Last month, Miller Heiman Group CEO Byron Matthews kicked off our webinar series, The Future of Sales Is Now, by sharing marketplace trends that challenge sales teams across all industries:
- Sales performance is faltering
- Perspective is the differentiator
- Talent gaps are derailing sales organizations
Due to new technology and the abundance of readily available information, buyers see salespeople as less relevant in the buying process. Sixty-two percent of buyers say that sellers “meet” their expectations. Yet, those expectations aren’t very high. When asked where they go to solve a business problem, buyers ranked salespeople next to last in a list of nine. Sellers need to not just meet buyer expectations but exceed them by finding the right moments to engage their buyers and give informed answers to the problems they experience.
Listen to the webinar as Matthews shares actionable strategies sales organizations and leaders can take to improve performance.
In the Q&A, we heard your questions on marketplace trends, and wanted to go deeper and provide more context for you. Here’s five ways to tackle these trends at your organization:
1. Creating a Culture of Continuous Development
Organizations must ensure that their onboarding programs don’t stop after just a quarter or year; they must be ongoing. A culture of continuous development recognizes what employees bring to an organization—both their current value and their capacity for development. It offers employees achievable opportunities for advancement in the near-and long-term plus a management structure that reinforces the importance of improvement.
Sales enablement functions can take the lead in turning an onboarding program into a culture of continuous development around sales effectiveness and productivity. The best sales organizations set their employees up for success by defining their programs by the type of person and their learning style.
Plan to include ongoing assessments in your strategy to build a culture of continuous growth—behavioral and predictive. Behavioral assessments focus on improving what sellers say and do, so you can determine how to strengthen their approach to buyers. Predictive assessments identify the seller traits that lead to success in your organization, which helps you find the best ways to coach your team and identify sellers who make good candidates for sales management roles. By using assessments, you can see not just how your sales organization grows, but which development methods result in the strongest gains.
2. Combating Turnover with New Generations
Talent gaps are costly. The process to get a new salesperson up to speed is lengthy: 4 months to recruit and 9 months to onboard to full productivity. The reality of the future is millennials and Gen Z don’t stay in jobs as long as previous generations did, which means that companies should anticipate higher turnover.
To reduce attrition, companies should adjust their talent strategies to meet the needs of their employees. Organizations need to show their employees that their career progression is at the forefront and offer clear opportunities for growth and change. When people feel their professional growth plans fit their lifestyle, they feel a sense of ownership and a connection that makes them loyal to the organization.
3. Implementing a Content Strategy
At every step of the buyer’s journey, content is key to guiding potential customers through the cycle and turning them into repeat customers. A content strategy defines the purpose of content and the goals that content should help salespeople achieve. The fundamental objective of a content strategy is to provide bite-sized content to salespeople right when they need them—turning salespeople into content marketers and product marketers.
A good starting point is to bring in marketing, product and sales and run workshops to uncover the stories you can tell and how you can add perspective that inspires your customers.
It’s also important to remember one size doesn’t fit all buyers. Tailoring content to the phases of your customer’s path is crucial to driving customer engagement throughout interactions. Organizations that apply this practice effectively improved win rates of forecasted deals by 11.5%.
4. Investing in Sales Effectiveness
Only 50% of organizations use a formal sales process. It’s easy for companies to tell sellers they need to understand their product and its features, and then convey those details to customers. But because buyers are more informed than ever before, they believe they need less guidance from sellers and hold greater control of their own direction.
The differentiator is seller behavior, which is why investing in sales training is crucial. It gives sellers the skills they need to find relevant information about the buyer’s situation and business, tailor insights and ideas, and provide a solution buyers can’t find anywhere else. Understanding how to provide that perspective is more important than the speaking to the technical aspect of a product.
The most effective sales training happens through learning with ongoing reinforcement, coaching and mentoring. The right seller behavior builds credibility and ultimately results in buyers wanting to connect with sellers’ products and services.
5. Providing Perspective
Perspective is not a moment in time. Perspective adds value to the sales process while building sellers’ credibility and helping them engage more deeply as problem-solvers with their customers.
It’s like any other behavioral change. Perspective goes beyond training—it needs to live inside your organization, with reinforcement and coaching.
By providing perspective, sellers help their buyers attain success in a new way. Offering perspective elevates sellers from mere, interchangeable vendors to trusted partners. To win business, organizations need a proven sales methodology backed by perspective—a combination of skills, mindset and insights that offer buyers greater value.
Strategic Selling with Perspective gives your sellers the process and tools they need to conduct a strategic analysis for an account with multiple decision makers—it helps jumpstart the journey to perspective-based selling.
The Future of Sales Is Now
Join us for the next The Future of Sales is Now webinar series as Seleste Lunsford, Chief Research Officer at CSO Insights shares sales transformation insights from the 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study on Wednesday, October 30 at 11 a.m. CST.