I had a light-hearted but interesting debate with a friend last week, the topic was ‘what’s most important for businesses right now’? My friend rightly pointed out that Cash Flow is, and always has been, the King of business issues.
No matter how much money is predicted to be coming in, if you don't have enough money to pay your bills you are in trouble. Staff salaries, property/land rental, supplier bills…none of these can wait until your clients pay you. More businesses fail due to lack of cash flow than for lack of profit. My friend was right, cash flow is hugely important.
But then we started digging deeper...
We pushed further back, asking what drives this and what drives that, we ended up at Sales. We agreed that Sales was a critical driver of Cash Flow – no orders, no revenue. But we pushed more, “what is the most critical aspect of Sales that impacts cash flow?”, we arrived at pipeline.
You could argue that marketing, prospecting, lead generation all contribute but, we agreed that the solid and direct link to cash flow is pipeline.
We are pushing towards the end of Q1 2021, where millions of SDRs around the world are staring at their forecasts, many are wondering how to plug the gaps.
How many times have we sat in forecast reviews listening to:
“this one is a 'high' opportunity"
"this one is definitely green"
"this one is 80+% in the bag”?
You ask questions and hear responses that begin with “hopefully”, “fingers crossed” or “I think…”. You realise the SDRs are nowhere close to the target accounts, they have only skimmed the surface in terms of internal relationships. You haven’t proposed the work yet or, you don’t know enough about the tender and don’t really know anyone within the prospect organisation…it’s unlikely these deals are coming home.
De-risking the forecast is crucial, but how do you do this in 2021? You need to have transformed to being a Social and Digital Salesforce to be able to get the correct level of data at your deal reviews these days.
A proven method of de-risking your forecast in the 2020s is by having a solid Social Media strategy and training the team in Social Selling & Influence.
A common mistake people make it to think that Social Selling is purely about prospecting. Social is used throughout the complete sales cycle these days.
Once we have forensically looked at the accounts, reduced the risks of the salesperson's network and examined if the Salespeople exhibiting the right behaviours, you can put a plan in place to unblock and get the deals process moving in the right direction again.
For example, you can look at content. There are different types of content, used for different purposes and intended results. There is the content you get from Marketing, which will likely be "here is our stuff, buy our stuff please” and it’s not what you want, it’s not effective. This is about writing a piece of content, focused on a particular industry, company or individual. Blogging is a modern SDRs tool, we use it constantly to focus on a single buyer and place that content in front of them, influencing them.
It’s important to note that this is not a Sales pitch, this is a piece that will educate, provide insight, or challenge and provide the drive for the target to see your proposal as a priority. You cannot achieve this by interrupting them with calls and emails… that way they end up ignoring you. How many times have you had to tell the Director “the person handling the proposal isn’t answering my calls…”?
So how do we help the SDR’s hit their numbers?
There is a huge amount of pressure on the SDR community today. Those that we speak to tell us that their management teams ask the same questions…
- When are you getting that meeting?
- When can we get that proposal out?
- Where is the PO?
- How is that forecast looking?
- How are you going to meet your quota when that January job is now gone….?
Most management teams are struggling to understand that the answer to the pipeline issues we face today is not simply to do more of what we did before Covid.
We know that traditional methods – cold calling, emailing, and advertising are dead or dying. We also know that the smart organisations have already transformed their business and trained their SDR teams in Social Selling & Influence.
As Sales leaders its important we move from being leaders of Sales to leaders of Selling.
We have more and more SDRs coming to us as individuals and asking what they need to be doing on Social to help their pipeline. The fact is, they can only achieve so much operating on their own within an organisation that still expects them to email and call.
If you are a Sales leader today and haven’t gotten your SDR team up to speed with Social Selling & Influence, you are behind. It’s that simple, it’s not a question or a debate anymore, we have the data.
Social Selling isn’t Selling on Social. What has happened over the last 10-20 years, with the arrival of the internet, is that the buyer is now able to go online and do research into your products, your services, and your company culture.
Social Selling is:
Using your presence and behaviour on Social Media – to build influence, make connections, grow relationships and trust - which leads to conversations and commercial interaction.
It’s that simple, but it’s not easy…
Every SDR needs:
- To be working to a defined company specific Social Media Strategy.
- To be trained in Social Selling & Influence,
- To have a buyer centric, digitally optimised profile. A profile that is designed to hit biological and psychological triggers and is clocking up digital credit when they are not even on the platform.
- To be strategically growing their networks. Targeted multi-threaded network growth with real people within important accounts – not just buyers
- To be producing regular and engaging content that is linked an overall content strategy. Not Sales content, content which educates inspire and stimulates their growing audience.
- To be engaging in relevant people content.
- To be multi-channelling
They need to be doing this every day and at scale.
Gartner tell us that 1 in 3 buyers don’t want to meet your sales team. They want to work virtually, though Social. They have completed all the research on you, your products, services and your competitors...and didn’t need you to help them.
What you need to do if you want to engage with these prospects is to be present and online and engage with them.... online.
Social Selling isn't a quick-fix, flash-bang, short-term solution. This evolution of the SDRs trade and requires a mindset shift, a definite alteration of our habits and behaviour. It’s all change for our internal language around Sales and Marketing, all change for our metrics and the very fabric of the way SDRs work.
Social Selling needs patience and commitment. It’s not the single-minded pursuit of that Purchase Order.
"Our buyers are smart so our SDRs must be smarter..."
This is all about building influence. Providing relevant content and insight to your prospects and customers.
We need to listen to this - buyers don’t want to feel sold to when researching, so let’s stop doing it. We must listen, compute, reset and adjust.
So, if our buyers are telling SDRs to curb the sales messages, what are they asking us to do instead?
They are asking you to show them who you are. They want to know what you think, what you know, what you like and don’t like, they want to know how you tick. If you don’t give them that, they will get it from your competitors.
To give your buyers what they want requires you to show yourself on Social. The most engaged content on LinkedIn is Humanised content, that content which speaks a true voice, content which has emotion.
We don’t engage with content; we engage with the emotion within the content. It makes us happy, concerned, angry, delighted, shocked, worried, elated and we are compelled to respond by showing what we feel about that emotion with our emotions.
So, in the 2020s when Gartner are telling us the by 2025 over 80% of all B2B sales will be done digitally, we need our SDRs to stop selling on Social and start building influence through content, we need to get into emotional marketing.
What happens when you get this right?
There are many benefits of transforming your SDR team to social, the 30% increase in revenue and 40% reduction in sales cycles are important in themselves but getting the forecasting and pipeline processes under control just as crucial.
This is just one of the many ways that you can protect your pipeline from sudden change by bringing your SDRs group into the modern age of Social Selling & Influence.
I'm happy to take a call anytime to talk over how to help your SDRs create pipeline and hit their numbers.
Live Social '21
Crux / DLA Ignite
"Sales leaders, along with their heads of sales enablement and operations, must fully understand the cascading and enduring impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As vaccines roll out and the business environment moves back to a more steady-state, sales leaders must apply lessons learned and adapt their sales and go-to-market strategies".