When I first started working for a industrial automation company, I noticed that most sales reps resorted to a “spray and pray” tactic hoping that by shear number of calls and emails something was going to come through. Distributors and channel partners relied on their existing contacts to get business rather than actual hard work of prospecting. If one of their customers happened to have a need they would talk to him and present a solution.

>> Prospecting is a tough time consuming activity.

It became clear to me quickly that this type of an approach just wasn’t going to pan out, the results actually sucked. Coming from an engineering background I thought there had to be a better way that took less time and produced better results.

>> There is no silver bullet in marketing but there is a better way!

Targeted marketing

One of the first things that I did was to determine who were my best customer profiles for the type of product that I was selling.  If you want to learn more about how to create customer persona check out my blog post here: http://nickrakhshani.com/4-steps-to-creating-a-killer-customer-persona/

I then figured out what type of information they were interested in and the most effective way I could present that information and track the response. The target market I selected was the group of prospects that represented the highest opportunity for potential sales.

>> One of the keys to success here is having a systems that can segment your database.

Campaign execution

Because my prospects were spread throughout the US and Canada, the most effective way to reach them was through email. They were almost impossible to get a hold of over the phone without a prior appointment.

My strategy was simple, I presented a compelling value proposition and followed up with more relevant communication. I use a CRM system to keep track of information and follow ups. Having used over a dozen different CRM systems, I have finally found a couple that work well for me.

>> With sales cycle times of 6 month and longer the CRM was my go-to database to keep track of and organizing everything.

Value proposition

A compelling value proposition is an essential part of sales. I had a strong value proposition that communicated why a prospect could get more value by doing business with us. I use testimonials, slide decks, videos, and other digital assets to further communicate value proposition.

LinkedIn research

LinkedIn can speed your prospecting process and save valuable time. If you think you’ll be doing a fair amount of search on LinkedIn consider investing in LinkedIn Sales Navigator or LinkedIn Premium. Efficiency is critical in prospecting, it’s easy to spend hours on LinkedIn by following connections links from one contact to another. But If you plan ahead of time and don’t let yourself get distracted you can accomplish more in less time.

LinkedIn groups

Another tool that can come in handy is LinkedIn Groups. These are professional groups that share a common interest and discuss topics of interest. By becoming a member of a group, you can tap into discussions and determine if there is an opportunity to engage in a conversation and connect with a potential prospect.

Social selling

If your target audience is engaged in social media, figure out which platforms they like to use. Check out the usual suspects like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

>> Have a system in place that helps you manage your time and productivity. Determine if there is sufficient relevant conversations taking place to warrant your time.

Come up with a strategy and be very focused on what you want to accomplish. In my business Twitter and LinkedIn are the two platforms that add significant value. Whatever social media platforms you choose, give it some time before adding another platform. I initially used LinkedIn for many years but then early in 2016 expanded to Twitter. Now I’m spending most of my time on Twitter.

CRM system

After I find business contacts from LinkedIn and Twitter, I head over to my CRM to save it in a segment that best represents the contact. If I need to follow up or send an introduction email, I put that in the follow up calendar of activities and don’t need to worry about forgetting about it.

Product videos

In B2B sales of complex products often the best way to start a conversation is through sharing information that can be valuable to your prospect. In industrial automation one of those value points is sharing short videos. This technique has proven itself valuable over and over again. It’s such a great tool that I have curated a large number of videos for sales calls and email campaigns.

Digital sales assets

Sales assets are a key part of my prospecting. Things like brochures, application notes, videos, pictures, etc. Basically anything about your product or service that can communicate your value proposition can be a sales asset.  You may say that’s the job of the marketing group but in many organization there’s still a gap between marketing and sales which means the salesperson may end up having to do most of the work.

Time is your most precious asset

The 80/20 rule plays a big part of my sales activities so I try to focus on those 20% of activities that product 80% of results. It wasn’t always that way, in fact I used to spend a lot of time chasing things that produced little results.

>> There are only so many productive hours a day- make the best use of every hour.

Prioritize your activities and do the tasks with the highest value first.

>> Selling is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

Results

Using the approach I described above helped me cut prospecting time by about 50% and helped achieve a 40-50% increase in quality of leads. Having said that your sales results depend on a number of parameters including your marketing, sales processes, and workflows.

Next Steps

If you’d like to learn more about B2B sales and marketing, you can reach me through the contact us page here.

 

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Nick Rakhshani