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3 Tips for Sales Effectiveness
The last decade has seen the inexorable rise of the smart buyer. Simply put, the job of the B2B sales rep is more challenging. Sales reps are drowning is data. Buyers are expecting sales reps to have done their “homework” before they ever make the first introductory phone call. If you don’t believe me, just consider your own reaction to the last generic sales pitch you heard from a sales rep.
The challenge for you, the sales leader, is this: How do you capitalize on the power of data to help your sales teams sell more effectively?
Here are three tips to boost your sales effectiveness:
1) Ask Profiling Questions
Unfortunately most reps do not know how to ask good questions. As a result, the quality of account profiles at most companies is limited to what can be purchased from a generic data vendor such as number of employees, number of sites, etc. Most of this information is not helpful to a front-line sales rep because it does not predict the likelihood and timing of a potential purchase. But what if your reps focused on asking questions that can predict behavior? What is the length of the contract? What are your company’s outsourced functions? Are there any planned location openings? Armed with fully-profiled accounts, the sales reps are trained to ask the right questions about needs, budgets and buying cycles. Sales managers can then track their reps based on the percentage of fully-profiled accounts within each rep’s portfolio. Even a partial completion rate of these profiles provides adequate information for sales and marketing to align campaigns and messages with the specific situation of the customer. By asking relevant questions the reps are able to stand head and shoulders above the competition.
2) Say the Right Words
Are you finding that even your most inspirational and compelling reps are having a harder time ‘gaining access’ to even schedule a first call or meeting? Increasing the number of tangible sales discussions is the top lever for growing your sales dollars, and it all starts with that first difficult interaction. Some B2B companies are gaining access to more decision makers by ensuring a rapid one-two punch with a targeted email and timely rep follow-up. However, process changes alone are not sufficient to increase engagement rates. Targeted opening lines are 1.5 times more effective at getting access to the right people. One seller of data-center software is using analytical methods to distill account intelligence into a customized, crisp and punchy 30-seconds-worth of bullet points to secure the prize: a scheduled call or meeting. These opening lines are provided to the reps and their effectiveness measured through A/B testing. Effective lines are retained while ineffective lines are retired.
3. Play and Learn
Is your rep activity aligned to segmentation strategies that you develop so diligently through market research and idea-generation exercise? Do you know if that idea – “sell to all hospitals with less than 200 beds” – will actually work out as expected? In the parlance of smart selling teams, these segmented strategies are called “plays”. One global distributor of electronic equipment has aligned all its selling activity around these plays which are managed as a portfolio across all the customers. Plays provide a framework for targeting, contextual content generation and offer-creation while aligning Sales and Marketing teams. Plays are measured against predicted performance, and poorly performing plays are removed. At the same time, new plays are added frequently in-line with introduction of new-products, new-acquisitions or just plain changes in strategy against specific segments.
Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from one of our whitepapers. For more tips, read “Smart Sales Reps Win in the Age of Information Overload.”