With more of the B2B sales process gone digital, sales representatives face a daunting challenge: how to stay relevant and necessary.
A lot has been written about the demise of field sales representatives. In the interests of time and convenience, people often prefer doing business online or placing orders by phone. Gone are the days of the “milk run” sales professional who has ample opportunity to build and nurture face-to-face relationships.
So, how can your company help your sales reps provide value and stay top of mind?
5 Tips to Make Sure Your Sales Representatives Don’t Become Obsolete
Make sure they’re seizing the potential of social media.
By following the social media conversations of key decision makers, sales reps can get a pulse on what’s happening at a company and what challenges it’s facing. That can develop into an online discussion with the prospect and lead to an in-person meeting. It also enables your sales team to enter into that exchange with advance knowledge of what questions to ask to really get to the heart of what the prospect wants and needs.
But don’t assume that everyone in your sales organization understands how to use LinkedIn and other social media channels effectively for building strategic relationships. You will likely need to do some training to get them up to speed with how to find qualified leads, connect and engage, and generate referrals.
Have them set appointments to do on-site audits.
As technology advances, businesses want — and expect — solutions that are tailored to their specific needs. According to eMarketer, “B2Bs can’t afford to ignore any channels, including sales and even offline interactions, if they want seamless personalization to be successful.” By sending a sales representative on-site to a prospect’s location to initiate an on-site audit, your company can demonstrate its willingness to take the time and effort to listen and develop needs-based solutions. It also allows your sales team members to make a personal connection with prospects. Even though more and more of the sales process is becoming automated, people ultimately do business with people.
Interview customer service personnel to obtain useful feedback.
What your customer service team hears after the sale can be very telling about the quality of your business’s sales process. Tap into their insight to discover what customers are telling them. Better yet, create a brief list of questions your customer service representatives can ask to mine clients’ impressions of the sales experience your company delivers. Be sure to include open-ended questions like, “What did you find most satisfying?” and “What did you find most frustrating?” to learn what you’re doing well and what needs improvement.
Train them to deliver powerful presentations at customer sites, industry trade shows and business expos.
With fewer opportunities for in-person interaction with prospects, sales teams need to step up their game when making presentations to potential customers. They need to make a positive and lasting impression that will render them — and your brand — memorable. That means no “one-size-fits-all” presentations; the discussion points must be adapted to the specific audience. Consider customizing presentations with the prospect’s company’s logo and revising the text content to relate to its unique challenges. A presentation will be better received if it shows how your products or services will solve a prospect’s specific problems. Also take stock of how well your presentation software is serving your needs. A variety of options for crafting B2B presentations exist, and maybe it’s time for a change.
Invest in marketing automation software that has lead gen capabilities.
You can help your sales team stay relevant and in touch with prospects at the right time during their buyer journey with marketing automation software. Look for a solution that integrates with your CRM and can target email marketing messages and other content at prospects according to past interactions and activity with your company. This can deliver value to prospects who crave personalized attention. And it can facilitate conversions as sales reps gain insight about the content prospects are consuming and can gauge where they are in the decision-making process. According to a 2015 study by Autopilot™, marketers using automation software generate two times the number of leads than those using blast email software, and are perceived by their peers to be two times as effective at communicating.
Will Your Sales Team Survive or Perish In the Current Environment?
The business landscape continues to evolve, but that doesn’t mean sales teams will suffer inevitable extinction. With fresh approaches and tools for catering to prospects’ expectations, they will stay alive and thrive.
Dawn Mentzer Author Bio – Straight North
Dawn Mentzer is a contributing writer for Straight North. As a solopreneur and freelance writer, she specializes in marketing content — and collaborates with clients nationally and globally.