As B2B sales teams move into 2015, we anticipate the continued development of some key recent trends – but also more of the usual challenges.
Ongoing trend development
We predict development in 3 key areas:
1. Increased use of (disruptive) insight selling
B2B buyers want to be educated, and prefer to source information from the web and social sources, rather than approach sales teams. Depending on whose research you read, buyers get somewhere between 50-90% of the way along their buyer’s journey before they approach sales.
The sales teams that can CAPITALISE on this in 2015 will be big winners.
Carpe Diem clients had good success in 2014 running research programs within their customer base to uncover some “disruptive insights” – measurable ways their customers’ businesses had been improved by using their solution sets.
What’s disruptive about this? Packaged the right way, these insights can be presented to target prospects, pointing out to them they can improve their businesses – IN WAYS THEY HADN’T THOUGHT OF BEFORE.
The buyer’s thirst for new knowledge has been quenched – and the sales team is engaging early.
Sellers that continue to engage late – ie when approached by a customer ready to buy – will see their success rates continue to drop, as customers merely use them to “make up the quoting numbers”.
2. The end of social selling
2015 will see the removal of the distinction between “traditional” and “social” selling – sales resources need to recognise that it’s all now just selling, albeit in a social and digital world.
B2B sales resources will be left behind if they’re not able to leverage social techniques of:
- Participating in online communities
to routinely achieve (as an absolute minimum) the following outcomes:
- Identifying new prospects
- Identifying new opportunities
- Attracting incoming leads via LinkedIn profiles
- Building connections with new prospects, and nurturing these relationships with content
- Identifying the content to be shared with individual prospects via online search and reporting tools
- Being referred in to meet new prospects
- Effectively researching prior to meeting customers to enable targeted conversations in the full knowledge of each customer’s current issues, KPIs etc
- Monitor the ongoing customer relationship strength via social means
Courses in “how to use Facebook”, “how to use LinkedIn” will not be enough – B2B sales resources need to be trained in the key workflows associated with the list of outcomes above, using a range on social tools to assist in each instance.
3. Sales and Marketing are now aligned – now what?
2014 saw growth in the number of consultants offering to “align your Sales & Marketing teams”.
This is absolutely necessary – but it’s not sufficient ie once they’re aligned, what do they do now?
Deeply understanding the new buyer’s journey is key here – as is the recognition that there are specific roles for each of Sales and Marketing at each step of the new buyer’s journey.
Same old, same old….
Sellers that ride the 3 trends outlined above will be successful – at the other end of the spectrum however we predict a majority of sales resources will continue to fall into the same old traps:
- Talking about their company at the beginning of presentations – rather than the customer’s (everyone’s favourite topic is….)
- Talking about their products and services – not the outcomes that will be created for customers
- Engaging at the seller’s level of comfort – rather than with the Decision Maker
- Engaging with customers where the 1st point of contact is the customer requiring a quote – rather than generating “fresh” opportunities via insight selling, problem solving etc
- Quoting a price – without outlining the ROI
- Using mass produced brochures – rather than treating prospects as individuals
- Going for every deal where the seller has a good solution – rather than qualifying based on the chance of winning
The list could go on and on – and in this regard 2015 will be just like 2014, which was just like 2013…….
Sellers and selling organisations that recognise that Sales truly is a profession – and that run ongoing customised training and coaching programs – will, as always, have the opportunity to jump way ahead of the majority.