10 to 12 years ago
A decade ago even average sales guys got enough calls, meetings and demos to fill their pipeline. Conversion rate after the first discovery/qualification was often an issue. A bad fit or no sales opportunity was the result of such calls in most cases. We were used to that.
To become better “Closers” we got expensive trainings and coaching in how to better nurture prospects, how to negotiate and how to be a challenger in front of the customer. All very useful and important – at that time. It was a lot about the individual skills and experience of an account executive. Is he able to explain our complex solution and can he build rapport on C-level?
Fast forward to 2020
The buyer completes 70% of his buyer journey before he wants to talk to a sales. The first 70% are mainly done somehow online. Fact!
For them a sales guy is one source of information but for sure not the only source.
See it from a different perspective: While 10 years ago a sales guy was in charge of 90% of the buyer journey (let’s assume the first 10% is cold calling done by others) today he needs to cover only the last 30% of the buyer journey. Important 30% but not the most crucial part!
Hint: You don’t even get there if you fail on the initial 70%.
What does that mean?
It simply means that your lead generation and lead nurturing became your most crucial success factor in your sales process and in your sales organization. Your best closers, your most senior account executives (gold in the last 30% of the buyer journey) can’t help to fill their pipeline.
Lead Generation is the new Sales – at least in B2B
If you think you can delegate lead generation to interns you missed the point. Lead generation became such an important but also difficult part that you cannot leave it up to the individual luck of an intern and your opportunistic efforts at networking events.
The bad news is that you have less calls and meetings today than you had 10 years ago, am I right?
Is that bad? Maybe! If the quality of those leads are at the same low level as it was 10 years ago, then yes – its really bad! You don’t have enough sales qualified leads to fill your pipeline.
The good news is that the quality of leads (calls, meetings) went up in general and the conversion rate from discovery/qualification to sales opportunity is much higher than before. Do you see that as well?
Why is that? People do their homework! Again, 70% of their journey they spend online finding out what they want and who can help. They don’t want to talk to you if you don’t seem to be a good match for them.
4 Critical questions you have to ask now
For whom are you a good match?
How well are you articulating that to them?
On which channels?
Do you have enough good leads?