Every sales-led organization is trying to crack the code on how to provide the ultimate customer experience and drive sales revenue forward. You’re probably one of them. Am I right?
Recently the expectations of B2B buyers have shifted. Panelists Arman Masoudi, Product Marketing Specialist of Microsoft Dynamics, and Mark Dick, Director of LinkedIn Sales Solutions highlighted at Qotients recent Sales Disruption Seminar in Sydney the key thing today’s buyers are looking for in their customer experience, value. In today’s B2B sales landscape value can effectively make or break a sale.
Buyers no longer want what we all know as a typical salesperson. Modern buyers know all about the product features and functions, and are now saying “I’m enabled as a buyer. I know what’s going on out there because I can look on the internet, I know about your products, services, and competition.” (Mark Dick, LinkedIn). But this has resulted in buyers finding themselves with too much information and too many options. So while buyers may know just as much as a salesperson, the challenge for buyers now is to analyse all this information to make an informed decision, and the right decision.
Today, buyers want a trusted advisor. They want to engage with a salesperson that can come in with the right information, and deliver a solution that is truly valuable to the organisation. The results of the 2013 IDC survey (as cited by Min 2015) revealed the top three concepts buyers want salespeople to deliver during their sales meetings:
Ability to help solve business objectives
Industry Knowledge & Experience
Essentially buyers want to know exactly what’s happening in their industry, what’s happening in their segment, what they are missing and what they need to do. This is the where the value lies, and this is the ultimate customer experience.
However, a number of sales-led organizations are still following analogue sales methodologies, making it extremely difficult for salespeople to provide the value today's buyers desire during their sales meetings. As a result buyers have a poor customer experience, which is the number one reason 54% of all salespeople miss quota (Sirus Decisions as cited by Pleineaire Strategies, 2016). And a salesperson's inability to provide a valuable customer experience can be described in three words, lack of data.
Why is there a lack of sales data?
There is a general consensus that every salesperson should be spending approximately two hours of their work day in CRM to keep data accurate and up-to-date. However, daily work demands on a salesperson are such that the only way they can keep their CRM data up-to-date is to:
Not input the required amount of meetings, or
Not update CRM
This results in a backlog of administrative work, and it can be weeks or even months after a sales meeting takes place before data makes it into the system. This has a major impact on management and their sales team's’ ability to deliver an engaging and positive customer experience. So let’s look at the three key impacts from a lack of sales data.
Slow Ramp Up Time of New Starters
Many organizations tend to believe sales training is a one off task that occurs during the first few weeks of a new sales starters employment. But due to ‘info dumping’ (a.k.a information overload) 87% of content is forgotten within 30 days of the training session, as salespeople are receiving more information than they can process (Corporate Executive Board, 2014). But this ‘one and done’ sales training approach leads to new sales starters feeling like they have been left to sink or swim. Therefore new sales starters turn to a trial and error sales approach. And because management have very little, and generally inaccurate sales performance data they often fail to pick up on the areas that need to be addressed. Thus new sales starters continue to use ineffective sales techniques, taking as much as seven months to get up to speed and deliver meaningful results to the rest of the sales team. During this time, while salespeople may be completing a lot of customer meetings, no value is provided to buyers and ultimately lengthens the sales cycle.
Lengthened Sales Cycle
The Harvard Business Review (2015) conducted a survey regarding the buyer's decision-making process, and the results revealed that salespeople are searching for solutions when they are 37% of the way through this process. At Qotients recent Sales Disruption Seminar, panelist Gabriel Tsavaris - Executive Director of the CEB touched on the fact that buyers are not engaging with salespeople until they reach the 60% mark, and at this stage in the process they effectively know just as much as a salesperson.
In turn buyers expect salespeople to know just as much, and effectively have a 360 degree view of their organisation. This has resulted in salespeople spending at least 24% of their time searching for buyer information before their sales meetings as they often do not have the engagement tracking data that is required (CSO Insights, as cited by Lattice, n.d.). Therefore salespeople will typically spend the initial sales meeting asking buyers questions in order to establish this context, and this provides no value to the buyer. As a result the sales cycle is lengthened, as a second meeting will be required to provide the industry and technology knowledge, and a beneficial solution.
Lack Of Management Support
Every so often salespeople encounter deals that become extremely complex and above their expertise level. Therefore you would expect that at this stage in a deal the sales manager would step in, and guide the salesperson through the deal to a close. However, without real-time performance data management loses the ability to keep their eyes on deals currently taking place throughout the sales force. As a result management are unable to intervene at the right time and provide the expertise required to close a deal. In turn buyers have a poor customer experience as salespeople are unable to meet a buyer’s needs. Thus a large proportion of deals fall through, by the time management intervenes it is often already too late.
In such a complex B2B sales landscape sales data is crucial for your sales team to meet the shifting expectations of today’s hyper-educated buyers, providing relevant insights that add value to assist with the decision-making process. But, as you can see without up to date sales data management and the entire sales team is effected. Salespeople are unable to deliver a quality customer experience, which results in missed sales quota.
Ultimately sales-led organizations require real-time sales data, it should be at the heart of their organization’s strategy. Thus ‘Big Data’ has become one of the hottest buzzwords in sales-led organizations today. But they “are more than just buzzwords, they’re an important way to improve decision making, and ensure your company is one step ahead of all the rest” (Harvard Business Review, 2014).
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
Corporate Executive Board. (2014). Why Your Sales Training Is Falling Short. Retrieved from https://www.cebglobal.com/blogs/your-sales-training-is-falling-short/
CSO Insights (as cited by Lattice). (n.d.). Drowning in Data: New Research Reveals that Sales Reps are Struggling to Keep Up. Retrieved from http://lattice-engines.com/blog/drowning-data-new-research-reveals-sales-reps-struggling-keep
Harvard Business Review. (2015). Making the Consensus Sale. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/03/making-the-consensus-sale
Harvard Business Review. (2014). The Explainer: Big Data and Analytics. [Video]. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/video/3633937151001/the-explainer-big-data-and-analytics
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/
Sirus Decisions (as cited by Pleineaire Strategies) (2016). What’s the Number One Reason Salespeople Miss Quota? Retrieved from http://pleinairestrategies.com/2016/01/whats-the-number-one-reason-salespeople-miss-quota/