Marketers are continuously striving to roll out successful content assets for the Sales team.
From eye-catching animations, interactive features, PDFs, advanced 3D simulations and competitor comparison graphics, these types of assets are vital to the process of informing and engaging customers throughout the sales cycle.
The reality, however, is that your sales reps aren’t using what your marketing team is producing. According to SiriusDecisions, over 60% of content created by marketers is never used by sales reps.
What’s going on here?
Here’s a list of three issues your sales reps might be experiencing by not using the right content, and the solutions needed to overcome them.
Issue #1 – Sales reps can’t find your collateral
You may be expanding, adding new product lines, or new divisions are brought on, there’s a good chance that your content collateral is also expanding. So where do you store it?
Are you shoving in some shared Dropbox folder? Perhaps you’re sticking it into your sales portal. You might be working with a centralized hub, but your sales reps need Wi-Fi access to it and they need the names of the files in order to locate them.
Sales reps don’t have the time to figure out where the right collateral is.
Adding your content assets to your Sales Enablement platform will provide a quick search capability for your sales reps and give them access to all the collateral without the need for an online connection.
Issue #2 – Sales reps can’t send the collateral
Sales reps need an easy way to share content with customers, but sometimes the size of the assets is too big.
Animations, interactive features, PDFs, advanced 3D simulations take up a lot of space in email and often exceed what your email server is able to send out, or even what your prospect is capable of receiving.
The last thing you need your sales reps using is USB drives in order to share content collateral.
A Sales Enablement solution compresses files and allows sales reps to add them to Web portals and easily use them as presentations on Sales Call. What’s more is that all customer activity is logged in your CRM and marketing automation platform.
Issue #3 – Sales reps don’t know what which collateral works
Without the knowledge of which content assets are the most effective, sales reps could be sending the wrong content to customers at the wrong time and through the wrong channel.
With the amount of content collateral that’s been created by Marketing, and the different types of content out there, sales reps need to be sure what the best asset is and when it should be sent out.
Sales Enablement software is heavily built on its ability to work as a comprehensive analytics system. Having real-time metrics and customized reports means having stats on what collateral works with what customer at what time.
In order to maximize sales rep effectiveness on Sales Call and beyond, these issues should be addressed beforehand. Your content collateral is your most important asset. With a Sales Enablement solution, you can achieve real success with your customers as well as internal processes.
How effective are you at managing your content assets?
B2B sales reps are skilled networkers. They know the importance of getting in front of the right people, and they know how to use language to communicate with customers to capture their attention and forward the opportunity. Yet, learning how to be a great B2B social networker means mastering a set of completely different skills. The following best practice tips will help you become a better social networker so that you can be prepared for key interactions with digital customers.
Tip #1. Become an expert in a specific area.
Establishing credibility and worthiness to follow means that as a sales rep you should focus on one particular area of expertise. Identifying the area of expertise means becoming a thought leader in that niche. By sharing observations and recommendations, sales reps can capture a subset of customers that are interested in what you have to say. The world is a big place. There are many people that will share your interests on a specific topic or industry.
Tip #2. Learn proper etiquette with each platform.
Each platform has its own culture. Social media influencers within each platform follow a code of conduct when it comes to their respective networks. To find helpful techniques search and follow leaders in your industry that excel in a particular social media channel. For example, as a sales rep that wants to become an influencer on LinkedIn, post articles on a regular basis or start discussions in relevant groups.
Tip #3. Don’t broadcast, engage one-on-one.
Just like watered-down messages sent to a large group of customers, broadcast style of communication means missing out on a lot of valuable customers. Don’t send out tweets en masse. Establish one-to-one relationships. @reply to people individually or send out personal emails on LinkedIn.
Tip #4. Pick important KPIs to measure your success by.
Top performing marketers quantify their social media results – yes, it is possible no matter what you’ve heard. The problem is that marketers often don’t pick the right metrics early on which makes it hard to measure success of the social networking efforts. Choose the right KPIs to measure your success by. Focus on things like number of retweets, likes on Facebook, or number of Face-to-Face interactions you get as a result of LinkedIn.
Tip #5. Look for ways to help people.
Helping customers identify their problem and then finding the right solution for it is the end goal. Social media consumers are searching online for information on a specific product or brand. They are there because they need more information. By identifying the problems of specific social media consumers, you can figure out which offer suits them best.
