Here’s how to stop losing deals.
Sales leaders complain that their account based sales teams don’t get enough qualified leads, their pipelines are fluff, gatekeepers block their access to the C-suite, and the sales process is way too long. Leadership can’t count on accurate forecasts when pipelines are unqualified. Big problem.
Most account based sales reps would give their right arm for a chance to bypass all the middlemen and talk directly to their buyers—not just once in a while, but routinely. Too bad that almost never happens. After all, CEOs and other senior decision-makers don’t have “meet with salesperson” on top of their list of priorities, nor do they take cold calls.
These challenges only continue to escalate—despite all the promises that business leaders have heard about how disruptive technology will automate account based sales development and make lead generation effortless, seamless, and scalable (you know, just throw together a lot of buzzwords and you’ve got the gist of it).
So, why do account based selling teams still struggle to build and maintain strong pipelines? Because organizations are investing their money in sales technology and not in their salespeople. And technology doesn’t seal deals. People do.
What Buyers Really Think About Your Account Based Sales Teams
What do decision-makers like and dislike about salespeople? Sales researcher Steve W. Martin set out to answer that question. In his recent study, 230 business buyers took a 76-part survey that evaluated how they feel about different types of salespeople.
The results are shocking. When asked to categorize all the salespeople they have met into four different categories, survey participants rated 12 percent as excellent, 23 percent as good, 38 percent as average, and 27 percent as poor.
In an interview with Tiffani Bova, Martin explains:
Customers can think of a salesperson as someone who is trying to sell something, a supplier with whom they do business, a strategic partner who is of significant importance to their business, or a trusted advisor whose opinions on business and personal matters are sought out—and listened to. However, just 18 percent of the salespeople they met over the past year would be classified as trusted advisors whom they respect.
Salespeople frequently meet with lower-level and midlevel employees at companies whose business you’re trying to secure, but it’s the rare conversations salespeople have with C-level decision makers that directly determine whether they win or lose the deal. Unfortunately, buyers report that fewer than one out of three salespeople can hold an effective conversation with senior executives … [and] just over half of salespeople they meet with can clearly explain how their solution impacts the business.
(For more on the study—including buyer insights on the challenges that salespeople face—read the rest of Bova’s interview with Martin.)
Referral Introductions: The Secret to Instantaneous Trust
Customers buy because they like and trust your account based selling team—or because someone they like and trust has vouched for you. It’s that simple. Yet, only 18 percent of salespeople are viewed as trusted advisors whom buyers respect. That staggering statistic strips away all pretenses about how account based selling teams view themselves and how they earn the right to be trusted.
If your team doesn’t know how to have conversations at the C-suite level and can’t clearly explain the business impact of your solution, you have some serious training gaps to fill. But account based sales pros don’t even get opportunities to have those conversations unless they can get meetings with decision-makers.
A referral program is your team’s ticket into the C-suite. It’s the #1 way for your account based sales reps to land and expand in their named accounts. They get in early, earn trust and credibility, build strong relationships, and outsmart the competition. A trusted referral and a personal connection seal the deal … every single day.
What action are you going to take after reviewing this research? If what you’re doing works, keep doing it. If not, let’s start a conversation about how a referral discipline guarantees your account based sales reps score every meeting in one call. Contact me at (415) 461-8763 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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