The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 3 months ago

What Data & Analytics Have to Say About Buyer-First Selling w/ Carla Intal

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Your organization says it puts its buyers first — like nearly every other company in existence — and you’ve been tasked with the unenviable job of clearly articulating how. Where do you start? You know that buyer-first selling may be one of the most human goals for your business, but it’s only achieved by understanding the humans involved — which means diving into the data.

Today’s guest, Carla Intal, Insights Analyst at LinkedIn, joins the show to discuss how. Using data and analytics, she’s helped create a list of 5 buyer-first principles that actually work.

In this episode, we discuss:

- What the data says about the most effective selling motions

- The 5 buyer-first principles derived from the research

- How sellers can leverage data themselves

Now that you know how to employ buyer-first principles, are you ready to take a deeper dive into the role data should play in your organization, or learn all about sales enablement 3.0? Check out the full list of episodes: The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. 

You're listening to the BDB revenue executiveexperience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams tooptimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources,you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to the BB revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about applying data science and thought leadership tosales to understand what's selling actions actually contribute to being able to exceed sales targetsconsistently. To help us, we have with US Carla intall, a graduateof the University of Oxford with a Master of social data science, a Master'sand applied economics from John Hopkins and today is an insights analyst at Linkedin Carlo. Thank you so much for taking time and welcome to the show. Thanksfor having me, Chad. That's really a pleasure to be here. So, before we jump into the top of the day, we always like tostart with kind of an oddball question, just so the audience gets to knowyou a little bit better. Sure, and I'm always curious to know youknow, people have a work persona and then there's, you know, thepersonal life. But curious to know something you're passionate about that those that onlyknow you through work may be surprised to learn about you. Yeah, that'sreally an interesting in a fun question to start twin. So well, myanswer is really going to come across as Nerdy, but a hide from yeah, aside for doing data in my day to day I also love thinking aboutdata in popular culture. So most recently I helped build this course on howdata transform the music industry and how artists can use data in music production ordistribution. So also, a few months back I co hosted this Netflix Clubat work and we made it a point to show data insights around movies.So one interesting study we discovered, you know, like men have more dialogin new movies compared to women, even in films, when you think,like, even in films where you think women would dominate, like this SNEA, princess films, you know. So I guess you can say that Ican switch it off. I really love thinking about data in my daily life. That's awesome. So how did you get into data science? What madeit? What made it such a compelling field for you. Yeah, that'sa that's a I have a very interesting journey actually. So I started doingmy career doing public policy work and I was in DC for about ten yearsdoing international affairs, you know, United Nations type of work, and Idiscovered data science while working in public policy actually. So I was writing aspeech for one of the top officials in my organization and the topic was aroundthe interconnectivities of economies. So let's say a crisis happens to country, ahow does that cascade to the rest of the world? How fast does itspread and how big it can be? So you can apply that concept toany type of topic, right. So, let's say the financial crisis of allnine a human it in crisis, or even right now, it's stillrelevant when you think about the pandemic and how it spread and affected all ofus. So, anyway, I was...

...doing research on that topic and Iwas introduced to the field of data science, and particularly social and economic networks,and I really got obsessed with it that I left my job, Iquit DC and I went to Oxford to study it. So yeah, andthen while at Oxford, it really dawned on me that, you know,I don't really need to be in public policy to make big, bold statementsabout the world. So, especially now in the age of information, youknow, whoever has the data has the most to say. So, yeah, Linkedin really became an attractive destination to me because of my interest in networksciences and I really wanted to discover new things about how the professional world isinterconnected. And I guess Linkedin was also interested in me because I had theexperience of taking data and telling a story from this macro point of view,especially when you look at groups of professionals on our platform and observing their onlinebehaviors and how it relates to, let's say, carry your goals like promotions. So yeah, so, to cut the long story short, that's howI ended up in Linkedin analyzing a distinct group of professionals, and particularly thosewho are in the sales function. And and is there something about sales thatyou felt more compelled to apply your expertise and data science to? Is there'ssome reason that that seemed to call out to you? I mean because youwith that background and yeahs you could do anything. So, yeah, whatwas it about sales that made it so compelling? I guess two things.No. So I'm very interested in social data, you know, behavioral data, and the world around us. And when you think of sales as afunction, there's a lot of questions that can be answered, but not alot of people are really studying it from a data science point of view.So there are unique questions that we could answer using these new tools and methodologies, you know. So, yeah, so that's how I really got attractedto studying sales persons. So, yeah, I love it. And so howdo you? Have you seen the world of selling change, especially aswe've, you know, kind of fast tracked through the pandemic in the bigchanges that that made? How have you seen it change, and what aresome of the observations you can share? Sure? Yeah, so we've seena lot of changes in the sales landscape as are a result of the pandemic, as I've said. No, so, from the data I've seen, manysellers and buyers have really begun to embrace this idea of buying and sellingremotely. So every year at linked and we run this report core called thestate of sales, and in this year's report more than half of our respondencesaid that working remotely has actually made the purchasing process easier, and more thanseventy percent of them said that they want to continue buying remotely in the future. And so the question was, where the sellers prepared for this somewhat abruptshift to virtual selling? And from the data I would say that they probablyweren't really that prepared. Because, yeah, and no, because, like inin our analysis we found a scramble amongst sellers taking courses on inside sellingor social sales on our linkedin line,...