Mastering social media networking is no small feat, but setting real, tangible goals can get you there. The best thing to do when diving in with social media is to follow the influencers. Figure out – What are they doing? How are they maintaining their networks? What can I do to achieve the same success? Social media is a must-have for today’s digital marketers and sales reps alike. It uncovers opportunities that are worth searching for.
How effective are your social media efforts? Are you polishing your social media skills?
“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” Earl Nightingale
As a sales rep, when was the last time you took a bird’s-eye view of your sales process to objectively assess the impact of your individual effort? Where you stand now, can you accurately measure and identify your strengths and weaknesses, and benchmark your impact against the top performers on your sales team? If you aren’t rating your own performance on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, you need to lend focus to laying down the precedent for an accurate and measurable sales process if you want to pull your numbers up.
According to Dealmaker Index, 30% of sales reps are more likely to hit sales targets with a competitive strategy, but, in reality, 30% of them don’t even have a strategy in place. Where do you fair out?
Metrics that matter – Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Operating at peak efficiency means having the mechanisms in place to measure your own performance, and these mechanisms come in the form of KPIs. One common KPI is ‘Quota fulfillment’. Quota fulfillment is a leading indicator of sales performance. When a quota is in place, it not only gives you a tangible goal, but it also works as a great motivator. You have to consider things like your sales team’s overall revenue goals, the history of your team’s revenue generation and the individual performance of each member.
‘Closing Ratio’ is another important KPI. A closing ratio gives you the ability to measure your success at converting Sales Calls into actual sales. Say you have 50 Sales Calls in a given month; out of those 50 you convert 20 into sales, giving you a ratio of 40%. If you have a low closing ratio, it is likely a sign that you have areas to improve on and need training to hone your closing skills.
Marketing has produced a steady stream of prospects for you. What now? How successful you are at assessing the buyer’s journey is key to closing the deal. If your numbers are low it may be an indication that you aren’t responding to the needs of the prospect according to their buying stages. Are they in the early stage of the sales process or are they close to making a purchase decision? You need to hone the skill of knowing where to devote more time to prospecting. Perhaps sending out a follow-up email… Providing access to a Web portal… Engaging in more social selling or initiating more face-to-face meetings. You improve the sales process by assessing the buyer’s journey and responding accordingly to each prospect’s needs.
Let’s move on to ‘Customer retention’. This KPI is measured by determining the number of customers that have stayed with your company or have decided to move on to your competitors. Customer retention is an indication of how well you serve the needs of your customers and the impact of your business relationship in the long-term.
You’ve chosen a career as a sales rep because you know it can be dynamic, exciting and lucrative, but you know that competition is tough. That’s why improving the sales process is a key part of achieving sales success. Overcoming the odds and keeping numbers high means actively working on improving performance, and leading sales organizations invest heavily in training in order to empower their teams. It’s important to understand that doing it all on your own is a great feat; that’s why working as a team Is key. Learning from and pushing one another is part of improving the sales process. Sales teams that achieve success know this and are greatly investing in each other. How successful are you at continuously improving your own sales process?
Leading companies in 2017 are focused on pushing towards marketing and Sales alignment to achieve mature Sales Enablement. These companies know that with sales and marketing alignment, it becomes possible to improve results due to gained access to granular data on the customer. To understand the customer journey there has to be formal collaboration between the two functions. And when aligned, leveraging technology like Sales Enablement analytics becomes possible.
A 2016 CSO Insights Sales Enablement Optimization Study defines Sales Enablement as a “strategic cross-functional discipline that is designed to improve sales results and productivity. It provides integrated content and coaching services for sales people and their managers along the entire customer journey powered by technology.”
With the technological landscape evolving so rapidly your success in the upcoming years requires you to add better technological components to your sales growth strategy. Extensive data collection is already a proven practice to improve integration between Sales and Marketing. The future of Sales Enablement will rely on incorporating more sophisticated uses of data and analytics.
Analytics in the Sales Funnel
Data is collected in the buyer’s journey to identify how the prospective buyer is reacting to campaigns. With a growing database of buyer responses through tools like surveys and questionnaires, it is becoming easier to evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of your campaigns.
There is a big loss when it comes to selling when 30-40% of MQL’s are dead once marketing passes them to Sales. Pushing leads to the sales force often becomes a structural problem, and this is where automation goes wrong.”
The way you handle this data is an important piece of the Sales Enablement puzzle. Based on past successes, generating marketing campaigns should get smarter and more personalized in identifying buyer problems and behaviors. This way, Marketing can create content that is personalized and targets buyer problems on a 1:1 level, and by the time Sales makes a touchpoint, the prospect is more informed and ready to buy.
