Buying cycles are changing, whether you like it or not.
The internet has upended every industry, and this widespread disruption has shifted the sales landscape. Your customers now have more information than ever before, on both your products and those of your competitors.
But, as with all disruption, it’s only a hindrance if you let it become one. For organizations willing to face the digital-age head on, the modern sales cycle is capable of driving greater success and differentiation.
Ninety percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years, a figure that shows how this new frontier of sales isn’t going away—in fact, it’s just getting started.
Big data represents a massive opportunity for sales teams, but this needn’t be as complicated as you might think. The empowered customer is able to get all the information they need on products and services with simple online access. So why can’t your business, with its many employees and years of collective experience take advantage of that same access and information?
Data is not a one-way street, and just as your prospects are farming petabytes of data online every day, they are also leaving a similar quantity of information on blogs, social media profiles and forums. And that’s just the public sources. Any time a customer rings in with a service query, makes a purchase or leaves a review on your site, that’s just one more arrow in the quiver of your data strategy.
Big data should be more than just a buzz word for Sales. It’s a real movement in business that can help you better understand your customers and shift your sales reps to become trusted advisors to their customers, helping make them successful.
OK, so it may be a bit glib, but it’s also true that when nothing else has worked, it’s the service agent who is left to clear up the mess. The new CSRs are great at this, equipped with a high level of emotional intelligence; whether written or verbal, they are able gauge customer emotion and tailor their tone and responses in order to achieve the best outcome. Help them further this skill by allowing them to make discretionary gestures that will not only clean up the mess, but ensure future goodwill.
In years gone by, the sales rep was the gatekeeper to product knowledge. Though new data sources have lessened the reps role in this regard, they should still be a font of knowledge for the customer.
This is where big data comes into play during sales engagements. By sharing your product data and analysis with the customer during the transaction, you can show them exactly how your products will perform in their business context, and what they can expect to achieve if they do decide to make a purchase.
This moves you away from talking at your prospects, to talking with them, and building a reputation of a value-adding rep who’s willing to help the customer with their business—even before they reach for their check book.
“How do I present this data to my customers while I’m out in the field?” This is where that other megatrend comes into play: mobility. The latest sales tools are native mobile applications, allowing you to get all the customer and product data you need wherever you are. This means you can read up on the customer while travelling to them, and wow them with in-depth product insights when you get there—wherever they are.
The big data trend is big news for all stages of the sales process, but how do you begin to truly create and harness the necessary information?
Data is all around us, whether we know it or not—and all organizations have the data they need to get started immediately. You may also have the tools you need as well. Even simple analytics tools can transform your existing CRM, sales, and performance data into predictive insights that promote more intelligent decision-making.
It’s important to build your big data strategy in a sustainable manner, however. You can go and acquire all the data in the world, but if it is all lumped into poorly organized siloes, you’ll never successfully integrate your information with the mission-critical applications that need it most. The right software and hardware can help with this, especially modern sales and CRM applications with data capture and analytics functionality built-in.
It’s not just about having the data and the technology, of course—you need the will. Your sales team may need to be the agitators, and prompt management to initiate a big data strategy. Sales should be knocking on the CEO’s door and asking: “Have we got a credible data strategy yet? If not, why not?”
Data is the currency of the digital age and leading businesses are using this currency as a powerful differentiator. For organizations willing to embrace their data, this digital sales cycle is an opportunity waiting to be discovered.