We hear this often: over 90% of the world’s data was generated in the last two years. According to The Economist, 'Data are to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change.' An IDC Paper talks about 163 zettabytes of data a year by 2025. Even in Industrial B2B sales, data has shown its impact.
Over the years, Business-to-Business (B2B) sales has shifted from traditional selling methods like door-to-door sales and cold-calling to more sophisticated methods like mass emails and social selling to close more sales.
Regardless of the methods employed, B2B salespeople’s objectives have never changed – always be closing. Nowadays, a day in the life of a salesperson would involve prospecting on LinkedIn Premium, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database management, and networking at industry events in addition to quote creation and negotiations.
User Data Is Readily Available Online, But With A Caveat
For sales reps, the ability to prospect has greatly increased with all the information available online; the need for businesses to emerge as more than just a faceless corporation has led to decision-makers becoming the face of the company.
Just imagine SpaceX and you’ll think of Elon Musk, Microsoft and Bill Gates (or Satya Nadella), or Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg; all of these entrepreneurs are prolific online and contactable through a simple direct message on social media.
However, just because you can send an InMail message on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that they’ll interact with you. Just like with cold emails, unsolicited social messages can easily register as spam. With all the regulations revolving around data protection, including the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) in Singapore and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, sales reps have to be careful with the information they gleam from social media profiles, to ensure that they do not violate any data protection acts.
Advanced Targeting With Analytics And Content
To avoid these data protection issues, B2B salespeople need to focus on ensuring that they don’t register as spam by using this data to provide the correct information at the correct time:
- Use advanced analytics. Predictive analytics and machine learning solutions can map trends and future patterns, allowing you to see which markets will have the most opportunities for your sales team, as per a study by McKinsey. From the ability to decide resource allocation, to the creation of lead-scoring algorithms and advanced company profiles using big data, digitisation of your sales process can help to increase sales productivity drastically.
- Make use of marketing assets. From producing content to creating targeted ads online, your marketing team can work wonders when it comes to brand awareness and conversions. According to research by Saïd Business School in London, social media advertising can increase long-term brand awareness, helping you to do the work of building trust with a prospect. 47% of buyers would even view multiple pieces of content from the brand, and then reach out on their own to sales reps. Don’t forget the importance of sales and marketing alignment in building a sales strategy.
The abundance of user data coupled with longer buyer cycles has led to more complex B2B sales in the 21st century, but in the end, it’s all about the buyer and closing the sale. The aim of sales, as it always is, will be to understand as much as possible about the prospect, and the business challenges that they are trying to resolve. Then it all comes down to selling what would work for that business, instead of a one-size-fits-all solution.
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