...linkedin learning platform. So when theworld went into lockdown like in March or April last year, a lot ofthem were like really scrambling to take these courses. Know. So this wasparticularly striking for sellers in, let's say the healthcare industry, for instance,where, probably for the first time, there was this huge demand for healthcaregoods and services, and sellers were trying to adapt to this non traditional,non facetoface method of selling that they were used to. They weren't really,you know, used to doing before. So salespeople really began to equip themselveswith like online sales tools, like we've noticed on our linked in sales navigatorproduct, for instance, self bought licenses increased by about sixty percent year ayear. So yeah, so I really know that interest in other, letsa sales technologies have grown as well. So yeah, I mean another observationI'm probably seen is that everybody in the professional world is now online and engagingwith each other. So you have content creation, sharing and conversations on ourplatform is up by about thirty percent year and year. Every minute there's abouta hundred thirty new sign ups to Linkedin. So this it tells you that thisonline world will just continue to grow. So yeah, and I guess soin my team we just really tried to put two and two together.So you have everybody's online and engaging. So how do we fought empower let'ssay sales professionals to make most of their time online? So one thing we'veobserved from talking to buyers is that sure, you have your online purchasing process.It's fast and efficient, but it's also overwhelming because these sellers were probablyill prepared to sell online and they've begun to embrace this scale over substance wayof selling. You know, they're sending mass emails and adding a lot ofnoise. So yeah, so the challenge for us really just to end onthis note. Was How do we cut through the noise and how do equipsellers with some best practice guidelines of engaging with their buyers? And that's howwe came up with our buyer first principles and the study. I love it. Everything needs to be focused on the buyer. If it's not focused onby they're going to feel the friction and they're going to find somebody else whohas the opportunity to focus on them and their specific needs. So it's agreat insight. And so there was a specific study that your team did.I believe it was seven hundred and thirty two sales navigators users, looking atthe question of how do you prefer? How did you perform against your individualrevenue target in the last quarter? And it looked like you were looking forspecific behaviors. But how did that come about and tell us about that study? Sure, yeah, so. So our task as an insight steam wasto really understand what online actions can sellers make in order for them to achievetheir sales targets? But you also want every buyer and seller engagement to bevaluable and meaningful. So we at Linkedin. We have this ethos of putting ourmembers first, and we wanted to impart that ethos in sales and saythat, you know, everybody wins with...

...a buyer first mentality. So ina nutshell, that means that you know putting your customers needs first over yoursales goals cannot only be a positive buying experience, but it can also optimizeyour productivity as a seller. So we have five buyer first principles. Sothe first is learning. Define Learning, define your buyer. Then you needto share your insight readily, solve their problem, not sell, you delivervalue. And the fifth is earned trust. So, using these five buyer firstprinciples, we looked at actions on linkedin that map to each principle.So, for instance, learning about your buyer. That could pertain to asearch or a profile view on Linkedin. That's say, the principle on sharinginsights readily, that could pertain to someone who shares content online and engages withthem. When we think about earning trust, we map that against how complete isyour linkedin profile? Are you trustworthy? So we've identified a total of elevenactions on the linkedin platform that map to each of these buyer first principlesand the idea was to rack them by important us, and so when wedefine importance, we rank them by how they influenced salesperson success. And,like you mentioned, this success measure we used was whether or not sales targetswere actually being met. So for that part of the study we teamed upwith our market research team at Linkedin, who then sampled about seven hundred salespersonsand we ask them, did you meet your sales stargets, yes or no? And then from then on we were able to map their individual outcomes totheir sets of actions on Linkedin and then prepare it for some data sienes analysis. And so when you look at that study and you think think back throughthose results and kind of the approach, what were you most surprised about inthe results of the study? Yeah, I think the most interesting finding thatwe didn't expect was the point on quality over quantity, and we found thatif cell or send a message on Linkedin, which we call our emails, orif they share articles without being mindful about the content, it was actuallynegatively impactful to sale stargets being met. Really, yeah, yeah, butif this article or the message added some value, let's say if this contentgenerated some high readership or engagement, then that contributed to positive outcomes. Sothat finding was really supportive of our observation in the beginning that there's too muchnoise out there. And Yeah, it's actually true. And what matters ismaking yourself stand out by creating value and not volume. So sellers should thinktwice before sending out a mass email or doing an outreach at scale, becausecustomization is still very valuable. And when you think about the largest predictors ofsuccess that you found in the study, the things that the most successful peoplewere doing in a repeated, consistent fashion, what were those largest predictors of success? Yeah, so when going back...

