The science of B2B sales

James Isilay, CEO at Cognism, explains how a successful and scalable B2B sales operation is underpinned by a performance-based culture.

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For B2B companies looking for rapid growth, there is a huge temptation to recruit a top sales person; an individual with great experience and, in theory, strong contacts. But is that wise?

The truth is that multiple smaller, quick wins can be a far more effective road to growth, and that means reconsidering the sales operation. It means moving away from the traditional model where each sales person is responsible for every stage of the sales cycle, from prospecting through to closing, to one where each individual has a well delineated specialist role with clearly defined metrics. Essentially, to systematically bring in new business requires an operational process with a strong focus on data, metrics and science.

Splitting the lead, prospecting and deal closing into distinct operations is not only more efficient, it also supports the creation of a far more science-based approach to B2B sales. Sales is a numbers game, plain and simple. It is not about spending hours on LinkedIn researching a prospect before making the call and finding he is on holiday for the next week. It is about creating an incredibly efficient process that leverages top quality, up to date and accurate data to support a slick lead generation and sales process; measuring every step of the process to ensure individuals are correctly incentivised and drive the continual process and performance improvement required to meet ambitious growth plans.

Sales is not an art; it is a science. But how does it work in practice? James Isilay, CEO, Cognism, explains how a successful and scalable B2B sales operation will be underpinned by a performance-based culture where individuals are focused on and driven by metrics and benchmarks

Quality data sourcing

Any B2B sales organisation still relying on the traditional sales model, with individuals tasked with completing every step of the sales process, has a very clear opportunity to become far more efficient. Creating a new sales model with dedicated roles can transform performance and rapidly eradicate bottlenecks. However, without a fresh stream of accurate and timely contact and lead data, talented sales people will be constrained – from the wasted effort of calling individuals who are no longer in the role to the time spent updating CRM systems with the latest information.

Poor quality contact and lead data is one of the most frustrating aspects of any B2B outbound sales campaign. Yet with CRM data degrading by the minute (approximately a third of data degrades every year), most sales teams are using data that is 60% out of date. Improvements to the sales process must be supported by a completely different approach to data sourcing: static CRM is no longer good enough, B2B sales organisations need access to fresh, accurate and GDPR compliant data. In essence, a stream of real-time data.

Despite acknowledging that much of the existing data resource is out of date, most firms are unwilling to embark on the traditionally manual process of continually updating the CRM – despite the inherent inefficiency this creates. Yet the latest AI can be used to seek out and target stale data in real-time. Whenever bad or outdated records are discovered, a seamless blend of AI and human intelligence delivers an accurate and up to date database of hundreds of million profiles, transforming the quality of the sales experience. With this quality of data resources, organisations can also explore sales acceleration tools to achieve faster sales cycles, higher close rates and bigger deals.

Creating sales intelligence

Of course, for sales teams used to the prop of social media research to flesh out CRM data, the accuracy and timeliness of contact information is just one part of the equation. What Sales Development Reps (SDRs) need is a deep data resource; access to profile information that also includes individual skill sets, education and time in role as well as company profile, even specific technologies in use, delivers the essential data confidence required to support an effective sales call.

With real-time updates of data resources, the problems that have traditionally dogged sales teams – namely prospects moving job – suddenly become an opportunity. Timing is everything: it is not only important to know that someone has changed role and organisation but when. Contacts who have changed job can be flagged, enabling the SDR to contact this lead at the optimum moment in the sales and buying cycle.

Essentially, this is sales intelligence: a business profile data source that extends across the globe and across every industry. Targeted B2B lead generation campaigns can be based on a number of highly specific triggers, enabling the sales team to hone the pitch and further improve response. And the timeliness of this data is key, enabling sales teams to exploit specific events, from funding rounds to geographic expansion, even a purchase of a technology – sales trigger data enables sales teams to target the right prospect at the right time.

The right model

Optimising a sales organisation is a fundamental requirement for any B2B business looking to achieve sustainable, scalable growth. And while companies have addressed aspects of this process, few have achieved a truly scalable, integrated and harmonised B2B sales operation that maximises opportunities.

B2B sales success is all about the metrics; about understanding and refining the process and ensuring the right team structure is in place. With the right model, a company can quickly and effectively explore and exploit a source of accurate, fresh, real-time data to achieve fast, targeted and timely B2B lead generation and sales activity.

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