In B2B Sales, it's all about the contract. You may think it odd that a marketer that preaches demand generation and marketing pipeline bring up contracts, but after all - what good is Marketing and a solid process if nothing closes? Half of the battle with Marketing is the constant tension with Sales. Usually, this tension is a good thing - it keeps the teams honest and accountable for their share of the burden. But often times there are ways the Marketing team can assist Sales by making their jobs a little easier.
In my consulting, I've had the pleasure of working with a few start-ups and entrepreneurs on revamping their Sales process to include Marketing touch points and create impact throughout the sales cycle.
In a recent meeting, I was working with a client to understand the current sales process from cold call or lead all the way to (hopefully) closed won new business. After we used the whiteboard to draw out the current process, one major question came to mind. "Why would they sign with you? What makes your product or service so special that they would hurry the contract process and sign before the quarter end?" There was silence as we were all pondering. And the answer? There wasn't one. Up until this point, the client had been using their best sales skills (which were quite good) and trying to get the prospect to sign to "help me hit my quarter" or "because you really need said product or service...now". And sometimes it worked. But often times... it didn't.
Enter the Compelling Event. If you're a B2B Marketer, understanding this is absolutely crucial - especially if you're looking to be a trusted advisor or partner to your Sales' counterparts. A compelling event is very simple to understand. Put yourself in your prospects' shoes: why the heck would they buy from you by xx date? To help you hit your quota, OR because there is something happening on their end that they need to program towards, and implement the software or service by, in order to be successful?
Let me give you an example for a Retail Marketer looking to buy a new software as a service platform. If you're a retailer, the holiday season is absolutely crucial to your business. You need to have your systems in place, tested, optimized, and ready to rock and roll by absolutely no later than end of September. Depending on the length of your Sales cycle, you probably need to start marketing to prospects in this industry absolutely no later than June or July in order for them to get buy in internally, secure budget, implement the product or service, test it, etc. So what does that mean? Congratulations! You have a compelling event to work towards! Your prospect absolutely has to sign at a certain time for their purchase to be successful.
The important thing to remember is every industry, and even every prospect within each industry is different - and you should never assume a compelling event is standard across a group. However, it should be one of the first qualification questions asked. You can start by using these:
- Is there a specific date you have in mind that you'd like to be up and running?
- What big events/holidays are important to your business?
- Do you already have budget secured for this project? If not, how can we help provide information you need for the request?
- What are the internal approval process steps your organization will need to take?
- Are there any specific requirements around timing that we need to be aware of?
When doing initial cold calling into accounts, it's very helpful to have done your homework and know if there are any important events and/or holidays, etc that the prospect would be concerned with. If so, bring that up in every conversation to keep the urgency in your Sales and Marketing process.
Above all, remember that without a compelling event, there really is no incentive for the prospect to sign. If you have to, create something - make your own urgency.