"In 2003, Advertising Specialty Institute saw 80% of revenue from print. Today, digital advertising drives 80% of ASI's revenue... The transition required an aggressive change in mindset and skillset among the sales staff as well as the ability to make new opportunities out of legacy products, such as the creation of a highly profitable online searchable database from its old print directories. President & CEO Tim Andrews shares the specific steps ASI took to get its sales staff to embrace the future."
That's a description for one of our sessions—How ASI's Sales Staff Embraced Integrated Sales and Avoided Trading Print Dollars for Digital Dimes—at our upcoming Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Fort Lauderdale, Nov. 12-14. What's strongly implied there is that the sales staff at ASI received training to learn how to embrace the modern approaches management wanted to take.
That's also a thesis of a new B2B study by ValueSelling Associates, Inc.—that sales people are not getting the training they need. "Repeated, incremental training on prospecting and setting up initial meetings is imperative to building a solid sales pipeline and helping sales professionals overcome their fear of making cold calls," said Julie Thomas CEO and president of ValueSelling Associates. "We find that successful sales teams establish a multi-channel, cadence-based approach to their prospecting efforts."
Here are other key findings from the study:
53% of sales professionals give up too easily when cold calling, and 48% are afraid to pick up the phone and make cold calls. Listening to Ryan Dohrn's session on sales at SIPA Annual 2018, I think he would agree. "[Almost 90%] of your buyers want 99% of their information on your company and ad space offerings before they speak to a sales person," Dohrn said. If they're not getting that information, then you can understand a fear to cold call.
Most organizations do not provide enough training on outbound prospecting. Of the 76% of companies that provide outside training, 46% provide training only once a year. And 28% of these organizations provide this training only one time total, as part of initial onboarding. "Sales people really need to be involved [early on]," said Dohrn, "because you're creating tool sets for them to use. If they don't like the tool sets"—or understand them I think you can add—"they won't use them, and it just frustrates the marketer. So as much as it is a pain in the rear to deal with the salesman to create the tool kits, we've got to do that because sales people are very linear."
60% of sales people lack organization and consistency with outreach efforts. And because of this, they have trouble finding and accessing the right decision maker. Weak social media skills also contribute to outreach troubles.
The inability to reach the prospective buyer is the number one challenge that sales people face when trying to set up an initial meeting (either phone or in-person). Other challenges include:
- getting the prospect to respond (59%);
- access to the real decision maker (46%);
- finding the correct contact person in the company (32%);
- and getting a referral or introduction (25%) - referrals can be huge; but again social media skills can help here.
The most important skill for connecting with new prospects is conducting research to identify target prospects who are decision makers (63%). Next is getting an introduction via referral (61%) and then face-to-face networking (48%).
More than five touch points—phone calls, email, social media outreach...—are required to secure an initial meeting. More than 50% of initial meetings required over five touch points. (Demonstrating that tenacity and determination are necessary skills in sales.) In addition, 44% of initial meetings require 6-10 touch points, and 10% require 11 or more touch points.