...to the buyer first principles that Imentioned, we found that earning a customers trust, then learning and defining yourcustomer and then sharing valuable content was the most important. So when you sayearning trust, for example, so in a virtual selling world, like youronline persona is like the most important thing. So to me that makes sense thatyou know, the first predictor to success is do you appear trustworthy onthe platform? So that's represented by your profile completeness on Linkedin. So isyour profile updated? Do you have a photo? Does your profile sends signalsthat they're always active and online at Linkedin. So that's the first so now thatyou've established, let's say, your trustworthiness on the platform, now it'stime to get to work. So the second predictor that we found significant isthe amount of searches and researching about the customer that you do. So that'srepresented by the number of searches you do for needs, for companies, forprofiles, and in our study we we recommended a daily dose of about fifteensearches a day. And then finally, like I mentioned earlier, was ourquality over quantity predictor. So content that was engaged and shared or messages thatwas pending or accepted proved to be more valuable to sales outcomes then an impersonalizedmessage blast. Nice. Okay. So now let's go macro for a secondand kind of step away from the study itself and think about data. Insales. There's so much data that can be collected, from customer intent datato actions and activities that reps are taking or not taking in some cases.I'm kind of curious that there's so much. It's kind of overwhelming. So canyou provide some guidance for our chief sales officers and things like that.What role should data be playing in sales and the way that they approach theexecution of their groups or the coaching of their teams? Yeah, I knowthat's a good question. So I really say that at this time, dataand selling really go hand in hand. So there's so much to learn abouta customer by just looking at their data. And data comes in many forms.It's not just talking about that's a CEE RM data or the data thatthat is in spreadsheets, but really right now it's about the behavior, sobehavioral data of the customers. And at the end of the day, salesis really a very social profession and social interaction is very important. So usingsocial data to understand their customer, let's say, what types of content dothey like to click on? What topics do they care about? What timeof data they usually go online, or are they looking to change jobs soon? You also and when you aggregate all that information over a group of people, let's say business leaders in the cloud computing industry or business executives in manufacturing, these are powerful tools that can help you understand your buyer and engage thembetter and perhaps lead to better outcomes as a sales scheme and if I'm asales rap or even a sales leader in some, some instances, is thereI mean, because there is so much...

...date out there, is there aspecific area I should keep my eye on, a specific type of data that wouldbe most critical? Or is it really about keeping my eye on thetrends across a host of different data sets? Yeah, you hit the nail onthe head right with that. So I'll probably say that there's no datathat's the most critical or the most important. Every data set has its imperfections,but being able to weave different information together and find patterns in them iswhat's more, what's more important. So remember we can be led by justlooking at one data point, you know. So, for instance, oh great, the more messages I send, the more responses I'll probably have,but in reality it's really not that simple, you know. So you have aton of messages on the one hand, but there's another data set that tellsyou what types of messages actually received positive responses. So if you combinethese two data together, you understand the pattern. Then you have a roadmap for yourself on how to craft messages that will gain some sort of positility. So I would probably say it's really not in the data but in theexpertise of the person in understanding what the data means. And you don't reallyneed to be a data scientist to read to learn this. You can bean industry leader with years of experience or a subject matter expertise and you cansee these patterns of mile away. So it's really more about being conscious aboutthe information around you and using that all indecision making, and I think that'sa very important point. Right. So a lot of people will look atdate. I've seen some executives go out data. I don't know what todo with that, but you don't as long as the construct of how it'scollected and analyzed and aggregated is sound. Like you said, you can seethe patterns. So it's really more about the intuitive analysis that comes from understandinghuman interaction and buyer intent. Then it is about knowing how to calculate thedata. And I still think there's a lot of sales exacts out there thatare hesitant to rely so much on the data because they feel like they haveto trust how it was put together. I remember the days when we wouldlook at hey this is my spreadsheet for the forecast and this is your spreadsheetfor the forecast and we would be like, are we working in the same company? Right? So, yeah, understanding that and getting comfortable with it, I think, is a critical component for sales professionals at all levels.But I want to go back to something you said earlier, that buy ourfirst mentality. It makes sense right. It makes sense to folks on theBire to, especially since so much money has been invested in customer experience overthe past decade, to really make sure that we're giving customers, whether webeat to see or be to be, what they want, where they wantit, how they wanted, to help them navigate the field. What I'mreally curious about is, from your perspective, why do you think, even thoughit seems so common sense, why do you think more individual reps orsales teams don't do it more consistently? What's funny is I do feel thatsellers are so there's this gap in the market, right. So you havebuyers who are very selective with who they...

