Kickstart 2017 Sales With 3 Easy Steps

It’s mid January. You’re probably still sticking to your New Year’s diet and maybe even hitting the gym 3 times a week like you promised yourself you would. You took the time to start the year right for yourself, so why not apply those same principles to your business regimen?

In sales, if you really want to be successful, you have to lay the groundwork early and then continually be looking for opportunities that may or may not openly present themselves.   You can do this with 3 simple steps:

  • Find the right accounts
  • Get in the door faster
  • Engage with insight and stand out

Now, I know that’s easier said than done, but with the right toolkit, this can actually be easily attained.

Find the Right Accounts:

You don’t need to spend hours on social media or digging through the Internet to discover target accounts anymore. That’s so 2012. Now you simply need to know the characteristics of companies that typically do business with you and, with the click of a button, you can have a ready-made target list at your fingertips.   With our OneSource® platform, you can even go beyond simple firmographic information and really dig into the traits that make companies good prospects. For instance, you can search for manufacturing companies in the US who are hiring, opening new businesses, launching new products, and are environmentally friendly. Imagine how much more targeted that list is going to be than one that is simply manufacturing companies in the US.

Get in the Door Faster:

Now that you have your list, the clock is ticking. While your target list is already probably much more focused than your competitor’s, you still have to call at the right time. This is where Triggers come into play. Triggers allow you to constantly be alerted when something happens at a target company so that you can be ready to capitalize on the opportunity. How valuable would it be if you could immediately call a company when they received a new round of funding or hired a new CMO? That’s what tools like the OneSource® platform allow you to do.

Engage With Insight, Stand out, and WIN!

We’ve all been on the other end of the sales call that starts “Hi, I’m calling to see if you have any needs for a sales tracking solution?” The bottom line is, if you have to ask, it’s not likely the prospect is going to buy. You need to lead them to a solution for their problems- problems they sometimes may not even realize they have. In the age of solution selling, you must connect with the prospect on a needs level- not a product level- in order to close deals. Having unique information that paints a clear picture of that prospect before you pick up the phone will not only put you ahead of your competition, it will shorten your discovery and sales cycle.   Imagine that same phone call now with the information you’ve gathered from the OneSource® platform. “Hi- With your recent investments in the Brazilian markets and the fact that you just got a new CMO and rounds of funding, I thought you might be looking for a solution to help you track your sales progress globally”.   See how much more targeted, thoughtful, and effective this approach is?

If you want to learn more about kickstarting your 2017 sales with the OneSource platform, join us for a webinar where our SVP of Small & Medium Business will walk you through his sales strategy and show you how the OneSource platform can propel you to success in 2017.

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Four health checks for your personal brand in 2017

Every sales professional knows the importance of investing time and effort in building their personal brand. But as we kick off 2017, these four health checks will ensure your time and efforts are focused on getting the best results from your brand.

In 2017 personal brands are like opinions – everybody’s got one. So it’s easy to forget that just a short couple of years ago, the concept was fairly new even within such an image-focused industry as sales and marketing. In 2015 I wrote a blog on how to build a personal brand when we were all still getting our heads around the idea. Nearly two years on, it’s time to take a four-point healthcheck of our brand building efforts:

  1. Is your content getting you closer to clients? If you’ve committed to producing quality content on a regular basis, you’re on your way to building an authoritative brand in your field. But now it’s time to take it a step further and ask how this content is getting you closer to clients. A good way to test this is to ask yourself how openly you can speak about your work with clients in your blogs. Can you articulate how you’ve helped them in a way that both adds value to your readers and builds more trusted relationships with clients?
  2. Is your authentic image resonating with contacts? Staying real online is critical in today’s transparent workforce. But it’s also a constant challenge, especially when under pressure to deliver more content while also engaging authentically with content shared by your connections. It’s great if your content is liked, retweeted or shared – but how often is this done by your clients or targets? Scrutinize exactly who is engaging with your content to see whether it’s hitting home with the audience that really matters. When a client shares your content, it indicates they support you and trust your subject knowledge.
  3. Are you collaborating in the right way? The ability to create larger circles of connections is perhaps the biggest advantage of a strong online brand. But it also demands a more nuanced approach to collaborating. Those who do it best connect offline and online, forming relationships with a variety of stakeholders, including competitors. It’s not about trying to steal business but acknowledging that today’s client needs a variety of services to meet their needs. Collaborating can mean working together with competitors to deliver tangible value to your client(s).
  4. How does your online presence help you offline? Big numbers of followers, connections or likes can be dazzling but how do they help you meet your sales goals in the real world? How many of those 1,000+ connections are clients or potential clients? How many of those would recommend you to colleagues? And how many would you actually want to work with? The ability to take your online connections into an offline environment is one of the biggest challenges of building a digital brand – though if you’ve paid attention to my first three points, you’ll stand a better chance of success.

