In our recent blog posts we’ve looked closely at what has become one of the hottest topics of conversation in today’s B2B sales landscape, Big Data and Analytics. Big data and analytics are more than just buzzwords. Firstly, they’re an important way to improve decision-making by removing the need for “gut instinct” predictions on the causes of success. Secondly big data and analytics gives organizations the ability to ensure their sales teams are one step ahead of all the rest by continuously refining their sales process. And lastly, big data and analytics ultimately enables sales teams to provide buyers with the ultimate customer experience (Harvard Business Review, 2014).
What is the ultimate customer experience?
In the past five to ten years we’ve seen the balance of power shift dramatically towards buyers (TEDx, 2012). 74% have turned to the internet to research and gather information before reaching out to a salesperson, simply because of the “ease and speed by which information can be located” (Forbes Insights, 2009). As a result, salespeople are now dealing with what is known as the hyper-educated buyer.
But, although buyers are becoming hyper-educated, in many ways they have become too educated, effectively they know just as much as the salesperson they engage with does. Panellist Arman Masoudi, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Microsoft Dynamics discussed at Qotients recent Sales Disruption Seminar in Sydney, that as a result of becoming so educated buyers are finding themselves with too much information, and too many options to analyse. And now, they actually struggle to make purchase decisions.
Therefore, the ultimate experience for a hyper-educated buyer is to engage with a not just a salesperson, but a trusted advisor. Buyers know everything about a salesperson’s organization, industry and product offerings, so naturally they believe a salesperson should reciprocate. The results of the 2013 IDC survey (as cited by Min, 2015) revealed that top three concepts buyers expect salespeople to demonstrate during their sales meetings is:
- The ability to help solve business objectives,
- Provide technological expertise, and
- Show industry knowledge and experience
Basically today’s buyers expect salespeople to have a 360-degree view of their organization, and provide valuable solutions that not only meet their needs but enhance their organization long-term. According to Cernel (2016) 95% of B2B deals are influenced by the content a salesperson delivers. And if a salesperson is unable to use the sales collateral they are armed with effectively and provide the value a buyer desires, they will be dismissed very quickly (Panelist Gabriel Tsavaris, Executive Director of CEB, Qotient Sales Disruption Seminar, Sydney).
It is often assumed that the customer experience does not start until a buyer reaches out and engages with a salesperson. However, a buyer’s engagement with a salesperson is only part of the customer experience, 35% of B2B pre-purchase activities are digital (McKinsey & Company, as cited by Forbes, 2013). So while a buyer may not reach out to a salesperson until 60% of the decision-making process is complete, their customer experience actually starts at a much earlier stage (Corporate Executive Board, 2014).
The results of a survey conducted by the Corporate Executive Board revealed that today’s buyers are searching for, and identifying solutions well before they reach out to a salesperson. In fact, they are searching for solutions when they are just 37% of the way through the decision-making process (Harvard Business Review, 2015). This is where customers are likely to make their first point of contact with your organization via your marketing efforts, and effectively start their customer experience. While sales performance metrics give management the ability to ensure their salespeople are performing at the highest possible standard and delivering the most effective sales collateral, this data alone is not enough. Salespeople need that 360-degree view before walking into the sales meeting, they need insight into the activities that occur at the early stages of a buyer’s decision-making process. Therefore, salespeople “need access to the same level of insight as buyers” so they can have more effective interactions and deliver the ultimate customer experience (Business News Daily, 2013).
Thus today’s most innovative sales-led organizations are investing the Digital Sales Workspace, the suite of tools that integrates the following capabilities to ensure a transparent, and seamless nurture path for buyers utilizing the power of big data:
- Marketing Automation
- CRM Activation
- Sales Enablement Platform
Marketing automation enables organizations to collect data in a far more scalable manner. Interactions, moments and events from the very early stages of the decision-making process can be identified that indicate exactly what buyers are looking for. Automation platforms then feed this data back to the CRM system, which management can then act upon. At Qotient’s recent Sales Disruption Seminar in Sydney, panellists John Munnelly, Executive Director of KPMG Hands-On Systems and Mark Dick, Director of LinkedIn Sales Solutions highlighted how the information gained from marketing automation and tracking buyer engagements is changing the way we address and approach the market. It gives salespeople the opportunity to dynamically control the timing of when they disrupt the decision-making process, and how they move it forward.
