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What do Eric Morecambe and the IT channel have in common?

The IT channel is great for generating noise, “buzz”, activity and sales and marketing metrics designed to engender those things.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019


But are these metrics being hit, or to ask an even more fundamental question, are they the right metrics to drive revenue growth in the digital era? To put it another way, as the great Morecambe said - are you….

…playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order?



Nobody, including us, are here to claim that there’s no future for calling, emailing, tradeshows and events and social media as tools to generate sales, and there’s no denying that relationships are ultimately carved between people in person or at the very least by speaking on the phone. They are all the right notes.

 



But the facts are the facts, and “picking up the phone” in isolation on a cold calling basis simply isn’t cutting it anymore. How do you “build that relationship” if you can’t get through or the prospect simply won’t take your call?

The digital era has afforded buyers the opportunity to do their own research first instead of relying on calling vendors or resellers for advice before making their choice – and it’s meant that the notes are frequently played in the wrong order.


Millennials are driving the change



Don’t shoot the messenger! In comprehensive research earlier this year, Gartner found that buyers are “generally sceptical of seller claims and more and more prefer data-backed evidence. Millennials are increasingly joining buying groups, and as a result, are holding more influence in decisions. They are more than twice as likely as baby boomers to be sceptical of claims”.

In other words, as we’ve said before, times-a-changin’ and people are more sceptical of sales people (not necessarily personally, but generally).  

Gartner have a vested interest in trying to sell their research you may say, and this may be the case. But there’s no escaping the fact that IT buyers now have a wealth of information at their fingertips to browse virtual shop windows before making that sacred call to take the process to the next step.


Is it time to play all the right notes in the right order?



Firstly, for modern revenue generation activities to succeed, there needs to be a shift in mindset. Sales and marketing can’t operate in silos, butting heads and claiming that there’s not enough/more than enough leads, that they are rubbish/great and generally blaming one another for shortcomings.

Sticking with the Gartner findings (bear with us, it makes sense), their finding is that “the buying journey follows anything but a straight line from beginning to end”.

In stark terms and plain English, this means that in this environment of high-quality information being readily accessible, it’s increasingly hard if not impossible for sales organisations to hit or exceed targets while “doing what they have always done”.


What does this look like in practice?



While all this theory may make sense, what does it look like in realty in a sales environment hungry for and pressured on results?

The first step is to adjust thinking. Look at the information out there and put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. If you had been tasked with looking at a new firewall and weren’t familiar with the latest leading solutions, what would be your first step in the process? The data says that a high percentage of people in this situation would download one of the analyst reports such as Gartner, Forrester or IDC, not necessarily to follow their advice to a tee, but at the very least to get a feel for what solutions are serious and credible.

It’s early stage, it’s research. So while one of these report downloads from your website may look like prime “low hanging fruit” (urgh) for rapid follow-up, the prospect is not necessarily going to appreciate a call (or several) from an over-zealous inside sales rep offering a free demo at this very first phase of his thought process. It’s not the inside sales rep’s fault – she’s just doing what her metrics ask of her. But there’s going to be no positive outcome – no meaningful qualification to be had from the seller’s side, and no value or a negative perception from the potential buyer’s perspective.


But we need to follow things up



Instead of “picking up the phone” and calling a prospect that’s at the very beginning of their buying journey, a better, and more modern approach that takes these trends into account would focus more on building a “little and often” communication approach with that prospect, and providing relevant touch points based on their behaviour and engagement. The trick is not to come across as pushy, but at the same time make yourself known. If you’re keen to make a personal connection early, make it a LinkedIn connection request. It’s non-invasive, non-pushy, and shows that you understand modern buying and decision-making cycles – or that you’re playing all the right notes, in the right order!


See Amigos in action



The Amigos Network offers IT buyers an engaging, modern and user-defined means of interacting with peers and solution providers to help grow his professional knowledge and find solutions to IT problems; at the same time it offers IT vendors, resellers and distributors the opportunity to link all sales and marketing disciplines and systems providing actionable customer intelligence in real time, coupled with a team of people that take ownership and offer SLA’s.



References

https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/what-sales-should-know-about-b2b-buyers-in-2019/

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