Buying behaviours and the necessary sales strategies which complement them are evolving at such a pace. It’s impossible to ignore that sales teams need more support if they are to hit targets and capitalise on the vast amount of data which should be available to them.
Our sales professionals are not just responsible for revenue generation but are often the first person to represent our businesses in an environment in which most prospects have already heavily researched the products.
Prospects don’t want to be sold to. They want to be guided.
This can make for a longer, consultative sale which needs to be factored into how salespeople are remunerated. This guide takes the reader through the right way to support sales teams, how sales initiatives must be adapted to suit customers and a task list for optimising new business strategies.
Stop blaming them. Start supporting them – by Liam Weedon
The statistics are very clear on this.
In a survey of C-level executives across 162 UK technology businesses,
- 95% know customer expectations have changed
- 60% didn’t even have an effective CRM in place
- 53% offered no regular sales training
- 66% also said they did not use sales and marketing collateral. They didn’t apear to be providing any support at all.
Salespeople are the face of most businesses. They are the people your buyers build relationships with, the people that they trust, and ultimately the team responsible for revenue growth. But while they effectively hold sole accountability for commercial success, their time is divided. Despite juggling operational and services issues as well, when things go wrong its sales that become the scapegoat.
The pressure on sales teams is rarely appreciated by wider company stakeholders. On average, a B2B salesperson in the UK spends 22% of their time on admin and internal meetings. A further 20% is eaten up supporting existing customers, and 24% goes towards lead generation and research. All in all that leaves just 34% of their time to actually focus on selling. That’s an extreme disadvantage when held to 100% of revenue success.
Before pointing the finger, ICT business leaders need to ask themselves whether they are providing the right support. In the vast majority of cases, the answer is a resounding no.
About Liam Weedon
Liam Weedon is a seasoned sales professional now growing his own agency that helps startups increase revenue. Having moved into fintech after years in commercial banking, he’s played a part in large digital transformation projects and now specialises in CRM automation for sales teams.
Customers are demanding more than a sales pitch – By Dr Lucy Green
Technology is forever growing in complexity and buyers are crying out for help. To be clear, they are well informed about their problems; but with so many suppliers offering alternative solutions there almost becomes a paradox of choice. Salespeople need to not only explain the benefits of their solution clearly, but to educate their prospects on what technology to invest in and why.
It’s an important reminder to look at the likes of big banks and corporate institutions that, still even in 2022, are encumbered by legacy ICT systems that could cost them years in growth. Technology buyers are cautious of bad decisions and so they expect salespeople to come into the conversation with a consultative approach. Regardless of job role, buyer feedback was clear – 78% of decision makers expect a consultative sales engagement, not just a pitch.
If there’s one thing sales leaders should prioritise, it’s developing emotional intelligence within their teams. Perfecting your pitch and rapport building are skills that will have little value if salespeople don’t know how to get to the root of their customer’s problem.
About Lucy Green
Dr. Lucy Green has a proven expertise for finding and developing the potential that lies within a business. Business leaders respect her strategic insight, structured methodology, and strong commercial intelligence focused on measurable revenue generation and value creation.
Equipping sales for change – by David Bailey
Gartner recommended sales organisations should embrace the change in their “The Future of B2B Sales” report, delivering on buyers’ expectations through a blend of digital, self-service and personal interaction. And while this highlights the need for more guided conversations and use of sales collateral, what this really calls for is stronger marketing alignment with the sales team.
89% of B2B buyers researched potential suppliers before and during the sales process. Prospects are in pursuit of information, and the right marketing strategy will give salespeople a genuine advantage. Those digital readers are qualifying themselves as good-fit customers before reaching out to Sales. If leaders want to help their sales staff be more effective, they must realise it is a cross-functional effort.
The concept of a “sales funnel” is now somewhat outdated – we must change our way of thinking to focus on delivering an omnichannel customer experience. Marketing and sales don’t respectively own the top and bottom of the funnel anymore. This doesn’t fit with today’s buying behaviour.
Instead, sales and marketing teams need to align to the same goals. Marketing to good-fit leads and educating them early in their journey will mean salespeople can spend more time selling. And in reverse, salespeople are Marketing’s ear to the ground. They have valuable customer insight that can be used to improve the customer experience. It is a two-way feedback loop.
About David Bailey
David Bailey has been helping technology companies to scale for the last twenty-five years. Prior to that, he worked in senior roles for the likes of PwC and Ernst and Young, specialising in business development and performance improvement.
#Helpme Action Plan – Answer these questions by Dr. Lucy Green
Identify the buying behaviours of your customers
- How do they make their way down the funnel?
- In what areas of the funnel do your sales team offer most value?
- What collateral and data would support this journey?
Highlight and resolve strengths and weaknesses in the team
- What training is needed
- Are current skills and expertise being used wisely?
How are the team remunerated?
- Do old KPIs and targets encourage the new way you want your team to operate?
- Does remuneration positively impact customer experience and retention?
- How much time is wasted with salespeople completing work which doesn’t impact the number and could this be automated or discarded?
Does the data make sense?
- Is the data available up-to-date and accurate?
- Is it segmented correctly to improve customer experience?
- How are leads qualified before they are passed on?