Keeping up with buyers today is exhausting. Their behaviors are constantly shifting, and they do more research up front, on their own, than ever before. And on top of that, the buying team is bigger than ever. In short, the sales process is more complex than ever. The average B2B buyer is already 57% of the way through the purchase decision before engaging a supplier sales rep, according to CEB.
But ponder this: the modern sales rep doesn’t have a problem with any of that. The top echelon of sales reps is knocking it out of the park even in today’s buyer-first environment. Why? Because they’ve figured out what works. Sales enablement teams have the power to lead a shift across the sales organization to update old school “conventional wisdom” and modernize the way reps work.
How to do it? Take the right steps. Here are just a few ideas for ways that sales enablement pros can modernize the team in 2018:
- Show them how to guide, don’t sell
Since the dawn of capitalism, buyers have never really enjoyed being “sold” to. And today, with countless resources at their fingertips, they don’t have to sit through a rote sales pitch. The modern buyer responds best to a modern seller, who is there to guide and educate: 74% of buyers choose the rep that was first to add value and insight, according to Corporate Visions.
- Train your sales reps to listen
It’s essential for reps to keep tabs on how much time they are spending truly listening to buyers—and also how to respond appropriately. Enforce this training by encouraging reps to role-play (SKO is a great time for that!), to give practice in proper behaviors. Give reps a handy list of questions to ensure sales reps aren’t giving a one-sided spiel. Going hand-in-hand with listening to buyers is following up with relevant content. Emphasis on the word “relevant.” If you’re a marketer and you’re reading this, your job is to make sure that you’ve made content available to sellers so they can keep the conversations moving forward, making it easy for reps to find and use.
- Leverage AI for sales enablement
“AI” and “big data” are buzzwords these days—yet the capabilities are real for sales enablement. Technology can determine how content performs—not just whether it appears relevant for a given sales conversation, but also how effective it is in a given deal stage, industry, or company size—and see how much revenue that piece of content generates—all integrated into your CRM. Typically, sales enablement teams don’t have the people resources to do that kind of analysis themselves. But technology can do it for you. That kind of data becomes actionable with AI surfacing the right content at the right time for a given sales conversation. And sellers don’t have to hunt for this kind of information—AI gives the edge.
- Create a clear system for social selling
Social selling isn’t going away—but not all sellers have embraced it. If you have a sales team that doesn’t get it, this year is the year for you to establish a social selling performance metrics, gamify who is posting the most, and provide social starters. In fact, this is a great topic for hands on practice at your upcoming sales kickoff event. Using the full range of available communications methods to capture mindshare of a buyer is indeed a modern approach to sales.
- Help sellers reach out creatively
Personalized messages make an important difference, and they are infinitely better than a “just checking in” email. Here’s an example: personalized videos sent in email have been very effective for many a B2B company—these may be worth testing in yours. A natural extension of the ABM/ABS playbook, tailored messages like video emails must needs be highly personalized, short, and to the point. Your sales team needn’t fear: casual and human is the point of these personalized messages, so they don’t need to feel hyper polished. Effective, creative, and ever so modern.
- Know thy product
Gone are the days when a seller can live by charm alone. B2B buyers often have strict requirements. They need to be thoroughly convinced by sellers. Make sure sellers have training materials close by (that means, digitally, where they spend most of their day), and that they get a refresher on key features before every conversation. Another thing on this topic: encourage your sellers not to be afraid of the words, “I don’t know.” As long as your seller follows up with the information or content requested, they will stay in good standing—much better than trying to skirt around ignorance.
What’s essential to empowering your organization to become more modern is to innovate. That may mean exploring and testing, to determine what works for your unique sales organization. What ideas have you been waiting to implement to empower and modernize your sales org? One thing is for certain: encouraging your sales team to do the same things they did five years ago will lead to those modern-thinking buyers slipping through your fingers. Instead, let 2018 be your year of modernization—and success.
Are you ready? Download the eBook “Four Building Blocks of Sales Enablement” for more ideas to empower your sales team.