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Sales megatrends: How to adapt

By Hugo Sarrazin and Lareina Yee

“Super-buyers” today require a new mindset and skill set from sales leaders.

The New Age of Selling is about continuous engagement, not just transactions. So we’re really talking about a new mindset and skill set for sales leaders. With the ubiquity of connected devices and software, sales organizations must think holistically about product/service and pre- and post-sales as one big platform, not separate events, and evolve their business model accordingly. Here are some ideas:

Guide the community: When customers are engaged in multiple conversations and are highly networked through collaboration tools, the role of the sales leader changes. They need to help the community engage in the “right” conversation with the “right” facts because objective participants in a community often have more credibility than salespeople. The interaction becomes more like a guided tour of self-discovery that salespeople need to facilitate.

Do your homework: Customers are revealing information about themselves and their companies constantly. That behavior raises the stakes for sales leaders. They need to know their customers before trying to talk to them—the discovery process starts earlier and never stops. Make every conversation contextual and highly personalized.

Follow the customer across the entire journey: Customers typically use six different channels for prospecting, and they expect a coherent and consistent experience across all channels. Know where your customers are in the journey, identify trigger points, deploy resources and dollars to the points that impact outcome. We’ve seen companies rethink resource allocation, messages and channel strategies markedly as a result of insights into the journey and achieve double-digit improvement in close rates and upselling as a result.

ABT—Always Be Testing: Continuously test different elements of the selling model, like lead-nurturing techniques and pricing strategies. Develop a never-ending planning phase with continuous refinements to sales processes. This is not new for B2C players. Well-structured A/B testing has been shown to generate up to 30-40% more leads for B2B sites as well.

Harness new sources of data: Big Data is more than a buzz word; it should be your “unfair advantage.” Look for creative mashups of data (internal, external) to help with next product to buy, call planning and forecast information. This approach is critical for unlocking pockets of growth that are often overlooked.

How is your sales organization evolving?

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