enter games and pitch only the ninth inning. Eckersly’s success revived his career and a new role emerged: the closer. Every team in baseball soon followed suit. Pitchers who preceded the closer were called “middle relievers.”
So what does the evolution of pitching have to do with B2B selling?
Well, business to business selling has gone through an even more dramatic revolution in the past few years. In the days of Cy Young, or even Dennis Eckersley for that matter, one sales professional would “pitch a complete game.” That is, he would prospect, present the company solution, and close the deal all by himself.
L B2B ORGANIZATIONS MUST REVISE THEIR SALES AND MARKETING APPROACHES TO THE WAY TODAY’S BUYERS SHOP FOR AND PURCHASE PRODUCTS.”
Hwoever, as the World Wide Web became widely accepted, websites became more sophisticated in response to consumers who expected sites to provide more information, and B2B prospects began gathering product information on their own. Eventually, they began to avoid interacting with sales professionals until the very end of their buying journey. In short, sales professionals’ prospects were “shopping without them.”
As a result of this evolution, the productivity of the sales professional took a serious decline. Here are some recent statistics:
• 85% of B2B phone calls go to voicemail and are never returned • 50% of B2B sales representatives are not making their quota • 80% of B2B buyers report that they found their vendor rather than their vendor finding them
The tremendous drop-off in “complete game” sales professionals is not a refelction of their skills or talent. The World Wide Web has changed the game forever.
This revolution is so dramatic that all B2B organizations must revise their sales and marketing approaches to the way today’s buyers shop for and
purchase products. The most successful companies are retooling their marketing and sales approaches in a manner that resembles today’s baseball pitching staff strategies:
The Starting Pitcher 1)
First of all, they are implementing sophisticated Marketing Automation solutions. They continually dispense targeted content to thinly sliced market segments through email campaigns. They record who opened these campaigns and who made return visits to their websites, and affix a “score” to the leads according to the recipient’s perceived level of interest in the vendor’s solution. They continue to nurture these prospects electronically until their digital behavior indicates they may be ready to speak with someone.
The Middle Reliever 2)
Next, they deploy inside sales teams to qualify highly scored leads, continuing the conversation that was begun digitally. Eventually, they will ask specific qualifying questions to determine whether they are ready to speak with a sales professional. Non sales- ready leads are returned to the automated nurture process, which keeps the prospect informed
The Closer 3)
Finally, only the highly qualified, sales ready leads are passed along to the sales professional, or “closer.”
At this point in the discovery, the prospect is very well educated and wants to speak with a senior person. They seek a professional, who can problem solve and add value, not just communicate product value.
It is time for Sales and Marketing leaders to look at their processes in a similar way. For many companies, this means investing in technology, establishing integrated processes, and rebalancing their staffs.
The old ways will not be coming back. Marketing and Sales need to work within the same business process. Their success depends on it!
Paul Rafferty is a founding partner and the Chief Executive Officer of Sales Engine International, a B2B sales acceleration company. SEI implements and relentlessly executes a sales acceleration engine on behalf of its clients. Prior to founding SEI, he spent 20 years with Ceridian Corporation, where he rose from field sales rep to regional vice president of sales, and eventually to national vice president of sales operations with responsibility for a sales organization of more than 600. Prior to joining Ceridian, Rafferty served as naval officer on a nuclear powered attack submarine. He attended the University of Notre Dame on a Naval ROTC scholarship and he is Six Sigma Yellow-Belt certified.
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16
| Page 17
| Page 18
| Page 19
| Page 20
| Page 21