Four Traits of Tomorrow’s Sales Leaders
In the world of B2B sales it’s lead, follow, or get out of the way. Successful sales teams will combine classic sales strategies with evolving approaches facilitated by technology. Ensure that you keep these sales trends in mind or risk being bested by the competition.
Value Added Relationships and Social Selling
As the Friends sitcom experiences somewhat of a renaissance in popularity, we are reminded of the theme song’s promise: I’ll be there for you. B2B sales forces should follow the Rembrandts’ lead.
Generic sales offers fail to hit the mark. The solution is a value based approach that takes a holistic view of your customers and their needs. In times of shifting circumstances and paradigms, big picture market trends evolve, as do the individual conditions under which buyers and prospects operate. Taking this into consideration when tailoring your sales efforts and value propositions may not be a revolutionary concept, but never has it been more relevant. Failure to do so leaves you no option but to compete based only on price, a race straight to the bottom.
“You’re not waiting for a problem to occur so you can showcase your expertise and solve it promptly,” writes Valerie Kakovkina for NetHunt. “Instead, you’re proactively reaching out to customers, educating them about your product and how it benefits their particular business. In 2021, the role of the sales rep is to personalise the business’s product offer in a way that appeals to the customer’s specific workflows and processes.”1
Part of this effort is achieved through social selling. Being ever-present online, answering questions, and sharing expertise is a good way to remain top of mind. Relevant content (such as the article you’re reading right now) will bolster your social media presence and increase your profile.
Not only is social media a place for sharing, it also provides an excellent opportunity to learn. Observing what others post will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of their thoughts, needs, and pain points, all key ingredients in the development of a personalized pitch. As we’ll discuss later, technology is facilitating the collection and analysis of this information.
Video as a Sales Tool
In keeping with the personalization theme, it’s worth considering the power of video as a sales tool. Most of us have become accustomed to utilizing synchronous video (i.e. video calls and meetings), but asynchronous video should not be overlooked. Personalized video in emails can increase click rates by as much as 96%2 while differentiating you from your competitors and deepening your relationship with the recipient. Instructional YouTube videos will help you establish expertise and gain leads.
“It’s hard to form a human connection via email or over the phone,” writes Kurt Shaver for Vengreso. “Most people are visual learners. If they can see your reps while speaking about your product or service, how it works, and how it could benefit them, they are more likely to engage with your sellers in conversation.”2
Artificial Intelligence in Sales Forecasting
Time and energy are finite resources, so it’s important to spend yours barking up the right tree. Forecasting is a key component of sales and artificial intelligence is increasingly enabling sales teams to make good decisions about where to focus their efforts.
“It’s important for sellers to understand who the individual customer is, who the buyers are, who the decision-makers are, who the influencers are, and who owns the budget — and what their perception of their organization is,” writes McKinsey & Company Director of Knowledge Maria Valdivieso. “A lot of that can be learned through what they share online on different platforms and in different ways: expressing opinions, asking for help, and general discussions.”3
Gut instinct is being replaced by machine learning as systems mine historical company data, social media, and interaction history in an effort to inform current action.
“Artificial intelligence can look dispassionately at large datasets from a number of sources and tell you which leads you should prioritize, based on the scores the AI has given them,” explains Mike Kaput of Marketing AI Institute. “Using the same types of data analysis, AI can help sales managers forecast their team’s performance for the quarter well in advance, so they can take proactive steps based on the numbers.”4
Good sales teams understand that analysis, communications, and relationship building are best achieved when human and machine combine their efforts. Routine sales interactions are becoming increasingly automated, allowing sales people more time to get creative and focus their efforts on personal approaches to high leverage situations.