Last week, I had the privilege of speaking with Howard Dover’s Digital Prospecting Class at UTD. I had no prepared materials, it was a Q&A about how to connect with prospects more effectively.
It was such a fun conversation, we focused on how we increase our effectiveness and impact through deeper understanding of our customers/prospects. Sam Coit summed it up well with the comment, “Understanding how different roles think and feel allows us to better cater our approach and offer the most possible value.”
The class is changing their prospecting approach, focusing first on understanding their prospects–not talking at all about what it is they are trying to sell. We’ve developed a tool they are leveraging, The Brock Questionert.* It’s a series of questions focused on their roles, performance, changes/challenges, and their outlook about the future.
What was fascinating in the conversation how the students were connecting the dots between, a deeper understanding or the customer roles, their challenges and how they feel about them. They realized it would enable them to engage prospects in more impactful ways, focusing on what they cared about. We went through a scenario for SaaS sales leaders, looking at the challenges they faced pre-pandemic, how those changed in the pandemic, and what the new challenges are for the future. They started talking about how that knowledge would help them change their conversations with SaaS sales leaders.
One of the students suggested, “We can’t just stop at those surface questions, we have to drill down and more deeply understand the issues and their impact on the customer.” The conversation focused on how this deeper understanding would enable them to present their solutions in a more impactful manner.
Another made the observation, “It’s fascinating, we are getting the customer to talk about what they care about. They are going to be more interested in talking to us because we are focusing on them.”
The class will be leveraging the Questionert in the next 10 prospecting calls they each make. They are focusing on prospecting to a few key roles in sales and marketing (the ICP for UTDs programs/outreaches). At the end of the semester, we are going through analytics on what they have learned. It will shape their prospecting outreach far beyond those they interviewed. They will have a deeper understanding of people in those roles, talking to them about the things that are likely to concern them the most. They will have a new framework for their prospecting emails–emails focused on the issues identified in their outreach.
I’m excited about this project and working with these students and what we will learn together. As they expressed, “….knowing what respective roles we are selling to care about is paramount in being a ‘sales rockstar.'”
* I’m a tremendous fan of Stephen Colbert’s “The Colbert Questionert.” I’ve adapted his 15 questions to 19 questions that help our prospects and clients “be known.” (Don’t worry, we don’t ask “what’s your favorite sandwich.). We’ve been using this, for years, with clients and their prospecting. The effort with these students at UTD is one where we are doing this at scale, within a very targeted audience. We are excited about the analytics and insights we can generate for this audience and the impact it will have on their future prospecting.