Know your audience

In 2018, there’s no excuse for not knowing who you’re talking to. A top sales consultant tells us why.

Back in May, we staged our 5th Sales Confidence live event at GoCardless HQ London. We had 100 SaaS enthusiasts watching two sales leaders, a consultant and a coach sharing their secrets. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our articles.

Anna Baird

Our third speaker was Anna Baird. As well as being a former LinkedInner like me, Anna is one of London’s top SaaS sales consultants. After leaving LinkedIn, Anna is now City Director at WNorth. The topic of Anna’s talk was why consultants are essential in SaaS sales teams. You can read our first article about Anna’s talk, about not saying ‘Thank you for your time.’, right here.

The next part of Anna’s talk was about knowing who you’re selling to. The more you know about the person and the company you’re selling to, the better you can tailor your approach and the more successful you will be.

‘What do people mean when they say ‘know your audience?’ For me, it’s not obvious what that means.’

Anna put forward 3 areas where you need prior knowledge before you can sell successfully.

· Who are you talking to?

· What is the company structure?

· What situation is the company in?

Who are you talking to?

It’s something we talk about a lot at Sales Confidence, but it’s worth saying again. Before any call, meeting, even an email, prepare. The better you prepare, the better your call will be. When it comes to knowing who you’re selling to, it’s never been easier to discover useful information.

‘I’m not going to bang on about social selling. But I will say, if you don’t know what the person looks like who you’re going to meet, and you don’t even know if they’re in the same role you thought they were in when you made the meeting, you’re already at a disadvantage.’

LinkedIn is there for this very reason. Use it.

What is the company structure?

One of the first things you’re taught when selling is ‘talk to the decision maker’. However, in most companies, there is not just one decision maker. In fact, the average number of stakeholders on a B2B purchasing decision is 6.8.

To sell successfully to a company, you need to know the process a company goes through when they decide whether to purchase.

‘Your leader asks you ‘Are you talking to the decision maker? Do you have the person who is going to sign the cheque?’ It’s hard to answer that because sometimes it’s a large group of people who make the decision.’

Anna relies on 2 consultancy frameworks to help her answer that question:

· RAPID — by Bain. A responsibility and accountability structure. ‘It gets you there fast.’

· RACI — ‘Helps salespeople get that consultative edge.’

Unfortunately, Anna only had 7 minutes so she couldn’t elaborate on these consultancy frameworks. Maybe that’s for another article!

What situation is the company in?

The more you know about the company, the easier it is to know about what is driving them. What are their goals? What are the obstacles they need to overcome to achieve them? When you know this, you can tailor your selling approach to really address those needs.

‘As a consultant, I always have to know, what does their stock price look like? Have they been bought? Is there potential for M&A activity? Can I read their P&L? Get into their financials, their annual reports. Leaders, get some financial literacy in your sales team.’

Open your eyes

The better you prepare, the more likely you are to find success in sales. It’s also great for your sales confidence. You’re lucky to be selling in 2018, when so many tools to find out everything you need to know are so readily available. Use LinkedIn, RAPID, RACI, annual reports, financial information. The info you is all there, you just have to grab it.

Over to you now. What methods do you use to find info on the people and companies you’re selling to? What other nuggets of information do you find useful? Let us know in the comments below.

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