Despite the plethora of martech and sales enablement technologies now on the market, most sales teams are still performing at sub-optimal levels. With all these new tools making a salesperson’s job easier, there’s no excuse for your sales team not to excel.
Sure new technologies in other industries can be a little daunting. Think about: AI, robotics, autonomous driving, Uber flying taxis, Amazon delivery drones. Where will it end and how will jobs be affected? These are both concerning and exciting at the same time. Sales technologies, on the other hand, aid the process of generating revenue and should never cause fear, uncertainty or doubt.
Unfortunately, salespeople, as a rule, have earned a reputation for being an unwelcome disruption. Think of someone who disrupts an executive’s day by getting past the gatekeeper explaining he/she knows that person and is following up ‘our previous discussions’ – yeah right!
Another negative sales persona is someone who turns up at the latest supplier review meeting, announcing proudly he is the new account manager, then asks for an explanation of the history between the two companies – arghhh! With today’s technologies, there is no excuse for this kind of ignorance except laziness.
On the flip side, if the salesperson showed up to the meeting fully prepared having read his previous colleague’s CRM notes, the decision-maker would be happy to have a meeting. During this first meeting is generally when the salesperson and the prospect discover common interests and determine if the business can be moved forward. Salespeople should use this time well and understand that after that first meeting, the phone and the web are likely to become the primary communication channels due to the limited time constraints of those involved.
Recipe for High-Performance Selling
High-performing salespeople understand the prospect’s business challenges and can articulate a solution. They earn the right to ask for the business because they show up at that first meeting educated about the prospective buyer’s unique situation and how their solution addresses a specific problem. They know how to demonstrate value.
Let’s look at the day-to-day life of a sales rep, starting with traditional face-to-face meetings. The opportunity for these meetings has become a rarity, but when they happen they must be properly prepared for and appreciated. Successful salespeople will conduct detailed research in advance and ask professional, yet probing questions to move the buy-cycle forward.
After that initial 1:1, the core work will be accomplished via email, phone and Web meetings. In these three channels is where sales performance can be enhanced.
Mark Hurd, Oracle CEO, gives us a hint about where this is all heading when commenting on the new Sales 3.0 thinking:
“Customize decision-making across the board, using analytics to empower frontline staff to serve their customers in the moment, rather than when it is convenient for someone to get back to them.”
Getting down to basics simply means talking with the right people at the right time. No more, no less. The more meaningful conversations a salesperson has, the more likely sales will result.
The latest sales technologies allow reps to do all of this with merged systems for CRM to produce the right prospects at the right time. Power-diallers deliver more calls per hour, and wise content management strategies produce relevant materials after the post-call follow-up – Everything is automated, which removes the tedium of following up.
Combine this outbound activity with a stream of inbound Web visitors and content click-throughs and the only real concern is having enough hours in the day to follow up! The opportunities are endless.
Automation Meets Human
Salespeople must build a solid support team in order to successfully work all of these opportunities. Marketing automation allows reps to manage inbound web traffic, qualify leads as ready to buy now or in the future. On the human side, it is important to build an inside sales team of at least two individuals to handle all the background outbound calls and prospecting. This gives salespeople time to focus on closing the hottest leads.
What’s In a Number?
Sales is a numbers game, but it’s deeper than that – 5 percent of B2B leads generated by any marketing activity are usually ready to close. Sales reps who come late to the party have a slim chance of beating competitors to the prize.
The real hidden golden nugget is the 20 percent of fully qualified leads who will buy at some time in the future. Salespeople don’t have the time or inclination to keep in touch with these people and this becomes the biggest factor affecting sales performance. Hence the need for maintaining two inside salespeople to support the team. One to break new ground, the other to be a ‘relationship developer’ for future customers.
Smart sales executives master the basic fundamentals of building a relationship before investing in digital tools to reinforce the process. Mobile lead capture apps deliver good, qualified leads form your company’s shows and events, but they also have a role to play every day. They deliver the latest content presentations followed up by a thank you email – They ensure no leads fall through the cracks since all scanned business cards are automatically loaded into the CRM system, saving hours of valuable sales time.
Measuring Sales Fitness
Sales fitness can be monitored via technology in the same way that you monitor your key body fitness metrics. The really interesting question: Is there a correlation between sales activity and sales performance? Perhaps it depends on how easy the sale is to close.
There have always been two types of sales executive: the slow, thoughtful major account schmoozer who focuses on the big opportunities – This person brings in the biggest deals without doing much prospecting, which he sees as small fry.
Then you have the young, keen and enthusiastic new starter at the other end of the spectrum, who will do anything to hit those numbers. Clearly in this new digital world, tracking the level of activity to provide a sales executive profile based on the frequency of completed calls, web meetings, and face-to-face visits generates a very interesting comparison.
Since sales is a numbers game, those who hit the biggest numbers most often will attain the optimum level of Sales Fitness. These are the sales reps who predictably will be the most successful. Add to this, AI systems for intelligent, personalized and relevant follow-up and sales success becomes inevitable. This powerful combination is the new frontier for measuring sales performance levels moving forward.
This was originally published in Sales & Marketing Magazine.