Every sales person knows that there’s a precise moment in the sales process when a potential buyer is ready to be contacted by a seller.
Reach out too soon, and they’ll be annoyed or spooked. Contact them too late, and they may have moved on to another vendor. This outreach used to be human interactions often initiated by a phone call and qualified on the golf course.
Technology can now tell a sales person when that ‘magic moment’ for contacting a prospect is by monitoring and scoring a prospective customer’s every interaction with a company, down to the web pages they visit and the e-mails they open. Mathematical models say when the prospect is ripest and software can now prompt human salespeople to follow up with a phone call or meeting. It’s no longer just about instinct. It’s about data and statistical probabilities of a buyer’s behaviour. So where does this leave the sales person – empowered or replaced by technology?
Actually, it’s a bit of both. It’s empowering in that marketing automation technology can now track every interaction between a company and a potential customer, and figure out how to increase the chances that a prospect who enters one end of the marketing funnel comes out the other end as a buyer. The explosive shift to the Web and social media has completely changed the power relationship between buyer and seller. The buyer today is not going to talk to the salesperson until they’re ready, so marketing automation can empower a salesperson to know when that right time is.
So are we as salespeople being replaced by technology? Software is doing all of the legwork for us so, in that sense, yes it is doing this part of our job for us. But that’s a good thing. Recent research from IDC found that approximately 25% of sales’ time is spent on unproductive prospecting. It doesn’t mean that selling is dead but it does mean that sellers have to figure out their new roles.
While some companies still have separate silos where they tinker with their sales and marketing engines, cutting-edge companies are already building a combined revenue engine which runs on a mixture of relevant dialogue, timed to be in sync with a buyer’s Web behaviour and information needs. The boundaries between marketing and sales are becoming much more blurred than they’ve ever been in the past. Companies are initiating buying cycles long before the seller’s even aware the process has begun. This typically starts on the internet with prospects beginning their investigation. By tracking, scoring, nurturing and personalising this online engagement with prospects, sales can have a much greater conversion rate.
In order for this cycle to run smoothly, the hand-off process between the sales and marketing teams is critical. Lead nurturing programs help to establish a dialogue with prospects and provide them information that speaks to their specific pain points. With automated nurturing programs in place, companies are able to shorten the sales cycle because prospects are better informed when it comes time to make a buying decision.
If you work in a company with these types of collaborative sales and marketing revenue engines, your revenue – and quota – will flow more efficiently because both marketing and sales colleagues will be focused on prospects that have been pre-qualified and are ready for sales engagement.
Conversely, if you’re working in a company where sales and marketing operate in separate sales silos, chances are you’ll spend waste more time on prospecting rather than closing deals.