Why Help Signals Are More Effective Sales Triggers Than Buying Signals
A generation of marketers has grown up combing through the Digital Body Language of prospects looking for elusive “buying signals” – the indicators that a prospect is on the brink of making a purchase decision and just needs a conversation with sales to encourage them to take the final plunge.
While at first it seems intuitive that this would be the best indicator to look for, on deeper inspection, it looks far less likely that this is true.
The challenge becomes obvious when you think of what happens if a marketing team believes they have found a “buying signal”. The prospect is sent over to sales as a hot lead, and the salesperson immediately goes into pitch mode, attempting to get them on the phone, walk them through a sales pitch, and close them as quickly as possible.
Account-based sales is a long game in which success relies on a foundation of strong relationships throughout a buying organization. Starting an initial conversation with a sales pitch, and pushing as hard as possible to close is a very poor way to start a relationship, especially one based on trust.
I spoke with Anneke Seley and Britton Manasco about their recent book, “Next Era Selling“, and they have seen a very similar pattern. “If sales and marketing are operating as silos, the hand-off between them is a blunt instrument – a single point-in-time where the lead moves from marketing to sales, and that leads to a very bad customer experience”, said Manasco.
Engage Buyers When They Are in Research Mode
Rather than looking for buying signals, account-based marketers should scour the data for “Help Signals”. A clue that a prospect is doing research, mapping out an industry, creating a plan, understanding business case drivers, or evaluating your solution is an indicator that they might be open to assistance – not a sales pitch disguised as assistance, but actual assistance. A sales person who is made aware of these “Help Signals” can offer up a resource, a connection, a data set, or an undiscovered tool that would help the buyer in whatever research they were doing.
“The idea of ‘Front-office Fusion’ that we talk about in Next Era Selling is that marketing, customer success, and even product can help with sales by identifying moments at which a specific conversation or bit of guidance would be most welcomed by a buyer”, said Seley, “Sales teams will perform much more effectively when enabled by the rest of their front office team.”
Help signals will not generate immediate revenue. They are opportunities to generate trust. An account-based selling process is a long one, and trust is the single biggest asset you can have on your side. Leveraging help signals to generate trust will let your team build a deeper, broader network of relationships in the buying organization than any competitor. This will ultimately lead to far larger deals, procured far more easily, than any attempt to hunt for elusive “buying signals” and jump into sales mode on the first conversation.