that are fully BANT.

Are salespeople now living the dream?  You bet we are!

People who read this article also read these:

Social selling, for my team?

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Why I Prospect at Night – The Death of Prime Selling Time (PST)


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