Enterprise sales isn’t Tinder. Instead of a series of short-term flings, the name of the game is building long-term relationships. And as Dr. Phil, Oprah, Delilah, and just about every other self-styled relationship guru has told us, doing so requires communication and trust. That takes time and commitment—and that doesn’t happen overnight.
Our Emissaries have insights to help you put away your pickup lines and start approaching prospects with the kind of sincere and personalized messaging and outreach that builds a meaningful bond.
If it seems like you’re having issues forming the relationships you need with your clients and prospects, here’s what you might be doing wrong:
You’re thinking too short-term
The truth is, the most effective forms of outreach are also (unfortunately) the hardest.
The seeds of a closed-won start germinating way before the sales cycle formally begins. Think of it like Oregon’s giant honey mushroom, which occasionally appears as a golden mushroom on the surface, but for the most part exists—across 2,200 acres—underground. You need to have that kind of massive footprint.
One smart approach is simply to physically be where your prospects are—at industry events, conferences, and trade shows. This can create uncommon opportunities to initiate relationships. And once you’re there, why not get creative?
“Try taking it offsite,” one Emissary, a former CMO from Petco suggested. “Invite your prospects to dinner while they’re all at CES, or do something where you’re creating an experience that will be associated with you. Those are things that I’ve seen work really well.”
If you are engaged with an Emissary on your deal, use them to help find out what your decision-maker is passionate about, from Broadway to sailing to single-malt scotch, and use those inside insights to form a better bond.
Whatever approach you take, it’s critical to find a way to personally—and personably (more on that later)—connect with your prospect’s organization. From there, you can walk it backward, asking questions to identify needs and pinpoint the right opportunity where your solution can deliver the most value.
You’re not focused enough on showing value
Value is a relationship anchor, and if you can’t demonstrate it, the relationship doesn’t stand a chance. For that reason, analytics, dashboards, visualizations, or even what Gartner or Forrester say about you—all those sexy platform features you want to talk about—have to take a backseat until you’re certain all the bottom-line business outcomes have been covered.
After all, a good percentage of the time, the make-or-break sales decision-makers aren’t technical folks, so their attention is going to center on business outcomes. Ultimately, they want to understand the end-game: Can your sales intelligence solution , for example, accelerate the time between MQLs and SQLs? Will it help me drive top-line revenue, increase profitability, or land new business? Can it help my team save time and money through new efficiencies? If so, tell me how—and do it immediately.
To answer questions like these and provide actionable, relevant insights, you’ll need to do a lot of due diligence. One hint our Emissaries suggested is to get creative with your research, and treat every source of information available to you as a potential lever.
“Reading through the earnings call transcripts is just a big opportunity, which I’m not sure everyone takes advantage of,” said our Emissary, a former senior marketing leader at GNC. That’s the sort of thing few organizations leverage, and by doing so, they’re leaving money on the table.
Of course, you can also cut to the chase, and work with a former executive who used to work at your target account, who can provide you with all of the inside insights you need. We’re partial to this method, but are also 100% unashamedly biased.
You’re selling, not storytelling
Great storytelling blends confidence with humility.
Think about it. Why do the best salespeople never come across like they’re really, you know, selling? The answer has as much to do with the structure of the story that they’re telling as how they’re telling it. After all, it’s not for nothing that every hit Pixar film has the same narrative DNA.
It’s their combination of confidence in the solution, insightful and engaging storytelling, and inside knowledge of a prospect’s pain points that ultimately enable them to convert even the most skeptical stakeholders.
To sell without selling—which sounds like a zen koan—is a tough art to master, but our Emissaries say that it’s ultimately only a matter of striking the right balance.
“It’s a mix between confidence in the solution and the humility to be able to say, ‘This is how we think it makes sense for your organization, but we don’t know everything—and we want to work with you to figure that last thing out,'” our GNC Emissary explained.
Citing ideas or examples that are specific, actionable, and concrete is another way to keep your audience grounded and focused, while also demonstrating your impressive command of their business.
“Creative people—who often are the decision-makers—tend to get lost in the technology,” our Petco Emissary said, “but they really understand stories. Providing a story that can bring to life the capabilities that you have and the solutions that you’ve come up with—those kinds of things add a lot.”
By investing heavily in the relationship up front, you’ll be better positioned for success as a partner later on. And by staying engaged with your decision-maker even after the sale is complete, you can set the table for further growth through referrals to other clients or divisions of the same company.
Enterprise sales isn’t Tinder, so don’t treat your prospects like short-term flings. Building relationships is key to long-term success, and that begins with communicating value and establishing trust based on common goals. To be successful, enterprise sellers need to tell great stories and strategically craft their messaging and outreach. Above all, it’s imperative to think long-term, because none of this is going to happen overnight.
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