We’ve already passed the halfway point in the sales course for large companies:
- In the first part we focus on the theoretical aspects.
- In the second part we focus on the actual selling (this lesson closes this block).
- In the last part, we will talk about organisational aspects.
But before we dive into this last block and its 4 lessons, we need to finish this one.
And we’re going to do that by putting all the pieces together in a sales and marketing plan for selling to large accounts.
How do you articulate the sales and marketing plan for large companies?
If you’ve been following all the lessons, you’ll have noticed that it all revolves around two ideas:
- A sales funnel divided into 3 parts.
- Alignment between sales and marketing departments.
Let’s look at all the parts in detail…
The sales and marketing funnel
The funnel we present in this course has three parts:
- Lead acquisition.
- Qualification of leads leads to opportunities.
- Conversion of opportunities into sales.
When setting up the marketing plan, we draw two ways to capture new leads:
- Through ABM (Account based marketing).
- Through Outreach.
Account based marketing (ABM) is a marketing and sales strategy in which accounts are selected in a way that is particularly interesting for the company and receive super-personalised treatment.
The advantage of this strategy is that it increases conversions.
In an experiment by a company that pioneered this type of action, they went from a conversion of 0.4% to 11.4%.
The keys to executing it are 4:
- Define a joint team to manage the sales plan.
- Define the accounts to be worked on.
- Define the journey that these accounts should take.
- Define meaningful and personalised actions for the accounts.
For Leticia del Corral, an expert in B2B sales and ABM, the most important aspect is to choose: “If the objective of the strategy is to capture new accounts, the best thing to do is to see what your Pareto accounts are (the 20% of your customers who make 80% of your turnover) and see what they have in common and, from there, extrapolate which 5 to 10 accounts you want to get.
If the goal is more about customer development, the key is to look for accounts you already have that are similar to your Pareto accounts, i.e. accounts that may not buy you much but have the buying potential of your Pareto accounts.
Also, when you are starting out, it is better to do a “one to few” strategy for 5 to 10 key accounts than to start with a “one to one” strategy to capture one account or try to reach too many accounts at once.
Once you have the accounts you want to target, the next important step is to very carefully define the buyers who are going to make the decision or include them in the business, as they are the ones who are going to be the focus of the ABM actions.
If you would like to explore this strategy further, you can read “How to capture key accounts with ABM (Account Based Marketing)”.
By raising awareness
When you’re closing deals worth a few hundred euros a year, implementing a cold email strategy isn’t very cost-effective, but when you talk about the sales plan for large companies, things change.
Now you have to do it right, because if you don’t, the results are disastrous.
The book Smartcuts tells of an experiment in which a company sent 1,000 cold emails with typical cold email practices.
The useful response rate was 0.14%
They then shifted the focus to :
- The subject and sender.
- The body of the email.
- The call to action.
The results exploded Xavier Laballós, co-founder of Growth Hacking Course and lead generation workhorse, told us about an experiment with his own numbers: “I’m showing you an example of how to deliver value in a first contact with the prospect so that they are the ones who decide to take action and become interested in buying your services.
This is a LinkedIn action rather than a cold email, but the idea is the same: We launched a post on LinkedIn (Guide to the best 48 Growth Hacking Tools of 2021), which would be equivalent to launching a cold email, but instead of having a sales CTA, we put a value CTA:
- Reach achieved: +500,000 people
- New qualified prospects obtained who requested more information: +7,500
Everyone, people who responded to our value CTA and wouldn’t have responded the same way to a demo, meeting or CTA call.
Then we sent a follow-up email, now with a CTA to schedule a call with us, which we have now filled our calendar with.
The end goal is the same, but the means to achieve it are different, as are the results.
Conclusion: before you put a sales CTA, think about putting a value CTA and then in the next point of contact a sales CTA.
If you want to read the rest of Xavier’s approach and our recommendations for outreach, you can read How to capture key accounts with cold emails.
Qualifying leads into sales opportunities
It’s not enough to accumulate leads.
You need to convert them into sales opportunities.
