IT sales professionals are used to a myriad of urgent reasons for why a prospect accepts or rejects their proposal. But out of all them, this takes the cake: the end of the world. Believe it or not, but I’ve had encounters with people like that myself outside of work. Because of that, I know how easily the doomsday mentality can seep into business and affect IT sales by influencing decisions.
When using content, people generate sales leads by trying to give advice. The value of this advice can vary depending on whether your provide a product or a service. Regardless, if you want to attract sales leads with any kind of expertise, you should always be ready to strut your stuff.
How often does your lead generation strategy involve you with your SCM customer’s activities? Granted, there are reasons to refrain from it for fear of interfering. On the other hand, both marketing and customer support exist for the purpose of strengthening business relationships and ensuring quality.
Like many software companies, vendors of SCM technologies like to use case studies, reliable research, and impressive statistics to attract sales leads. After all, it’s not very easy to argue with solid proof.
Despite that, many people not only underestimate the amount of effort required but also the effort of determining what actually drives the point home to your prospects. The numbers, percentages, and sheer size of data is double edged. As an analogy, think of it as staring up a giant. For some, a giant’s size is impressive but for others, it’s terrifying. That is the risk you’re taking each time you present findings and research in the hopes of generating software sales leads.
Although, it’s also hard to argue against the inevitable event that a prospect will have people look into the finer details. Many SCM professionals are all about looking more deeply into the flow between suppliers and retailers. The slightest anomaly in any phase is enough to be of grave concern.
Regardless, it’s still a fact that you grab their interest by citing things that hold a lot of significance to them. Attract your SCM leads by using the sales funnel as a guide to focus on the basics of what your prospects want. Only after that should you expound upon them.
- Step 1: Start with what’s simple – How you begin the conversation between yourself and your prospects slightly depends on your main channel of communication but mostly depends on focusing first on their simple grievances. You should also simplify the research results and find out which of these results are the ones your target businesses are looking for. Speak more in their language but avoid too much jargon (even of the business variety).
- Step 2: Maintain focus during the conversation - For example, if your case findings are available for download on your website, there’s a chance that you’ll get emailed about a certain quotation. Focus only on that. They expressed concern about this part for a reason and that reason it’s something they consider very relevant to their own situation. When elaborating, still keep simplicity in mind. Exert all effort if you want but don’t demand the same from your prospect.
- Step 3: Qualify within reasonable parameters – All right so your conversation is going good. The prospect is getting more interested in the results and wants to experience the same for his or her company. Yet despite that, there’s still a desire to keep the discussion going. You (or at least your marketers) are hitting the limits of their own knowledge. Signs like these are indicators that it’s time to qualify. Politely tell them that your salespeople know more and are willing to go deeper into what solutions can be offered.
Generating sales leads has always been about starting with simple information and then diving deeper into the complex. SCM professionals aren’t total strangers to this as some of them actually have to exercise these same skills when reporting findings to their own superiors (as well as subordinates). But like them, you have to start first with the simplified stats.
A popular notion about the Chinese market is that manufacturing is it’s key to competitiveness. Well, as of this recent HBR study, it appears that this notion is in fact a myth:
“A quick look at the top rankers reveals that success for many came from actively pursuing an international strategy — 19 of the leaders in the top 50 ranking have done so. For example, the #2 in our ranking — Mr. Wang Dongming, Chairman of Citic Securities, the top firm in China’s securities market — used international diversification to reduce the risk of a potential slow-down in China. Likewise, the #3 leader, Ms. Dong Mingzhu, of air-conditioning company Gree Electric Appliances saw the global downturn as a “golden chance for overseas customers to recognize that they can pay less for the best quality machines.” Her strategy consisted of internationalizing Gree’s brands, not merely setting up plants all over the world.”
International diversification does necessarily involve SCM. Statistics like this could only point to a China that is no longer entirely dependent on manufacturing for growth. This decrease in priority could be mean that it may no longer be a suitable market for SCM software. Maintaining focus on such a market might no longer be a wise course of action for the following reasons:
- Fewer Leads – Waiting for this sign already has debilitating effects on your sales. If you continue to make a drying region a primary target, then you’re more or less putting all your bets on a goose that’s laying fewer and fewer golden eggs.
- Lost Time – As the leads come fewer and farther in between, you end up investing more time than necessary in generating them. This could’ve been time spent seeking out a new market or even making leads out of it.
