Has automation of sales prospecting become the norm?
Marc Rouvier – Not enough, at least not yet! Today 40% of companies admit to having no quantified tracking of their sales prospecting. Most sales and marketing teams still rely mainly on free tools (such as social networks), files of potential prospects or ‘sure bets’ like word of mouth, to find their sales leads. They all having to muddle through to find their customers, sometimes enduring a dogged attitude of Stakhanovism as they embark on up to 100 calls a day to get a single sales lead.
According to our latest figures, only 27% of companies have set up the kind of Marketing Automation or Sales Intelligence technology solutions that could enable them to determine likely business leads or identify targeted prospects. Yet the use of this innovative technology today can multiply sales prospecting effectiveness eight-fold.
How can Big Data transform the business of prospecting?
M.R. – Big Data has already dramatically altered roles inside IT and HR departments, production chains and the retail sector, and it’s probably about to change all the rules of prospecting. IBM estimates that 2.5 trillion bytes of data are created each day on the web, and in vastly different formats. Social media posts and website content aside, Big Data also comprises images and videos, mobile geo-tracked data, even the information from meteorological sensors. This mountain of data is only going to grow, and at an exponential rate: 90% of global data has been created across only the last two years.
The technologies being developed from it have the capacity to analyze and crosscheck vast quantities of data to simplify multiple tasks and to compound the results. Sales prospecting is no exception. In those companies that have embraced it, it’s clear how technology has dramatically changed the lives of prospecting executives. They’re using algorithms to identify leads with specific needs – the ones looking for the competitively priced solution –, or using systems that allow them to prioritize the hottest prospects who can be most easily led down the sales funnel. The whole dynamic has changed.
What are the latest trends in sales prospecting?
M.R. – Big Data’s data processing challenge has given rise to the creation of algorithms with the capacity to process immense data feeds. IKO System has developed technology to gather company-wide data, then to identify purchase indicators and to build a predictive score for each of the potential leads in a given geographical area. It’s known as Lead Scoring. This scoring allows a dynamic list of net new leads to be drawn up that’s easy to manage and capable of doubling lead conversion rates.
Marketing Automation techniques are expanding fast. They allow the right lead to be identified and for automated personalized email scenarios to be created and sent out at the perfect moment. By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with a company without even interacting with a human.
How do you see sales prospecting developing ahead?
M.R. – In the near future, prospecting staff will report directly to the marketing department, and be in charge of lead generation. The sales department will then be able to focus on fully targeted client conversion. This powerful weapon in sales marketing arsenal will enable staff to drastically increase conversion rates. On average, non-specialized sales teams make 12.7 calls a day, compared with 18 in a specialized company.
Looking ahead, lead generation teams will have at their fingertips the visitor touch points and the context that are crucial to start a conversation. Before long, lead qualification will take 10 seconds, not 10 minutes.