Longing for the good old days? You know, the Mad Men school of closing sales over leisurely three martini lunches or a game of golf? Yeah, enterprise B2B selling is harder these days. There are so many more stakeholders who have a role in the buying decision—especially when it comes to major technology purchases. And, increasingly, it’s top-level management—those in the C-suite—who are making these critical decisions. It doesn’t help that global enterprise IT spending growth has been flat—at 1 percent in 2016—according to Gartner. And yet even that small percentage still lays a lot of budget on the table—around $2.7 trillion globally.
Editor’s Note: This week we are proud to publish a guest post from Dianne Turner, a longtime enterprise sales professional. Turner has been a valued and trusted advisor for us at Boardroom Insiders as we strive to provide our clients with advice and best practices around enterprise sales and CXO engagement strategy.
Enterprise sales teams are under more pressure than ever. Customer budgets are tighter. There are more decision makers touching every deal. Sales cycles are getting longer and more deals dead end with no decision made. Sales teams are investing months—even years—nurturing relationships that seem as if they will never pay off.
Before I started Boardroom Insiders I worked as a consultant to some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley, helping them improve their return on investment in industry events.
There’s no escaping the fact that we live and conduct business in a social world. Harnessing social technology is clearly now a mandate for sales. The consumer sales ecosystem has known this for years. But how are B2B, and in particular enterprise B2B sales teams succeeding with social selling? While companies like Oracle and IBM are implementing social selling programs with great success, social selling evangelist Jill Rowley, in an article in ZDNet, says that most companies are actually in the infant stages of social selling as a concept, with the majority of firms only leveraging social media in random bouts and not training their sales staff to effectively exploit the network.
Enterprise sales teams struggling with CXO selling should take a page out of the management consultant’s playbook. Because of the transformational nature of most management consulting engagements, management consultants have always been visible and relevant to the C-suite.
Recently I came across an article called "Back To The Future In Enterprise SaaS Selling.” The authors make the argument that as SaaS companies mature, it is important that they acquire more "old school skills" to continue to grow. Specifically, they are talking about the skills to sell larger, enterprise deals.
One of the fundamentals of customer retention is that it generally costs organizations more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. It’s not unusual to read about customer churn in areas like telecommunications and media, but for SaaS companies, minimizing your churn rate is critical, given the recurring revenue model and how much time, money, and energy it takes to acquire and onboard customers in the first place. The longer they stay, the more profitable your business is, which is why “Customer Success” (or making sure your customers have success as a direct result of using your product) is such a hot topic these days.
We preach a lot about the value of knowing as much as possible about your customer. Having deep insight into their goals and concerns is powerful. It helps you determine how your solutions can fit their business needs and how you can become their trusted partner. And, it doesn’t hurt if you can connect with the people themselves on a personal level.
That’s why we research and prepare executive profiles in such depth. It’s our goal to provide sales and marketing teams with as much solid, relevant information about each individual as is publicly available. Since we often get questions from our customers about how we do it, we thought it was time to show you how the sausage is made.
Day in and day out we conduct deep research on CXOs so you don’t have to. We look for insight that helps sales and marketing teams better understand their prospects and customers—what they’re thinking, their goals, challenges and what keeps them up at night. We also seek out nuggets that reveal something about their personality and key quotes that strike at the heart of what they and their organization are all about. When it comes to selling to CXOs, knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you can position yourself as being relevant, credible and a worthy potential business partner.