Is the sales process really 70% over before they call you?
Last week I visited a client that sells large tube processing equipment to attend their open house with customers from all over the country. They had just launched a new laser cutting line and were showing it off to existing customers and prospects.
A guy walked up to the owner and said 'we looked at a bunch of laser manufacturers and have narrowed it down to 2 companies, you and another. We eliminated 3 others based on features, price and reputation after doing our research. Can we talk about a proposal?'
This EXISTING CUSTOMER did not ever talk to a sales person of my client for this $500k+ purchase. They ELIMINATED 3 other vendors using online searches and other available digital information. They only reached out to my client when they were ready to get into the details and specify a machine.
So was this sales process 67% over? I say yes it was.
But yet there are dissenting voices who claim that the sales process is significantly over before buyer reach out to talk to a sales person. One of our clients sent me this article (great discussion thread as well) and wanted my take on the argument that the 67%, or 70% claim is wrong.
We know that our clients have to understand their buyers and how they go about solving problems and start the process of making a purchase. It is still and will always be about people and helping people solve problems. Inbound marketing does not change that but it has opened up a new channel to reach prospective buyers. A channel that many buyers love to use to control how they gather and consume information.
Mixing direct outreach and Inbound Marketing with social sales tools and techniques is the most effective way to drive new leads and grow sales. Sales pros have to use every tool available to find the one that the prospect will respond to.
Many Inbound companies themselves have direct outreach and cold callers so even they get the mix of Inbound and Outbound when it comes to driving demand and generating leads.
The writer himself says that his clients are growing because they target clients and reach out to them. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that they are using social media, email, content and targeted calls to open those doors. Guess what that it is? Inbound Sales.
Is the sales process always 67% over before they call a sales person? No.
Does the 67% number represent an average or ball park? Yes.
Does this % number go down if a B2B company is proactively reaching out to target prospects? Yes of course it does.
But if you don't reach them proactively (and you can never reach them all) and they are working through issues and determining a solution and searching online, and selecting possible vendors on their own then that 67% estimate certainly holds true as an average.
The point is not that the 67% number always holds true, the point is that buyers are changing, how they buy is changing, how they gather information is changing, expectations of sales people are changing, and the value sought during the sales process is changing.