A Google search for “Lead Sourcing Services” yields nearly 65 million results, practically one reference for every six people in America. It seems likely that salespeople with a few years of experience in their career bank will have been pitched a thousand times on just about every system that promises to bring in burning-hot leads.
Each of those systems, however, makes the mistake of assuming that there are prospects out there just looking to sign a contract right now for…whatever it is you’re selling. But changing a cold prospect into a hot lead is what good sales professionals not software solutions do, and the very best people bring their teams along for the ride too.
Changing a potential prospect into a paying and, eventually, repeat customer is the art of sales. It’s a journey that begins with the acquisition of intelligence but then swiftly moves into the field of relationship-building, forming meaningful touchpoints and personal connections that develop trust between the sales professional and the prospect.
Automated intelligence pitfalls
Undertaking basic background research is just that – basic – and many products out there will comb the internet for mentions of stakeholders with significant buying power. Many executives with big budgets in the technology sector are well-known in the industry – there’s no “unearthing” to be done here, except perhaps by sales professionals just starting out in their careers.
The problem with online-only lead-generation platforms is twofold. Firstly, the personas of technology with spend budgets are carefully stage-managed by large PR and Marketing functions. Every utterance is carefully measured and pre-approved. Secondly, easily available information about, for instance, the head of cybersecurity for a large multinational is just that: easily available and, therefore, available to all.
That ubiquity of a limited pool of information means that stakeholders making buying decisions in the IT space are approached more or less constantly by salespeople “armed” with the same information as everyone else. That lowers the chance of success of any such approach and also cements into the minds of decision-makers that it’s a better idea to seek independent advice or to undertake their own research to scope out the available solutions.
The mind of the budget holders
It’s worth considering why big spending decisions are made extremely carefully: executives in companies and government organizations are responsible for the effectiveness, smooth running, and security of systems affecting thousands, if not millions of lives. The last thing these individuals want is to be pitched by salespeople whose concern is a fast buck rather than with any insight into the many criteria that every purchase must fill.
According to a study from Fortune 500 companies, technology-related priorities include innovation (62%) and customer experience (37%). Development of new products and CX investment more often than not include procurement phases, but few VP-level personnel will have carte blanche to buy into new platforms to achieve their goals. Sales professionals will know that what they offering has to solve particular problems, and so discovery and research should be absolutely on-point.
Teams know that the best way to collate information on a market, its individuals, and their requirements is to have humans undertake the necessary research. That’s no easy task: few people outside the tech sector have the appropriate knowledge required (people who know their SASE from their zero-trust, for example), and training outsiders takes resources and time that few have.
Into the Boardroom
However, a human-powered data service changes that situation. From business intelligence specialists, Altrata is Boardroom Insiders, a human-powered database of the most important 40,000 C-Suite decision-makers in North America. This data pool, assembled and maintained by human researchers, can be queried and diced in ways that will unearth opportunities, find common ground between prospects, and, crucially, give individual sales professionals and their teams the insights they need to establish contact, rapport, and trust.
Altrata’s CEO, James Lavell, spoke exclusively to Tech HQ about his company’s approach – it’s not just technology professionals from each company that Boardroom Insiders holds data on. “If you actually look into the database, it’s not just technologists within it,” he said. “It’s technology firms as a primary focus. You’ll find the CRO and the CEO and the CFO; it’s built out by firm and effectively executive senior leadership.”
An in-house team attempting to assemble the same type of resource would not only be slower and less effective, but it would also struggle to update a database of a practical, usable size. Many of the automatic lead-sourcing solutions available today fare little better: they’re fire-and-forget platforms that feed outdated information to all comers. Boardroom Insiders is different; a live, evolving data resource under active maintenance and being updated 24/7.
The information store gives teams and team leaders what’s effectively an unfair advantage – even down to the preferences of sports teams, political leanings, and private opinions of every significant decision-maker today. If it moves in the IT sector, a human researcher will note it down, ready to be queried in the database at large.
Naturally, there’s a certain amount of ‘spin’ that obfuscates any picture of the situation on the ground in large companies. Altrata has a history of circumventing the PR machine. “We don’t take face value, what you find on a corporate website,” he said. “The thing that we look for is validation in demonstrable outputs.”
Establishing relationships is pivotal to a successful career in sales. Team leaders can teach their teams the basics of relationship building, and then it’s up to every individual to forge their own connections. The information available from Boardroom Insiders empowers each sales pro with the raw information they need at every stage of the sales process: initial contact to contract exchange.
Like the relationship between a sales professional and IT budget holders, the information evolves and changes over time. That way, sales functions selling into big organizations always have relevant, useful, up-to-date information.
In our next installment in this series on Sales enablement, we’re talking more with James Lavell, CEO of Altrata, about the ethos and practicalities of this platform and looking at some case studies of the data in action. Watch this space.
This was first published on TechHQ on May 17, 2023. See the original article here.