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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

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Why Traditional Lead Qualification Filters Are No Longer Enough

  
  
  
  

Radius

Sales Prospecting Perspectives is pleased to bring you a guest post from Lisa Fugere, Content Marketing Strategist at Radius Intelligence a company that offers sales prospecting software powered by big data. You can find her on !

As a neighbor to the Radius sales team, I overhear a lot of phone calls. I was recently going about my business when a sales rep halfway through his first week of his first sales job slammed down his phone in such frustration that a few rogue papers flew off his desk.

As a marketer, I live for juicy stories from the sales front lines. But the story that unfolded that day wasn’t very juicy at all; it was a story I’ve heard more and more from sales reps these days.

Our rep had called an inbound lead to qualify him as a prospect. The prospect, being a salesperson himself, immediately turned the call around and pitched our sales rep. When our rep hung up, he wasn’t frustrated that he’d been sold to, he was frustrated with the way he’d been sold to.

“How does he think he’s going to sell me anything when he knows nothing about me?? our rep asked.

It’s a question that only a young sales rep would ask; someone who wasn’t around when Hoover’s lists were the latest and greatest in sales enablement. To someone whose LinkedIn profile and Twitter followers count as job qualifications, an old-fashioned cold call is an abomination.

It’s not news that a major shift is happening in the sales world. The entire world communicates differently today than it did just five years ago. We have digital identities whether we want to or not; choosing not to have a Facebook profile says something about us. As online services and mobile applications become increasingly ingrained in our lives, why wouldn’t we include them in our business processes? To the modern sales rep, social media are an imperative advantage.

Firmographic Data vs. Social Data

Traditional firmographic data include names, titles, companies, industries, and locations. These identification criteria defined a billion dollar data industry that launched companies like Dun & Bradstreet, Hoover’s, Infogroup, and even Jigsaw. Today, these data are old news.

You can learn a lot more about a company from its Facebook page than you can from its physical address, and an executive’s LinkedIn profile will reveal significantly more information about that executive than his or her email address and phone number will.

However, most sales executives divide sales territories by geography. Most marketing organizations judge data applications on accuracy of contact details. Most organizations define market expansion by industry size and vertical. Meanwhile, most sales reps check Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp to find out what companies and prospects care about. They use LinkedIn to research leads before picking up the phone. Sales reps have innovated their own prospecting habits, but their organizations have not.

I recently met an outbound sales rep who had discovered that businesses with Facebook pages were more likely to be interested in the software she sold. She built Facebook lists to find prospects because the leads on the lists her company purchased were less likely to buy than the leads she found on Facebook.

Another rep I met determined that businesses with low average Yelp ratings were more receptive to his message than the leads he found in the database to which his team subscribed. He listed Yelp as his primary prospecting tool.

Both these reps–and many like them–have figured out that social media isn’t just for reaching out to prospects; it’s equally effective at finding them.

Implementing Social Filters into Your Sales & Marketing Strategy

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media can modernize a number of functions within your sales and marketing organization:

Go To Market Strategy

When sales and marketing teams think about expanding their offerings in new markets, they usually segment those markets by industry, company size, and geographical location. When added to these traditional filters, social media can help you predict the success you’ll have in a new market. If you’ve determined that companies with active Facebook pages are most likely to buy, creating a Facebook search filter can help you discover which geographical locations, industries, and company sizes are likely to prove most fruitful. Just 13% of the businesses in the financial services industry maintain Facebook pages, while 56% of restaurants do. If you have determined that companies with Facebook pages are better prospects than companies without them, you’ll likely have a lot more luck selling to restaurants than to financial services.

Lead Generation

Why buy a list of static, firmographic data when you can subscribe to an online solution that allows you to find companies by web presence? Tools such as Radius, Data.com, and InsideView can help you find leads based on social filters.

Lead Scoring

Because social media networks are relatively new, they haven’t found their way into most organizations’ lead scoring criteria. One of our partners evaluated the respondents of a direct mail campaign against Radius data. They discovered that had they only mailed businesses with active Twitter accounts, their response rate would have increased by 100%. And this was for a direct mail campaign that had absolutely nothing to do with web enablement. Were they to award businesses with Twitter accounts in their lead scoring, how much would the response rates of all their campaigns increase? Web and social presence can implicate significant details about a company’s likelihood to buy. Consider that only 35% of businesses with less than 5 employees have websites, where 61% of companies with 5-100 employees maintain websites. When employee count goes over 1000, that number jumps to 81%. Just the presence of a website can give you a sense of how many employees a company has. If you are unable to find a business’ employee count, what can social filters tell you about that business?

While using web and social filters to target and qualify prospects can drastically improve your market penetration, conversion rates, and overall efficiency, they also achieve a much simpler purpose: making the sales process a little less painful for salespeople and their customers. My colleague’s frustration at the blatant cold pitch to which he was subjected stems from his faith in a better way to sell. Sales reps will always find ways to make their lives easier, and they’ll seek out the companies that allow them to do so. The better we can target customers, the more meaningful the conversations between our sales reps and their prospects will be.

Lisa Fugere

Lisa is a Content Marketing Strategist at Radius. In addition to managing and editing the blog, she is responsible for creating all Radius branded content, including ebooks, infographics, webinars, etc. Find her on Google+ or LinkedIn.



* Picture: The Radius Sales Team. Courtesy of Yahoo News. 
 

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