What Sales People Really Need, is... | DMA

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What Sales People Really Need, is...


If you ask your Sales team what they need, they'll say 'leads'. Give more leads to your Sales team, get more customers out, right?

Well, not exactly. It's unfortunate but true that not all of the leads that marketing generate get contacted by sales, and then many that are a good fit but are not ready yet, are never followed up again later.

Frustratingly for Marketers, the leads that turn into Sales opportunities are often never attributed back to the campaign that sourced them either.

Leads don't make Sales people happy, no matter what they tell you. To find out what does, start with a better question, like:

'Where did your best customers come from?'

Stop and think about that for a second. Don't guess.

If you had to choose one of your existing customers, who if you could find more of, would transform your business - where did they come from originally? How did they hear about you?

I'm going to take an educated guess that they came to you from a referral - they were in some way introduced to you by someone that liked what you do.

Is that true? How can we know this?

Because almost every time I've asked this question, of hundreds of business owners and sales leaders, the answer has been the same, "Our best customers come from referrals".

So to get more of your best type of customers, your Sales team need more referrals. It's a subtle but highly important distinction from creating leads from strangers.

If you can get your new prospects to approach you believing you can help them, rather than have their defences up expecting you to sell to them, how much more valuable can that first sales engagement be for both of you?

It's a small difference, but it starts with the prospect trusting your credibility and reputation.

To understand how to get more referrals, we need to understand what makes a promoter.

Why do some customers become promoters?

This is due to a really simple fact: It's in our nature to give positive word of mouth, and for us to implicitly trust it when we hear it.

We are more likely to buy based on a positive recommendation from someone than from any other source. When we do, we usually spend more, stay around longer, and make more positive referrals ourselves.

It's ingrained in us, because it's part of our survival instinct. As we've evolved as social animals, the safety of the group has been an important factor in our growth.

If we experience something bad, like 'red berries are poisonous', we warn everyone who will listen. If we discover something valuable, like 'if you kill that particular animal and cook it, it tastes good', then we share that information with the people we like and trust.

This goes someway to explaining why nothing travels faster than bad news.

So why aren't you getting more promoters?

In business, we hope (but never seem to ask) that our customers will say good things about us to others, and instead spend tons of time and effort with customer services trying to prevent or mop up the damage from negative reviews.

Asking for feedback is something we are understandably reluctant to do, as we believe the impact of a bad review can far outweigh the benefit of a positive one. We also sometimes think it's a bit crass and desperate to ask one of our clients to promote us, so we just hope instead.

But remember that we are naturally programmed to do word of mouth by our evolution. If our customers aren't doing it, we are probably doing something wrong. Somewhere along their buying journey, we did something wrong or missed an opportunity to meet their expectations.

It might not have been big, and it might not stop them from continuing being a customer, but it's dampened their natural desire to say something good about why they buy from us.

Getting referrals from customers.

I'm not going to go into great detail about this here, you can find out exactly how to do that in another of our most popular articles: 8 Pillars of Delight: Retain Customers and Get Referrals

I mention this only to point out that it's not the only place you can get referrals from, and the next one is much bigger opportunity.

Getting referrals from non-customers.

Unless you are some mega-corporation, this group is probably larger for you. People who aren't your customer can also be excellent promoters of your business, and due to the power of the survival instinct mentioned earlier, it works just as well.

In our Future of Sales whitepaper, we pick out some important findings from research by Gartner about the balance of trust. Before a prospect becomes a customer, they are more likely to trust information about you from a third party - any third party - before they'll trust your marketing. After they become a customer, the balance switches the other way and they are more likely to believe you than anyone else.

What you need to take from this, is that it is vitally important to have positive recommendations about you out there on the internet, and in your industry. What your non-customers are saying about you is just as important as what your customers say, because your next 'best customer' will be listening to them.

Building trust in your community.

One of the greatest things about inbound marketing is that it has to start with helping people. If you can reach out and help people in your community without them having to buy from you first, you can establish a reputation that enables people to positively recommend you. If you actively help from the first engagement then the subsequent trust which develops really makes a difference.

What are the questions your prospects ask you? Put the answers out there for them to find. Create some helpful content (like this) and offer them something more if they find it useful (like the Future of Sales whitepaper which you can download here, if you like).

There's a good chance that the people who you help, will tell others and they'll become a referral who'll begin their journey with you in a much more positive mindset than if they'd found you themselves.

Strangers or referrals?

So which would you prefer? More strangers coming to you with a cynical view of your marketing messages and sales tactics, or referrals who have a problem and believe you can solve it?

If it's the second group, why focus all of your marketing on attracting strangers? Could we create more referrals, and therefore more great customers, by focusing our marketing efforts on helping people instead?

If you've found this article helpful or thought provoking, there's two more things for you:

1 - Get more of this sort of thing in the Future of Sales for IT Resellers whitepaper here. It gives context to the too-familiar problems that Sales are facing today, and in a shocking departure with tradition, actually tells you what you can do about it.

2 - Practice your referring skills by telling more people about this article by sharing it using the sharing buttons at the top of this post. Add a comment below to join the conversation.

Finally, you can keep this pithy summary to carry around with you:

Sales people don't like leads, but they love referrals.

This post originally appeared on babelquest.co.uk/blog

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