From time to time I get asked to give my thoughts on a radio show that the German software company SAP runs. It’s always great to attend, partly as there are always great guests on there and also because Bonnie Graham the host is such a bundle of positive energy. You always walk away energised.
The one I where I participated recently was a “round up” show for the end of the year, where you have two minutes to explain your predictions. Listen to the show: GameChangers Crystal Ball 2018 Predictions – Pt 2 or carry on reading for my contribution.
So, the three technologies I’m predicting that will make an impact in 2018 are:
GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation
While this isn’t a technology per se, if you work in Europe like I do, sell to companies in Europe, or employ people in Europe, this will have a major impact.
If you want the official website then here’s the link https://www.eugdpr.org/
We (as consumers and as people that companies hold data on) should rejoice in the regulation. Data has after all grown up. Companies can now longer store spreadsheets with your emails and fire emails off, to tell you how great their products are. Unfortunately, that means you and your business! I know you think you are an exception and that everybody else is a spammer. But it means everybody.
A fine of €20 million or 4% of annual turnover will be a significant amount for any company to have to pay.
This isn’t just about getting people to opt-in. You have to be able to show the process that people went through. There is also a whole set of processes behind this that you need to adhere to.
So let’s cut to the chase, what does this mean? The large pub group in the UK, Weatherspoon’s deleted their email database. Weatherspoon’s say they will talk to their customers on social media.
40% of companies say they will follow Weatherspoon’s and this will drive greater usage of social media by brands. I’m not saying advertising by the way. This is all about having conversations with people (like we do in our civilian lives) on social media.
This changes the way we sell …. forever
Currently the way we sell is: I look at your website or download a white paper and then you either get a BDR / AE to ring me up asking when I will buy or brands bombard me with email.
I went to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant the other week and to use their Wifi, they wanted my email, now they keep emailing me. It is so annoying to keep registering to use the WiFi then unsubscribing. The emails are designed to “push me through the funnel”. “Would I be interested in this?” “special offer” that.
You cannot do that anymore.
For people to have opted-in under GDPR you have to build trust with me the consumer. Which means you need to be authentic. Am I really going to go through the process it now requires under GDPR if I as a consumer don’t know you. And if you as a brand get it wrong, as a consumer all I have to do is report you to the European Commission and they do the rest.
It changes sales as it moves sales from push to pull. This is a fundamental change that I’m not seeing any other (at the time of writing) guru talking about. Also, I’m seeing in the US how GDPR is being dismissed as something that will never have an impact, as European laws are not relevant in the US.
Think here the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002. This was a US law that ended up being implemented world-wide. Why? Because if you wanted to sell into the US or had US employees you needed to comply. The same for GDRP. And anyway, as the sales process in Europe changes (it already has as we don’t cold call in Europe anymore) there will be greater levels of differentiation in the way we work.
The second technology that will change the way we market and sell in 2018 is intent data.
Companies such as Bombora and now Microsoft Dynamics 365 are leading the charge, offering personalized intent data for your CRM.
What is intent data?
If you get up in the morning and get in your car to drive to work and you have a flat battery, then the first thing you do is tweet about it or post on facebook: “Going to be late for work, flat battery, day ruined”.
If you sell car batteries, have a tow truck, sell jump leads then this is an “intent” to buy.
People are making these comments on social every day.
The intent can be different for separate parts of the funnel, for example “Anyone know of any good Human Resources systems?” is probably top of the funnel (ToFu), while “anybody have a business case for buying an accounting system?” is probably bottom of the funnel (BoFu).
In Microsoft Dynamics, each salesperson enters their own social network details and they can then listen for certain terms based on what they sell, their territory or vertical market. The system then presents these to the salesperson and the salesperson can then confirm if they are entered into the CRM as leads. Machine learning also makes the suggestions “better” over time. It is therefore becoming “normal” that brands listen to intent or “surge”.
If a company is buying a new ERP / CRM system, there will be multiple people from that company on the evaluation team and therefore there will be a “surge” of requests on Google, looking on supplier websites, questions on social etc.
The fact you can listen on social media and connect this with leads and therefore revenue is a revolution in itself.
Such a system will require a change in process and attitude by sellers and marketers. If you’re not careful your response to my flat battery could sound weird or spammy. Or both. Understanding the psychology of social media, is now a crucial skill. Just reading a Hubspot article won’t cut it any more!
Account Based Intelligence (ABI)
We are living in a world of “consensus selling”. CEB, and now Gartner say that for any large enterprise sale 6.8 people are required to make a decision. In fact, the same research shows that in the tech selling area the number of people involved in that decision can be 8, 10 or more.
It makes sense. If we are selling IT, there will be the end users, architecture, finance and more.
Already we have seen the terms Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) thrown into in the dustbin of Digital Marketing (Martech) terminology. Companies are moving to Marketing Qualified Account (MQA) and Sales Qualified Account (SQA).
The understanding here being that one person (the MQL and SQL), will not make a sale. You have to investigate all the other influencers, end users and decision makers to succeed.
In 2018, a salesperson must be able to view the intent of an account, where the prospects have visited your website, the materials that have been downloaded and the blogs read. All this information within the context of an account. If you are thinking this sounds like Account Based Marketing (ABM) it is. In fact it’s Account Based Selling (ABS).
Still the best tool on the market is LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which allows you to not just find the people involved in decision making but also the topics they might be interested in.
Why topics? All senior executives today say they want their sales people not just to sell but to educate them and offer insights. So begins the “breadcrumb” journey that enables you to work out not only what motivates and drives these people, but also the content you might want to share with them and conversations to have with them.
GDPR will change completely the way we market and sell as we move from push to pull.
Intent data and account based intelligence are purely the next evolution in terms of account based selling.
At the end of the day, all decision makers say they want to be educated by sales people, they want insight and they want to be told things they don’t know.
All of which now enables you to differentiate yourself from all the other sales people out there.
There is an old saying in sales: “why you and why now”. This hasn’t changed but the way we go about it has.
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