At the end of 2015, we realized that in order to grow how we had forecast to our Board of Directors, we needed better data on our prospects and customers.
(Note: This article was originally published on DiscoverOrg, which acquired ZoomInfo in 2019.)
What a stupid realization given that we are solving this exact issue for 2,000+ customers.
Unfortunately for us, there was nobody in the marketplace who was providing a solution for OUR target market. For years we’ve provided in-depth intelligence on the IT, Engineering, Marketing, and Finance departments of companies, but we wanted to talk to Sales Departments and specifically the leaders there.
So, we were left with a decision. Suffice to say, we needed excellent data to grow, so we went ahead and built it.
So, we’re selling to sales – that creates some unique challenges for us. Here are the top five:
1. Aligning Sales & Marketing
Many times, although tools are designed to help the sales department, the budget for this type of software lives in marketing. Crazy right? What does that mean for us? It means that not only do we need to get buy-in from Sales that our tool is valuable, but we also have to help our champions build a case internally to go to Marketing to get at their budget.
2. Sales Tricks for Salespeople
Sales people don’t have some special antidote to good salesmanship.There is a perception that selling to sales is “harder” because they can call your BS, they know all your tricks etc. The truth is, the “tricks” – basic good sales tactics – are “tricks,” because they work and it doesn’t matter if the person on the other end is a salesperson or an IT person.
Don’t feel bashful or weird about asking for the sale that month or quarter. Ask for a concrete next step, and use closing questions – those aren’t tactics that were created by sales people to work against everyone BUT them – those are sales tactics that work period.
3. All Roads Lead to Sales Numbers
Every sales leader and sales representative is trying to improve sales. They have quotas and targets to meet. That means they will be looking for tools and data to help them grow their top line and meet those goals. A $30,000 tool to help hit a $10M target – it’s easy math. It’s what makes working with sales a pleasure.
Remember, more than anyone in the company these sales leaders are comped, promoted, and respected based on a VERY VERY visible number. Look at any 10k Annual Report of a publicly traded company – the CEO and CFO will talk about what they did in new sales that quarter or year.
They won’t mention the marketing conversion rate, the website conversion rate, or the overall lead count – nope – all eyes are on the sales metric.
Many of them base decisions on data and ROI while not being skilled at tracking it. That means we need to help them create benchmarks for before and after our product. At the end of a subscription term, it’s not enough that some sales guys liked it – sales leaders want to know how that tied back to revenue.
4. Salespeople Know The Struggles
They appreciate month and quarter ends. That means if you’ve been great at building a business case, building rapport, and being likable they will come through for you when the quarter is ending. They get it. Can’t say the same thing for someone in IT or Supply Chain or Engineering – they’ve never lived their lives Quarter to Quarter Month to Month – Sales has.
Data is the backbone of all sales efforts. I’ve been on thousands of sales calls with companies big and small, and I’ve never once heard a sales leader say “Yeah, the prospect data we’re working off of is amazing.”
That’s right – everyone is dealing with this problem.
5. Effectiveness vs. Efficiency
Quit talking about Efficiency – it’s lame. Efficiency is fine, “we’ll save your sales reps 2 hours a week, that’s almost an entire extra month of productivity.” It’s just played out. We talk about EFFECTIVENESS.
Sure, efficiency is impressive – you can have more time to call on your crap list and your crap data if you have an incredible organizational tool. But you can’t maximize your gains if the data you’re calling on is not EFFECTIVE.
So, there are some quick learnings from selling to sales. If you are selling to sales then you need to look at our sales dataset – it has directly created $10M+ in closed revenue for us this year, and it can do the same for you.