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Sales, Sales Tools

What’s Driving the Next Wave of Sales Tools

Jacco van der Kooij

Written by Jacco van der Kooij

Founder, Winning by Design

5 MINUTE READ

As a sales person, what happens to your quota if you hit it? It goes up! In hyper-growth companies it may go up exponentially. Why does it go up? Did the market change? Are you getting extra people? Did your customer get more budget?  The answer to those questions is probably; No. No. No. Hell no.

Working for a rapid growth company

But growth targets demand you hit a bigger number, more views, more SQLs, more MRR, more upsell, more cross sell, more more more. And targets keep going up for ever and ever.  Oh and if you fail to hit these growing targets you are at risk of being kicked off the island!

Help! Please?

This growing demand for more productivity out of every member of the sales organization, as well as the need to deliver a better customer experience and speed the sales cycle, is the driving force behind an industry referred to as sales acceleration, and it is one of the fastest growing markets today:

Sales acceleration technology increases the productivity of sales teams, both in efficiency and effectiveness, while improving the client’s experience, through automation and deep engagement analytics

Several years ago marketing was struggling with similar issues around personalization, albeit between views on a web page and the lack of engaged visitors.  This turned into Marketing Automation and spun of a series of companies such as Eloqua, Marketo, SugarCRM and Hubspot. Can you imagine living without marketing automation these days?

The sales acceleration market fill an existing gap by providing advanced automation coupled with comprehensive buyer-side insights to streamline sales processes and improve customer engagement.

How did this gap occur?

Before we start filling the gap, it’s best to first understand where did it come from:

#1. B2B buyers have become “Amazonized”

Similar to “B2C” selling, buyers have turned to online sources to educate themselves about products and services before reaching out to vendors – “Amazonizing” the purchasing process. This has changed how sales teams must serve customers – requiring more agility and insight to be effective.

#2. Trend of volume over quality

Marketing automation systems have had a problem to fulfill the growing demand for leads, and in turn started focusing on creating leads by quantity, not quality. As any salesperson will tell you, “the leads are weak”. As a result sales teams are now spending far too much time on leads that are simply not qualified. So unlike marketing automation systems, for sales acceleration to work we need technology that brings us quality over volume!

#3. Customers want more personalized conversations

No client wants to wake-up to hundreds of automated spam emails, or receive tens of cold calls from a person who does not understand their business.

Spamming a customer has nothing to do with selling

Today most clients want a personalized approach by a trained professional. Or in sales speak every client wants a B2B Consultative Strategic sales experience.

To accomplish this, sales professionals need lots of information about the client.  But a client who goes online is not interested in surrendering the needed insights to the “unknown” sales professional with a 99% likelihood that their email address is fed into an “spamming” system.

 

This has created a gap that in many cases continues to grow. Sales acceleration is the technology needed to close this gap.  And it has triggered investments in sales acceleration technologies of more than $1.2 billion, and created a market projected to reach $30 billion within the next two years.

Five steps to close the gap

Through a combination of analytics and automation, sales acceleration tools give businesses a new approach to implement and manage their sales processes in this changed sales landscape;

Step 1 – Use analytics to measure what works

With deep engagement analytics, sales acceleration tools give sales teams greater insights into client-side behaviors so they can see a client’s interests to nurture and develop a relationship.

Such insights cannot be just based on open rates, and click through rates. Sales organizations require deeper insights that can show, for example:

  • Which rep spent the most time emailing to prospect
  • How effective were their emails?
  • Which SDR generated the least churn
  • Which campaign resulted in the shortest sales cycle

Work more effectively

This allows you to build effective processes for the team. Something we have been lacking for far too long.

Step 2 – Create customer-focused sales processes

The emphasis for today’s sales teams must be customer-focused and consultative to strengthen customer relationships. For sales reps that have been trained to be product-focused, this can be challenging, but sales acceleration tools can help turn the focus toward the customer by providing more insight into clients’ interests and interest levels.

These processes are entirely optimized around engaging the right client at the right time, on the right topic.  It results in more qualified leads from fewer inbound developed leads or outbound generated leads.

Stop wasting time on non qualified leads

This reduces time wasted on leads that simply aren’t qualified.

Step 3 – Streamline the sales processes

Routine tasks that take away from core selling time are huge pain points for today’s sales leaders. Look, or rather listen to your inside sales team. Do you hear them talking on the phone? Are they feverishly researching their next client to send out a personalized email?

Stop entering data – let your tools take care of that

If not, then most likely they are entering data… or manually pulling content together. According to Sirius Decisions, 65% of businesses have noticed how reps spend an enormous amount of time on these non-selling activities. Data entry, and data augmentation needs to happen automatically. Freeing up valuable time of your sales people

Step 4 – A/B test EVERYTHING 

With a data driven model, and along a proven process, marketing and sales organizations have the infrastructure to understand what is working and not working with their messaging. Reps send out between 30-40 emails a day. These emails are often a prospect’s first impression of your company! Before you scale this to your entire team you want to be sure your messaging is consistent.

They can see how engaged reps are with prospects – and what messaging gets the best responses. This insight helps teams assess sales performance and processes to see what messaging and approach works best – so the best approaches can be repeated across the organization.

Don’t scale failure. Scale success.

Step 5 – Do more of what works, less of what doesn’t work

Based on the analytics we have learned what works. At this point we can use automated capabilities such as email templates, group email, and email sequencing to create more emails.

Sales hacking maybe a great tactic, but it is not a growth strategy

We are now scaling what works.  Whereas most companies and sales organizations primarily copy what they suspect to work, by going on the internet and adopt to outdated templates and processes (A good article to read on this topic: Stop the sales hacking).

Furthermore, best-in-class organizations understand that both marketing and sales need to be involved development and personalization of client-side content. According to Aberdeen Group’s report “Engage, Personalize, Analyze, Win … Repeat,” these organizations ‘aggressively align marketing and sales activities around content development, management, and deployment’ for greater advantage.

 

Aberdeen’s research shows that organizations that give sales reps access to sales enablement technology to personalize content have higher lead acceptance and lead conversion rates than other organizations.

Conclusion: A process driven by analytics

In closing, if you are involved with (inside) sales, you need to automate to hit growing targets, for this you need to establish process, and use data to measure what works.  To execute you will come to rely on sales acceleration technology. It’s the competitive advantage that best-in-class corporations are already using.

Maximizing your sales potential requires proven processes, and automation of non-core sales tasks.  Analytics provide you the insights in which processes and messaging work best, so that you can repeat them across your entire team. Analytics show you what prospects are the most engaged, so you can quickly rank top prospects and follow-up more effectively. Sales acceleration technology gives you the tools to deliver on the potential.

Learn more: Buy the Blueprints book 

These and many more insights on how to build, and operate a scalable SaaS organization can be found in the book, “Blueprints for a SaaS Sales Organization”, available on Amazon.

This hardcover coffee table sized book (144 pages) provides a series of highly detailed blueprints on how to design, implement and launch a scalable SaaS Sales organization, and is based on insights gained from working with 50+ companies in the past 24 months.

Recognition

This blog post was co-authored by Suresh Balasubramanian, CEO of LiveHive, Inc.   LiveHive’s sales acceleration platform powers sales organizations to build a repeatable sales process by uncovering ways to trim inefficiency, and improve their sales team’s productivity, email effectiveness, and follow-up through automation and deep engagement analytics.

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