As we start 2017, a strong personal brand should be part of every sales professional’s strategy for success. Drop me a line with your personal brand tips or to discuss how the right industry insights can help you build an authoritative online presence.

Dun & Bradstreet acquires Avention: a data-driven success story

Positive changes. That’s what the start of a new year is all about. New goals, new outlooks and new journeys. And today, this couldn’t be more true for Avention as it joins the Dun & Bradstreet family.

For more than 30 years, OneSource Solutions by Avention have fueled customers’ data-driven B2B sales and account-based marketing (ABM) strategies. We’ve continued to expand the ways customers can align sales and marketing priorities through data insights, and we are now recognized as the single, go-to source for actionable business information. Our mission has always been to give our customers the data and insights to grow their businesses. That mission won’t change as we join Dun & Bradstreet; it will only grow stronger.

Dun & Bradstreet is a market leader that has helped businesses to align their data, systems and relationships with the world’s largest commercial database of more than 265 million business records, 30,000+ sources across 190 countries for more than 175 years. Our companies share complementary values and a belief that data and analytics will always be at the core of our customers’ successes. Avention’s platform combined with Dun & Bradstreet’s global database brings B2B sales and marketing professionals an integration of mission-critical data and timely sales and marketing intelligence, allowing our customers to achieve even greater business triumphs.

This acquisition, in combination with their previous acquisition of NetProspex, Dun & Bradstreet’s Hoover’s product and Strategic Alliance solutions (such as its partnership with Salesforce.com), furthers the commitment and investment Dun & Bradstreet has made to be the best in the industry for data, analytical applications and technology. It also positions Dun & Bradstreet as a leader in the Sales Acceleration market, which provides B2B sales and marketing professionals with actionable market and company information enhanced by software.

It is an important milestone for both companies and for our industry. We achieved it through the incredible work of our team members, and I can’t thank them enough for their dedication and drive. Customers can expect the same level of service from their sales and support teams. We’ll be in touch in the coming months about product integration and new opportunities to come from the acquisition.

Thank you for your continued support.

If you would like to learn more, check out the news release.

PSST! Here’s the Secret to Sales Success in 2017

As I sat with my feet up watching Bond’s Skyfall on television this Christmas, it struck me that, as salespeople, we’re actually in a very similar business. Granted, few of us drive Aston Martins, but we’re all in the intelligence game. Whether you’re Bond, Bourne or a sales pro, winning depends on the quality of your intelligence and insight.

We even have our own arsenal of sophisticated gadgetry ─ including cutting edge data solutions ─ to understand our customers and engage effectively.

Research suggests, however, that many businesses are going to market with huge gaps in their intelligence. Customer research from Corporate Visions, for example, suggests that 88% of sales reps know their own products, but only 24% show they understand their customers’ business challenges[1].

So how can you ensure you have the intelligence and insight you need? Psst! I’ll let you in on a secret ─ it’s something that I call PSST.

Prepare

Planning is mission critical. If you react first and fastest to significant business events, such as executive changes, product launches or funding announcements, you’re much more likely to make a sale. You need to know when it’s the best time to make contact and get in before your competitors. Before an email is sent or a number dialled, you should understand everything there is to know ─ about the company, sector, sales cycle and the individual.

This knowledge gives you the power to identify your ideal customers, where they are, what stage of the buying process they’re at and the issues they are most interested in. Now you can prioritise and focus your time and effort on the prospects that are most likely to buy at precisely the right moment.

And you’ll want to be at the heart of the action and out in the field. So you’ll need a data solution that automates the process and delivers ‘pitch-ready’ reports at the push of a button ─ whether in the office or on the road.

Seal

Think about the sales calls you take. You’re far more likely to engage with someone who’s bothered to research your business than someone who’s simply pushing product. And you’ll have far more trust in their ability to deliver on their promises. So why should your customers be any different?

