How Dynamic, Digital Listening Can Boost Sales Timing

Author: 
Micheline Nijmeh

Sales reps that understand what buyers know about products and services can respond more quickly and get the competitive edge. Research shows that up to half of sales go to the vendor that responds first.

With customer context that shows what a customer already knows and their level of engagement, sales reps can be that first responder. They can reach out to the right prospects at their precise moment of interest. They can get maximum insight into a customer’s pain points, which, in turn, enables them to engage more successfully with prospects by leveraging an ‘insight-selling’ approach.

The result: Sales reps can close more deals – faster – and more cost-effectively.

According to CEB, organizations that follow an ‘insight-selling’ approach have doubled average deal sizes while reducing deal-level development costs by nearly 40 percent.

The Challenge: Customers no Longer Rely on Suppliers for Information
Only47 percent of information used during a customer’s purchase decision comes from the supplier today. Consumers can easily and quickly access vast troves of knowledge and data at the light touch of a fingertip – from websites, social networking platforms, and mobile applications. With the ability to educate themselves about products or services before engaging with sales, consumers wield more power than ever in the selling process.

They don’t need to engage to obtain pricing information; they don’t need to engage to learn about the value proposition; they don’t need to engage to get a competitive view. According to Sirius Decisions, 67 percent of the purchase process now happens digitally.

At the same time, inside sales is growing 3 times as fast as outside sales (InsideSales.com, 2013), which means that salespeople also have less face-to-face time with their prospects. These new realities make obtaining customer insights challenging for salespeople.

Sales organizations, therefore, must find new methods to determine how much a prospect knows, how interested or engaged they are, and where they are in the buying process. If businesses can’t find a way to recognize these buying signals and adapt their selling processes accordingly, they risk not only becoming obsolete but also losing the competitive edge. They must “adapt or die.”

What Customer Behaviors Tell You
Fortunately, access to data is a two-way street. In the same way that consumers can discover more about potential products and services, so, too, can businesses discover more about customer behaviors and interactions. With emerging real-time sales analytics, sales representatives can have the visibility to understand a prospect’s specific needs and interests to improve sales timing and engage with them more effectively. To improve their sales timing, organizations are already leveraging dynamic, digital listening to:

  • Capture significant customer behaviors
  • Show when and how customers engage with content
  • Identify signals that show whether a prospect’s interest level

Advanced, real-time analytics can reveal a prospect’s engagement not only with email but also with any sales content – down to a very granular level. Using this “digital listening,” salespeople can gain the insight they need to time their engagement and deliver the most tailored follow-up.

With sales engagement tools, businesses get instant and actionable intelligence that shows:

  • A prospect’s every engagement with an email or document
  • Exactly how much time a prospect spends on each page of a particular document – even after downloads
  • Profile information for recipients of forwarded emails or content

By seeing how many times a prospect opens and views an email or document, a salesperson can see if they are really engaged in the process and really wanting to make a purchase.

By seeing how much time is spent viewing a particular page of a document, a salesperson can spot a particular feature of interest to the buyer or a pain point to be addressed.

By seeing the profile information for a recipient of a forwarded email or document, a salesperson can quickly identify the key decision makers involved in the process.

Getting to ‘No’ is as Important as Getting to ‘Yes’
With insight into these prospect behaviors, salespeople can also focus their energies and attention where they matter the most. They can quickly assess whether a buyer is qualified or planning to move forward in the process – and respond to the most engaged prospects at their precise moment of interest.

The probability of doing business with a prospect increases by as much as 50% when a sales rep responds within 30 minutes from the time a prospect opens an email or views a document. In this day and age, if a salesperson doesn’t have this instant insight into doc and email opens and views, he can’t compete successfully.

Advanced sales engagement solutions deliver immense value by automatically ranking top prospects according to the level and frequency of engagement. This allows sales reps to zoom in on the hottest prospects fast – increasing conversion rates and closing more deals.

Conversely, by quickly spotting the prospects that aren’t engaged, salespeople also eliminate wasted time spent chasing nonviable prospects. Getting to a ‘no’ is just as important as getting to a ‘yes’ in a fast-paced sales environment.

Tracking Digital Content Interactions Produces Faster Sales Cycles
Sales acceleration technologies have become crucial to allow salespeople to understand a buyer’s interest. By tracking prospect engagement via digital content interactions – from start to finish – salespeople benefit with more comprehensive sales prospecting – and the ability to identify and solve customer problems faster.

Salespeople can instantly see whether a prospect is opening their emails promptly. Salespeople can instantly see whether a prospect is opening the attachments they are sending. Salespeople can instantly see whether a prospect is forwarding proposals – and to whom – so they can identify other people they might not have been aware of who are involved in the buying process!

The name of the game hasn’t changed. But the path to get to a sale has – and there’s no going back. Salespeople need to climb on board the digital freight train now or risk being stuck in the tracks.

Micheline Nijmeh is the CMO for LiveHive, Inc., whose cloud-based, sales engagement platform provides real-time intelligence based on customer engagement with digital content.