Most B2B companies that I run across miss two very important factors for their success.
1. They fail to have a strong Value Proposition (some haven’t got one at all), and
2. They fail to differentiate themselves (even though they feel they have).
So I did some research, and I found some interesting stats, insights and differentiators by some of the world’s best B2B research firms.
HBR/SAP – Winning at Sales in a Buyer-Empowered World
3. 65% of sales organizations say rising customer expectations are their number one challenge.
4. 72% of decision makers say the sales rep’s ability to help solve business objectives is a major influence on their buying decision.
5. 37% of businesses expect revenue increases when applying analytics best practices to sales.
“The vendor has historically been the primary source of information, and that is no longer true,” says Gerry Murray, research manager at IDC’s CMO Advisory Service. “That is a radical change in the exploration process. If you are still training salespeople on the old model, you are going to struggle to connect with buyers.”
The key for sales organizations—and the marketing leaders who collaborate with them—is to do their own research as well as collect and analyze data from their customer interactions and the digital footprints that customers leave behind when they, for instance, participate in online communities, download white papers, or attend a webcast.
The Sales Imperative
Sales organizations need to enable their sales representatives to act as trusted counselors and advisors who can offer decision makers advice on solving important business problems and preparing for trends—counsel that often extends beyond the products or services they’re selling.
In an IDC survey of information technology buyers,
6. 25 percent of respondents said the ability to help solve business objectives was the most important quality in a sales representative, even ahead of technology expertise.
Meeting customers’ rising expectations requires a multipronged effort that includes the following.
7. Aligning sales and marketing.
8. Creating analytics-driven processes that inform sales teams
9. Developing expertise in customers’ business challenges.
Such technology platforms and tools can analyze customer interactions to identify high-quality prospects, suggest next-best actions, and provide insights that enable them to deepen customer relationships.
A more effective approach, says Jim Dickie, managing partner at CSO Insights, is to create customer-specific workspaces that include collaborative capabilities.
The use of playbooks in sales calls. Informed by analytics, these digital guides can be used with mobile devices to optimize the delivery of effective and consistent sales messages.
Placing analytics at the center of sales efforts can yield numerous use cases to derive business value.
The Ongoing Challenge of Sales-Customer Alignment
10. In an Alexander Group study, companies that effectively used digital playbooks realized a 6 percent to 14 percent increase in sales.
11. And companies that implement analytics to prioritize sales leads and identify which customers will value additional products and services can potentially double their conversion rates, Murray says.
In other words, winning in sales today hinges not just on what a business sells but also—increasingly—on how the sales team sells it. That means
12. targeting the right customers at the right time,
13. discovering and even anticipating what really matters to customers, and
14. providing valuable guidance and insights all along the way.
New Rules for Customer Engagement
In order to align your selling process to the buying journey and focus on making each interaction meaningful for the customer at every stage, companies must:
15. Target the customers where you deliver the most value.
16. Discover what customers care about most.
17. Guide the customers through the buying journey
18. Win by going the extra mile.
McKinsey – How B2B companies talk past their customers
Here are three questions whose answers may point to opportunities for improvement.
19. Are you telling the same story as your competitors?
20. Does your sales force say it is facing headwinds?
21. Do you deliver your brand in a consistent way?
If you’d like to improve your sales and marketing processes to close more business, contact me through My Email, and let’s set up a free consultation to see how you can grow your business faster and more profitably.
Ian Dainty’s Email
Author of the Book – Grow Your B2B Business With Strategic Account Management
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