...engage with because it's an overwhelming worldout there for as a buyer. And then on the on the second partof it, you have the sellers who are continuously trying to adapt to thisfast paced virtual selling world, so they resort to like sending mass emails atscale. Also there's this there's this big gap around in the market right now. So with the buy our first principles, we aim to bridge that gap.And I think what's it's difficult to do consistently because sellers are probably notaware that this gap exists. So when I I remember this funny start fromour state of sales report. So we asked sellers if they put the buyersneeds first, and then sixty percent of them said yes. But then whenwe ask buyers, do sellers put your needs first, twenty four percent ofthem said yes. So there's a big gap out there about awareness. SoI guess awareness is really key and the principles provide a guidance on where thisgaps can be so is it about trust, or is it about proving value?Is it about engaging more readily or, you know, maybe ensuring a buyerand a product fit? So yeah, so I guess. But the beautyof it is, I guess, is once we move to what wecall a hybrid selling approach, which is a mix of virtual and in personselling. These principles will still be relevant and it's still can be applied toany mode of selling. I love it. I love it all right. Solet's change the direction here a little bit. We ask all of ourguests to standard questions towards the end of each interview. The first is simply, as as a professional at Linkedin, with the expertise that you have,there's no doubt there are people trying to get your attention and sell to you, and so I'm curious when somebody doesn't have that trusted referral into you,what works for you when someone's trying to capture your attention and earn the rightto time on your calendar. Yeah, so I guess this dies back towhat I said in the beginning and in the way there results of the studywe had. So I want someone to come to me who has already donetheir research about me as a buyer, and I guess a basic question,for instance, is am I the right person to approach for this product?You know, I might work at linked in, but if you're selling mea product that isn't data related, I won't be able to help you.So I guess after knowing if I'm the right person for this product. Maybeare you able to attract my attention by showing me the things I'm interested in? Maybe show me an insight I've never heard before. This could be asignal to me that the product or offering actually adds value and is relevant tome. And probably the last thing is I probably want to make sure thatI would want to buy from you. So are you trustworthy? Do youbelieve in the product you're selling in can you answer all my questions, orare you just trying to meet the quota? So I guess those things. Ilove it. I love it all right. So last question. Wecall it our acceleration insight. If there was one thing you could tell salesprofessionals, one piece of advice you could give them that you believe would helpthem reach or exceed their targets, what...

...would it be? A why?I would probably say that I like this idea of building the persona of atrusted advisor. So genuinely care about the customers, paint points, go withthem on the journey, but also recognize that trust takes time, but Ithink of it as an investment. So I know successful sales persons who havepatiently solved their customers problem problems over a course of months and even if ittakes some upfront effort, the long run benefits outweigh the quick wins. So, as a seller or as a marketer, you learn more about the customers businessand you build this relationship centered around trust, which really helps when itcomes to renew all her upselling' solutely. If they don't trust you, whywould they buy from me in the first place? Exact little and continue tobuy from you. Perfect Carly. If there's a if a listeners interested infinding out more about that study that you conducted, where should we send them? Yeah, I would be remiss if I don't say please follow me onLinkedin. That's where I've put all the articles that I've done, so Iwill leave it at that. We have a science of sales blog on thelinkedin sale solutions blog, so you can find all this and more, including, I've done some network analysis as well of sales professional so you can seeall of that on the Linkedin blog platform. Excellently, Carl I can't thank youenough for taking time to be on the show today. Times at oneasset nobody gets back, so I really appreciate it when people are willing tospend some of them with us. Thank you very much for being on theshow. It's been an absolute blast. No worries. I great to behere and really happy that I got to share my passion for a data withyou and your listeners. All right, everyone that does it for this episode, check us out of be to be REV exactcom share with friends, familyco workers. If you like what you here, leave us review on itunes. Until next time. We have value selling associates, which you nothing butthe greatest success. You've been listening to the BDB revenue executive experience. Toensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes oryour favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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