It’s 2016. Why aren’t sales organizations acting like it? In the past two years, there’s been a 69 percent increase in sales enablement technology spend in B2B organizations, but only 54.6 percent of sales professionals produced enough revenue to meet quota in 2015. Sales technology has modernized faster than sales leaders’ mindsets, leaving teams with powerful tools that they can’t—or won’t—use properly. Sales leaders must modernize their strategies to properly integrate sales technology, better reach the buyer, and set their reps up for success. Here are four stale strategies that sales leaders need to refresh in order to succeed in 2016.
1. Sales processes that aren’t mapped to the buying process
Forrester reports that only 20 percent of buyer-salesperson conversations are about the buyer’s challenges and initiatives, while 80 percent are about selling products. For the first time, sellers are no longer in control of the decision-making process; online reviews, increased customer voice and expanded content offerings make buyers much less dependent on sellers and enable them to dictate their own timelines and decisions. In order to keep up with empowered buyers, today’s sales leaders should map their processes to the buying cycle. To do so, sales leaders need to intimately understand buyers’ decision-making process: what information are they seeking, what problems are they trying to solve, and how can sales reps help facilitate that decision-making process? Each buyer is different, so it takes concerted effort, research and customer feedback to get the process right. HubSpot created a new “ABC” alternative to Glengarry Glen Ross’s “Always Be Closing”: ask questions, be honest, and focus on what it takes to help your customers succeed.
2. One-size-fits-all sales presentations
Think back to the last sales presentation you presented or witnessed. How much of the information you shared was relevant to the exact person or people in the room? Did you reach every potential stakeholder? Was every bit of information helpful to the decision-making process? Executive buyers consider only 19 percent of the meetings they have with salespeople to be valuable, and it takes an average of 5.4 decision makers to sign off on each purchase. Sellers need to find a way to show value to each and every decision maker, regardless of role, department or title. Sales leaders should throw out every one-size-fits-all slide deck and talk track, and ensure that reps understand how to tailor a product’s benefits to show value to each buyer. This will incorporate buyer preference information gathered during buying process research and feedback, but should also come from asking the right questions during qualifying calls and the presentation itself.
3. Making reps manually search for content
The average sales rep spends 30 hours a month searching for and creating the right content to share with prospects, making content findability a major priority for modern sales leaders. These sales leaders would benefit from adopting an activity-based enablement strategy, which helps organizations understand the activities reps perform every day and streamline the inefficient activities. One major facet of activity-based enablement is integrating overlapping solutions to minimize the number of tools reps need to use, such as eliminating an external content portal and serving up content in reps’ CRM and/or email. This eliminates the time reps need to spend searching for content, ensures the content they are using is contextually relevant and on brand, and increases CRM stickiness.
4. Not aligning with marketing
Marketing is sales’ best friend when it comes to aligning with the buyers’ journey. Thanks to the marketing automation boom, marketing teams have more insights into buyer behavior and preferences than ever before. Sales can learn from this and should be working closely with marketing to do so. Sarah Goodall, Founder of Tribal Impact, penned a phenomenal note to sales from marketing about alignment:
“I suggest we both need to shift our effort, focus and budget to a united sales and marketing model that attracts audiences to our brand. A model where customers want to engage with us. Less pushing. More pulling. So what do you reckon? How about we make 2016 the year where we align around the customer and not just around the numbers?”
Sales leaders should invest in sales technology that integrates directly with marketing automation tools, not alongside them. This ensures that sales and marketing have the same view of buyer activities, aligned metrics and goals so they can work together to guide buyers through the process to a won deal.
By adopting these four modern sales strategies, sales leaders can get their mindsets up to speed with their technology investments to help their teams succeed. Better alignment with the buyer’s journey and marketing, more interactive and personalized sales presentations, and increasingly intuitive sales content will help modern sales leaders and their teams succeed in 2016.