Even in the digital era, surveys show that personal interactions with sales reps remain the most influential factor—across touch points—for B2B customers.
In a world of technologically empowered customers, it’s still essential to understand the operational challenges your sales team are facing, as personal interaction remains key. Indeed, with digital technologies changing and reshaping the business landscape rapidly, perhaps the consistent reassurance of an interpersonal partnership becomes even more critical.
So it’s essential to remove the barriers that stop the sales team getting valuable face to face time with customers.
Technology needs to be an enabler, not an impediment, to real engagements.
By using the full power of internal systems, you can make the sales team’s job admin light – and conversion heavy. In these days of increased automation, a CRM needs to be built to maximise the time the sales force spends with customers. But taking the time to consider the day-to-day pain points of the sales team should still inform strategic decisions and determine how best to use the full functionality of your CRM.
Here are some of the commonly cited issues that keep the sales team away from customers, and how they can be resolved.
“I get drawn in to too much paperwork / admin and spend all my time working up quotes, so I’m not out selling as much as I could be.”
By automating processes and removing admin and bureaucracy from day to day operations, you free up your sales team to spend more time out in the field, selling. In particular, automating the quotation and order process is critical. Streamline the process so reps can create optimal quotes, easily configure and price complex products, and recommend the best options, deals and promotions, through automated workflows. This frees up time for your sales reps and ensures you are getting the right products in front of your customers at the right time. Use guided selling, dynamic pricing, and ensure an effective workflow approval process to speed up selling – and importantly, improve the customer experience.
Because your sales team are out on the frontline, they require mobile access to systems, with customizable applications, designed to support any device. Access to tools and processes, regardless of where your sales reps are, need to be consistent and robust. You need a solution that works across smartphone and tablet, with the same functionality and usability as desktop, so your team can elicit the information they need from the device they have at hand.
By removing distractions from your sales team, you allow them to concentrate on knowing and selling their products, by recommending the best combination of products and services – without the admin time – you give them more time in front of the customer.
“I need to quickly understand our offer as it evolves to identify cross sell and up sell opportunities – I need to spend less time in training, whilst still keeping up to date.”
Educating your sales team, in real time, is important. Your systems should cut complexity for the sales force – not add to it. Look for intuitive technology that minimises training time, and make the process as straightforward as possible.
The need for simple, practical, real-time education is more important than ever. Whilst enterprise thinking continues to shift towards a beta-mentality, with more product releases and more versions of products, the sales team needs to keep up. This means more streamlined processes which allow the deployment of updated product data as it becomes available.
Another factor contributing to the increasing importance of easy sales education is the increasingly educated customer. With prospects doing so much of their learning online, by the time your sales reps get a face to face opportunity, the customer has connected earlier in the sales cycle, and is closer to a purchase decision – and the sales rep needs that extra knowledge that will close the deal.
By integrating cross-team knowledge and streamlining the cascade of new product information as it arises, you can make sure the sales function has the tools it needs to operate effectively in real time, all the time. To do this, sales systems must be able to have “conversations” with other functions and business processes quickly, otherwise, the sales team will feel the impact of a silo’d organisation. Use technology as the enabler for a consistent customer experience, all the way to the close.
“I spend too much time cold calling or calling the wrong contacts. What are the marketing team paid to do?”
Your sales team may argue about the value of marketing – it’s a relationship that has infamously never run smoothly. But the two functions are becoming intertwined – and that represents a huge opportunity to take some pressure off your sales team.
Moving along the funnel, if your organisation is using marketing automation effectively, more accurate and qualified leads should be passed to sales. Both profile fit and level of engagement will already be scored – giving your team more in-depth insights about which contacts are ready to take the next step or are receptive to a conversation.
Now it’s essential to ensure the sales team capitalise on it. The insights gleaned from reading a prospect’s digital body language, are time sensitive and need to be afforded the priority they deserve. They should be followed up quickly, whilst the prospect still has a need, and before they move on to a competitor. Look for tools that prioritise leads efficiently and provide insight into buyer behaviour, so sales can follow up effectively.