Guest post contributed by Max Rudman
All sales leaders – myself included – are concerned with accelerating revenue. Considering what I heard at the Sales 2.0 Conference earlier this month, revenue will go to the companies that “rev” up their sales process and technology infrastructure to take advantage of the “new” selling environment before their competitors.
Based on my personal experience working with customers to solve their price configuration challenges, delivering value faster than your competitors is definitely an area that Sales 2.0 can “rev” up. Today’s buyer has expectations of immediacy, and configuring a complex-sales quote in four days is not going to cut it. Instead, sales teams must begin using quoting automation tools that make product bundling and proposal options quick and easy. As many of our customers have seen, this kind of automation can reduce complex quoting from days to one hour—and make all the difference in winning more business by providing value before your competition.
Here are seven insights I took away from the April 2012 Sales 2.0 Conference about how companies can stop playing catch up—and quickly scale their people, process and technology to match the growth opportunities in the market and accelerate revenue.
ONE: Technology is the biggest driver of change.
Consider how much more mobile humans were after the invention of the wheel, how rapidly Gutenburg’s printing press fueled the spread of knowledge, and how quickly the internet transformed the Industrial Age into an Information Age. Today, businesses operate in entirely new ways thanks to the advent of cloud computing.
(Per speakers @Gerhard20 @DDaly)
TWO: There are fundamental shifts in the way people buy.
Buyers research and engage with their peers to discuss products and services long before they ever talk to a company representative. Social listening and engagement will transform your future sales growth.
(Per speakers @Jill_Rowley @JonFerrara)
THREE: Customization and content are king and queen.
With such access to online and social information, expectations are rising. Think of Nike’s iPod Sensor, which syncs your iPod’s music to the cadence of your footsteps. Customers don’t want to figure out what product best suits their needs—they expect you to do it for them, and send several cost scenarios to boot. Closing deals hinges on how well your company captures attention and incorporates customer buying preferences into its sales process.
(Per speakers @JWeinberger @RexiMedia)
FOUR: A brand is a promise consistently delivered.
Value is driven by much more than what you’re selling. Over 63% of buyers chose helpfulness and knowledge when selecting a vendor. To successfully manage the customer experience, companies must organize around their customer at all touch points—from initial online engagement to getting a sales quote, connecting with customer service, or even lodging a complaint. This data delivers revenue only when key metrics measure how likely customers are to purchase, renew, and refer.
(Per speakers Kirk Mosher @TMcCormick2011 @JeffreyHazlett @HeinzMarketing @CaHidalgo @ErycBranham)
FIVE: Data is useless unless it’s social, actionable, and delivered in real-time.
It’s very possible to be data rich but insight poor, especially if you’re using meaningless sales metrics. If you’re looking for a needle in the haystack, it doesn’t help to add more hay to the pile—you need more help finding the needle. But with the right tools, Big Data can help you find Big Opportunities.
(Per speakers @RVonsosen @CustomerThink @AnnekeSeley)
SIX: Sales success still boils down to relationships.
Second degree (LinkedIn) connections are 87% more likely to respond to any e-mail or phone call than a cold call. LinkedIn’s new TeamLink functionality gives your sales team access to analyze and leverage your entire company’s second degree connections.
(Per speakers @MikeDFresh @NextGenCMO)
SEVEN: Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
Your company needs to understand more than buyer motivation, but also what motivates individual sellers to sell. When you connect what motivates your sales team with incentives, for instance, you create a company culture that encourages performance and healthy competition, and accelerated revenue.
(Per speakers from @XactlyCorp @Bunchball @Badgeville, plus @SPatrizi @JimDickieCSOInsights)
In my view, the art of sales means creating and sustaining better relationships—within and without your company. The science of sales means deploying a sales process that makes selling and buying easier. Sales 2.0 encompasses both goals.
How are you helping your team accelerate revenue in today’s market?