Prospects don’t care what we’re selling until they know we care about them.
That means not just taking the time to research their industry, market, and challenges, but also being able to share what prospects don’t know – but should.
If we can move beyond asking prospects what’s keeping them up at night and move to tell them what should be keeping them up at night, we’ll be seen as partners instead of vendors. That’s guaranteed to generate better pipeline movement. But with all the data available to us and our prospects, how do we week through it?
To understand how to leverage and communicate the research available to generate better sales conversations, we sat down with Sanjay Dhebar, a partner at Leonnova and a professor at the Schulich School Of Business in Toronto. He explained how any salesperson can discover what should be keeping their prospects up at night and how to communicate it.
Since we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it, and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: To know when to trigger research on a prospect so we can identify what should be keeping our prospects up at night, Sanjay recommends identifying what type of prospect you’re likely dealing with – someone who just wants the facts or someone who needs to validate the research?
That will make a difference with how you present the research, as some prospects will be fine with anecdotal information while others will need to know that this is a problem that has been well-researched.
After surveying multiple prospects, you’ll likely discover that most of your buyers fall into either anecdotal or research-based modes.
R – Repeatable: To make this type of future-driven research repeatable and weed through the potentially infinite amount of data available, Sanjay recommends starting with an industry analysis. Find the answer to the question: What major changes are affecting my prospects’ industry? Or what changes are on the horizon that they’ll need to prepare for?
The second step is taking that industry-wide data and making it market-specific. This means narrowing the impact of an industry-wide change to the market your prospects operate in. By making those changes specific to the lives and goals of your prospects, you’ll be a valuable resource in making them aware of the impact of the potential changes.
Once you have identified challenges and made them specific to your prospect market, Sanjay says to be inquisitive before firing off challenges to prospects. He recommends developing five questions that allow you to validate that this prospect will likely encounter the problems you’ve identified with your research and customize the challenge and its potential impact on the prospect you’re speaking with.
I – Improvable: To improve this system, especially in an era of such massive change and access to data and information, Sanjay says to pay attention to your soft skills: Are you listening to your prospects and absorbing what your prospect is saying?
Salespeople will often wait for a prospect to finish talking so they can respond, but to really improve this system, Sanjay says we can better position research and data if we listen, reflect, and only then, respond to our prospects.
M – Measurable: Measuring how well this system works relies upon a good relationship with your marketing department, Sanjay says. This means keeping an open line of communication and tracking the challenges you’re hearing in the field from prospects and customers and the challenges your marketing team is seeing as well. This will ensure you’re tracking the effectiveness of the data you’re developing to ensure it’s driving better conversations.
While tracking which challenges you’re encountering is a way of tracking leading indicators of a data-driven sales campaign, we can also measure lagging indicators to ensure the challenges we’re identified are hitting home with prospects: Are the challenges we’ve identified, and how we’re communicating them, driving more conversations and meetings? Are they shortening our sales cycle? Are they increasing prospect engagement because we’re being seen as a partner with valuable information and not just as another salesperson?
By identifying the information our prospects care about, asking great questions, and communicating it to prospects, we’re sure to be the reason they sleep better – even with challenges that could keep them up at night.