At this week’s 2018 Growth Acceleration Summit hosted by ZoomInfo, the discussions and sessions revolved around the common theme of leveraging data and insights to have more meaningful conversations with target audiences. However, this did not solely mean relying on the first- and third-party data available today. Experts noted that leveraging the human knowledge gained from sales and marketing reps who engage with potential customers is key to accelerating growth with a prioritized focus.
“If you combine your own intelligence with Big Data, you create a crystal ball for yourself that can give you the ability to focus your attention on the most important things that need to get done,” said Yonatan Stern, Founder, CEO and Chief Scientist at ZoomInfo, during his opening address. “The use of Big Data, combined with your intelligence, can create growth, profits and more sales.”
While automating tasks is another area that can help productivity, experts noted that it should enable reps and marketers to do their jobs better based on their already valuable experience.
“Trust equals consistency over time,” said John Lim, Founder and CEO of linknexus, during a session at the event. “You can't live and die by the online lead anymore. We need to inject common sense into the technology and processes expected to create great customer relationships.”
TimeTrade Boosts Engagement, Conversions With Account-Focused Direct Mail
During a use case session at the event, the appointment scheduling platform TimeTrade discussed how the company was able to prioritize its ABM efforts and build healthy relationships with key stakeholders. First, they created a cross-functional team between marketing, sales and business development reps (BDRs) to understand where the company was successful. The team then came up with their ideal customer profile (ICP) and various personas, and made the decision to ignore the millions of data points in its CRM and solely identify prospective accounts and key stakeholders through ZoomInfo.
“Having the data on what technology accounts use is something that we leverage heavily,” said Lauren Mead, CMO of TimeTrade, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “ZoomInfo can narrow down accounts based on companies using Salesforce, and we also target accounts based on their web conferencing platforms.”
The company came up with roughly 10,000 accounts that met their ICP, and the sales team and BDR team identified 400 accounts that the organization would target with ABM initiatives. The company selected direct mail created in-house as its main channel to get their foot in the door and work towards setting up a phone call. With a mix of email touches, direct mail and BDR follow up, the company “saw 25% of the accounts targeted convert into opportunities, which accumulated in $6 million in pipeline,” according to Mead. The company also saw a roughly 2.5X increase in its average contract value.
Uncovering Undisclosed Needs With Trustworthy Relationships
Another talking point at the event was the idea of narrowing the list of prospects to accounts with the highest potential, allowing reps to prioritize their time and focus on building relationships to uncover their needs.
“We're shifting from a wide funnel to a narrower funnel,” said Mark Hunter, a sales industry author, consultant and coach, during an interview with Demand Gen Report. “A wider funnel actually slows down the selling process. The speed of the sale creates the value of the outcome. The goal should be to spend more time with fewer prospects to increase the speed to invest with us.”
More time spent with prospects positions companies to gain a better understanding of their undisclosed needs — information that isn’t normally obtainable via a lead generation form.
The need for trust in the B2B buying process comes from changing buyer expectations in their day-to-day lives. They are risk averse, trusting and doing a majority of the education themselves.
“Today, people have the power,” said industry keynote speaker and bestselling author Jay Baer, during his closing keynote. “Nobody plays amusement park roulette, or content management system roulette. When asked, 'What would you like buy?' you never hear, 'I don't know...surprise me!'”
Experts agreed that this level of insight is only obtainable in a conversational manner that helps build trust, which many said is the currency of any marketing and sales interaction. Having close conversations positions sales reps to ask difficult questions that help buyers understand the ways to fix their problems.
“I have to create a level of confidence with the customer to be willing to engage fast,” said Hunter. “What I find happening is that marketing is all about the MQL. I want to have an RQL — a revenue qualified lead. I'm not going to steer away from asking difficult questions. I want to ask tough questions to get the customer thinking. The more they're thinking, the more quickly I can move them towards their need.”
Presenters also added that building relationships and trust within buying groups leads to companies staying top-of-mind in an age of information-overload.
“How you engage people consistently impacts how things go from short- to long-term memory,” said John Hall, Co-Founder and CEO of Influence & Co. “Trust is a key way to move into long-term memory. Growth happens from opportunity coming to you, that's why trust plays a crucial role. It doesn't matter the length of time; long-term memory can bring them back to you.”
To gain trust with prospects, Magic Johnson, former NBA player and current President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, said during his keynote address that using insight on what you know about the customer to exceed expectations is a surefire way to achieve success.
“It's not enough to just deliver, you need to overdeliver to exceed customer expectations,” said Johnson. “When you overdeliver, they are going to come back to you, stay with you and go out to 20 other people and talk about how they should be working with you.”
Leveraging The People Behind The Brand
Buyers are also looking beyond company brands to gain an understanding of the people behind the brand during the buying process. Mark Schaeffer, social media marketing consultant and expert, noted during his session that personal branding is becoming ever more vital in overall company branding — ultimately positioning organizations to add a human touch to their initiatives.
“People want to know what's going on at your company,” said Schaeffer. “And they want to know what it's like to work there. Marketing is almost becoming local and artisanal. We've got to figure out another way to cut through the overwhelming data overload and massive distrust. Maybe your customers can love your people.”
Ultimately, experts agreed that taking the conversation away from the product and focusing on the outcome customers want to achieve will lead to more contextual conversations that build trust, create better customer experiences and accelerate growth.
“If you're selling the outcome, you never have to defend the product or service because you can make them defend their objection,” said Keenan, President and CEO of A Sales Guy.