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Salesman didn’t die.. but got help

Every time something new comes up and people jump on it, they learn something new but it seems that they often start forgetting the best features of the previous while learning. Then came the content marketing era and inbound marketing surge. Now there is a swing back to ABM (Account based marketing and proactive sales). Danny Wong from Blank label just published an article about this with 9 B2B sales predictions for 2016 in Huffington Post (source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-future-of-sales-9-b2b-sales-predictions-for-2016_us_56beb9b0e4b06fb6526b67c9)

It was great article and I totally agree with Mr. Wong.: Outbound and account management are musts, buyer journey and customer centricity are imperative. Marketing automation is fantastic in existing customer management and content marketing. Still, in case of new prospect recognition most visitors don’t leave their contacts or signs of interest which leaves most potential customers unrecognised. This is something that has bothered me.

Then I learned about Leadforensics… (because they reached out to me and outbound works 🙂 ) They gave me a short introduction to their software (phone+video), we did a pilot with two weeks of data capturing after which they presented me the results and pitched me an offer. I got hooked and bought the license.. and I am even more hooked now. (By the way, their process is very much worth experiencing too, its brilliant. You can book your trial contact here)

This is something I just have to share, because I find Leadforensics to be so elegant, easy and effective. The foundation of the service is IP address recognition. The service lets you know from which companies people are visiting your website, how many of them, which content, time spent and so on. In B2B this intelligence is often enough. You know which companies are looking right now in your sector and they are already considering your company. In case you are considering marketing automation or need leads for sales to follow, Leadforensics is a great tool to take as a first step in operational and cultural change or as part of the lead generation development in marketing automation project. This is what you get (this data is from this site):

#1 Visiting organisations

1 visitor list

#2 Sorting visitors

2 Sorting visitors

Example of multivisitors

3 multivisitor

#3 Company details and visitors

4 company details

In this case 3 visits by one person

5 visitor number

#4 Potential people to contact

6 contacts

#5 Dashboard

7 dashboard

#6 Sorting and actions

Now that I have the tool in use, I can upload my customer register and create a current customer group with assigned contacts. I can also create prospect list with assigned persons who will be notified about new visits. You can also define goals, not every content is a sign of buying intent, but some are exactly that. Assigning goals and actions for them is quite easy and effective.

My company FutureCMO – Catalyst for Growth is a super temp one man show with a network of other entrepreneurs and I am mostly helping large companies with their digital and customer experience transformation. My challenge is, that projects are large and take my time while running them leaving me little time for selling next cases. When they end I can easily drop between projects. This kind of transformation work is quite time sensitive and frequency of doing it is rare. Also, The lead-time from interest to project could take a lot of time too. Another challenge has been, that I have a globally competitive knowledge, methods and approach, but my work has been local sofar. Now I am going to make my first attempt to get my first very own international clients onboard. While working for WPP and Omnicom this was natural, but as an entrepreneur now it would be a big leap. This is why I think Leadforensics will help me target right companies at the right time and make certain that I can get my projects in without long stand-by periods. I am also working on a start-up for which we are raising money to get started and knowing which companies are interested in our pitch is very important. I am only in the beginning of using Leadforensics, but I am quite impressed with it.

In case you find Leadforensics interesting, you can book your own demo and trial period here (Link URL )

In case you are using some other tools for lead recognition, I’d be very happy to hear about your experiences!

Disruptively Customer Centric B2B sales – Tools for Crossing the Chasm

B2B sales has been under major disruption due to content marketing and automation surge. I am a big believer and practitioner of these tools and methods my self and I’ve been convinced that this is the way to create naturally supporting customer journey towards a happy end and the results have proved how well it works. Now I have to admit that you can go way beyond.

Let’s  consider the B2B buyers and procurement and their process:

TOP OF THE FUNNEL has to do with planning and designing the change. This work is mostly done with internal stake holders, consultants and designers. The buyers are exploring options, pondering their current solutions and how they fit with the change. This stage is really about learning and defining what would good outcome look like.