You need to maintain insight throughout the sales process (not just at the first point of contact). Buyers make choices based on your intelligence too. Demonstrating this intelligence calls for a data solution that constantly updates in real time to help you build trust to progress rapidly from first contact to final contract.

Sustain

Sophisticated organisations understand that the sale is just the first step in building a profitable relationship. Your next moves will rely on data to deliver highly effective account management and increased retention. And retention is worth it: Bain & Company suggests that increasing retention by just 5% boosts profits by 25%-95%[2], while the probability of selling to existing customers (60%-70%) dwarfs that for new (5%- 20%)[3].

The insight provided by an effective data solution allows you to know what customers want and when they want it so you can truly tailor solutions to your customers’ business objectives. It also opens up the potential for cross and up-sell within companies and groups ─ turning prospects into customers through positive referrals. Data makes you ‘sticky’ ─ as decisions about contract renewal are based as much on the added value of your relationship as they are on the performance of your products.

You stop being a supplier and start becoming a partner.

Transform

An effective data solution has the power to transform your sales approaches ─ giving the right targets at the right times, with the right insight to make that all-important first impression count. Beyond that first contact, you can rapidly establish trust to seal the deal faster AND forge ever stronger relationships. By always giving customers what they want, you lock your products and services into their business ─ for lasting retention.

Transformation can go much further, with the intelligent application of insight informing everything from marketing approaches to product development, and even strategic business planning. Get in touch today and I’ll share more of Avention’s Top Secret Tips for 2017 Sales Success.

[1] https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/sales-statistics#sm.00001n46kmciqhfjnwvx485mtanst

[2] https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/sales-statistics#sm.00001n46kmciqhfjnwvx485mtanst

[3] http://www.invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/

Data Quality Remains Boring, but Ever More Important

Three years ago, I wrote a blog titled, “Data Quality is Boring”.  To be honest, it still is.  Few marketing executives will walk into the job and set data hygiene as their first priority.  But is it more critical than ever due to the increased scope of SalesTech and Martech and the advancement of Account Based Marketing (ABM) and predictive analytics.  None of these tools will achieve their promise without a rigorous process for embedding high quality data into your leads, contacts, and accounts.  Marketers need to build data quality into the front-end of their data acquisition process and then maintain data quality over time.  Likewise, data quality needs to be maintained within CRMs due to the rapid rate of contact decay.

Back then, Marketo and Eloqua (Oracle Marketing) were still working to justify their presence in the marketing budget.  Now, such Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) are well entrenched in the Martech stack and few B2B digital companies would consider operating without such platforms.

With MAPs, leads are managed as soon as they are keyed into webforms, uploaded from CSV files, or downloaded from prospecting platforms such as Avention’s OneSource platform.  These leads can vary from perfectly accurate to wretchedly awful.  But without a plan for validating and enriching these records, your MAP will struggle to meet ROI targets.  This is because data cleansing is not a binary process of simply filtering the good and the bad – the wheat from the chaff.  It also requires standardizing fields, filling in informational gaps, flagging duplicates, and maintaining data quality over time.

The Wheat

We know that some leads will be pristine with all fields meeting the data quality standards of accuracy, completeness, and timeliness.  These pristine leads still have one problem – they are associated with people, not accounts.  If you are adopting ABM, then you will struggle in properly scoring, nurturing, and routing leads which lack account intelligence.  A data cleaning process not only standardizes records and flags bad data, but it associates leads to accounts and enriches leads with accurate firmographics drawn from a third-party reference database.  Only after appending leads with sizing data, linkage, industry codes, job function, job level, and technographics can leads be deemed properly manageable.

Tying leads to accounts is critical for ABM.  If you are unable to properly associate leads to accounts, you will be unable to identify new opportunities at your targets.  These leads may sit in nurture when they should be acted upon.  Even worse, they could be routed to the wrong sales rep due to improper linkage or sizing data, resulting in channel conflict and frustrated account managers.  Bad data also makes it nearly impossible to identify the attributes of your best customers and clone look-alike accounts and contacts.

The Chaff

At the other end of the data quality spectrum are a set of leads that aren’t real leads.  This chaff often comes from individuals looking to read a collateral piece or view a recorded demo but who do not wish to be contacted.  These are your Mickey Mouse leads (sometimes literally) that waste resources and lower your email delivery scores.  In my case, if I do not want to speak with a sales rep, I enter my name as Do Not Contact.  Oftentimes, I begin receiving emails a few minutes later that read

Dear Do Not:

Thank you for your interest…

Probably, like you, I can’t find the unsubscribe link fast enough.

