In the next couple of posts, I’ll be addressing how today’s information age has dramatically impacted the sales process. We all have more data at our disposal which means better data management. This most certainly plays a role in any decision we make, from medical self-diagnosis to major IT investments for our company. Buyers have more data and better data management tools than they’ve had in the past, which dramatically changes the dynamic between the consumer and sales professional. The identity, purpose, and involvement of a salesperson in the buying process is different than it’s been traditionally. Salespeople are no longer the primary source of information.
The challenge for sales professionals is the available data isn’t always accurate or up to date. It is estimated that 62-percent of organizations rely on marketing/prospect data that’s 20-40 percent inaccurate and 94-percent of businesses suspect that their customer and prospect data is inaccurate. Getting access to accurate data and timely data management is the new major challenge for sales individual.
Good Data, Data Management, and Facts Matter
People tend to believe just about anything they read on the internet, especially when it’s shared on a reputable site. Here’s an example. My Inside Sales Manager once showed me a former Tyson Group employee’s LinkedIn profile, in which he claimed he won Rookie of the Year at my company. Trouble is, we don’t have a Rookie of the Year award. I sent him a note apologizing for missing the ceremony with a P.S. explaining that he might want to represent himself accurately.
Sometimes, it’s easy to simply accept what you find in an online forum or on a popular website. These inaccuracies and outdated information impact a salesperson’s performance. This means a salesperson has to be asking the right questions at the right time in live conversation or through thorough research. It’s critical throughout the sales process for your salesperson to constantly ask if the information they are getting correlates with the body of knowledge they already have in their information management system.
Buyers Require Useful Data and Better Data Management
Not only has the role of sales professionals changed after meeting with a prospect, but the time and effort it takes to get to that meeting has also increased. Identifying an opportunity, pre-approach, and initial communication, are the most time-consuming parts of the sale process .
In B2B sales it takes six to eight touches to get someone interested enough to even talk with you and another six to eight touches to get time on someone’s calendar. Those touches can come through LinkedIn, Twitter, even postal mail.
Making these critical milestones with potential buyers not only requires a steady, strategic sales process, but it also requires transparency. In a recent Inc. article, they cite a 2016 Label Insight Transparency ROI Study which confirms the need for more transparency from companies and their representatives because of the following reasons: consumers want to know everything about a product; consumers want to know about more than just your product; and if your company isn’t providing the transparent information, consumers will look elsewhere to get it.