The reality is that nothing is ever stationary in B2B prospecting. If sales teams stick to the same model year after year, they'll lose. Conversely, if they abandon everything they've done to make things calculable thus far, they will also likely fail.
Let’s take a look at where the whole process begins: the sales database. Everything starts and stops, succeeds or fails, based on data. It fuels all outbound activities, drives inbound leads, impacts sales reps’ morale and determines the future success of the company. So, naturally, it’s the first place business owners should examine to revamp sales efforts. Here are three facts to consider when examining a sales database and how to approach each of them:
1. All sales databases degrade at 30% per year. In fact, according to NetProspex, 84% of marketing databases are barely functional with nearly 64% of analyzed records not even including a correct phone number. To prevent this in 2016, there is a three step process sales professionals should follow every month for the entire database including marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Inbound leads can either be gold or complete junk.
Form submission information from inbound leads can vary, being comprehensive and updated, sparse and blank or complete spam. It is important to remove the junk – identify folks that are no longer with the company and remove them.
Finally, business owners should remember to listen to their teams. Make sure that it is easy and fast for reps to flag bad data and have the right tools in place to add replacement records in real-time.
2. The competition has access to the same sources. To counter this, businesses should differentiate by being the one organization in the space that places a premium on engaging prospects via live conversations as opposed to just email. The amount of prospecting emails received by decision makers these days is staggering. Use email to be honest about the team's intentions and to support the request for a very short initial call to determine whether or not the product or solution would be a good fit for them.
If it becomes clear that it isn't a good fit, promise to never contact them again unless something changes on their end. The ability to spend five minutes on the phone without ever having to hear from the person again is music to a prospect’s ears as compared to the product pitching novels that competitors will be sending via email.
3. Without a uniform process in place for data entry and management, sales teams will fail. It's important for all sales teams to have a comprehensive process in place for data entry and management, i.e. uploading information or bringing in new contacts, updating existing contacts and flagging "bad" data (contacts who have moved on to different positions or entries that consist of inaccurate information). With sales devlopment reps spending most of their days on the phone with prospective customers, it’s hard, and perhaps unrealistic, to have them carve out time to perform manual administration tasks (which could easily be automated). In order to keep the sales team selling, companies need to have efficient data management processes in place to keep the amount of manual activities to a minimum. Having a detailed process to obtaining new data, appending data and having set fields for recording and reporting is essential to maintaining sales and marketing efficiency.
Companies should put a standard and simple data management process in place for sales development team to follow so there’s no question as to what to do with the data next. Between acquiring new data, appending and using it to further sales and marketing efforts, businesses need to be sure that there are no holes in the data management no matter what function within the company is using it (marketing, sales development, closing sales reps, customer success). Everyone should have a similar, if not the same process so that information can be accurately carried over, utilized and reported on companywide.
When figuring out how to get sales development efforts back on track, it's important to keep it nice and simple and focus first on the quality of the sales database. Putting the right processes in place is hard work at the time, but worth its weight in new pipeline gold. Remaining ever vigilant tracking KPIs is the key to staying ahead of the competition and ensuring that the sales development team is keeping the company at the top of the market.
Pete Gracey is the CEO and Co-Founder of QuotaFactory, a sales acceleration technology firm.