In my last Blog post The Death of the Cold Call I described a trend that has become more obvious the recent year; the customer buying process has been ongoing for quite a while before the sales process starts. The consequense is that you cannot influence that much you could before, because of much more informed customers. The customers put you on their short list, not you. The phases Lead and Qualification are becoming obsolete very quickly having no registered sales activities.
SInce we cannot control it anymore, should Sales then hand-over this part of the process to Marketing? Well, it depends. The discussions in the forums are there and people’s opinions deviates which is the most suitable. Marketing is good at communication of the brand and what it stands for. Promoting the brand in these phases is really important, but could you just exchange Lead or Qualification activities with more marketing?
I’m not sure. I think it’s still Sales responsibility to refine and qualify a Lead, even if there are no obvious sales activities. But if ordinary sales activities are gone, what comes instead?
Let’s suppose the definition of Lead and Qualification are like “sort of need any of the companies in our target segments have and the activities to clear out if it’s something for us”. Typical sales activities to create (or catch) and Qualify such Lead would have been:
- Prospect calls in
- You call the prospect (cold call)
- Prospect leave interest on your website
- A trade show
- Timeframe within …
- Budget allocated
- Decision maker identified
- Product fit
Now. If most of these activities aren’t visible anymore, how and what can you do instead to survive the early phases so you will be one of the short list members? And how can you construct a KPI that drives you there? It’s about communication – and what types are relevant for your company. A simple method constructing a new KPI is using the PDCA: Plan, Do, Check, Act.
Then consider what new types of “sales activities” would be replacements for the above ones. Here’s some examples:
- Investigating and register for X forums or discussion groups in your industry
- Growing the number of connections in target networks
- The number of comments or likes in discussions
- How many started threads within your product range
- The number of discussion threads (within your business area of course!) started by you
- The number of blog posts per month
- Referrals to your comment or Blog post
- Number of net followers
- Number of decsion makers taking part in your discussions or comment on your input.
As you may see, it’s not easy. But mostly it’s not easy because we aren’t used to it. Our experience is not covering what is a relevant target figure – what would be enough? And how can we measure hitrate? I think you can’t direcly, but if you measure some of the above and compare the result over time, you can have the trend for sure.
After all, it’s just surviving.
Good luck! Stefan
Checkout the Sales Scenario app for iPad, thanks.