Improving sales productivity is a key challenge in every organization. Marketing is uniquely positioned to directly impact productivity of a sales team. From lead generation, to content creation, to nurturing, modern marketing teams are automating pieces of the sales process as appropriate so sales can focus where they make the most impact—closing business.
Marketing investments need to be able to support the sales process and enable sellers to differentiate themselves by having value-added conversations with prospects. But if sellers don’t find tools simple and easy to use, the return for marketing is unrealized. Here are four simple considerations to ensure your efforts are utilized and sales productivity increases.
The world of sales is complex. The pressures on sales reps to close more deals faster are intense. So ask yourself the question – where do your reps go to access the content and tools needed throughout the entire sales process? Do they start in a CRM, then head to search engines and business forums to research? After that are they scanning social media sites and reviewing prospect financials just to prepare for your corporate presentation? Forty percent of marketing content is not even used (sometimes up to 90%!) because reps are unable to locate or access materials. When you figure all the locations of information, it’s no wonder reps only spend on average about 40% of their time actually selling.
More than 8 in 10 sales reps feel challenged by the amount of data available and the time it takes to research before making a sales call. From sales training, to manager coaching, to talking points and presentations, today’s reps are slammed with more noise than ever, resulting in pure chaos and confusion. If you open the floodgates of information to your sellers, you are just setting them up to fail.
Simplify by cutting through the clutter and give reps the tools they need at the point in the sales cycle they need them. Marketing needs to take the valuable information already collected on a prospect, and map its content and tools available to create deal-specific processes for a rep to follow using the appropriate tools. This allows the rep to focus on solving prospect problems, not searching for information. Is the seller selling into financial services? healthcare? or retail? Ensure reps have tailored tools to use in each specific industry or situation. Don’t just point them to a library with thousands of content items or links for them to filter through themselves. Simplify it for them.
While your top reps may not be replicable, their best practices are. In complex B2B selling situations, the ability to harness what works and replicate and share that across the entire team can return dramatic results.
Do you know what content, tools and materials your top reps are using successfully? If not, find out. Marketers need to harness the knowledge from top reps to be able to tailor materials as well as know what materials are not being used or effective. If your reps are only using 40% of your materials, why are you updating and storing the other 60%? Are your top reps consistently using a presentation or a demo that they find helps them win deals? Identifying these winning strategies requires visibility into not only the sales process, but the individual selling activities of each rep. Your time is valuable, and effective marketers harness what is working and eliminate what’s not, and have the knowledge to make better decisions on where to allocate time and resources.
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Additionally, today’s buyer has changed. No longer does a prospect call your company looking to be educated on your offering or seeking advice. Reps need to compete with pre-disposed ideas of what your solutions do, as well as demonstrate value to the prospect – not just share information. Today’s modern marketer needs to not only harness successful selling strategies, but understand buyer behaviors to adapt messages and materials accordingly.
My mother makes the best homemade Ceasar Salad dressing with just six ingredients and a blender. Sounds easy, right? But it has taken me years to figure it out because there was never a recipe—just six ingredients and knowing what the outcome should be. So I tried different combinations over and over until I got the outcome I wanted.
This is the same process reps go through for every sale. They have all the ingredients—research tools, CRM data, collateral, case studies, etc.—but they are left up to their own devices to figure out how to put the ingredients together for the desired outcome—a closed deal.
Take the trial and error out of the equation for your reps. Now that you know what’s working since you’ve harnessed best practices, spread it through the sales team like a virus. Don’t just add content to the sales portal, send an email, or post a #SalesTip to Chatter. Provide your reps the recipe to close deals each and every time they engage prospects to replicate success. This not only will ensure your reps close more deals, but it will improve the overall customer experience and ensure consistent engagement with your brand.
As the adage states, it’s not practice that makes perfect; it’s perfect practice that makes perfect.
Change happens. Given the increasing complexity of the business environment and the forces of competition, sales and marketing teams can’t afford to be stymied by each change they encounter. And for sales, managing change can sap time and resources from everyone, including reps. New products, processes, people all happen more frequently than we’d like to admit, and distracts sellers from where they need to focus—closing business.
Modern marketers need to be agile to adjust in real time to business changes to support sellers. But these adjustments need to be grounded in data – not opinion. When making decisions to respond to changing factors versus following a defined plan, marketers need insights to justify to leadership—and sales—a new trajectory
More tools are available now than ever to provide marketers the insight needed to know exactly how their efforts impact sales at each stage of the process. This level of insight allows marketing leaders to prove the return on efforts and investment—or uncover where they can cut waste.