Customer Success Creates Growth
Today’s Business to Business customers are the most sophisticated buyers the world has ever seen. By fusing a number of high-performing core areas you can control, you enable customer success.
Area 1: Value Messaging
Forrester states that 74% of buyers chose a vendor because of the vendor's ability to delivery a vision. Value messaging must address objectives such as fiscal growth, profit and organization. It's critical that your sales team are strong consultants who excel at getting knee-deep into customer issues.
Research tells us that the inability to communicate value is often cited as the single largest inhibitor to selling. Today’s buyers crave messages on outcomes for the short term and the long term strategic value of a decision. Product or service features are just ante to the game the buyer probably discovered on-line. The salesperson has to bring more valued information and insight. Focused conversations on the customer’s market, the specific buyer’s role, the buying team, goals, and their own customer journey is the smart play; not emphasizing features. The other thing that has changed is one value message will not work all the way through the customer journey. Through discovery and conversations, your value messages will need to be dynamic and adjust to new information at each turning point.
Area 2: Sales Training and Methodology
Companies with high-performing sales teams are 2.6x more likely than underperforming sales teams to invest more than $1K in annual training. Whether it is the buyer of complex good and services or even commodities, today’s instantly-informed buyer has taken more control of the buying process. Research shows that the sales process is getting longer and more complex, buyers are farther along the buying path (60%) before contacting sellers, 43% of buyers are adding more adding more members to the buying team, and only 13% of executive buyers believe a salesperson can articulate their business issues and show how they will be solved.
Effective sales training is usually more than taking a class. It’s a Change Management project that requires discovery, best practice matching, tailoring, delivery, retention, and integration with sales technology. It also deserves Knowledge Management considerations so that what is needed on a 24X7 basis on a mobile device is delivered to help today’s highest performing sales teams.
Onboarding and Ramp Up
A recent report by SHRM states that “new employees who attended a structured orientation program were 70 percent more likely to remain at the company up to three years.” Consider the investment you make in your sales team members, the markets they work in, and the accounts they serve. Can you really afford that kind of churn when an ounce of prevention that bring a pound of cure?
Onboarding sessions that include the right sales materials, customer insights, subject matter experts including product management, and improving effectiveness with technology. We should not assume our new salespeople already know what to do. Better to address knowledge gaps up front and not in a performance meeting down the road. By taking a longer term view into the investment, we hire better, train better, and support better. The result is more loyal employees and sustained growth.
Area 3: Technology/Systems
Top sales performers have been to shown to be 8X as likely as underperforming salespeople to be heavy technology users as they seek to maximize their time. In addition to being heavy users, they are the early adopters. Prioritized systems are customer relationship management (CRM), a website that integrates with CRM, web analytics, mobile sales applications, and business intelligence for dynamic performance reporting, insights, and analytics. Organizations that are successful are 3.5X more likely to use analytics than underperforming companies.
In today’s digital operating environment, we must find competitive efficiencies and improve the effectiveness of our sales efforts. Systems are expected to grow the size of our pipeline, increase deal size, improve win rates, and hasten the velocity of the sales cycle. This is a tall order and although technology will not achieve this on its own, these results require systems. Organizations need to provide specific and multimodal technology training including 24X7 video, webinars, quick start guides, and in-person.
Area 4: Content Marketing
Our goal is to have modularized content that fits into point-in-time relevance to the customer journey. The content needs to be easily shared and can work in multiple channels. What we seem to forget is that prospects will use the provider’s content to sell the provider within their own buying teams. Your salesperson will not be there. Your subject matter expert will not be there. Just the content. Is it shareable? Does it travel well? How does it compare to your competition? If you don’t win on content marketing, chance are you will never get to any meaningful conversations.
A holistic content marketing plan is necessary which includes understanding the message, the media, and the channels. You want to push the best content in the right context to your sales team and partners — on any device so they can sell anytime and from anywhere.
Area 5: Growth Culture
High performing organizations are nearly 3X more likely than underperforming organizations to view sales as the responsibility of the entire company. The best companies adopt a complex ecosystem selling approach accepting that today’s sophisticated buyer has relationships across the seller’s organization. Teams can benefit from having multiple relationships if the entire organization fosters a growth culture. High-performing companies see growth as the responsibility of the entire company, adopting an enterprise-wide sales approach complete with employee recognition. From a revenue standpoint, the old paradigm was marketing was a cost center that threw a lead over the wall to sales. No more. Now, marketing and sales must work together to create a more predictable revenue engine.
Harvard Business Review reported that “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work”. Add that to the research that says 62% of buyers report that the winning provider responded more quickly than their competition. From a growth culture standpoint, there is no reason to support the silos of marketing and sales.
Area 6: Customer Analytics and Insights
High performing sales team are 4.6X as likely to rate their customer analytics capabilities as outstanding or very good versus underperforming teams. With customer analytics, we get deeper insights into industries, geographies, companies, issues, and individuals. By segmenting the data and understanding attribution of leads, we can track trends and market drivers. The result of this is clarity on the why/who/where relating to future investments of operating dollars and personnel. We can expect the use of predictive sales analytics to explode over the next few years.
How important is the understanding of issues? Research says that 61% of buyers believe their chosen provider showed high value (understands issues and has ideas) vs 17% for the providers not chosen. From the provider’s side, insight tells us:
Who should we target based on probability of becoming a client?
When can expect decisions to be made?
Which solutions/products are they most likely to buy?
How much would this deal be worth?
How long does would the sales cycle be?