If there were an award for the most ignored concept in sales, listening to one’s audience would be a top contender. While most people think of salespeople as being big talkers, the best listeners are often the most successful. This is especially true in the B2B world.
It’s so important to ask prospects relevant questions and listen carefully to their answers. The ideal communication balance is the 70/30 principle. Discover the benefits of active listening in sales and find out how your business can apply the practice of active listening to your digital marketing strategy.
What is the 70/30 principle?
The 70/30 principle states that the salesperson should be talking for 30% of the conversation and listening for 70% of it. This 70/30 breakdown doesn’t mean that you should spend 3 minutes of a 10-minute conversation giving your pitch and then listen to the prospect talk for 7 minutes.
What does this look like in action? Give a quick description of what you're selling—ideally less than 30 seconds!—and then ask specific, relevant questions. Listen to their responses and ask targeted follow-up questions throughout the conversation.
Benefits of the 70/30 principle
A huge benefit of the 70/30 principle is that you can ensure that the right sort of prospects are proceeding down your sales pipeline. There’s something to be said for increasing top-of-the-funnel prospects, but you’ll save time down the road if you can distinguish which of your prospects are serious leads.
This principle also makes for a better experience for the prospect, who isn’t being subjected to high-pressure sales methods. Plus, it gives your sales team more confidence knowing that they’re truly providing a product or service to clients who actually want and need it.
By listening to your prospects’ responses, you’re better able to adjust your value proposition or help select the product that will be best for them.
When you don’t obey the 70/30 Principle, you risk wasting time and money nurturing leads that probably won’t convert. Also, you can risk landing an ill-fitting client. Bad client fits drain resources from your team and typically don’t last long.
How to apply the listening principle to your digital marketing strategy
Everyone has seen a remarketing ad for an unwanted product or service that follows them around the web. Prevent this frustrating experience by “listening.” For example, make sure that your remarketing lists don’t include prospects who have opted out of your emails. You can also segment your remarketing strategy so prospects only see remarketing ads specifically tailored to their needs. This will save you money and improve engagement and conversion rates.
2) Ad copy
Try ad copy that asks a question. Asking a question allows your audience to be self-qualifying and can often be more persuasive than using typical sales copy.
Remember Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now?” campaign? Not only was this a catchy idea, but it also uses the listening principle. Most viewers who saw this ad would repeat the question in their head and then go down one of two routes. If they were happy with their carrier and had good phone coverage, they would self-qualify themselves, indicating that coverage and connectivity wasn’t a pain point for them. Perhaps future ad campaigns could target other pain points with another question like “Does your carrier give you a free iPhone?”
Test including questions in your ad copy and see how it impacts performance.
3) Have a crystal-clear value proposition
Vague value propositions are especially prevalent in the B2B market. Many ads prompt the audience to call the company or visit a website with little indication of how the company might be able to help the prospect.
Encouraging a call or a website visit can sometimes be an appropriate CTA, but the clearer you can be with your value proposition, the better quality leads you’ll receive. This will save you time and resources. Also, client retention rates could improve since both you and your client have a solid understanding of the client’s needs and your company’s capabilities.
4) Consider CRM tools for funnel tracking and easier listening to customer questions
As you probably already know, customer relationship management technology, or CRMs, are a must-have tool to manage your sales pipeline. CRMs help you understand exactly where your leads are in the funnel. This can help you save time and money by providing a singular place to turn to for information. Plus, you'll be able to better comprehend and answer and client questions.
So, for example, if your CRM shows a lead is cold and doesn’t know much about your product, talking about the costs simply makes no sense. Instead, you should take a different approach and educate them on how to best use your product. It is all about finding the best practice to cultivate your leads, wherever they are in the funnel. But what CRM will work best with your sales pipeline? This Databox survey covers the best sales pipeline management tools based on input from industry experts (you might even see Perfect Search in there!).
Looking for more B2B insights and expertise? Perfect Search has got you covered. First, head to our blog and learn "What You Should Know About B2B Targeting Options on Search Platforms."