The sales profession in the 21st Century has gone through a revolution that has enhanced both the salesperson and the customer experience. The Internet has provided the salesperson with multi-channel marketing abilities and it has provided the customer with the ability to take in information in various ways from email to social media to the good old telephone.
The ability to reach out to customers and prospects through various channels from cold calls, cold email marketing, social media marketing, search marketing, and site re-targeting has enabled the sales professional to stay in front of the buyer at every step of the sales process. The multi-channel marketing strategy isn’t just for consumer sales anymore. Many sales professionals are using this approach as a B2B sales pipeline growth strategy, and they’re doing it very successfully.
This is all thanks to the Internet, which was once predicted to cause the death of the salesman.
Death of a Salesman
Many so-called experts predicted the demise of sales when the Internet first came on the scene. They pointed to the Internet disrupting something called asymmetric information, which they believed sales people relied on to justify their existence as a profession.
Asymmetric information is when one party has more information than another, and therefore, has an economic advantage. Salespeople functioned and profited from, asymmetric information.
The theory went like this. When a potential customer is in need of a product or service, before the Internet age, they had to call the companies that offered what they were in demand of and had to talk to a bunch of salespeople. Back then, salespeople, along with a few marketing brochures, were the customer’s only source of information about products and services, along with prices and terms.
As the Internet came of age, most customers could find whatever information they needed online, including products specs, features, benefits, pricing and even reviews from other customers. Given this deluge of information accessible at your fingertips, these so-called experts figured salespeople would no longer be needed. They predicted, wrongly if you haven’t guessed it yet, that customers would gather all the information needed to make a purchasing decision on their own and make an educated, data-driven buying decision. Boy were they wrong!
Growth in the Sales Profession
One out of 9 people works in the sales profession. More people work in sales than ever. Ironically, the fastest growth in sales jobs is among Silicon Valley high-tech startups.
It is true that the Internet provides way more information than ever before for customers to do their own research. The information isn’t so “asymmetric” anymore and there is more of a level playing field.
But that didn’t do away with the sales function. It only evolved it and enhanced it.
Ironically, the sheer volume of information out there has made having good salespeople to help you navigate it all the more important for customers.
It used to be when sales folks received prospects or prospect lists, they’d just call them over and over again until the customer bought or told them to bug off. Customers didn’t like being hounded and salespeople, to their credit, didn’t like doing it either. But that’s all they had.
How things have changed! The salesperson can now not only cold call, but they can also do cold email marketing campaigns, social media marketing, and site re-targeting.
By using various approaches, you’re not just trying to reach the customer with just one channel. This also requires you to change your messaging and format since you can’t use the same message and format for all of these various channels.
There’s an old marketing rule of thumb that says a prospect has to see a brand impression 8-9 times to take action. That may be low now that the average person sees 5,000 ads a day. The multi-marketing strategy gives you the ability to stay in front of a prospect on the various platforms they are on throughout the day.
Cold Email Marketing
Many salespeople are finding great success in recent years with cold emails. This is particularly popular with sales development people at high-tech startups. They simply load up a bunch of emails of their target prospects. Then they craft a message to try to get a sales appointment. Then they hit ‘send’. They are finding this to be a great approach to get B2B sales pipeline growth quickly.
The great advantage of this approach is that you can automate it. You can send 100 cold emails to your target market with the click of a button. It would normally take you an entire business day to cold call 100 people. Now you can do it in a few minutes.
Another advantage to this approach is that you can get it to the point where you can predict the B2B sales leads you get from it. Many sales development people have fine-tuned it to know exactly how many sales leads they’d get from 100 cold emails.
The trick to this approach is that you have to send several emails to get the response rate you want. In fact, recent data suggests that most prospects respond on the 2nd email. That means just sending one email is not enough.
Social Media Marketing
Some studies suggest we spend 2-3 hours a day on social media. That’s a low estimate. But that means 10-20% of a person’s waking hours are spent on social media. That also means if you’re not on social media as a salesperson, you’re missing out on getting in front of your prospects for 3 hours of their day. That’s a huge potential missed opportunity.
For B2B sales, the social media of choice is LinkedIn. I call LinkedIn the Facebook for adults.
The obvious place to start is with having a professional looking profile, with a catchy title and head shot. Then you have to start posting and interacting on it. The salespeople that accelerate their pipeline growth execute on advanced strategies beyond that. They set up landing pages, they write articles, they have an effect InMail strategy and they buy ads.
LinkedIn ads and InMail is not cheap. It’s expensive, but it’s expensive for a reason. Those who are leveraging them effectively are making a ton of money and don’t mind shelling out the amount of money required to advertise on this platform.
Have you ever visited a website and then all of a sudden started seeing their ads popup on other platforms like Google, YouTube and Facebook? That’s because the company is using re-targeting.
These advertisers figure if you go to their website, you’re a potential customer. That’s especially true if their an obscure B2B company that has a small number of prospective buyers. For you to go to their website means you know something about them already. When you visit their website, their tracking pixel will attach itself to the cookies in your browser. Basically, they know you visited their website and now they will follow you around the Internet until you buy.
You can use that same strategy for your B2B leads. It requires some technical know-how and possibly outsourcing it to an agency that is an expert at this. In any case, it’s a great way to stay in front of your prospects no matter where they go in cyberspace.
The multi-channel outbound sales approach is the new way to grow a B2B pipeline. It’s way more effective and efficient than picking up the phone to call your prospects several times a day.