This article is part one of 10 in the ‘Funnel Vision Instead of the Tunnel Vision’ series where we explore the role of Inside Sales as an integral part of the modern sales effort. To read the article about the e2i funded grant for the Inside Sales and Digital Sales programmes, visit here:Funded Programmes
Do you really understand your customers’ needs?
How often have you found yourself or your team unable to close a deal that, at the first glance, seemed to be mature enough to move further into the pipeline? And how often have you thought ‘if only…’, as if a change in direction or approach would make a difference in the outcome?
Chances are, you are right and you are NOT alone.
The sales funnel is not much of a use, if it’s leaking
Even though Customer Experience has been ranked number one KPI (key performance indicator) for sales teams, according to Salesforce ‘State of Sales’, most sales professionals agree that this game changing KPI is incredibly hard to track. Some even say it’s not even seen as relevant across the business – causing teams to lose valuable opportunities throughout the funnel.
We can all agree that without the Customers – there is no Sales. This is why Customer Experience, if it’s not already, must become one of the biggest and integral parts of every Sales organization.
What do High Performing Sales Professionals say is playing a big role in their goal completion?
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Massive 84% of high performing sales professionals believe that anticipating the customers’ needs and proactively selling makes the biggest difference. Interesting find is that the common missed opportunity lies in the inability to understand those needs, or the inability to react to them.
Why is this happening?
A few reasons:
- Lack of time: most sales professionals state that more than 60% of their time is spent on administrative tasks rather than on sales
- Lack of skills: in most organizations, training is viewed as an occasional compliance necessity instead of skill refinement
- Lack of actionable data: without the solid integration across teams, data received (and sent across) by sales teams is fragmented and often without proper context
Good news is that more than 55% of the sales professionals claim their company has significantly increased the sales effort, through positive reinforcement, team collaboration and enabling the sales professionals to deepen relationships with their respective customers.
This, however, means that roughly 45% of the same group feels their company is not doing enough to enable the sales teams to close. Part of the reason for this is the lack of common perspective throughout the organization. What is considered important for the sales team is often deemed not important enough for marketing, business development or operations.
The gap caused by understanding the risk and the opportunity causes valuable customer related information to slip through the cracks.
Zeenath Kuraisha, CEO and the Head of Corporate Solutions and Sales Excellence, APAC SMA, recently discussed this subject on the Salesgasm Intrigue Summit in Singapore. She defined the ‘Customer Focused Sales and Selling Cadence’ as the key to success in today’s market.
What makes the biggest difference? Simply: the experience
Your Customer Experience needs to exceed all expectations on every level. This means from the moment a person becomes a part of an audience, the initial contact and the handshake, to the product delivery, customer satisfaction and repeated sale – the customer needs to be wowed.
Sales teams hold the biggest stake in this process. They are usually the first human interaction with the company and set the tone of voice for the rest of the journey.
With the changing trends in buying, sales is transforming into a multilayered engine, where a variety of sales and marketing-cross teams work together to deliver various peaces of a puzzle. However, even though the merger of the sales and technology is bringing some exciting developments, like AI in sales, new risks are emerging from this segregated approach.
Is your Sales in a Silo?
In our next article, we will dig deeper into different approaches to sales, and how buzzwords have the potential to diverge the focus from the holistic approach to the sales teams. But now, we’ll just take a quick look at where sales stands in opposite to the rest of the business organization.
As many of our peers are still experiencing today: the world of business has been working hard to eliminate silos from their organizations. However, in most companies, especially dinosaur corporations, this seems to be too much of a challenge. This is, of course, preventing many organizations to retain the steady growth, and is opening the door for new challengers to come into the field. Usually, these challengers are small organizations that are able to recognize a gap and use it. These gaps are most commonly found in the lack of customer appreciation and are filled by alternative approaches to sales.
A few ideas on how to improve those Win rates:
Make sure you’re tapping into all the resources available. Check in with the marketing and Customer Support teams on regular base, to stay in touch with changing trends or growing demands. Use this information as a leverage in your negotiation, but also remember to revert with detailed feedback to the other teams, to make sure everyone has the complete picture.
Take adequate time to build a Persona for each of your targeted groups and stay relevant to their needs and wants. Keep their preferences in mind and make sure you adhere to their terms: learn who they are and meet them on their field.
Be a champion and understand the blockers they are facing. Educate them and support them, and they will become your biggest fans. Take this further and follow through with their journey after the purchase, and you’ll surely earn some bonus points, a repeated customer or even upsell where possible.
Approach your customer holistically: understand their needs and wants, their preferences and their deal-breakers and approach them with full understanding and support. Facilitate the conversation where they feel most comfortable, whether it’s online, over the phone or in person. Keep in mind – this will change throughout the journey, so be prepared to change the approach when appropriate.
Rethink your KPIs and evaluate their relevance in accordance with today’s climate. Too many companies tend to stick to superficial and archaic KPIs, or let the numbers guide them blindly, creating a clouded perception of the situation. Make sure that chasing the numbers doesn’t make your team lose numbers or your clients to lose interest. Retire KPIs that have served some previous time but have since became more of a blocker than a useful tool for your sales team.
Sales is evolving every day. The technology is morphing the way we communicate with our audiences, and new findings are available to help us make the best conversions possible. Training, certification, seminars, personal development – all good ways to make sure you go into your next client meeting prepared.
This blog post is a part of a 10 piece series to explore the idea of the Converged Selling as an essential progression path for modern day sales efforts.
Download the Funnel Vision Instead of the Tunnel Vision deck to learn more and stay up to date with the latest innovation in sales techniques.