In the past year alone, the sales process has undergone significant changes. As more business takes place in digital environments, customers are changing the way they interact with sales teams. In the LinkedIn 2020 State of Sales Report, 44% of respondents noted longer sales cycles, with customers playing a larger role in the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer’s journey. The virtual sales process has seen a shift in the way customers engage with sales teams, with many buyers interacting with thirteen pieces of content before scheduling a call with a sales rep.
As sellers adapt to changes in the sales process, pivoting to an online-first approach can help unlock new opportunities today and into the future. Mastering the sales process—whether online or in-person—begins with knowing your buyer and creating a personalized content experience that addresses their unique needs. In this post, we’ll share three steps you can take to up-level your sales process and build trust with your leads, prospects, and customers in the process.
Champion training for new sales activities
There’s always an opportunity to fine-tune and prepare your sales team for continued growth. Even the most experienced sales reps find opportunities to train on new skills and tactics. The transition to virtual selling offers a natural opportunity to develop digital-first skills that can be leveraged across your sales organization.
Once upon a time, field sellers were the road warriors of your business’ sales organization. The transition to a virtual sales process has led to the adoption of a digital warrior mindset that asks sellers to change their approach. This shift also asks sellers to take into consideration the fast-changing needs of leads and prospects. While field sellers previously attended conferences and events to identify new leads, digital channels have become the new playing field for lead generation. The transition from in-person events to digital spaces requires sellers to embrace new expectations. Whereas traditional sales methodologies may have emphasized more transactional tactics, digital sales and social selling ask sellers to prioritize building trust and relationships with prospects.
Inside sales teams are equally affected by the adoption of digital-first sales processes. The highly-collaborative nature of inside sales previously called for in-person meetings, which have been replaced with video conferencing. Enabling collaboration across a remote, geographically dispersed sales team, requires the adoption of new productivity tools to mirror the in-person experience, online. Ensuring that your remote sales reps are proficient in productivity applications like Slack, Teams, or Zoom can help foster a higher degree of collaboration. Leveraging productivity tools that include features like virtual whiteboards, co-editing, and more, your sales team can collaborate to produce highly relevant content that tells your story in a way that resonates with your audience.
Embrace the power of storytelling
With almost every touchpoint taking place in digital channels, sales and marketing teams are under greater pressure to stand out from the crowd. In order to rise above the clutter, businesses are jockeying to master the art of storytelling. It’s no longer enough to share generic, product-driven content with your prospects. On average, the modern buyer is deeply engaged in researching solutions and is more familiar with a business and its product in the early stages of the sales process. With more buyers conducting their own research, sellers who demonstrate an interest in a buyer’s unique needs can create personalized content experiences that help support the buyer’s journey. So, rather than employing a sell-first approach with prospects, the most effective sellers seek to understand a prospect’s challenges and connect them to viable solutions.
Why is personalization so important? For starters, personalization helps your business stand out in a crowded content ecosystem. In an environment where B2B buyers receive roughly 128.8 billion emails daily, 57% of buyers find the content they receive to be useless. Simply put, sharing the same generic content across your audience is ineffective. That doesn’t have to be the case. Innovative technologies like sales enablement solutions, make it possible to tell the right story to the right buyer at the right time. The most impactful stories follow these three pillars:
- Be truthful – tell a meaningful story that is supported by data.
- Be memorable – tell a story that inspires your audience and leaves an impression that helps you differentiate from the competition.
- Be repeatable – tell your story in such a way that it is simple to remember and share—especially with colleagues and other stakeholders in the buyer’s journey.
The way that you deliver your story also matters to the audience. As you develop your story, it’s important to address your audience’s needs throughout the sales process. To ensure alignment with your buyer’s needs, content should map to the three stages of the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness – the buyer is researching solutions that address their challenges or pain points
- Consideration – the buyer has identified viable solutions and is interested in additional information and proof points to demonstrate a product’s efficacy
- Decision making – after extensive research and interaction with a sales representative, the buyer is ready to select and onboard a solution.
Facilitate greater connectivity and GTM alignment
In order to make the most of your audience engagement, sales and marketing have to be on the same page. Building cohesion between the two teams means establishing a set of shared goals, as well as an ongoing communication channel to ensure that their collective efforts are successful. Tracking content analytics and data in your sales process allows both teams to measure what’s effective and make intelligent decisions about how best to adjust and ensure success moving forward.
Sales enablement tools can help both parties gain visibility into the sales process and determine how to optimize sales and marketing activities. When integrated with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, marketers and sellers can gain clarity about which content works best at different stages of the buyer’s journey. It also allows for greater collaboration among sellers, heading into a pitch or call with prospects and opportunities. CRM integrations also bolster sales velocity by decreasing the amount of time sellers spend in content discovery, through predictive content that is rooted in performance data. In effect, sales enablement tools can help break down barriers by connecting disparate teams with the shared knowledge, resources, and data to keep things running smoothly.
To learn more about how your business can continue to enhance the sales process, visit our resource hub, Adapting to Change.