Customers are overwhelmed with possibilities – and it’s changed the face of decision-making. Today, people research their decisions online before they even contact a supplier. According to LinkedIn, 75% of B2B buyers use social media in their decision-making – and they’re 60% of the way through that decision before they contact you.
This leaves sales professionals facing an unprecedented battle. A 2018 survey found that a shocking 57% of sales representatives were expecting to miss their quotas for the year.
Your sales team needs a hero (or several). Here’s a rundown of the challenges they face – and how to issue the call to adventure.
The new challenges in sales
• New customer acquisition
So many new contact channels. So many new ways to sell. So little clue. Most companies are still completely unprepared for customer acquisition and retention in the new digital world and are treating keywords like "social media" with great restraint. Meanwhile, those that do have a clear strategy are cleaning up.
• Late first contact
With potential buyers only contacting sales teams at a late stage in the procurement process, sales professionals are left with little chance to influence decisions. This makes it vital to make contact with interested people as early as possible, while they’re still in the evaluation stage.
• Lack of control
This delayed first contact is making it increasingly difficult to train new leads and control the sales process. Sales professionals need to be able to take over early on to hold on to the lead.
• Account management
With most companies going through a period of dramatic change, sales professionals face the huge challenge of recognising the changing needs of existing customers in time to network with new contacts and repositioning themselves constantly as the supplier of choice.
The new sales heroes
• Heroes need a fellowship: No salesperson, however talented, can face these challenges alone. You need to create strong internal partnerships between sales and other teams like marketing, to take full advantage of magical weapons like automation, inbound marketing, social media and email marketing. Encourage your heroes to work together professionally with all departments and to remember that we are always stronger together.
• Entrepreneurs: The new sales heroes see themselves as independent entrepreneurs, not clock-punching wage-earners. Reward commitment, initiative, and the ability to learn fast – they’re the marks of the new hero.
• Passionate networkers: Networks and recommendations are the no.1 source of new sales leads today. That means you’re looking for the All-Loving Hero, Friend to All Living Things. They go out of their way to get to know as many decision-makers as possible, stay in contact with them, and position themselves as the go-to people in your industry.
• Generous spirits: The new sales heroes don’t just treat “add value” as a catchphrase, they live it. They know your customers' challenges as well as they know your products and services. Their passion to bestow real value makes them unassailable.
• Hungry for knowledge: The new sales heroes see sales as a craft and are always keen to level up through continuous learning.
Encourage your sales professionals to follow these principles, and you’ll have a band of heroes ready to face even the toughest challenge.