No one has a monopoly on insight. Figuring out the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ and ‘why’ of sales prospecting requires a collaborative approach
If you happened to get lost in the woods (and gasp) your cell phone battery dies, let’s hope you’ve got a map and a compass, because the most effective method of figuring out where you are is triangulation.
Find a nearby high point, like a ridgeline, where you can get a good view of your surroundings (and let’s hope it’s a fairly clear day). Basically what you’re going to do is find at least two features that are also on your map. By taking bearings on these features with your compass and plotting them on your map, you’ll see where you are.
Triangulation, as it happens, is also a powerful technique for validating and verifying data. And because B2B marketing sometimes feels like being lost in the woods, it’s a tried-and-true method of finding your way to greater success.
Understanding Where You Really Are
It goes without saying that the better you understand your B2B prospects, the more efficient and effective your prospecting will be. However, often we are too confident in our belief that we know exactly what’s going on. In reality, no one silo or point of view within the company is going to give you the “who,” “what,” and “why” of prospects and the buying process.
There is no monopoly on insight.
The answer is to triangulate intelligence, or we are no more effective then the blind men of poetry, trying to determine what an elephant really looks like, each by touching the strange beast once, each from a different angle.
The Elephant in the Room
The prospect is the elephant in the room. Here are the three points of intelligence you need to understand just who that prospect is, and how to market to them:
- Data analysis. This tells you what prospects are doing now. It’s strong on the “what,” but not the “why.” And if we don’t understand that “why,” we’re hamstrung into repeating this step.
- Internal intelligence. Sales talks to the elephants all day long, every day. We need to tap into their real-world knowledge. This gives us perspective and insight, but it comes through a filter.
- Persona research. Creation of a prospect persona, or personas, based upon new qualitative research, yields the human insights into the individuals who comprise the buying center, their own values, perspectives, and agendas. It takes the learning from behavioral data analysis and inside intelligence and matches it with motivation.
The Elephant Found
Here’s a case study of a firm that helps clients (very large) to mitigate foreign currency risk. The firm is composed of unassailable experts.
Recently, it introduced a highly specialized software package that helps companies to gather and process the necessary data, but sales were behind projection. It decided to triangulate intelligence and better understand the prospect.
- Data Analysis. As is often the reality for B2B firms, the current data was in Salesforce but much of the history was in Excel (and some in personal recollection). When the sources were compiled, the strength of the relationships they had forged was clarified—individuals who were clients of one service became prospects for another.
- Internal Intelligence. The internal view was that the software was unique and robust. With their reputation in the industry, understandably, they thought they knew the prospect. Sales felt they could now compete as a software company.
- Persona Research. The research effort validated steps 1 and 2, and added a new dimension—motivation—and refined the sales process. Prospects were not looking for software; they were looking for an expert that also offered software. First, they needed to engage with people who could help them to better understand how to make the right decisions, then to install the software that could provide better decision support.
Understanding How to Maximize Opportunity
Any one point of view can be true but still not account for the totality of the situation. By putting data analysis together with internal intelligence and persona research, we start to empathize with our prospect, and that makes all the difference.
Or as one of this firm’s new clients said, “Are they expensive? You bet. But they are worth every penny. First they installed best practices. Then the software to make it efficient.”