Scale your sales client list is primarily small companies with a turnover of less than £50 million. What surprised me was that these smaller companies define many more roles, and one crucial function is what is part of inside sales or sales enablement referred to as outbound sales development or business development. Yes, I know, many role classifications mean virtually the same thing.
Sales development qualify leads gathered from marketing activity and pass the quality leads to outside sales (field) executives that carry quota responsibility and secure the deal. Aside from the evidence that outside sales executives are spending more time inside and according to the report commissioned by InsideSales.com Labs, The State of Sales Development 2017, that included over 900 respondents, they are spending more time selling remotely, or what I see nurturing relationships. Check out the report infographic where you can access the full report.
The buying process has changed such that B2B buyers do more of their research without the need or willingness to speak to sales executives. Research firm Forrester estimates that 74% of B2B buyers conduct 50% of their research online before making an offline purchase. The fact is, digital channels now influence 92% of B2B buying decisions.
The sales industry is ripe for transformation. Sales organisation are so far behind the technology curve and sadly, what I see are software companies digitalising the sales process rather than transforming the sales process to be buyer lead.
Sales leaders must get ahead of what their buyer want and need in the buying process. One way is to have a clear definition of roles and how each function is interdependent on customer success rather than the usual focus on the sales quota.
Sellers must have the right tools and if their buyers are operating in a digital space, then so should they. The seller must connect with prospective buyers at all stages of the buyers’ journey, and this means using digital and social selling techniques.
Let’s Look at Four Current Impact of Technology on the Buyer-Seller Relationship
- Everything is going digital buyers want to self-select through to the purchase. Global B2B e-commerce is predicted to reach $6.6 trillion by 2020 and even surpass B2C sales at $3.2 trillion according to a report from Frost and Sullivan.
- CPQ (configure, price, quote) technology software handles the most complex quoting requirements quickly. CPQ has the potential for buyers to side-step all face to face engagement entirely. CPQ allows buyers to get real-time price and quote of any product with the given specifications if integrated with voice technology.
- Just think chatbots have the potential to make logical suggestions and upsell and cross-selling 24/7. The buyer has less time to decide, and the better AI technology this shortens the wait time and enhances the buyer experience.
- Augmented reality (AR) helps the buyer to experience the product in their world, and virtual reality (VR) will allow the user to troubleshoot and configure without the product being in their presence.
However, there is no point investing in these technology innovations; however, if the basic buyer expectations are not met.
A 2017 Harvard Business Review article puts the B2B buyer’s evolution into context. There are now more people involved in making B2B buying decisions, growing from an average of 5.4 stakeholders in 2015 to 6.8 decision-makers in 2017.
To help buyers move from one step in the buying journey to the next you must create relevant information that is easy to find. Your website must be a respected source of information that gets prospective buyers closer to a buying decision. For example, case studies, industry whitepapers, how-to articles and video, best practices demos and product comparisons.
Your digital capital must be easily accessible to all decision-makers and influencers as and when they required. The easier your website is to navigate, the more your resources, whether people and content, become the go-to source of thought leadership and then the more credible your solution to the decision-making group of individuals.
As researched by Google, 42% of the online B2B searches are executed from mobile devices. If you have a clunky website as opposed to a user-friendly app, where is your buyer choosing to research solutions?
Another important aspect from data compiled by LinkedIn Business shows that 53% of B2B buyers rely on peer recommendations, and 76% prioritise suppliers suggested by their peers. Hence, 84% of B2B purchases begin with a referral.
Buyers trust peers’ recommendations. Sales professionals must invest in their community building; it is true that your net worth is your network! Buyers look to their peer for recommendations rather than trust what brands might say about their solution. Leveraging customer advocacy and referrals are essential in a buyer lead sales process.
Social selling can help sellers meet customers online, create valuable interactions, and build trusted relationships that lead to recommendations and conversions to sales. It can make the sales process more straightforward and shorter.
Whether you invest in a Chatbot, a demo AR or VR, CPQ and e-commerce, sellers must invest in enabling the buyers to self-select your solution. Ask at every stage of the buyer journey, what information do my buyers and influencers need to move to the next step in their buying process?
Social selling or digital relationship building is the lubricant essential for meeting your buyers when they want to engage, that helps to understand how they wish to participate. If your sales process is not lead by a clear understanding of your buyers’ journey and preferences, then buyers will continue to leverage those sellers who are easily accessible. The better the customer’s journey alignment, the better the sales results – improving win rates by 15% and quota attainment by 13.6%.
To stay on top of future trends and remain competitive, companies need to position their sales for the digital transformation, rather than digitalising the sales process, enable the buying process.
Those that are quick to adapt to the changing buyer demands and embrace the fast moving technologies will gain competitive advantage and reap the benefits of access to buyers and decision-makers.