June 22, 2012 by Bob Hill
Posted in: closing, In this week's e-newsletter - Sales & Marketing, Industry Spotlight - Sales & Marketing, Latest News & Views - Sales & Marketing, New Research
Here are three specific ways the selling process has evolved, as well as innovative strategies you can use to trump competitors, motivate reps and achieve breakthrough results:
1. Upgrade from profile to persona
As the marketplace shifts, so too does the ability to become a lot more precise when developing a buyer profile. In addition, roles, responsibilities and job titles are changing, as companies merge key positions to reduce costs. As a result, world-class sales organizations have upgraded to a more specific form of customer profile known as the “buyer persona.” Buyer personas drill down deeper, getting to the heart of what types of prospects are most likely to purchase from a company based on:
- years of industry experience
- professional certifications/affiliated networks
- age, relationship status, and
- hobbies/personal interests.
Companies combine this info with the traditional SIC, title and region stats to develop a comprehensive breakdown of which prospects reps should prioritize above all others. How do companies aggregate that type of data? They use:
- social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, personal websites, etc.)
- one-on-one interviews with existing customers, and
- email/web surveys (among other resources).
2. Boost retention via better leads
Research from several different sources, including the Sales Benchmark Index, reinforces the notion that one of the biggest reasons companies fail is the inability to capitalize on cost-effective lead generation techniques. Purchasing, using and recycling leads from subpar sources has been proven to increase:
- employee/buyer turnover
- work-related burnout
- annual costs
- complaints, and
- the amount of time required for new reps to start hitting quota on a regular basis.
With all that in mind, leading companies have made a conscious change, allocating a much larger slice
of their annual sales and marketing budgets to researching — and pursuing — the most cost-effective lead generation sources on the market. It’s a counterintuitive strategy that effectively turns the tide on every negative trend mentioned above. What’s more? Managers will more than likely see a difference within the first three months.
3. Don’t complicate, consolidate
Over the past five years, a lot of companies have compensated for a dip in profits by pushing job enlargement. But holding salespeople to a similar mandate means they have less time to spend in the field, pursuing buyers who can increase the bottom line. As the economy continues to improve, top sales organizations have abandoned the more-with-less mantra, motivating their reps by encouraging them to focus solely on closing deals.
Assuming most reps have 2,000 hours of available selling time per year (50 weeks x 40 hours), every hour they’re forced to devote to ancillary tasks represents a direct hit to their earning potential, as well as the company’s. Great leaders maintain precise focus. They understand what the goal is, and they eliminate all distractions, so they (and their salespeople) can devote all of their energy to accomplishing the task at hand.
Source: “51 Tips for Sales Leadership from the Sales Consulting Industry,” by Greg Alexander, Sales Benchmark Index, 11/23/11.