Technology has changed the way customers make purchases. How have sales organisations have adapted to succeed in this brave new world?
There is a paradox at the heart of how sales leaders develop their teams:
Two technological advances have changed the way your customers buy your products. Firstly, the internet has completely transferred control of information to your customer. It means they can find out nearly everything there is to know about your product, including what other customers think about it, without having to talk to anyone from your company. Secondly, mobile technology has made your customers comfortable with buying from you without ever having to meet you. Now, you have to meet them where they are, via communication methods such as video calling or social media.
In this article, we’re going to look at the buyer’s journey in this connected new world. We’re also going to look at how the sales process has to adapt to cope with it. Let’s get started.
The new buyer’s journey
On average, your prospect is 60% of the way through the buyer’s journey before they have their first meaningful contact with your organisation. What have they been doing in that time?
Firstly, they identified a problem in their organisation that needs to be solved. Next, they researched possible solutions and drew up a list of vendors that may be able to help. After that, they found out as much as they could about these vendors and their products. This would’ve been using one or more of:
- Content on the vendors’ websites
- Downloadable content such as whitepapers, eBooks and video
- Social media
- Customer review sites
- Word of mouth from their network
After this process, it may be time to start talking to the vendors still on their shortlist. That’s where you enter the story.
How sales has adapted
The first aspect of how sales organisations have adapted to succeed in this new world concerns giving potential buyers the best possible experience at the research stage. It’s important to remember that customers buy goods for personal use on Amazon. They expect the same seamless experience and level of service from B2B organisations too.
Marketing teams make sure the pre-sales experience is as effective as possible, moving the customer along their journey until the sales teams become involved. These could include:
- Consistent branding across all customer touchpoints
- Value-packed content to educate potential customers
- A social media presence that displays the organisation’s human side
The next big change comes at the sales stage. Successful sales teams take a different approach, selling to buyers in the way they want to be sold to. Inside sales is a leaner, more automated sales method. It is more efficient and cost-effective than the traditional field sales approach. It leverages technology and data to maximise sales in the modern connected environment.
Inside sales methods, meeting buyers remotely rather than face-to-face, are now the norm in modern sales teams. Even traditional ‘outside’ salespeople now spend close to half their time selling remotely rather than in person.
The sales machine
The growth of inside sales has led to the rise of the sales machine, with SDRs at the start of the process to:
- Make the calls – on average it takes 8 dials to achieve a meaningful conversation with a buyer
- Generate interest
- Overcome objections
- Schedule meetings – for AEs to pitch and close
SDR teams also provide data from the frontline to help sales leaders improve the machine.
This approach can bring tangible success. I once came across two companies who sold competitive products. One had an SDR team; one didn’t. The company with SDRs converted their leads at 40%. The other organisation, who passed leads directly to quota-carrying sales reps, converted their leads at less than 5%.
Looking to the future
The B2B sales machine model enables buyers to make purchases in the way they want to, while driving efficiency in the organisation. As we progress and new technologies emerge, this trend will only continue.
Buyers will be happy to do even more business remotely and sales teams will have to adapt to that. They will invest in more inside salespeople, including SDRs. They will produce more content on more mediums, including mobile which is growing rapidly as a platform for business purchasing. Finally, they will look harder at more metrics in order to gain an edge on their competitors.