With less opportunities to engage with prospects, and engagement taking place later in the sales cycle, your sales force needs to become a competitive weapon. As their sales leader, you need to do all you can to help them. In a changed B2B sales model, how can you ensure that reps are efficient and effective at all stages of the sales cycle and have what they need to accelerate and optimize processes?
Below are 3 ways to make your team stand out from the rest of the sales pack:
#1. Become ‘consultants’ not ‘order takers’
Last year, Forrester made a bold statement, saying that 1 million sales jobs would disappear by 2020. This statement has been misconstrued multiple times. In the right context, Forrester’s report, Death of a (B2B) Salesman, actually projects 10% growth for one particular sales archetype – ‘the consultant,’ while projecting decline of other archetypes, most notably the ‘order taker.’
According to Forrester, consultants are the most adept at “understanding customer needs, explaining products and services, and helping clients bring internal stakeholders and budget together to make purchases.”
Imagine this at a restaurant that you frequent regularly. The ‘order taker’ does simply that – writes down what you say. The consultant, on the other hand, having insight into your preferences, likes and dislikes, offers you an informed recommendation based on your tastes.
To be a consultant requires more insight and thought. Consultants take the extra time to understand more about their prospects – so they can deliver more value. They look at prospects’ LinkedIn In profiles, and they use engagement analytics to learn about their interests and interest level.
Sales leaders must empower their reps to be consultants. This requires coaching, as well as technology. Coaching is the #1 activity that improves rep performance, while technology delivers the buyer insights needed to better serve customers.
#2. Use technology that enhances – not replaces
Your team needs technology that helps them enhance their selling capabilities, but technology isn’t a replacement for sales. Sales still remains very much an art – with the addition of a little science. This is one of the reasons why marketing automation doesn’t work for sales teams. With a process controlled by marketing, there is no real selling going on. Sales needs the control to manage its own prospecting process and the ability to personalize its outreach to be most effective.
Further, any technology that you give your team must work seamlessly together. It should integrate seamlessly with Salesforce and your marketing automation system and work where your reps work. As you add new tools to your stack, be sure that tools easily integrate. It costs more to manage and maintain multiple point tools. If you’re adding point tools that only have the capability to focus on one or two problems, you’ll end up drowning in sales tools. Enterprises need an open ecosystem that can support both today’s and tomorrow’s sales tools. For the greatest return on investment, you need extensibility.
Likewise, technologies need to span across multiple stages of your sales cycle. If there are gaps in visibility across different stages, your team can miss or lose sales opportunities.
#3. Capture ‘micro-moments’ with buyers
In her research of 2016 sales trends, Telesmart founder Josiane Feigon says capturing ‘micro-moments’ of buyers’ time will strengthen the customer relationship. For your sales force to be a competitive weapon, it needs to use micro-moments to gain mindshare with products – using automation to connect in frequent and meaningful ways.
We’re being bombarded with content. Sales engagement must be kept short and to the point – and deliver value – to capture buyers’ interests. Automated email and call scheduling is a great vehicle to deliver these micro-moments.
Think of the emails you save in your inbox. They typically have something you are or might be interested in for the future. When the opportunity arises, these filed emails are the first ones we turn to.
Companies that use their sales force as a competitive weapon use technology to help reps deliver more value. They use automation to build and strengthen customer relationships. They use analytics to better understand the needs of buyers. They don’t work harder – they work smarter.