Sales 2.0 Leaders Interview Series: Prospects Quadrupled with Sales 2.0

I’m publishing a series of Q&A excerpts from my interviews with Sales 2.0 leaders. This is the first excerpt from my interview with Ned Trainor, president and co-founder of BuildSite, an online product database used by the construction industry.

Ned launched sales in a traditional way in an attempt to meet with the manufacturers who would be his advertising customers. When results didn’t meet expectations, he began working with my company, Phone Works, to design a new way for BuildSite to engage customers by phone and online, track every prospect contact and close sales without leaving the office.

Anneke: How have you morphed your business model?

Ned: We had a 1.0 approach to selling: If you keep hitting them hard enough, and we all work harder, we’re going to get there. We knew we had to find the early adopters, so we needed to put a lot more customers in the funnel at the top to get really qualified good ones out the bottom. We were also somewhat resource-constrained.

Phone Works contributed a professional approach to sales management, as well as to actually selling. We’re putting as many as four times as many prospects in the top of the funnel as before. We’re using Salesforce.com as more than a contact manager. We’ve adopted Phone Works’ 7-touch sales process, which keeps the sales funnel full of qualified opportunities and does an effective job of getting the word out and then reinforcing it.

The 7 touches work. We were doing touch 1, and then a month later we’d have touch 1.5, but we never had a deliberate planned approach to selling. Now, I call this person, I send an e-mail, and then I follow up in two weeks, and we leave some voice-mail messages, and we make many phone calls. Suddenly you catch him off-guard on Friday afternoon, and he’s actually interested in talking to you: “Oh yes, I’ve gotten your material. I actually would like to have a conversation.”

The other thing we’ve done is that we’ve almost completely stopped using PowerPoint, which is great. In our “pre–Phone Works era,” as we call it …

Anneke: Is that like the prehistoric era?

Ned: It was back when man had a lot more hair. We had clubs. I swear, that’s kind of how we went out there. If we hit them hard enough, we could get it — but you could only get one animal out of the herd at any given time, so we kind of descend on this one customer, and if we can close these people, we’ll make the quarter — and then we’ll go on and do it again.

So we adopted the 7 touches, and we upgraded our collateral substantially. We had another year of experience with our advertising, so we had the ability to do a true media kit with all the metrics an advertiser is looking for.

Our prior approach was we would get an appointment with a prospect and then we would do a PowerPoint presentation of 20-something slides. We would do the talking, and they would do the listening. We’d say, “Any questions?” and there would be a few, but it wasn’t very engaging, and I found it boring. I think the people on the other end of the line did, too.

Now we send the media kit, and we send a lot of physical collateral out. We mix it up. We send e-mail, and we send them a package, and we have our little BuildSite “Stimulus Package” with a $5 Starbucks card. It adds very little to our cost of sales, and everybody loves it.

… We send out our physical collateral, and then we have a follow-up discussion with them. We just engage in a conversation, which is really the goal of 2.0 selling. We chat them up, so it gives us a lot more time to listen to what their concerns and goals are, and what they’re looking for. We do the research in advance, so we’ve read their corporate materials. We can meet them on their own turf.

It’s better for our customers, and it’s a lot more engaging.

Read the full interview with Ned Trainor in the Resources section of this website.

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Monday, January 31st, 2011 Sales