I recently spoke with a marketing leader who was lamenting the static nature of sales leadership in her company. The CRO (chief revenue officer) was on a hiring tear for a sales profile he referred to as “door knockers.” I was absolutely floored when I heard this! Here we are living in the digital age complete with abundant demographic, behavioral and predictive data about prospects and customers that can be served up in real-time and this guy wants to hire “door knockers.” This particular CRO is running a traditional sales team. So, what does a modern sales team look like and what are the benefits?
Profile of a Modern Sales Team
Imagine…a sales process nearly devoid of guesswork; one where salespeople track what their prospects are researching – and thinking – without having a conversation or meeting. In this new world, cold calls have become obsolete, replaced by technologies and data that provide salespeople with real-time insights into the prospect‘s digital body language and purchase intent. What if…at a critical point in the buyer‘s evaluation, but before they engage with a competitor, an alert is sent to the salesperson‘s inbox or phone telling him/her it‘s time to engage?
This is what salespeople really want. In today‘s competitive arena, it‘s what they must have to survive. These new capabilities are causing a seismic shift in the traditional sales cycle, ultimately changing how leads are managed and opportunities are converted into sales.
Salespeople who don‘t have it, want it. Those who have it, say they couldn‘t live without it.
Definition of Insanity
As I peer into 2019, I see lots of sales leaders deploying the ―”Re” strategy. They are re-thinking, re-organizing, re-doing, and re-aligning all the same things they have done before and expecting a new result in what has become a dramatically different selling game. This is true from the beginning of lead generation, to the opportunity pursuit, to the final closing of business. Let‘s analyze this further and see what the market leaders are doing that is so different.
For companies today, the lead production process occurs in three different ways:
(1) Sales scratches out their own leads by prospecting their personal networks, sending one-off or batch emails.
(2) Marketing turns over long lists of leads, which are typically no more than a contact with a pulse. (3) Marketing practices Revenue Marketing™ and is part of a repeatable, predictable, scalable revenue machine.
In the first two cases, the essence of effort is thick-skinned people (door knockers) trying to overcome the telephone rejection. When finally presented with a genuinely interested prospect, they are smart enough to stay out of their own way. For the most part, they blindly cold call and email contacts for months, hoping to set up a meeting and begin a sales cycle. Eventually they move on to a fresh list and classify previous prospecting failures as disqualified leads.
Once disqualified, the leads fall into a Zombie Lobby, waiting for the “new guy” assigned to begin the blind cold call / email process all over again. Worse, they‘re never contacted by your company again. Or the cruelest outcome — marketing repurchases the Zombies for the 3rd, 4th or 5th time. The nightmare recycles and you can’t wake up!
In this traditional sales landscape, it’s difficult to get a sense of what is (or isn‘t) working. What are your salespeople really doing, how are prospects really acting, and just how hot are the opportunities they are chasing? Most sales leaders just keep coming up with the next ―”Re” strategy because they have no better way to attack these age-old challenges.
The Impact of Digital
You see it every day: technology is changing at warp speed. Some of it annoys, some amazes. As sales leaders and professionals, it’s up to us to recognize which changes and which advances can have a profound impact on our selling efforts and competitive position.
The use of the Internet for research has produced a radical break in the model of how individuals and companies buy. But, there‘s been little corresponding response in the way most companies sell.
There are exceptions though. New technologies – especially automated Sales Enablement tools – provide sales leaders with a way to rapidly respond to this new buyer behavior by aligning the sales process to the customer‘s buying process. This alignment translates into more revenue and a stronger competitive position.
Here‘s an example of how the Internet has changed conventional “relationships”:
Many car buyers are now using the Internet to do extensive research on makes, models, options, pricing, service, and more, before they ever walk into a dealership. By the time they’re ready to buy, they know what they want and what they are willing to pay for it. When they walk into the dealership, there is little need to interact with a sales person. These are self-informed informed buyers and they‘re ready to begin negotiations.
Do you have prospects like this? They are potential customers armed with more information about you, your competitors, and the market than ever before. They know much more about you than you know of them.
Here‘s a scenario of what the process might look like if the dealership used automated Sales Enablement tools.
The dealership can “watch” in real time, an individual prospect‘s online
behavior as he/she builds a custom model on the company‘s web site, choosing specific features and a particular color of paint. These online behaviors and choices are the typical tire kicker activities of a casual shopper on the dealer lot. When that same prospect returns to the site to research financing options, chances are he/she is getting more serious about purchasing. When there’s a search for a local dealer, this prospect is ready to spend money.
With automated Sales Enablement tools, you can customize automatic sales alerts and communication responses. For example:
* When the prospect visits the financing options page, an alert is sent to a salesperson via Smartphone, email, or as a task in CRM with all key prospect information, including web site activity.
* Subsequently, the prospect is sent an offer of special financing via email.
* Simultaneously, the prospect is added to a lead nurturing program of promotional communications that maintain digital dialogue until they are ready to buy.
The class of software that includes Marketing Automation, Lead Management, or automated Sales Enablement can be described in simple terms: It’s
(1) the gathering and understanding of a prospective customer‘s online behavior, demographic details and propensity to buy and
(2) the ability to take automatic and/or real-time action on that behavior – whether as a lead or an opportunity.
Automated Sales Enablement tools allow you to have specific individual behavior information pushed, via alerts, to the top of your sales team‘s “To Do” lists. For a sales rep, this is nirvana.
* How would your forecasting accuracy improve if your salespeople took part in the prospect‘s evaluation meetings?
* Would your revenue achievement see a significant uptick if you had the inside track on their buying process?
* How would it help if you could deliver the right message at exactly the right time during the solution investigation?
Finally, the modern sales organization has a synergistic, revenue-based relationship with marketing. Both groups now work together as the “revenue team.” The contentious relationship between sales and marketing is long gone. New technologies give marketing the ability to produce more and better quality leads. These technologies provide the sales force with visibility into what marketing is doing on their behalf. Better qualified leads transform marketing into a demand generation department and a key player in the sales cycle.
You Can’t Go Home
Once salespeople have access to the capability of Sales Enablement tools, most say there just isn‘t any going back to the old way of doing things.
One veteran salesperson in the healthcare field described these tools as ―the machine used to run his business. “Once the machine is up and running, the contacts have been added and the templates begin to go out,” he said. “There’s no stopping it.”
“I tell my customers all of the time – I have been doing this for 20 years. I have carried a bag, been a VP of sales, I‘ve done it all. I would never, ever go to work for a company that doesn‘t have this technology,” he said. “I finally have a machine that keeps an eye on my business and my customers. I don‘t have to worry about what they‘re thinking anymore. For a salesperson, that unknown is what drives us nuts! I won‘t ever go back to worrying like that.”