The old ways of selling are quickly fading as empowered buyers are changing the way they approach B2B sales.
Stephanie Dart, director of product marketing at Microsoft, reminds us that today’s buyers are more informed, savvy and influential than ever before.
During XANT’s 2016 Sales Acceleration Summit, Stephanie discussed how the rise of social media and mobile has created a generation of super buyers. As a result, sellers must adapt and become increasingly more productive, doing more with less, if they hope to meet the demands of this new sales era.
B2B sales in 2016
Buyers are engaging with sellers later in the cycle. They have access to more information early on, so when they finally do engage, they’ve already figured out what they need. They’ve researched solutions and even benchmarked on price.
In fact, buyers are often 57 percent through the buying process before they ever talk to the supplier.
That also has a significant effect on outreach efforts. While cold emails and cold calling were once the sales norm, their effectiveness is rapidly diminishing.
Traditional interactions with customers are by no means dead, but conversations rarely start with cold outreach. Stephanie noted that sales reps have only about a 1 percent chance of getting a response from cold emails.
Lastly, purchasing decisions in 2016 require more stakeholders than ever. As deals become increasingly complex, more stakeholders from different parts of the organization are weighing in.
Between five and six stakeholders are involved in the average B2B deal. These stakeholders bring different perspectives and business needs, making it hard for sellers to create a consensus among customer stakeholder groups.
Too much wasted time
Alongside a changing sales environment, sales reps face internal challenges that hurt productivity.
Stephanie reported that the average sales rep spends about 75 percent of his or her time on non-selling activities.
These activities include things like service breaks, traveling and administrative order processing.
Even when these activities are geared toward making sales reps more successful, like training, the return on time of these activities is dismal.
Worse, after one week, reps retain only about 30 percent of what they learned.
The cost of inefficiency
With only a quarter of their time spent on sales activities, organizations are losing money.
When sales reps spend so much time on activities that don’t include selling, the business loses out on the value they are responsible for.
For example, if a sales rep is responsible for $1 million in annual revenue and their salary covers 2,000 hours of work per year, then he or she is responsible for $500 of hourly revenue. But if reps are spending only 25 percent of their time on sales activities, then the actual value of an hour dedicated to selling is $2,000 in revenue.
That means the value of recapturing time lost to non-sales activities is large. One extra hour of selling per week could mean $100,000 over a year.
Empowering reps increases sales productivity
Increasing sales activities isn’t as simple as flipping a switch.
One of the biggest challenges impeding sales productivity is finding ways to keep sales reps focused on the most valuable leads, while helping improve visibility into sales performance and allowing teams to make better decisions based on insight.
Modern sales solutions, like predictive lead and opportunity scoring applications, can solve this concern. Using data to highlight which leads and opportunities are most likely to convert, predictive and prescriptive sales applications can help reps engage with the right customers at the right time with the right message.
Furthermore, sales teams need seamless, easy-to-use solutions. Not only must these solutions allow sales reps to work anywhere at anytime, but reps also need the ability to work across phones, tablets and with multiple systems.
One of the biggest frustrations for salespeople is not having all their information in a single place. People don’t want to switch from their sales system to another system for each task, like reporting, analytics and sales communications.
In fact, every time reps switch tasks, they lose 40 percent of their productivity.
That’s why reps must adopt a cloud-based platform solution that incorporates all the tools they need, from lead scoring to sales communication, all in one spot. It also means they can continue with their work regardless of their device.
The real value of sales productivity
What does increasing sales productivity and sales activities actually accomplish?
It transformers sellers into top performers and helps them engage with buyers in meaningful ways that deepen relationships and build long-term loyalty.
Stephanie noted that more than half of customer loyalty can be driven by the sales experience itself. Sellers need technology that helps them understand who the customer is, so they can always interact consistently across multiple touch points.
Empower your reps with the right tools so they can meet the demands of today’s super buyers.