Closing Strong – Without Losing Friends (or Clients) in the Process
The quarter is about to end, and you’re scrambling to close those last-minute deals. You’re so close to goal, you can taste it. Sound familiar? As any B2B seller can attest, this can be an especially exciting, and sometimes stressful, time of year. Blanketing your potential prospects with emails, calls, and texts, you’re doing everything in your power to finish strong. But if anything, this approach may be doing more harm than good.
Now’s not the time to reach out to anyone and everyone. Sure, you may have established a solid rapport with some of those folks, but is this potential sale in their best interest at this specific time? These last-minute Hail Mary sales tactics can come off as desperate, even aggressive – and your customers and prospects notice. A whopping 80% of B2B buyers claim aggressive sales people not only turn them off but have even stopped them from making a purchase. Even though it feels like productive activity, “spray and pray“ is not the magic bullet for closing the quarter on a high note.
To be truly effective this time of year, B2B sellers need to leverage real-time buyer insights to determine whom to call, what time to call, and what to talk about. Not only should this lead to better conversations this year, but it also puts you in a better position to start strong next year.
While prioritizing sales efforts and quickly adding value for top prospects has always been important, the way in which technology and data have come together to help boost sales performance has become a real game changer.
Using Buying Signals for Relevant Outreach is a Must
The sheer quantity of data that can be analyzed and processed in real time and immediately distributed in tools and applications is transforming sales and marketing. This modern data-inspired approach to selling makes B2B interactions more current by connecting them with buying signals and providing relevant context, for more apposite – and therefore more valuable – conversations on both sides.
According to our sixth annual B2B Marketing Data Report, an overwhelming majority of B2B sellers, 92% in fact, believe having access to accurate and complete data has helped them close deals faster, because it gave them a better understanding of a prospect’s needs. That understanding is vital, because today’s savvy B2B buyer expects nothing less. Not only do buyers have a wealth of information at their fingertips (allowing them to extensively research products and solutions before they even think about making a purchase), but they also recognize that data is being used by businesses that market to them. The majority of the buyers we surveyed expect that information to be put to good use – and used at the right time.
So, this quarter, finish strong without losing friends (and clients) in the process. Here are a few recommendations to help along the way:
Tip 1: Prospect research should be easy and informative
It takes an average of about two hours (128 minutes) for B2B sellers to research each prospect before contacting them, according to our recent study. More than a quarter of those surveyed said they are spending between three- and seven-hours doing research (which makes you wonder when they have time to actually sell). If you have detailed buyer information at your disposal, you can allocate more of your time to revenue-focused activities that help close deals instead of trying to find out who moved where and when.
Tip 2: Prioritize contact data you can have confidence in
As people move from one company to another, their email addresses and phone numbers change, meaning the accuracy of business records degrades, opening the door to some really awkward sales conversations. Especially when trying to accelerate a sale, it’s vital to have data that is organized, structured, and integrated across the enterprise, so the information driving your key business decisions is accurate and fresh. The contact data should also be sourced from multiple places – from first-party data that’s generated through your company’s website or CRM platforms to third-party data that can enrich and complete the information you have in house. This is the foundation for engaging buyers in the right context at the right time.
Tip 3: More than ever, focus on opportunities to add immediate value
Whether it’s managed through an internal or external analytics team or delivered as-a-service in your CRM platforms, contact data should be turned into insight that can help you pinpoint low-hanging fruit and guide you to the right conversation starter.
For example, you can tie unique sales data points together and use derived insights to set off triggers telling you to contact a buyer at that exact right moment with the exact right context to accelerate the sale. Think about industry news, PR, content, and social inputs. Say you notice that your prospect is creating some buzz with investment news and also that they’re increasing hiring and looking to grow. You encounter a stream of editorial coverage and PR announcements around this, and concurrently you see them looking at certain products on your website. These are often some of the best signals that there’s an amazing opportunity to connect with a potential customer, especially when that data is coupled with your first- and third-party real-time data.
Your integrated set of first- and third-party data (structured and unstructured) is your secret to being at the right place at the right time – with the strongest recommendations. This data and its actual usability create a real competitive advantage.
And remember, this part should be easy
Once you know how to use the firmographic data to your advantage, it’s important to be able to easily access it to put it to good use as part of your everyday routine. This is where alignment with marketing and other departments is paramount. User experience really matters here – your user experience. The goal is to have seamless access to the right data and insights within your daily workflows and systems, such as your CRM and marketing automation tools, so you can easily act on the information. Today’s forward-thinking B2B organizations are being more prescriptive about highlighting opportunities and stressing what data has changed, the accounts that should be prioritized, and most importantly, how to engage an individual prospect across multiple channels.
This may sound like a lot to tackle, but the good thing is you don’t have to go it alone. Sales tools like D&B Hoovers can surface the data you need with minimal setup to help identify the most strategic accounts to prioritize each quarter.
D&B Hoovers provides access to the world's largest commercial database of 120 million business records and analytics including detailed, current information on your prospects, including key decision-makers in your account and how to reach them, company news and developments, and annual report summaries. You can even search by companies that are showing the buying signals you look for.
The lesson for closing out the quarter is clear: B2B sellers must avoid becoming aggressive pitchmen to remain trusted advisors. The right intelligence can still help you keep momentum strong. This will lead to repeat sales and a greater lifetime customer value for the business. In the end, without the right data and information, last-minute sales pitches can fall on deaf ears, putting your sales goal tantalizingly out of reach.