Danny Wong is an entrepreneur, marketer and writer. He works with startups & tech businesses. Find his clips on Entrepreneur, HuffPost, The Next Web, Salesforce.com, and ReadWrite, among others.
In its 2015 report, SAP addressed the question, “What’s the Future of Sales?” Among 1,220 global business buyers, the survey found, “The dynamics between buyers and sellers have changed. Whereas once sellers were seen as an unparalleled source of information, the digital revolution has shifted the balance of power, equipping buyers with much of the information they need to make purchase decisions and fundamentally altering how and where sellers are able to add value to this process.” Indeed, the information age has birthed sophisticated enterprise customers. And sales teams everywhere have learned to adapt.
Subtle cues can suggest authenticity or reveal deceit. The language we use in communicating with customers and prospects impacts our ability to excite them about the topic at hand and close the sale. What we say — and how we say it — matters.
Sales has become unnecessarily complicated. Besides selling, salespeople have several non-revenue generating responsibilities. Those include recording all their activities, analyzing data, producing performance reports, and creating sales collateral. To meet their quota and complete all their tasks, many sales reps arrive to the office early and stay late. Despite the longer hours, sales still suffer. Even with a busy sales force, companies have become less productive.
For most small and medium-sized businesses, sales keep the lights on. An effective sales force is crucial to ongoing profitability and long-term success, especially in B2B environments. But as a company grows, it faces several challenges that begin to test the true abilities of its sales team.
The most deserving candidates demonstrate analytical skills and leadership abilities. But to get noticed, salespeople need to sell themselves.
As the sales industry evolves, inbound and outbound sales professionals seek to reinvent themselves. Although new trends impact how people sell, many timeless sales strategies persist. With these critical skills, salespeople develop a foundation for prospecting, nurturing leads and closing sales.
Despite the clear benefits, many B2B sales teams have not yet invested in social selling. But many are eager to try.
One of the most common complaints I hear from sales teams is they constantly face a shortage of quality leads. Some argue marketing sends them bad leads in bulk. Others are convinced they need more resources to prospect. However, salespeople can be self-sufficient in growing their own pipeline. Rather than rely on marketing to drive better leads or hire additional staff to do the grunt work of identifying prospects, sales reps can work independently to strategically scale sales.
In 2000, a widely reported study by HR Magazine revealed that companies that invest at least $1,500 annually on training each of their employees have 24% higher profit margins than businesses that invest less in developing and honing the skills of their workers. A more recent report by Aberdeen Group also concludes: “Companies deploying formal sales training initiatives lead non-adopters in overall team attainment of sales quota (78% vs. 63%), customer retention (71% vs. 66%), the percentage of sales reps achieving quota (64% vs. 42%), and additional key business metrics.” Thus, the investment in sales training is a no-brainer for organizations. But to invest those resources effectively, and at a large scale, can be difficult.
Seemingly innocuous behaviors cost salespeople and their employers millions. For example, in the last sales pitch I received, I noticed the sender used the word “there” incorrectly. The sentence actually called for the use of the word “their.” It was an innocent and honest mistake, but one that cost him a sale.
Demand for skilled labor is at an all-time high. Yet, well-educated and well-trained talent is either hard to come by or prohibitively expensive. A 2015 study finds, “ManpowerGroup’s annual survey of more than 41,000 hiring managers in 42 countries and territories found that 38% of employers are having difficulty filling jobs — a two-percentage point rise from 2014.”
Indeed, the skills gap is real. And this is especially true in sales.