Two Sales Best Practices: Prospecting Plans & Customer Is King

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Aug 19, 2010 11:03:00 AM

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A recent executive summary of the 2010 Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices Study reported on how sales best practices helped companies thrive in 2009, and two findings jumped out for me:

Golden Two“World-Class Sales Organizations were four times more likely to apply comprehensive prospecting plans that focused on customers with a higher probability of moving through the sales cycle."

and…

“Customer is King. World-Class Sales Organizations make their customer the highest priority and keep them at the center of their sales process.”

The survey is particularly interesting because many participant demographics overlap with those of our clients. Of the 1500+ respondents, 49% are sales executives, 15% are C-level executives, 33% report teams of 100+ salespeople, 37% report an average deal size of $100k+. Additionally, these executives are dealing with sales lead generation for the complex sale.

Comprehensive Sales Prospecting Plans

In looking at how best-practice sales teams act differently from average sales teams, the report found top performers did better jobs of opportunity development up front and better jobs of opportunity management all the way to close. While 76% of best-practice teams reported they “consistently utilize comprehensive prospecting plans,” only 19% of all companies reported the same.

This 4:1 ratio is more than astounding: it’s scary to think that 81% of participating sales groups do not have in place comprehensive prospecting methodologies that focus on prospects and customers who are more likely to close.

Customer Is King

It’s good to hear validation on “the customer is king.” The mantra for so many years—“content is king”—has been enjoying new life as companies scramble to feed hungry websites, blogs and other social media with relevant and resource-full content needed to attract and inform self-educating prospects. In the haste to generate content, sometimes we lose sight of the precursor to great content: a deep understanding of prospect and customer needs.

As with the surprising information on prospecting plans, there is a startling finding around “the customer is king.” Ninety percent of best-practice sales organizations report, “Our salespeople have a solid understanding of our customers’ business needs.” Yet only 46% of all companies report the same.

The inverse is mindboggling: 54% of companies cannot say their salespeople understand their customers’ business needs. I have to wonder—in the absence of understanding—what those firms feel like they’re basing their offers on. 

They say great truths are continually being rediscovered, and the Miller Heiman study reminds us of the importance of two core truths about lead generation: comprehensive prospecting plans and a “customer is king” approach are truly good things.

 

By Dan McDade


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Topics: Lead Generation, B2B Sales, Lead Management


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