For the better part of a year I’ve been waging a battle to protect salespeople from a bogus straw man statistic that is the “go-to” argument from many of todays sales “experts.” These nouveau “experts” have been telling anyone who will listen that today’s buyers are 67% of the way through their buying process before engaging with a salesperson, and that it’s fruitless to cold call and proactively pursue prospects because that doesn’t work anymore.
What’s infuriating, aside from the fact that it’s not true, is that this nonsense is exactly what the reactive, passive, struggling salesperson wants to be told. Can you just hear the underperformer declaring, “Oh, goodie. I don’t need to hunt for new business because that doesn’t work, anyway. Let me just spend my time on LinkedIn and Twitter or following up on the wonderful leads our inbound marketing effort is generating.”
It didn’t matter how many sources the social selling Kool-Aid pushers quoted to back up the stat, those of us in the trenches helping real companies and real salespeople drive new business knew the truth. The only time buyers get that far down the path without engaging a salesperson is when the seller is sitting on his or her butt waiting for the prospect to raise their hand!
I’m working with several companies in various industries that are experiencing record sales performance. The main driver of that success? Salespeople are strategically targeting and proactively pursuing potential clients before they’re a lead, before they’re shopping. My clients’ salespeople are getting to the opportunity early, often before their reactive competitors would even consider it an “opportunity.”
That’s crucial, because getting there early puts you in position A, where you can start a relationship, be perceived as the expert advisor, and earn the opportunity to not only bring value but also shape your prospect’s buying criteria.
Officially Debunked Thanks to SiriusDecisions
Today I am celebrating as SiriusDecisions publicly and authoritatively debunked that silly myth and oft-quoted statistic at their annual #SDSummit. It turns out, according to their own exhaustive research, that buyers are, in fact, engaging with sellers from the very beginning through the end of their buying journey (through the three stages SiriusDecisions calls “Education,” “Solution,” and “Selection”). In fact, the highest level of reported buyer/seller interaction actually occurred early on, during the education phase.
Why is this important and more than just an argument between competing sales theories? Because there are so many individuals and entire sales teams failing to develop enough new business today. They’re living in a fantasy world under the false belief that social selling and inbound marketing alone will produce enough leads to keep their pipelines full. And they’ve fallen victim to the lie that prospecting died way back in the 1990s.
Not only are these reactive sellers suffering from a lack of qualified leads to work, but when they do finally get involved in a potential deal, they also find themselves in a weak position because they’re late (or even last) to the opportunity. It’s no fun playing catch-up to a buyer who’s way down the path, or worse, eating the dust of your proactive competitor who wasn’t sitting around waiting to be the third quote on someone’s spreadsheet.
I beg you: Please take SiriusDecision’s information seriously. This is great news for those who are willing to listen and act on it. Stop waiting for leads and start creating your own!