According to Gartner’s Future of Sales 2025 report, 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur in digital channels by 2025. Organizations that can adapt, and embody the best practices of world-class sales organizations, will find this a perfect moment to separate themselves from the pack.
The critical organizational capability required to respond to any market evolution is continued learning. For companies, the new sales value proposition goes beyond product offerings. It’s about investing in your sales teams, encouraging learning agility and connecting with customers to understand what they truly expect from your business. For individuals, the future isn’t only about being the best salesperson; it’s about using your expertise to offer customers valuable insight and new perspectives that teach them something new.
Let’s explore some of the best practices of world-class sales organizations and how you can implement them into your own strategies to drive success.
Learn a New Skill or Update Your Current Skills
The buyer’s experience has changed dramatically. Modern buyers are looking to find services and products quickly and without meeting with sales professionals often — if at all. Many buyers never interact with a sales rep or do so only when they are close to purchasing. So what does that mean for sales forces striving to become world-class sales organizations?
You need to rethink and redesign your training processes.
To reach the top in this evolving economy and stay there, you need to update training processes for a reality in which buyers’ time is increasingly scarce, their needs have changed and face-to-face pitching and selling are less common.
- Who crushed the quota?
- Who came up short?
- What is missing?
Intelligent sales leaders will spot the skill and competency gaps that need to be corrected and closed.
Typically, professionals can look to outside courses or training to switch up their sales processes. In addition, top sales organizations will provide mentoring and coaching programs so everyone on your team can figure out their strengths and weaknesses, then do the work required to be a top salesperson. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, most deals and introductions will happen in the digital space. It’s crucial to the future of your company and the success of your team to look at what has changed in your sales cycle, evaluate your team’s adaptability and get the proper training programs in place to help improve your overall sales.
Develop Organizational Learning Agility
The processes and methods that worked only a few years ago might not translate to online selling, and companies have yet to experience all the ways these changes will manifest.
Your team is directly connecting with customers and is on the front lines, witnessing change and experiencing this new environment firsthand. The easiest way to learn how this new environment affects your company is by investing in your team members’ growth and listening to their feedback.
In fact, learning agility is a critical indicator of executive team success. Few people (less than 15%) are naturally agile learners. The good news is that learning agility is a technique that can be taught and improved no matter what career stage you’re at or your team members find themselves.
To help your team members improve their learning agility, it’s important to keep these three keys in mind:
- Explore new ideas, especially the less traditional ones.
- Move past obvious first solutions.
- Embrace the challenges that scare you.
Create space for people to be curious, to learn what to do when they don’t know what to do. Doing so encourages your people to want to learn more, which drives new ideas, methods and processes for your organization.
Open Communication About the Business’s Overall Objective
Whatever industry you are in, no company can thrive if its team members, especially within the sales organization, aren’t aware of the company’s direction and what they hope to achieve each quarter.
Top organizations communicate to their teams the company’s one-year, three-year and five-year goals to help everyone understand the expectations inherent to their roles. This includes small wins, big wins, evaluating your value proposition often — and incorporating these values into daily tasks and conversations with team members and customers.
Another way sales managers can ensure their teams thrive is to foster intra-team communication. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the critical inflection points in winning a deal?
- What do top sellers do differently to demonstrate value, create a sense of urgency and separate from the competition?
Getting your team to answer these questions can offer valuable perspectives to help improve sales gaps and encourage open lines of communication.
Leverage Customer Insights
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Expectations for your customers and potential customers have changed. The statistics can only tell you so much, so what else can you do to adapt and thrive in this environment?
Companies that engage with their customers and implement the necessary changes demanded by customers will keep learning and stay ahead of the competition. The companies that refuse to adapt, grow or change alongside their customers are likely to fall short and less likely to reach their goals.
Remember, a buyer’s time is at a premium now. So, in addition to talking directly with customers, try engaging in online communities and conducting surveys with your customers to inquire about these insights. Almost all your current and potential customers are in the digital space. And thanks to the pandemic, digital spaces have become a more significant part of the buying experience.
The pace of change isn’t slowing. As the digital space grows in importance, these best practices will become increasingly important. Digital spaces are the future, and learning the best practices of world-class sales organizations will help you use them to your advantage.