PROBLEMS:

  • The buyers don’t engage with vendors at this stage, although they are likely to use vendors’ content marketing materials. Most of the buyers’ time is spent searching on Google.
  • Buyers have hard time finding relevant content because the market is quite cluttered with generic content that doesn’t really support buyers’ process. What customers really need and look for are: Solution facts, Business Cases, White papers, Success Stories, Reviews… Tangible and concrete tools for their process. These are not easy to find!
  • Customer would benefit from dialogue with the vendors, but they don’t do it because they don’t want to get harassed by sales. Buyers want to drive the process and manage it efficiently. Active sales is considered disturbing.
  • Large vendors dominate the space, because they have resources to produce content, they have strong page ranking and their brands pull customers to their resources. This logic and dynamic will enforce status quo and buyers don’t find NEW, INNOVATIVE AND MORE COST EFFICIENT OPTIONS. These vendors are not known yet and they concentrate on their product and service development – not in content creation. Their page rank is low and Google doesn’t find them. The buyers interest is to find the best solutions but they have very hard time finding them.
  • When the logic of top-of-the-funnel goes like that, it influences the request for proposal (RFP). The RFP and vendor list that will get that RFP will consist of well known players and leave very little room for innovative approaches
  • You don’t get trustworthy reviews from B2B companies anywhere, really. It’s difficult to compare sales pitch with actual delivery experiences. Success cases underline success, but hide failure.

Screenshot 2016-01-19 07.06.45

MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL is about engagement with 3-10 recognised players who will get the RFP. This is the first time for the buyer to allow vendors to ask questions and study options with them. Vendors have experience from multiple customers and they can reflect previous cases and their results which could potentially lead to better outcome than the one outlined in the RFP. Connecting customers challenges to vendors solutions could create a new solution, which would be the best case

PROBLEMS:

  • Most innovative and best solutions are not the ones to get the RFP and the customers will probably choose solutions that are established, expensive and quite similar to those that their competitors are using
  • The most innovative people don’t get to influence the buyers thinking and the buyers don’t get the kind of edge to their operations that would have been possible
  • The market logic will enforce status quo: innovative SMEs don’t get to grow and once their technology is proven the entrepreneurs will make an exit and sell their company to big players years after the development of better solutions and at that point the big players will introduce the solutions to the market and scale them. At this point buyers don’t get such benefit from their choice anymore and they will pay much more than they would have paid a couple of years earlier

I met the Founder and CEO of SpendLead Fabrice Saporito last autumn and their solution really impressed me. SpendLead is an environment where the optimal buying process has been made possible and allows the most innovative players to engage with buyers early. The founders have their history in procurement and they have developed a dream environment for the buyers to realise the optimal buying process!

SpendLead founders have their history in major companies buying processes, which has allowed them to get these buyers in. There are already major companies procurement departments which have combined buying power worth more than 200 Billion/year using SpendLead which gives the service a unique value proposition. eg. BBC

Screenshot 2016-01-19 07.36.28

The service has been built around these buyers interests, which means that they have embraced it and adopted it rapidly. It’s now time for sellers and marketers to take advantage of this possibility. How it works for marketers promoting their services in SpendLead? You publish exactly what the customers are looking for:

Screenshot 2016-01-19 07.43.23

And you get tools to do you engagements and lead generation:

Screenshot 2016-01-19 07.43.40

For an SME this environment gives full toolkit, allows very easy publication and enables anonymous engagements with buyers who want to learn more at the top of the funnel. This will speed up and strengthen the innovative solutions adoption. This environment magnify solutions and their impact, not brands. That’s why I think that SpendLead can disrupt the market logic over the next couple of years. The service is completely free for buyers and the business model is based on leads. Their pricing is very affordable, 1,99USD/lead and it will probably disrupt the lead generation market also in case of bigger brands. At least it is great way for SME’s to scale their sales reach. I don’t think that big companies can afford to neglect this kind of player in case their buyers adopt the service.

SpendLead is definitely worth trying and their thinking is solid. I’m really interested in seeing how this kind of disruptive new service will change the way we do B2B selling and buying!

In case you have experiences about customer dialogue and sales process inside SpendLead I’d be very interested in hearing actual experiences from both buyers and marketers point of view

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