As sales executives are expected to do more with less, operational support across departments becomes even more critical to success. From prospecting and delivering demos to content promotion and proposal prep, the realm of “presales” is playing a key role in sales enablement.
Indeed, presales is a vital step in the marketing-sales-success continuum, but far too many companies overlook it. Presales tools were only included as a separate category on G2 last spring, which is a good indication that as a discipline, presales was under-appreciated and under-developed for a long time.
“Presales, to date, hasn’t garnered the attention it should, but that is rapidly changing,” said Vivun CEO Matt Darrow in a blog post. “More and more sales leaders recognize that when you get presales right, you are more than halfway to closing the sale.”
Like so many other business areas, effective presales hinges on access to the right data points. As technologist Kinza Yasar wrote in a TechTarget blog, presales metrics, which can be centralized via CRM integrations, are “the building blocks of a long-lasting customer relationship.”
As a result of the rising appreciation for presales processes, the amount of available presales tech is expanding. But you don’t need to shell out for the latest expensive tools to make the most of presales for lead nurture — you can achieve amazing insights just by making better use of your CRM data.
CRM data can deliver more accurate information about your potential customers and their preferences, helping you improve the efficiency of your pipeline and maximize conversions.
Optimizing Prospect Interactions
Prospect demographic data is one of the best-known ways to use CRM data, but you might not realize just how hard you can flex it. Common CRM data points like industry, job title and location can help you prioritize the most relevant prospects early in the sales cycle.
Today’s buyers have no patience for content that is not relevant to their needs and personalized for their pain points. When asked what made them decide not to buy from a particular vendor, the top two answers were poor business fit and lack of personalization. Almost two-thirds of buyers who got as far as a demo before dropping the deal said that they walked away because the demo wasn’t relevant to their problem.
Fine-Tuning Lead Interactions
Data from prospect interactions can fine-tune your choice of channels for communication, content types and when to reach out to each potential buyer so you can align your sales methods with their buying preferences. As Venkat Malladi, Co-founder and CTO of Vymo, wrote, “To help deeply connect with customers and their preferences, we need CRM data to dive deep into a customer story and provide cues to complete it.”
Bear in mind that Millennials are rising through the ranks to make up a significant percentage of all buying committees, and they don’t appreciate pushy sellers and cold calls. According to TrustRadius' “B2B Buying Disconnect” report, cold calling is the tactic most likely to turn off prospective buyers. Yet, buyers still need your guidance to reach a happy purchase ending — 45% of buyers think the current sales process is too complex.
This makes it even more important to track:
- Touchpoint interactions;
- The speed at which a buyer moves through the pipeline;
- What buyer-side stakeholders are engaging with your content assets; and
- The length of the sales process.
Such data equips your sales teams to predict customer needs with greater precision and helps structure sales and marketing tactics accordingly. When is the perfect moment to issue a proposal or make a discounted offer? The best clues will always come from your own CRM’s intent signals.
Maximizing Post-Pitch Conversations
After you’ve successfully delivered bottom-of-the-funnel content like a demo or offered a free trial, you’ll want to follow up by checking success data. This is the stage when a misstep can be the most consequential. Among participants in Walnut’s buyer survey, 97% said that a bad demo could ultimately lose software vendors the sale.
Insights into questions raised and content shares among buyer committee stakeholders help you sharpen your demo and other buyer conversations for improved experience in the future. For example, once you know which questions recur the most often among specific buyer personas, you can adjust your demos to always cover them.
Anyone can make a call or send an email. If you’re going to reach people more effectively, then you need access to the right data, tracking how many calls or emails lead to conversations, at what stage they take place, how long they last and when they produce customer action.
Looking ahead, it’s also valuable to track the dates when customer deals are up for renewal, so you can send re-engagement messages in advance. Long-term relationships have never been more important for B2B sales. Your buyers want a trusted advisor who has their long-term interests at heart, which requires following their successes and challenges closely over time.
CRM Data Is Your Hidden Treasure
Despite all of today’s shiny new presales tools, your trusty CRM is where the truly useful signals should live. Presales CRM data can improve your lead nurturing, strengthen your relationships with prospects and customers and smooth the path for increased B2B sales.
Tiffany Ruder is a full-stack marketer who specializes in creating customer-centric messaging and digital experiences that span channels and touchpoints. All about optimizing the customer experience as the ultimate conversion booster, she's based in Boulder, Colo., but her clients are based all around the world.