We’re all keenly aware of just how different the sales world has become.
Customers control the sales process and as such are more demanding, informed and value-sensitive then they’ve ever been. To make things even more complicated, they have more choices than they’ve ever had making it increasingly difficult to wheel and deal in a competitive marketplace.
Building a Modern Sales Force means discarding the old ‘go to market’ model and appealing directly to the consumers themselves. ‘Go to customer’ isn’t a trend – it’s the new model. Sales VP’s everywhere know they have one choice - adapt, or you’re out of business.
But what kinds of things should Sales VP’s be doing to shift the culture and the tactics of their sales team? That’s what this two-part series will cover. In the first post – of which you’ll begin shortly – we’ll discuss the kinds of tools and technology that can make your team a faster, leaner and more productive group. In the second, we’ll get down and dirty with the more practical applications of the technology we discussed in part- 1.
We hope these posts give you some food for thought and provide a launching pad for what we hope will be some productive conversations within your organization. Let’s jump right in!
Be mobile. Be productive.
What would you say if I told you that the average sales rep spends only a third of their time actually selling? When you think about it, that means they spend almost three and a half days per week doing something that doesn’t contribute to revenue generation. While answering emails, typing up proposals and searching for information in the office is important, it’s no replacement for getting out in public, pressing flesh, engaging customers and closing deals.
A modern sales force needs to be pounding the pavement, on the go and able to react at a moment’s notice. Providing them with the proper tools to do their jobs – like smartphones and tablets – can cut out a lot of the time they spend around the office doing non-revenue generating activities.
Imagine a scenario where your sales reps could make two more sales calls a day, every day. While it doesn’t seem like much of a difference on the surface, that ‘two a day’ adds up fast. And best of all, it’s achievable so long as you give your reps the rolls they need that allow them to spend more time in front of their customers.
Tablets and smartphones keep your reps on the ball – allowing them to tackle many of the things they’d be milling about the office with - while out on the road. From wedging calls in between meetings to providing last minute insight into a customer they’re about to visit; mobile devices can give you that finite edge that can mean the difference between closing the deal losing an opportunity.
Your sales force has more access to customer data and insights than ever before. Want to know how they interact with your social media platforms? You can. Want to see how much time they spend on each page of your website? You can do that, too! That being said, it’s one thing to have all this information and it's another thing to know how to use it.
Companies are using data to gain a clearer understanding of who they are, what they do and what their customers want. They’re also diving deeper into the numbers in order to understand lead behavior, customer buying intentions and when to best engage them in the buying process.
Some of the most forward-thinking organizations are taking things a step forward and wading into the waters of predictive analysis. By uncovering where future opportunities lie, they’re able to deploy their resources and training accordingly. Even better, they’re beginning to predict the customer’s next likely purchase, establishing buying patterns and the like. This kind of information is literally irreplaceable for a sales rep who wants to develop a better nose for where to go next.
Whether we like it or not, it’s on us as sales professionals to understand our customer base. By simply engaging them earlier in the buying process, we can gain the kinds of insights we discussed above; and those insights can separate you from your competition in a big way.
Be more collaborative.
The best modern sales reps do two things: 1.) They relentlessly pursue as much information as they possibly can on a client and; 2.) Pull that information from every resource they have at their disposal.
This might come as a surprise to you, but buyers say that only 16% of sales reps come to them ‘extremely prepared’ for their meetings. In the age of the customer this is unfathomable and leaves you wondering: how does this happen?
The answer’s simple: they lack information.
Very few reps have enough insight, expertise and authority to negotiate deals on their own. Not only that, but they face constant blockages within their organization – not so much silos – but simply poor communication across certain, vital channels. Ultimately, responsibility for poorly prepared reps should fall on the company. The question is: How do we fix this?
Your sales force needs to be able to collaborate with a variety of resources in your organization. If there’s a question about a contract you should be able to access your legal department. If a customer is grappling with budget concerns then reps should be able to draw on the Financing team to agree to a client-friendly payment structure. It’s this kind of on-the-spot collaboration that can make the difference between a close and another lost opportunity.
Collaboration also means taking your best and making it the norm. Just imagine what kind of a difference you could see in your bottom line if your best sales reps were able to share their best practices and winning strategies with your under-achievers. Imagine the ownership and motivation those top performers would take in seeing their techniques become standard operating procedure across the organization!
Further up the food chain – at the management level – it’s on you to try and make it as easy as possible for your sales force to close deals. That means removing obstacles, qualifying sales-ready leads and improving your training programs. Give them the tools, give them the motivation and get out of the way and you’d be shocked by the results you can produce.
A modern sales force means everyone working together and pulling in the same direction. Only a few people in select organizations are doing that now. Get everyone on the same page and you’ll see revenues soar.