B2B companies don’t have the same luxury that businesses had in former years, when sales controlled consumer behavior. Now the digital marketplace has put the buyer in the driver’s seat and some sales forces behind the eight ball to keep up with consumer habits.
As we venture into a new year, we’ll continue to see dramatic changes in the ways sales teams operate. Cutting edge technology combined with expanding online channels will offer sales teams countless strategic and operational choices to connect and convert leads.
Consider these 5 ways sales will continue to evolve:
1. Better alignment with marketing: The changes in buyer behavior have altered the sales process, as most buyers are no longer dependent on the company as the sole provider of product/service information.
Information to inform their buying decision, such as media coverage, customer reviews, social networks, blog posts and more all exist and are easily accessible. Because of this, it’s important that the marketing and sales teams are on the same page as to current marketing messages and messages infiltrating the marketplace by influencers or competitors.
Sales research shows that companies that have sales and marketing collaboration through the revenue cycle have markedly improved lead generation and conversion.
The clearer the picture of a qualified sales lead, the more efficiently sales and marketing can work together to keep leads in the sales process and convert them when ready to buy.
2. Better buyer understanding: The best sales forces will also work with marketing to better understand changing consumer profiles. The dynamic nature of the Internet gives constantly varying pictures of how shoppers buy which means sales messages need to change too.
For example, some buyers come to companies armed with prior research and recommendations (in fact, according to a 2010 Nielsen survey of 27,000 Internet users, 57 % of online respondents said they consider reviews prior to buying), while some still come to the table as a cold lead who need companies to educate and inform them before they make decisions.
Using revenue cycle analytics to determine what sources of leads converts the highest or the fastest can help the two teams prioritize activities to fill the funnel with desired type of lead.
3. Faster response. Innovations in automation now allow sales people to receive instant updates when prospects respond to messages.
For example, email technology alerts sales whenever prospects open email marketing campaigns. This allows sales teams more visibility into real-time actions of prospects being tracked in the revenue cycle funnel.
It also enables sales teams to better prioritize the leads they follow up with and do so in a more engaging way by referencing key points related to the content that compelled the click.
4. 2.0 technology integration. Sales 2.0 is one of the newest tools revolutionizing B2B sales. With Sales 2.0, lead generation and qualification can be as specific as triggering specific actions based on sets of criteria.
By interacting with leads and learning when to pass them back to marketing for further lead nurturing, fewer leads drop out of the funnel and conversion rates increase dramatically.
5. Improved Forecasting. The ability to create accurate revenue forecasts is more efficient than ever. The most successful CSOs have learned to incorporate marketing forecasts which complete the revenue picture by predicting new business that is not currently in the sales forecast period.
The revenue models with marketing and sales details integrated provide better guidance to decisions that impact budgets, staffing, etc.
Just as marketing professionals have had to morph in the digital marketplace, sales members must adjust as well. Leveraging tools and techniques to stay on top of changes in buyer behavior, sales teams can move forward with confidence and success, responding to more leads and closing more sales.