When we talk about modern-day sales cycles, we hear a lot of challenges. Just about every sales rep will tell you that the sales cycle is getting increasingly complex. With the continuous advent of new technology, leadership teams have more visibility and insight into how effective their current business operations are. Because of this, there are now multiple stakeholders, all of whom want a voice in why and how to improve their current processes.
So, what does this mean for sales organizations? As an account development representative, I talk every day with people who are experiencing these kinds of challenges—and I also am part of a team that is selling into this increasingly complex world. Let’s take a closer look at how peer-to-peer relationships within sales organizations can make a tremendous, positive impact on modern sales cycles.
A Long and Winding Road
For starters, the modern sales cycle is longer and more complex than it ever was before. It demands more investment in developing relationships with an entire team of buyers. This has led companies to develop large sales organizations, with various positions based on unique responsibilities, tasks, and levels of involvement throughout the sales cycle.
But why is this required? Why can’t one sales professional work side-by-side with their lead through the entire buyer’s journey? Well, for one thing, that’s just downright difficult to do. A fully ramped sales representative already has enough on his or her plate simply working to find new business opportunities.
More important, different stages of the sales cycle require distinct skill sets and daily duties. Inside sales reps like me are held responsible for prospecting, developing the first levels of engagement, and qualifying new business opportunities; field sales reps nurture the engagement, meet with decision-makers, and close deals. As you can tell, these roles are very different.
We haven’t even mentioned the economical benefits of segmenting sales roles:
- When inside sales and field sales are separate, it is easier to define responsibilities and identify needs for certain sales positions
- Time and cost savings for hiring, training, developing, and compensating sales employees. This allows for a better allocation of resources, as well as developing specific processes to maximize efficiency for each position type.
- You can increase in retention rates for current employees, as well as establish a path for career development.
It is important for companies to hire for a multitude of sales roles to ensure that teams provide a smooth evaluation process for prospects. But as companies grow, they face a problem: how to build peer-to-peer relationships within the roles of the sales organization to ensure a transparent hand-off for prospects? We’re talking about going beyond the simple ice-breaker events and happy hours to allow sales professionals to meet and mingle with each other. I have found that strong peer-to-peer relationships are essential to providing a seamless experience for the prospect.
Keeping the Way Smooth and Clear
To make a great experience for buyers, companies need to clearly define their roles, responsibilities, and proper forms of conduct when performing customer-facing activities, as well develop an environment that encourages open collaboration. There are three easy steps companies can take to ensure a smooth handoff:
- It begins with providing transparency in regards to each sales professional’s specific duties, based on their position within the organization. This means clearly defining of processes and visibility of the metrics, KPIs, and performance dashboards developed for sales teams.
- Next, there needs to be open communication and accurate, thorough reporting in a CRM (if you don’t know what that is, probably shouldn’t be in sales). This helps teams easily log and track conversations and engagement tactics, as well as keep track of their prospects.
- Last, but definitely not least, is letting the prospect know about the handoff. A prospect should be fully aware that the sales rep with whom they had their initial conversation will not being showing them the demonstration and walking them through pricing options. It is vital to ensure that a prospect is kept up to date on who their point of contact is within a company. This helps develop trust with the prospect, and ensures their questions are being addressed by the correct individual.
Arriving at Your Destination: Closed-Won
By providing a smooth experience throughout the entire evaluation process, my field sales colleagues and I are able to keep track of all prospects and decision-makers, helping not only improve the relationships, but also to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales organization. This also helps created closed-loop feedback within the sales organization—field sales reps can provide their inside sales reps with actionable insights into which strategies and outreach efforts are performing, and those that aren’t. As a result, sales teams can improve the probability of their success over time, and generate directly applicable best practices to help move deals faster through the pipeline.
The benefits extend beyond the sales organization as well. A well-functioning sales organization can more easily collaborate and strategize with marketing organizations to create a more effective business development strategy. We use an account-based strategy to capitalize on this alignment. You’ve likely heard it referred to as Account-Based Marketing or Account-Based Sales Development. With an account-based strategy, marketing teams provide sales reps with higher quality and quantity leads, confident that they will be quickly acted upon. With this alignment, marketing teams can also develop more effective content and collateral aligned to common characteristics shared by accounts, allowing both sales and marketing teams to engage with their prospects. Learn more about account-based marketing in our eBook, “Content: Your Ticket to High-Performing ABM.”