While sales is the foundation on which some organizations are built, there are also many companies that are far less sales-driven. These companies, for example creative agencies and consultancy firms, will get most of their deals from existing customers or connections.
With less sales-driven, we don’t mean that sales isn’t important for these companies, but that their new business efforts are usually less focused on, and that they depend more on their network to find new deals.
These organizations need to keep a close eye on everything that happens within their networks. Open data can help them find the most important buying signals to act on right now. Here are three tried-and-tested tips that help relationship-driven sales organization make their lead generation and sales more effective.
3 tips for companies focusing on network sales
1. Follow buying signals from companies you already know
Even a lukewarm lead is better than a cold one. When an organization that you’re already in business with goes through a significant event, a great window of opportunity for upselling opens up. This is a great time to remind them about your existence. These changes are also important for your customer success people to know about, as they will most likely affect your partnership.
Start following your own customers first, and then expand the list to include old customers, familiar prospects, less familiar prospects, email pen-pals and generally any company you’re interested in.
Which buying signal is the best for your company to act on differs depending on what business you’re in. For creative agencies, all types of product or service releases mean a great chance to land a new project. For private equity companies, a company that’s going through a merger or acquisition is a golden lead. If you’re offering office supplies, you should quickly reach out to companies that has recently moved to a new office, opened up a new branch or expanded to a new market. By looking at changes in your customers' organization right before they became your customers, you'll easily find what trigger events you should pay extra attention to.
If you find a correlation between a buying signal from and a successful business deal, online data will generate you as many leads as your sales team can handle.
By reading the main news sites and following up on LinkedIn, you will stay on top of things to a certain degree. Automate the grunt work by using an intelligent aggregator like Vainu to sift through millions of data sources to find the leads relevant for your case. With Vainu, you can get notified through email, Slack or in-app notifications as soon as any of your connections go through a specific change.
Import a list of all your existing customers in Vainu and get notified of important buying signals from any of these companies.
Bonus tip: Export a list of all your LinkedIn connections and import this into Vainu to stay up-to-date with all types of changes in the companies people in your network work for.
2. Follow your customers' competitors moves
Keep track of major events in your customer’s competitors’ organization. If a competitor beats your customer to the market with a new offer, product, service or upgrade the chance is good that your connection is preparing a counter attack. This is a good time to reach out and see how you can help them respond to not lose market shares.
Create a target group with companies similar to your best co-occuring customers and make sure to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in their business. This helps you understand the competitive field your customers are in and allows you to tailor your new offer and/or your assistance accordingly.
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3. Create a lead yourself
The fact that you’re not spending great money or efforts on outbound sales shouldn’t mean that you never contact a prospect you’ve not spoken to before. People generally listen to reason, and you should provide that when a great opportunity presents itself.
To do this, first define your Ideal Customer Profile and use a dynamic company database to find those companies that match this profile to a T. Then, simply track buying signals from these companies. Considering you should have a solid idea of how their day-to-day works and what their challenges look like from existing customers, you should be able to construct a clear argument for how they will tackle their challenges best with your assistance. To build extra trust, use your existing networks and leverage mutual contacts.
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You’ve got a lead, now what?
Lead generation is useless if your agency does nothing with the leads. For companies that are not that sales focused, the challenge is building a systematic sales process.
Make sure you’ve got a solid plan for how key trigger events are followed by a sales action, preferably within 24 hours from when you receive the lead. Your whole team should commit to this sales process.