Selling information services is mostly listening to the client.
What struck Dimo when he started selling information services for A Data Pro was the months on end it took to close a deal. He was not a novice to the trade after a marketing internship with Procter & Gamble Italy and a sales executive position at HR consultant Adecco Bulgaria. Dimo already knew that selling detergents is not like selling services. However, closing a head-hunting contract at Adecco took much less time than closing an information services deal.
A year later he seems reconciled with the long cycle.
It is because we are flexible and offer made-to-fit services. When a client comes and asks for a service we would say ‘Yes, we can do it it but how would you like it?
For example, when taking an order for a media contact database (names and personal details of journalists for companies to send PR materials to), we want to know whether the client wants one or more profiles (when the journalist works for several media), how often are contacts to be updated, if there is a need for verifying contacts by calling the journalist, etc.
Often it turns out that the client does not have all the answers, so we usually make a service trial. It pays off handsomely in terms of quality, but the sales cycle is extended by two or three months.
Once a salesman always a salesman
Dimo found out that selling was in his blood while still at Procter & Gamble but his first job with A Data Pro had nothing to do with sales or marketing. He was invited to the company by COO Iva Lambova and headed the information research team formed for a newly-acquired Risk & Compliance client. You can read more about that project in one of our forthcoming posts. The job involved making checks for legal and regulatory compliance of companies – court records, watchdog websites, sanctions for bid rigging, money laundering, etc. When the project got into a groove Dimo felt that his mission was over. He longed for the thrill of selling.
What is good about A Data Pro is that it is so flexible and diversified that, once you prove your worth, you can get into new projects when you feel stuck in a rut or want to follow your pursuits.
Dimo joined the Business Development team, which handles innovation projects, tenders and contracts. Proactive selling became one of his priorities. To identify clients, meet them face to face and talk about their needs might seem pretty obvious, but up to that point A Data Pro had been marketing its services mainly through a word of mouth and networking. After lending a hand for redesigning the service-client segmentation, Dimo focused on bringing in new clients.
His daily tasks may seem an easy life – a combination of LinkedIn-based social selling, regular trips to London for face-to-face meetings, travel plans for Paris, Brussels and Milan, and sometimes a walk around Sofia. However, results are short to follow – media monitoring contracts with major Bulgarian banks and telecoms, advanced talks with stock exchange data operator and significant contribution to a number of other deals.
Our long-term strategy is to become a media monitoring hub for Southeast Europe by adding offline buzz tracking of print media, TV and radio. So far we have been based only on online sources and social media.
The kickoff was the recent purchase of a Bulgarian company, Media Monitor, which has an extensive coverage of offline sources. The expansion will go country by country, through deals with either publishers or local monitoring players. “It is quite a challenge, but the combined forces of Media Monitor and Perceptica (A Data Pro’s brand for online reputation management) are a great foundation to build on. Their work gives us confidence”, Dimo concludes.