Intelligence can make or break a sale. The ‘market intelligence industry’ is booming, because salespeople know the better prepared they are, the more chances they have of success in the sale.
Too many salespeople are engaging in gathering intelligence – but they’re doing it too late in the sales process. If we’re waiting for a prospect to express interest by downloading something from our website, emailing us or picking up the phone, we’re already behind the power curve and are focused on lagging intelligence.
There are a lot of things that happen in a prospect’s mind before they begin to express interest in our company, and if we’re responsible for competing in a crowded market or developing new accounts, we want to leverage leading intelligence. That’s why we sat down with Jamie Shanks, CEO of Pipeline Signals. He’s an expert in finding the subtle links between prospects and the unspoken priorities they have so salespeople can connect with prospects as they’re still putting together their buying criteria.
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 begin this sales system, Jamie says we need to start with understanding that we can’s attack everything at once. We have to begin by regularly prioritizing our accounts so we know who is more likely to take our calls or be interested in what we’re selling. That way, we can take an objective look at our prospect list to determine who we need to gather intelligence on today.
R – Repeatable: To make the gathering of marketing intelligence repeatable, we first need to have a sequence to leverage our intelligence into. That might look like a 5-touch cadence with a short story inside of each of those five points. While the stories can repeat, they need to be customized with the intelligence we’ve gathered to make them applicable to the prospect this sequence is being sent to.
But what market intelligence should we be searching for?
Jamie recommends starting with LinkedIn and connecting with the prospect if you can. From there, take a look at how long they’ve been in their role (if they’re new, be aware that they’ll be building their strategy for success in their new role within the first 90 days on the job), their current industry and which companies they’re most connected to. Using that information, you can develop an understanding of their likely challenges based on their peer group, job title and industry.
Of course, not everyone is on LinkedIn. A great repeatable process to run in tandem with LinkedIn is to search for the name of your prospect in Google. Instead of using the ‘all’ search, instead set it for video and images. That way, if there are any videos of them tagged or social media posts that mention them, you’ll be able to gather valuable intelligence.
I – Improvable: To make an intelligence-gathering system improvable, Jamie recommends looking at your cadence to ensure that you’re in touch often enough and with value. That iterative process is something that salespeople will continue to need to pay attention to across timing, subject lines, scripts and calls to action.
M – Measurable: To ensure your intelligence-gathering is having a positive effect on your pipeline, Jamie says there are three areas to pay attention to: volume, velocity and convertability. We need to know what each of those are before we begin to change how we’re researching and leveraging intelligence. Here’s how to apply each of these levers in measuring your intelligence gathering:
Volume: The amount of leads flowing through your pipeline. Are you finding more and better leads because you’re researching the industry and people you’re targeting?
Velocity: How fast leads are moving through your pipeline. Because you’re leveraging up-to-date market intelligence, are your prospects moving through the stages of your pipeline faster?
Convertability: Your conversion rate. With market intelligence, you should be able to make more specific recommendations to your prospects with more specific ROI.
When we’re staying a step ahead of the battle, we have the ability to influence the battlefield itself.