Tony Hughes works with companies all over the world and the universal problem that he sees is that no one has enough leads in their sales pipeline. The problem is that if you don’t create opportunities, you have nothing to close. All of your other sales skills are moot if you can’t apply them. So how do you generate leads? What should your prospecting process look like? How can you leverage technology and trigger events to get your foot in the door? Tony Hughes shares his process in this episode of Sales Reinvented!
Tony Hughes has 35+ years of corporate and sales leadership experience. Tony is a renowned speaker, independent consultant, and bestselling author. He recently wrote Combo Prospecting: The Powerful One-Two Punch That Fills Your Pipeline and Wins Sales and has another book in the pipeline.
Tony emphasizes that everyone needs to know their ICP and buyer personas before you can start prospecting. You also have to be honest about product-market fit. The entire world is not a prospect. You need to apply time and expertise where it will help people the most and deliver the best result for you and your company.
You start by creating a target list of companies. Then you must understand buyer personas. What individuals will you be selling to? Decision-makers or influencers? What matters to them? What pushback will they give? What phrasing and language works for them? You get about 7 seconds before someone wants you off the phone, so you have to use that time well.
Then you need to nail your conversation narrative + value messaging. No one wants more tech. They don’t want another vendor to manage. They don’t want another change project. So why do salespeople talk about that stuff? Make the conversation about that person and their opportunity to improve results in their role.
Tony shares that firmographics are the attributes of the organization at the most basic level. What is their industry? Their size? Psychographics questions if they are in growth mode, crisis mode, etc? With technographics, you want to research the tech the organizations are using. Every salesperson needs to develop what Tony calls TQ or the Technology Quotient (like IQ and EQ). You have to be able to wrangle the tech stack. Plus, it’s important to understand what tech your product could be replacing.
Organizations in startup mode may be using Hubspot. If you’re a Salesforce rep, you want to look for companies who are using Hubspot and who have recently done a capital raise (the trigger event). Tony recommends using headless browsing, trigger event monitoring platforms, and Sales Navigator to find a common trusted relationship. Then you can make the sales call on a warm lead. Trigger events combined with referrals give you the highest probability and fastest path to new customer revenue.
COVID has accelerated the 4th industrial revolution. Tony believes that if you aren't concerned about the bots coming for your job, you’re asleep at the wheel. That’s why it’s so important that you leverage technology to automate your reach.
Tony emphasizes that you need to be masterful at talking the language of leaders. Talk about the client’s opportunity to improve results in their role. You need genuine insights and a worthwhile point of view. Unless you hook their interest and back it with legitimate insights, you won’t be successful.
You need to develop TQ and use technologies really well. Get masterfully good at using your own CRM. Learn to use Sales Navigator well to monitor for trigger events. When something changes with prospects, you need to know. People treat tech like a gym membership—they pay for it but never really use it. But Tony emphasizes you can’t struggle trying to use the basic technology.
Tony was in London last year and was working with 80+ people. He was talking about the power of trigger events and referrals. On day two, the head of customer success asked to share a story. In the last two years, they’d lost 7 clients in Europe. They lost those accounts because a new senior person joined the organizations and they didn’t develop relationships with them. Another salesperson swooped in and developed the relationship and snagged their clients from under their noses.
Trigger events are insanely powerful. If someone is coming in and replacing the C-suite executive you have a relationship with, develop a relationship with them—while staying connected with the person on their way out. Congratulate them as they move into their new role somewhere else. In that way, you’re cultivating two relationships where you may have had none if you hadn’t monitored the trigger event.
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