How Sales Is (and Isn’t) Changing Today

PipelineDeals is excited to have Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, speak at its’ Accelerate Sales Conference for action oriented sales leaders, on August 19 – 20 in Seattle.

We spoke with Matt about how the buyer’s journey hasn’t changed as much as you’ve heard, why the bar in B2B sales is so high, and why marketing needs to do more to align itself with sales.


 Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

One of the hottest topics in sales today is how the buyer’s journey has changed over the past decade. How is that impacting leads at the top of the sales funnel?

Honestly, the way organizations treat their prospects shouldn’t have changed much at all over the past decade.  Yes, we have access to prospects far earlier than before.  Yes, we can see buying signals and trigger events earlier.  But that doesn’t change the value-added, customer-centric approach that has always worked, and will always work.  

I’m not actually convinced the buyer’s journey has changed all that much.  The stages are the same.  How much of that process buyers spend on their own may have changed.  But that doesn’t mean sellers can’t provide significant value at every stage, including from the very beginning.

If the buyer’s journey hasn’t changed that much, should salespeople approach qualifying leads differently?

If you find a buyer who’s qualified but not ready to buy, your job is to create value.  Manufacture urgency.  Help the prospect understand and quantify a problem they may or may not have known that they have.  Again, I don’t think that this has changed much in the last few years.

The bar is high though – I want prospects to hang up the phone at the end of that first call and think to themselves – “damn, that was good, I would have paid for that information.”  What’s that bar in your industry, for your customers?  Find it, and leverage it.

In the software world, the current buzz in sales is around sales development reps (SDRs) and division of sales. How is this impacting lead qualification?

I’m in favor of helping the entire organization maximize their skills.  If that means some sales reps focus on qualifying leads and others focus on closing, great.  But even if it’s the same rep from start to finish, there has to be consistency of story.  The customer is listening to, and believing, a story you’re telling them.  

If sales & marketing tell different stories, or if SDRs and field reps tell different stories, you create friction between you and your buyer.  At best, that slows down momentum.  At worse, it demonstrates you don’t know what you’re doing and may direct that prospect to research solutions elsewhere.

Are you seeing division of sales or SDRs in other industries?

Absolutely. The SDR model is taking root everywhere now. It’s really exciting to see. It’s hard to find an industry these days where the SDR model ISN’T taking root. Software as a service (SaaS) sales and technology were early adopters, but I’m seeing the model work equally well in healthcare, manufacturing, professional services and more.

Marketing and sales historically have some tension. How are the best marketing and sales teams making sure that they’re aligned?

 Comic courtesy of LeadFormix Inc.
Comic courtesy of LeadFormix Inc.

I’ve spent most of my career in marketing, and I’ll tell you right now that tension is mostly marketing’s fault.  Marketers like to focus on leads and tweet and brand and pretend they’ve done their job.  The best modern marketing organizations, and the places where that tension is diminished if not eliminated, is where marketing embraces revenue responsibility.

It’s where marketing considers their job not campaigns and leads, but sales pipeline contribution. Common objectives and definitions with sales is where it starts.  But marketing needs to feel the terror at the end of the month and quarter, be just as anxious about hitting the number, for the tension between sales & marketing to be truly eliminated.

Can you provide an example of a shared objective or definition that marketing/sales should have with one another?

I love seeing marketing organizations make sales-qualified leads their primary measure.  Why?  It literally requires collaboration between sales & marketing to achieve.  This is way more than just common definitions.  Both sides can agree on what a qualified sales opportunity looks like.  But measuring marketing on SQLs requires more than just delivering leads with the right profile.  It also requires a short-term business need and purchase path.  This can be impacted by better lead targeting, messaging, needs qualification content/scripting, etc.  Each of these is a joint sales & marketing effort.  Working together, they can absolutely drive better performance and results.

Can you share one thing people can look forward to if they attend your talk at Accelerate Sales in August?

In a word, specifics.  You’re not going to be swamped with strategy and frameworks and theory. We’re going to get tactical – early and often.  Lots of specific tactics, best practices, templates, specifics that are working in the field for similar organizations right now.  Get your pencils ready!

 Network with sales leaders at the Accelerate Sales conference
Network with sales leaders at the Accelerate Sales conference

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