The role of a sales representative as a trusted resource for the buyer in the business-to-business (B2B) marketplace is eroding. "B2B customers completed nearly 60 percent of a typical purchasing decision…before even having a conversation with a supplier," note the authors of the Harvard Business Review article, "The End of Solution Sales."
As buyers become more self-sufficient, sales professionals need to become even more prepared to move prospects through the sales process by personalizing the interaction. How can your organization continue to grow in this environment? Baker Tilly has identified three strategies that can help accelerate sales.
1) Know your customer's status in the buying cycle
"The B2B buying process is not one big decision; it is a series of micro-decisions," explains Jeff Ernst, an analyst at Forrester Research. "And the company that wins the business is the company that is there to answer those questions and provide fresh insights that influence how the buyers think about the problem so that the buyers can confidently advance their journey."
But in a customer-optimized buying process, the cycle has evolved. According to Mick Hollison of Insidesales.com, rather than "moving masses of leads" through the funnel, the focus now is on taking each "single lead through an optimized process."
"The days of cookie cutter collateral and one-size-fits-all sales strategy are over."
Communication must map to the buyer's journey and be tailored to each stage of the purchase process. And it must align with the customer's preferred communication channel. Today, prospects expect this level of micro-customization as a result of their expertly engineered shopping experiences with organizations such as Amazon.
2) Improve the quality and velocity of your response time
You can create a great piece of content, but if it's distributed at the wrong time, it's wasted. Sales must provide relevant information in a timely manner. To increase the speed of your responses:
- Increase efficiency by reducing distractions
- Track velocity metrics such as response time, persistence, percentage of leads contacted, length of sales cycle and prospect engagement
- Follow up quickly and repeatedly
According to Salesforce.com, 45 percent of sales reps' time is spent away from customers on administrative tasks and preparation. Reduce that figure by holding reps accountable and tracking efficiency. Call metrics dashboards can track follow-up behaviors and spot trends to determine best practices.
3) Equip your sales reps with just-in-time and valuable content
When reps are following up with customers, ensure they are making the most of their time. According to Gartner, 44 percent of buyers feel that only 25 percent of their providers help them maximize value consistently.
When most reps aren't valued by buyers, buyers won't call on them to build a business or evaluate alternatives. So how do sales reps bring this value and avoid "just checking in"? Sales enablement content helps sales teams to communicate value. It helps reps know what to say to accelerate any sale. And it provides valuable materials to share with prospects to advance a deal.
You must know what value you will deliver and how it will move the customer to the next stage in the purchase process. Depending on their stage, this value could be in the form of content such as research reports, product information, case studies, or even ROI calculators. The days of cookie cutter collateral and one-size-fits-all sales strategy are over. But with the right support, your sales team can provide relevant content at the right time to sustain a lasting relationship and accelerate sales.
Eager to enact some of these sales-accelerating strategies? We can help. Contact a Baker Tilly Sales Effectiveness Advisor to get started.