- Lost Opportunities – While you’re still trying to drain every last drop of software leads out of an increasingly parched watering hole, your competitors are moving ahead and pursuing leads in a new market. These same leads could’ve been pursued by you had you chosen to act early.
Fortunately, knowing these signs should enable you to act quickly in response. Be aware of things like changing economic and political factors. These in turn could spark a chain of events that will eventually lead to a more or less desirable market for SCM software solutions. Your awareness shouldn’t be just limited to one country as well. Be aware of global events and quickly identify the right market to pursue. In this case, the changes in China’s local manufacturing industry have prompted many companies to consider reshoring (the U.S. for example).
Now in case you might insist that you’d rather play it safe and continue seeking out leads as well as new markets, don’t be too eager to expend so much money in the process. Try outsourcing a lead generation company for either one or the other. That way you can at least have eyes and ears where they need to be in light of any changes in the international market.
Of the many qualities to look out for in a decent lead, knowledge of a company’s needs is definitely the most client-centered. However, there are some companies who list needs that are not only for themselves but are actually demanded by federal law. Thomas J. Trappler of Computerworld has this to say on the matter:
“If you move a function to the cloud that’s governed by legal or regulatory requirements and later your company falls out of compliance due to an error on the cloud vendor’s part, the law won’t go after the vendor – it will come after you. So you need to ensure that the cloud vendor can fully comply on your behalf.”
If someone out there thinks that this means providers are off the hook, they might want to think again. With trend of B2B software heading to the cloud, it’s more important than ever to constantly engage prospects and find out their expectations. These include compliance and Trappler’s article goes on to say that you might have contracts to fulfill.
Your software sales leads need to have this sort of information. If not, you might end up setting up your client for a nasty shock and even if they’ll be held responsible for whatever resulting mess, expect a bad referral at the very least. You’ll only be kidding yourself if you think you don’t need to know what legal responsibilities they want your services to live up to. It doesn’t matter what kind of communication medium you use or outsource (e.g. email, telemarketing services, direct mail, mobile marketing), the information you get out of it all should come with anything to do about compliance with the law.
While contact information can make for a good start, even good starts can have you either crashing into a halt or painfully slowing down if you don’t know how to keep going. Now in order to keep the lead generation process running, you need to know what to do and say during the first time you’re connecting to a prospect.
There are actually many other different types of information that come in here but one of the important ones is industry expertise. In other words, how much do you know about the industries your targets are in? Believe it or not, it’s actually one detail you need to carefully investigate when you acquire contact information. Depending on the flexibility of your software, it can be good news or bad news.
For instance, with regards to SCM systems, you need to make sure that your SCM leads are in accordance with your industry expertise. It doesn’t matter if you’ve managed to develop one that can be tailored any kind. There might be some industry specific details that you might still need to know (and if you don’t, it might mean a nasty surprise during the actual engagement or even during implementation). Speaking of which, it’s another way to keep your foot in the figurative door. Decision makers and their gatekeepers are logically more willing to listen someone who is at least familiar with what they do. (And as far as SCM is concerned, industry really plays a big role because it can also be an indicator of the products and services that they manufacture for.) It also applies even if you’re outsourcing lead generation services because they need to know your industry as much as that of your targets!
Outsourcing does not mean you’re lazy. Whether you’re being accused of being lazy with your sales, getting leads, developments, outsourcing another company to do them does not automatically mean you’re just looking for an easy way to do things.
Now of course, it’s usually the noble thing to do in the business world when you handle things yourself. However, sometimes reality actually paints a less demanding picture. You can’t always do things on your own but you can always do what you want to do in your business. After all, you can’t do well in something if you don’t like doing it.
It’s the same here. For instance, suppose you’ve dedicated your company to developing software for supply chain management. You love what your business does, your people love it too, and you want to spend all your time thinking up of new ways to create software that helps other businesses manage things more easily.
However, when it comes to getting the necessary software leads to stabilize your sales rate, your excitement drops dead. Perhaps you’d all be too happy to sit down and discuss your software with your prospects but when it comes the methods of initial contact, you start feeling cold. And who can blame you? Popular lead generation methods like email blasting and telemarketing are actually quite effective but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not something you’d want to stress yourself out doing.
Well guess what? You don’t have to. That’s why even large companies outsource such things to those who actually love generating SCM leads as much as you love programming for SCM. Start outsourcing today, free yourself from worry, and do what you really want to do.