According to Brudner (2015) salespeople are currently spending up to 20% of their time updating CRM. The result of this is that salespeople are losing a significant amount of their active time to internal process. This time could be used far more effectively in front of customers, where salespeople are making sales and contributing to the organisation’s sales performance. However, keeping CRM systems up-to-date is critical in order for management to access and analyse the data necessary for making prudent decisions regarding organisational growth. Achieving maximum efficiency in CRM use and process is a key step in delivering an efficient, effective and performant customer experience, but how is this efficiency in process achieved?
The top organizations are activating their CRM by investing in a sales enablement platforms that streamline and accelerate workflows. These software platforms integrate with CRM systems to make it easy for salespeople to keep CRM up to date with the latest information whilst they are still in the meeting with the customer, as meeting outcomes are automatically fed back to the CRM system. Qotient is one such platform, designed to accelerate activations of your CRM platform through smart enablement of your sales team when out completing sales meetings with customers or when talking to them on the phone.
Big data is of no value to a salesperson, it is too complex. For salespeople, the value is found in the intelligence and insights, or the ‘small data’ that is derived from the analysis of big data. Analytics are what enable salespeople to gain a 360-degree view of a buyer, and predict what has always been unpredictable; a buyer's behaviour (Business News Daily, 2013). The key value of these small data insights is most apparent when salespeople use these insights to drive a sale forward. Using these highly valuable, effective pieces of information at the right time in customer engagements can make the difference between a closed-lost and closed-won sale. Enabling salespeople to use these insights where and when they need them is a critical component to increasing sales performance, and this is achieved through a sales enablement platform.
Qotient is one such platform that enables salespeople to achieve this. The platform masks the complexity of big data, providing salespeople only with the insights they need to get the job done. Salespeople have the ability to deliver a customer experience that differentiates the organization in a positive way. Panellist John Munnelly, Executive Director of KPMG Hands-On Systems highlighted at Qotient Sales Disruption Seminar in Sydney how platforms like Qotient are arming salespeople with bite-sized learning as they go. The Qotient platform embeds intelligence and insights into pre-loaded sales conversations, providing salespeople with actionable pieces of information that can be used to guide their sales meetings.
Overall, the Digital Sales Workspace enables sales-led organizations to capture, and present big data in a simplified way that reflects a buyer’s entire decision-making journey. By using the digital sales workspace sales people can repeatedly deliver the most effective customer experiences in their customer engagements, resulting in organisational sales performance growth.
Brudner, E. (2015). Salespeople Only Spent One-Third of Their Time Selling Last Year. [Infographic]. Retrieved from http://blog.hubspot.com/sales/salespeople-only-spent-one-third-of-their-time-selling-last-year#sm.00000o4slv18duebkqt9nwsm2ahlv
Business News Daily. (2013). Why Big Data is a Big Deal for Sales. Retrieved from http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3897-big-data-changes-sales.html
Cernel, S. (2016). 4 Steps to Effective Marketing and Sales Communication. Retrieved from https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/07/effective-marketing-sales-communication.html
Corporate Executive Board. (2014). The Two Qualities Your Content Marketing Needs. Retrieved from https://www.cebglobal.com/blogs/the-two-qualities-your-content-marketing-needs/?business_line=marketing-communications
Forbes Insights. (2009). The Rise of the Digital C-Suite - How Executives Locate and Filter Business Information. [PDF] Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/digital_csuite/
Harvard Business Review. (2015). Making the Consensus Sale. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/03/making-the-consensus-sale
IDC (as cited by Min, J). (2015). How To use Data Analytics in Your Sales Process. Retrieved from https://ideal.com/how-to-use-data-analytics-in-your-sales-process/
McKinsey & Company (as cited by Forbes). (2013). Big Data, Analytics And The Future Of Marketing And Sales. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/mckinsey/2013/07/22/big-data-analytics-and-the-future-of-marketing-sales/#2bee48a8344d
TEDX. (2012). Scott Sambucci – The Shifted Sales Environment. [Video]. Retrieved from http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxHultBusinessSchoolSF-Scott;search%3Atag%3A%22tedxhultbusinessschoolsf%22