The Impact of GDPR on Sales Could Cut Your Pipeline in Half—Here’s What You Can Do About It
- Evolve from pipeline management to deal execution.
- Make your marketing inherently valuable.
- Prioritize effectiveness over efficiency.
- Ramp new hires faster.
- Treat sales meetings as precious assets.
1) Evolve from “Pipeline Management” to “Deal Execution”Viewing your pipeline as a whole obscures the nuances of its individual deals. Those deals (and the sales meetings contained within those deals) are precious opportunities. Every deal has a lot of moving parts. Each one has its own cast of characters, time horizons, buying criteria, etc. As a result, each deal requires its own strategy. When you zoom out and look at the aggregate pipeline, you can’t appreciate all of the moving parts, and they get neglected. That’s when deals start to break down right under your nose. What’s the alternative? Zoom in on the deals that make up your pipeline. “Deal storming” has become a common practice among successful B2B sales organizations, and for good reason. It works. During your next 1:1 with a rep on your team, pick a valuable deal in their pipeline. Dissect it. Poke holes in it. Map out a strategy to close it. If it’s a large account, bring diverse and unusual perspectives into that conversation. Sales reps aren’t the only ones who can think of creative ways to hit sales targets.
It’s more valuable to make sure each deal is executed with creativity, discipline, and precision, than to obsess over whether your aggregate pipeline number is “true.”
2) Make Your Marketing Inherently ValuableThe GDPR pipeline problem isn’t just a sales problem. Marketing must help you solve it by making your marketing so good, people would pay you for it if you asked them to. Most B2B marketing is too tactical, too transactional. Bombing your database and throwing an irrelevant eBook behind a landing page doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, your marketing efforts should be valuable to your buyers in and of themselves. Think of marketing as more than a short-term transaction. It can help you achieve a larger, strategic objective. Rather than focusing on getting leads into a database (and then abusing that database), marketing should focus on helping buyers solve problems, exploit opportunities, and prioritize their decisions. And here’s a painful kernel of truth: you may have to hire new “marketers” to pull that off. In fact, I’d recommend not hiring “professional marketers” if that’s their only qualification.
Bring in people who have deep domain expertise and useful knowledge in your area, and train them to become marketers. Those people are worth their weight in gold. A professional marketer with nothing valuable to add to the market is dead weight.
3) Prioritize Effectiveness Over EfficiencyWe live in a world that’s addicted to efficiency gains. That’s because it’s easier to improve efficiency than it is to improve effectiveness. Just take a look at this sales tech landscape designed to promote efficiency in the sales process: Click here to see the full image. Despite all of these efficiency tools, companies are left with results like this: And this: If efficiency didn’t solve your problems before GDPR, it’s certainly not going to solve them when your pipeline becomes smaller.
Doubling activity doesn’t double sales, unfortunately.If your contactable marketing list is at risk of being drastically decreased, your sales and marketing teams must both increase their effectiveness. Effectiveness has greater leverage than efficiency, whether your pipeline is large or small. Start taking effectiveness more seriously by having your sales managers do regular call reviews with their reps. That accomplishes two equally important objectives:
- It increases their effectiveness.
- It communicates that effectiveness is a priority at your organization
4) Ramp New Hires FasterIf a smaller pipeline results in fewer sales meetings, you can’t afford to give those “at bats” to new hires who aren’t ready for them. You want to get your new hires up to speed ASAP so they can make the most of every call. There’s a tremendous ROI on bringing new hires up to speed quickly: Before throwing new hires into the fray, give them a repository of successful sales calls and demos to learn from. Record your discovery calls, demos, and other sales meetings. The best ones are the most effective training content in the world for on-boarding new sales hires. By listening to them, new hires can get a sense of the entire sales cycle in one afternooninstead of multiple months. If you can equip new hires with call recordings from an entire sales cycle, they’ll get up to speed and will produce revenue much faster. They’ll be prepared for their “at bats.”
5) Treat Sales Meetings as Precious AssetsWith GDPR, sales meetings will be harder to come by. You’ll need to execute those sales meetings to a much higher standard. What are your options? You can pull one or both of these levers:
- Have more sales conversations.
- Have better sales conversations.