This article was submitted by Lisa Schnare, Manager of the Relationship Development Team at Affinio. Affinio is an advanced marketing intelligence platform that leverages the interest graph to understand today’s consumers. Schnare leads a growing team of Enterprise Business Representatives (EBRs) at Affinio. She developed her affinity for sales development at Salesforce Radian6 and went on to help build the lead generation teams at Sheepdog and then Introhive.
Consultative selling is important for companies selling a product that is new to the market place. Affinio is a great example of this. For a long time, our prospects didn’t know or understand our product.
The approach you take selling a product people know versus selling them something they’ve never heard of is very different. This is where consultative selling comes into play. If you have a product that’s new to the market place, you first have to convince people they have a problem they don’t know about. Then, you have to convince them you are the solution to that problem.
The way we approach this at Affinio is, we help them identify what their problems are. We do this by asking a series of questions around what platforms they are currently using, like:
- How are you using your current platforms?
- Do you feel like there are any gaps?
- If you could build your dream platform, what would it do?
After we learn the answers to these questions, we begin to build our messaging around how Affinio solves those pain points.
If you’re a startup selling a product for a problem people don’t know they have, start by asking leading questions. Have the prospect lead you to the problems they’re having and then position your product as the solution to those problems.
Share of Marketing Wallet
Another limitation that SaaS companies face when introducing a new product into the marketplace is your prospects haven’t budgeted for your product. In the early days of Affinio, many of our prospects didn’t have budget assigned to marketing intelligence products.
It’s crucial that as an organization you fully understand how you’re different and how you sit into the existing technology landscape.
Initially, Affinio was pigeonholed into social listening because we work with social media data–but, we’re not social listening. We’re a research tool.
We help companies better understand their audiences to direct media buys, strategy, and more. Social listening is complementary to our product, but it’s also a stand-alone platform.
So, in our case, most often people buy Affinio to complement the other platforms in their tech stack but not to replace a platform. This changes how we approach the conversation. We talk to people about how Affinio adds value and back it up with examples from our current clients. Luckily we have an incredible product which makes proving value pretty easy.
We also invest heavily in producing testimonials, case studies, and statistics. Our EBRs have these Sales Enablement pieces on hand to use when crafting email messaging and handling objections on calls.
If you’re a SaaS company selling a new product, try and understand:
- Do you replace a platform or do you complement other platforms?
- If you complement other platforms, what does that look like?
- Do you solve a problem or create an opportunity?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help guide your value proposition. Depending on who you’re talking to your value proposition should change to speak to that person.
How to set Targets for your EBR Team
To set targets for your EBR team, work backward from your revenue goals. For example, if you want to hit $10 million in ARR and your sales pipeline coverage ratio is 3:1 (more on sales pipeline ratio here), then you need $30 million in pipeline.
Once you know what you need in your sales pipeline, you can look at your email to Lead and Lead to Opportunity conversion rates to determine EBR activity. Depending on the price of your product and what percentage of sourced pipeline is expected to come from your EBR team, you can calculate how many opportunities it will take to hit that pipeline goal. In this example, let’s say 15 Opportunities a month satisfies the EBR team’s expected contribution to sourced pipeline. So, if you hover right around a 1% response rate, aka one in a hundred emails results in a booked call, then you need to send 1,500 emails a month.
Once you’ve figured those metrics out, you should focus on improving that conversion rate. From A/B testing your messaging to switching your contact cadence. Once you find a higher conversion rate, build on that.
How to Structure EBR Compensation
Traditionally, EBRs are compensated based on Opportunity creation. The onus is on the EBR to find and qualify the lead. At the end of the month, a report is run in Salesforce that shows the number of opportunities created by each EBR, and we compensate our team accordingly. Some SaaS companies will also compensate EBRs based on win rates. If an Opportunity does convert to a Sale, EBRs receive a percentage of the Sale.
How to Use Triggers to Personalize Outreach
Affinio, like most SaaS companies, has a Target Accounts list. When selling into Enterprise accounts, doing your research and creating relevant messaging is key to standing out from the crowd.
If you’re prospecting a certain company, you want to keep tabs on things like; if they just hired a new CMO, or did a restructuring, or if they had a bad quarter. This is where setting up triggers is super helpful. At Affinio, we set up Google alerts to monitor our target accounts. We also use an RSS aggregator called Feedly. You can add the names of the companies you’re prospecting, and it’ll aggregate information for you.
Then, we use these triggers to help make our messaging relevant. So, if a prospect company just hired a Chief Digital Officer, that’s a good indication they’re upping their investment in growing the digital side of their business. Part of your outreach message to them could look like:
“I see you just hired a new Chief Digital Officer. Is digital transformation a priority for your organization? We can help you better understand your audience to create personalized experiences for your consumers.”
Timing is Everything
Almost 90% of sales is timing. We work off of a six reach outs in 30 days sequence. Following up can be hard to keep track of when you’re making 60 calls a day. We track our follow-ups in Salesforce as tasks.
At Affinio, we see pretty high conversion rates in terms of Leads that convert to Opportunities. The industry average for SaaS is around 50%, and we sit at about 60%. If you go after the right people and do your research, this percentage should be high. There’s no excuse for targeting the wrong people.
Even if your prospect isn’t aware of the product you’re selling, the technology and information available today enables EBRs to be more compelling than ever before. You can always see what’s going on with an organization’s business, industry, and what they’re investing in. This allows you to build a customized narrative around why it makes sense for them to buy your product.
The key to selling a product that is new to the marketplace is effective prospecting.
If you do your research and validate, there is a need for your product, booking that demo should be easy. If you face doubts or objections, share the success stories of your current clients.
Like what Lisa had to say? Check out Affinio’s blog here.