Most Leads (Neither Wheat nor Chaff)

But, a great deal of data is somewhat useful.  It is neither wheat nor chaff.  It may lack key fields such as an email or direct dial phone or the address may be incomplete.  And if you are trying to keep your webforms short to discourage form abandonment, it may take months to populate your lead records via progressive profiling.  Meanwhile, the window of opportunity for the leads keeps ticking away.  With a data quality solution, progressive profiling no longer holds up lead processing as the key fields are immediately populated with standardized, accurate intelligence.

Sawtooth

Figure 1: Absent ongoing data cleansing, data quality is saw toothed resulting in periodic declines in lead accuracy.

What’s more, time has an adverse impact upon your data quality.  Sirius Decisions found that contacts decay at a twenty-five percent annual rate.  Thus, each month two percent of your leads go bad.  And that doesn’t count the leads where account information is no longer accurate due to M&A, corporate name changes, and relocations.  If you are viewing data cleaning as an annual or biannual exercise, then then the quality rate of your leads will look like a saw tooth (see Figure 1).  Only a program of ongoing data enrichment will ensure your leads are accurate and timely.

All of your key marketing processes benefit from enriching leads with account intelligence:

  • Online Marketing and web forms will generate a higher ROI as forms are reduced to just a few key fields, reducing abandonment rates.
  • Lead scoring is more valuable as you enhance records with additional variables for determining “fit”.
  • Lead matching to CRM accounts will benefit from immediate mapping of contacts to companies within the MAP.
  • Segmentation is more accurate as you reduce the frequency of UNKNOWN and standardize values.
  • Targeting and messaging will be more precise as additional firmographic, technographic, and biographic variables provide greater color around your prospects.
  • Lead routing will direct records to the appropriate sales rep or team as subsidiary and branch locations are tied to parent companies and accurate sizing and industry data ensure that leads are properly directed.
  • Analytics will be more valuable as they will be based upon current, accurate, and complete data.
  • Sales Qualification will be faster with reps having more confidence in the underlying quality of the leads you pass them.

Keep in mind that you are passing your leads downstream to sales and other platforms.  If your Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are inaccurate, then you are propagating bad data to downstream CRMs, ERPs, service, and finance platforms.  This is an expensive and unnecessary exercise in bad data management.

With data hygiene, it is possible to gather a lot more wheat and quickly eliminate the chaff from our MAPs and CRMs.

How the Staffing Industry is Using OneSource Solutions to Thrive

Did you ever wonder just how the most successful business development reps and recruiters figure out just who to approach? Good old-fashioned person-to-person networking is always the first choice, and – of course – there is social media – which has become the “end all be all” for business development and staffing professionals alike.   But those are often not enough.  And when you and every competitor in your space are reaching out to the same people – day after day – the resources become overloaded and overworked. Often, reaching out directly to someone in the same role, same location & same industry can be more successful. But even with social media, identifying those companies and those people is not always easy.

The most progressive business development reps and recruiters make use of data to find relevant leads. From finding the right contact to call WHEN the need is there to reaching out to passive candidates at the RIGHT time. The most successful reps go further to also use company insights in order to frame their recruiting messages. Sales people and recruiters like this use Avention’s OneSource® platform.

So a couple of questions….

How would your “time to fill” change if you could quickly access a list of people in the same industry right next door to the location of your current opening?

How would it impact your book of business if you knew right away when companies were hiring or laying off?

Here is what a couple of our customers in the staffing space have to say about working with Avention OneSource solutions:

In order to grow our business, we need to be able to identify target clients and the right contacts at each organization. Since we started using Avention’s OneSource Solutions, we have been able to build a full functioning database with accurate data on each industry we target. Avention has been a one-stop shop for our data and service needs – the team approach at Avention also ensures all of our questions are addressed quickly.”

The extent of data available in the OneSource Solutions from Avention enables our large network to identify opportunities across all aspects of human capital management. The OneSource platform helps our network prioritize opportunities, leverage contacts for business development and recruiting and better prepare candidates for the interview. Leveraging business triggers for events that are precursors to hiring also helps us initiate conversations early in the cycle to win more business.”

If you’d like to learn more, please join us for a short demo on Wednesday, 14th December at noon EST. Register here.