And our sales plan has a chapter for this: Qualification
Our preferred method is BANT, a sales opportunity qualification framework based on 4 aspects: Budget, Authority, Need and Time.
On paper, to be one of the latter, the good ones, it must meet at least 3 of the 4 criteria:
- Budget: does the prospect have a sufficient budget for the solution?
- Authority: Does the person you are talking to have authority or can they influence the buying process?
- Need: does the prospect really need your solution?
- Time: how quickly should the prospect implement a solution?
The idea of this framework is to differentiate between different types of customers.
For Iñaki Alcaraz, managing partner of AGLV, there are mainly 2: “From my experience in selling services to other companies, there are two main categories of customers:
- The “good and profitable” ones.
- The “bad and ruinous” ones.
They differ not only in financial terms, but also in the emotional cost of acquiring or losing this type of customer.
A good and profitable customer is one who is willing to improve their business by getting the most out of the service they have contracted and who is fully committed to the transformation they need, putting all their efforts into achieving their goals.
This type of customer is a very positive injection of motivation, which is transmitted to the whole company, which is why they are good.
Their profitability will depend on our processes and operating margins.
A bad and ruinous customer is the opposite, not only is he not willing to make this transformation, but he wants to change your processes so that you serve him, simply because he pays for it.
While financially it can give you a lot of margin, I see it as a downfall because it can demotivate your team and in the long run infect the rest of your business.
Of course, the BANT method is very useful in identifying them.
In the lesson How to qualify key accounts through BANT, we look at how to apply this framework and share other tips.
Converting opportunities into sales
Once we have good sales opportunities, as part of our plan we need to deal with the sales process itself and closing.
For the sales process, we opt for Consultative Selling.
But be careful, not concentrated at all.
According to Gartner, most salespeople take a helpful approach that hinders sales and should focus on the proactive approach.
Another key to Consultative Selling is to understand your customer’s buying process.
Santiago Torre, a sales manager with almost 30 years of experience, goes into more detail on these aspects: “You need to know a potential customer’s buying needs, the sooner the better.
Early on, ask them how they buy this type of product or service from your company.
Normally they will start to give you clues about their process:
- Who buys.
- How they decide.
- Time frames.
- And so on.
If they don’t tell you much, ask for everything you need – without exaggerating – and most importantly, if you think there is something holding you back from doing business, the sooner you know, the better, the more time you will have to try and make amends.”
You can learn more about this sales format in the lesson: ” Consultative selling is the best way to sell to large companies “.
But you will need to go the extra mile and secure proximity.
While in selling to small businesses you can use tricks to force that moment, when it comes to large businesses, the key is trust.
As Alfredo Nicolás, our Sales Director for Spain, says: “Selling to large companies has nothing to do with small companies.
You don’t want to pressure them or use lock-in techniques because they know them and they don’t like it.
The key to the whole sales process and closing is to build trust and try to really help the customer.
A lot of times, just following through and continuing to negotiate will close on its own.
We discuss this in detail in the lesson ” How to close sales with large companies“.
None of this gets off the ground if sales and marketing don’t go together
In every lesson, one idea has been repeated: Sales and marketing must be aligned.
This is so important that we dedicate a specific lesson to it, of which we have the advice of Javier Llorden, a consultant specialising in sales development in B2B companies, it is one of the most important points:
“For me, marketing and sales are two fundamental, specialised, related functions that must be aligned in a superior entity: The Revenue Generation Team.
This alignment must be based on trust and shared, jointly defined goals.
The solution to this problem is therefore simple: value both departments on the basis of the same objective.
In the lesson ” Aligning marketing and sales departments ” we go into more detail on all the aspects to keep in mind to ensure that these two departments work like a Swiss watch.
You can develop your marketing and sales plan for large companies
We are so close to the finish line (selling to large companies) and have already gone through so many important concepts and ideas that it was worthwhile to put it all together.
Next week we leave the sales block and tackle the final block of this course: Building the team that will be responsible for execution.
If you don’t want to miss it, leave your email here and I’ll write to you as soon as it’s published:
In the meantime, if you want, you can try Efficy CRM, the most flexible sales tool on the market.
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