Future of Sales Enablement Analytics
In a predictive sense, AI will be a big trend in the future, and will help salespeople be more productive and effective at responding to prospects by looking at data properly, and, ultimately, delivering the right message at the right time throughout the customer journey.
With AI-enabled apps becoming a hot item in the data-gathering and analytics space, the big questions to ask yourself would be “is AI part of my technological stack?” and “how can I personalize my content such that the buyer’s problems are addressed in a more complete and sophisticated way earlier in the sales process?”
Ryann Ellis at the Association of Talent Development quotes Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce predicting that the “AI Spring” that the world is undergoing will have a huge impact on Sales and Marketing. AI will become part of communication between sales and customers on the phone, chat, text, email, and any other medium where you can engage the buyer, and this growth in data will allow companies to understand buyer problems better and earlier.
With the growing influence of analytics, the potential for using data to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Sales and Marketing integration is infinite. The future of Sales Enablement is peppered with data-driven strategies, and in the upcoming years, your customer growth will be defined by how you use data to guide your campaigns. Are you using analytics to help streamline your Sales Enablement processes? How are you preparing your company for the future? Sales Enablement can get you there.
Companies invest upwards of $5 billion to drive best practices into the organization through sales training, annually, according to Recent IDC research. The reality, however, is that of this investment, more than 80% of the sales force fails to retain what it has learned after 30 days.
Successful organizations succeed because they have a key interest in making the sales rep feel at home and confident in their new role. When training is done right, sales teams become stronger, communication reaches a new level, and resources are efficiently and effectively used. This is why training is so important; it empowers the front-line of the organization – the sales rep.
Lagging companies are failing because they are using outdated approaches to onboarding. Lengthy and ineffective classroom settings play a large role in poor retention and often result in unmet quotas and loss of revenue.
Key Areas to Effective Training
In most cases, the behaviors and habits of a sales rep form at the beginning, when the role is taken on. Adapting to company culture happens at the start…Getting comfortable with colleagues happens at the start… And most importantly, having the drive and the motivation to close business starts on the onset. This is why top performers ensure that there is a set structure in place that allows sales reps to settle and thrive in their role, and they ensure a viable training process to make it happen.
Sales execs that devote time to training are making a conscious effort to develop sales rep skill-sets. Sales training helps foster key skills such as listening to customers to truly understand their needs while asking the right questions during the face-to-face interaction. After all, wouldn’t continuously working on your communications skills set the scene for effectively communication with your customers?
How about sales methodology? There is nothing like being prepared for a Sales Call; ‘winging it’ doesn’t work. With a road map to keep you on track throughout your presentation means leading the conversation and steering it the right direction. Developing closing techniques to gain a buying commitment from a prospect can only be achieved through proper training.
Let’s talk about overcoming objections. This is a normal part of the sales process because customers are always seeking reasons to buy. If you’re a successful sales rep you expect to receive objections from your customer, and this is so because you’ve most likely been prepared properly during the onboarding process.
What You Don’t Want from Training?
The classroom rut. Companies often get stuck training sales reps in traditional classroom-style learning. The logistics that come with traditional methods of training is painful for anyone. Without meaningful learning progressions, the training process could sour sales rep morale.
It’s important to be a leader and not a boss, and pushing the learning process onto a sales team ends up in the kind of content overload that forces sales reps to memorize large amounts of material; and nobody wants that. Overwhelming sales reps with information isn’t worth the effort. What counts is providing insight and knowledge that can be translated to the real world.
Building a sales team from the ground up begins with effective trainees. Yet, many trainees are simply unqualified to take on the task. They become disconnected and unaware of the needs of the sales rep. With the wrong training tools, it’s hard to engage with new hires. Inspiring, real-world applications and ongoing support is what sales reps have to walk away with, and with trainees that don’t offer this, chances are that sales reps won’t be successful with customers.
The reality is that memorizing the features of a product doesn’t translate to sales. Sales reps have to take on knowledge of the entire selling landscape; the problems their customers face, the unique value of the company, how customers behave, and how to make use of the right tools to their advantage.
Driving positive sales performance is up to the right sales leadership and the application of best practices to the selling process. In order to affect the bottom line, trainers have to really work to support sales reps and push them past the learning curve. If your organization lacks in proper onboarding, it may be time to make a visit to your sales execs office.