Thanks to advancements in sales software and technology, reaching a wider network of prospects has become easier than ever. By the same token, the amount of spam and unsolicited communication we receive on a daily basis has made it more difficult to start sales relationships that last. The solution to this problem, according to this week’s podcast guest, is relationship sales.
Meet Dan Englander. He is the CEO and Founder of Sales Schema, a fractional new business team for marketing agencies and B2B service companies. He’s also the host of The Digital Agency Growth Podcast and the author of Relationship Sales At Scale: How to Find Your Virtual Tribe and Reliably Grow Your Professional Service Business and Mastering Account Management.
In his book, Dan introduces his philosophy Relationship Sales at Scale™, which marries the timeless power of tribe-based trust with digitally enabled scale so you can open doors tastefully and convert prospects consistently, all without spamming anyone.
In this episode, Dan and Marquis discuss the importance of customized sales communication and why throwing case studies and spamming skeptical decision-makers don’t always get you the best results.
The most common issue in sales.
In his experience, Dan Englander believes that companies focus on solving peripheral issues that might not have much impact on their sales.
“I think the most common issue lies in who's doing what.” Says Dan.
Hiring the right salespeople and training them correctly is a practice that many companies overlook. It takes a village to prepare a highly efficient sales team, and the process of hiring and training them requires a proper division of duties and communication.
Unlike bookkeeping or website building, sales require a range of skill sets to build and maintain relationships with potential clients. It’s a position you can’t simply hire freelancers for. Think about it, a salesperson is more than just a person manning the phones and soliciting leads. Their skillsets include effective communications to be able to close deals and maintain existing relationships to upsell your services.
Moreover, a salesperson should have a handle on creative skills such as writing copy, list building and dealing with Saas platforms. There are a lot of processes to be managed before closing a deal, such as writing effective lead-nurture emails and digital posts to attract the right clients. Sifting through contacts and following up with qualified leads is a valuable skill in itself; you’ll be able to bring on qualified leads who are more willing to sign a contract with you and not waste your time with qualification calls that go nowhere.
Bringing in the right salesperson is not easy, because it does not only depend on their preexisting skillset before they join your team. A big part of their success lies in how you prepare them to sell your brand and services. This is where the onboarding process becomes essential and requires a big investment on your part to set up your sales team for success.
“The most important thing you can do is support your salespeople and give them a foundation of support, as opposed to just hiring somebody that interviews well, and then expecting them to sell your complex service.”
Relationships sales that scale.
When it comes to qualifying leads, many companies get it wrong with widely common practices. Most of us depend heavily on cold marketing emails that could not only turn away top-of-the-funnel leads but tune off the active engagement. Dan emphasizes the importance of personalized touch-points to build sales relationships that scale while acknowledging the necessity of mass marketing tactics to keep your leads engaged.
Dan identifies and recommends 3 ways to cultivate sustainable sales relationships that will help you qualify leads down the sales funnel.
1. Start in your own backyard.
Cold outreach is a common sales tactic that tends to take the forefront of every sales strategy. Many agencies cast their nets far and wide to expand their network. That’s what Dan did in the early days of Sales Schema. Eventually, he learned that when it comes to cultivating sustainable sales relationships, the best place to start is one’s own backyard.
Instead of reaching out to clients you barely know, start expanding your reach with people from within your network. This could be a referral through a friend, acquaintance or past client. Dan recommends emailing people you already know and selling them your services. This will cut down on the time you need to nurture a lead since you already have an established level of trust.
2. Reduce your automation.
“I think we've put automation on this pedestal when nobody is counting the cost of it.”
There is nothing more impersonal than receiving an email that you know was sent to thousand other people. While workflow automation has facilitated many sales processes and allowed companies to reach more leads in less amount of time, there comes a point where automation becomes your enemy. The biggest problem with automation, according to Dan, is our inability to measure its success and failure. For instance, it’s hard to determine if a lead goes cold because of your excessive automated emails that translate as spam or because the lead wasn’t interested in your service, to begin with.
Dan also recognizes that writing personalized emails to every prospect is unsustainable and ineffective if you’re aiming to grow your reach. The solution is to reduce the automation you currently have and focus on creating personalized communication with prospects who have expressed interest in your services. For instance, if a top-of-funnel lead establishes contact with you by responding to one of your emails, you might want to take them off the automated mailing list and begin a personalized one-on-one communication.
“The rule that we recommend to our clients is, once somebody replies, whether positively or negatively, they leave automation land and they go into another list. That doesn't mean they can't receive a newsletter, but the newsletter isn't masquerading as a personal touch point.”
A weak sales process is one that relies on robots to build sales relationships. The time and effort you invest in personalized messaging will be felt across your contacts, and you will be rewarded with engaged prospects.
3. Be selective and intentional with your content.
Content marketing is essential in any sales strategy. However, it’s important to recognize that not prospects share similar content consumption behaviour.
In Dan’s experience, people who prefer to consume lots of content before making a decision tend to be individuals with lower ownership titles. On the other hand, high-ranking executives or people in C-level positions are very busy, and might not appreciate the slew of generic content you throw their way.
“I'm not downplaying content, but I do think it becomes a slog after a certain point.”
The goal of content marketing is to differentiate your services in a market that has become saturated with digital solutions and agency services. Prospects are becoming more skeptical with every marketing email they receive, and the challenge, therefore, becomes getting them to agree to hop on a call with you. For this reason, you need to customize your message with every segment of your contacts. You need to understand what their pain points are and address them in more targeted content pieces.
“In our experience, it's not so much the material or collateral or the bells and whistles that differentiates you. It's more about trust. It's more about proving to somebody that you understand that you're in their world, which could be through a mutual relationship you both share. It could be through a strong personal or business commonality. Essentially, you're trying to create the effect that you've reached out to them and only them, even if you're doing this at some sort of scale.”
You need to balance personalization and scale to keep your pipeline full and achieve reliable and predictable growth. Instead of sending a generic marketing email to a hundred people, for instance, you’ll be contacting fifty people a day with more personalized messages.
In conclusion, relationship sales are more than sending marketing emails and cold-calling prospects. Make sure to listen to the full episode with Dan Englander to learn how to deal with prospects who go silent and seek qualified leads from the get-go.