Digitisation has created a power shift in the customer’s path to purchase. The client now has more control than ever before and the sales role is increasingly complex. Information on detailed market assessments, product specifications and global trend information is now readily available to customers and, as a result, sales people are engaged at a later stage. This means there is less time to articulate a value proposition or build a rapport with the customer.
Therefore, it’s vital we know what customers are doing before they reach out. Where do they do their research and what messaging are they exposed to? Once we know this, we know how to leverage or neutralise that message. It increases the importance of interlock between marketing and sales. We need to stay on top of high quality leads and to do this, it might be wise to employ marketing automation systems such as Marketo or Eloqua.
Poorly managed CRM data
We know that having a single customer view is incredibly important because it makes communication more personalised and provides deep insight into buying behaviour. If we don’t have a true view of the customer, it is hard to create sales processes structured around the client.
Consequently, it is imperative that processes and systems are well set up. If this fails to happen, data quality deteriorates, and organisations can enter a vicious cycle in which people don’t trust, use or maintain the database.
Systems must be as simple as possible, containing all the required data but no more. Decide what information is needed and make the collection process as straightforward as possible.
Too many cooks...
Today, because there are usually many individual permutations of products, customer portfolios are usually a lot bigger than they used to be and this can make the sales process more complicated.
Years ago, sales people only needed to know about a handful of products. Now they might need to know about 50 or 60. Companies will often use specialists from different areas of the business to discuss products with a single customer. This can not only be tricky to choreograph, but also overwhelming for the client, who is unclear where to turn when they need information.
Companies need to make it clear who is doing what and use the minimum number of people to close a sale and customers should have a single lead contact to work with on queries.
Set aside time to train
Anecdotal evidence shows organisations are investing less in training sales staff. This is likely to be, in part, because large companies are focusing more on quarterly targets and less on longer-term investment.
It is true some people have a natural disposition towards sales, however, the idea that you can buy a ready-made sales person simply isn’t maintainable.
We need to be viewing sales people as the primary link between an organisation and its customers and, therefore, we need to invest in sales training.
To create a sustainable sales organisation, junior sales reps should be paired with more experienced people and formal time should be set aside for training.