As the UK economy enjoys a post-COVID surge, companies are setting aggressive new business targets. But good B2B salespeople are hard to find – and even harder to keep. Those individuals that have successfully made the transition to the new B2B customer journey are the minority – in a McKinsey survey of sales leaders, 55% said that only half the sales force has the required capabilities to be successful at digital selling.
Add in the great resignation, with 40% of those in sales and marketing planning to move job this year, and it is no surprise that companies are struggling to meet buyer expectations and maximise new business opportunities. How many companies have fallen foul of a sales maverick, with impressive numbers but toxic deals? How many are struggling with new starters who fail to last their probation period because they don’t feel productive?
Digital selling is different and the B2B buyer journey has changed, but the essence of sales success remains simple: performing the right sales behaviours at the right time. Enabling individuals to be productive and successful is key not just to meeting targets but also retaining valuable sales staff, prioritising the right deals and minimising the disruption associated with staff loss. Andy McDonald, CEO, Cloudapps, explains the role of new AI and behavioural science techniques in rapidly identifying and propagating successful behaviours across the entire sales team, both new and old.
Closing the Deal
Sales opportunities are booming, yet many B2B organisations are struggling to close the deal. Companies are haemorrhaging market knowledge as the over 50s decide to leave the workplace. WFH has eradicated loyalty and encouraged individuals to become ever more demanding. Rapid staff turnover is hugely disruptive and, in the worst case, can create a chain reaction as morale plummets, leading to more resignations.
The onus is on sales managers to both improve the day to day experience for existing staff and fast track new joiners, ensuring they have the support needed to become productive and valuable team members as quickly as possible. Buddying and mentoring by experienced salespeople is key – but B2B sales have changed over the past few years. How many of the senior team have the skills now required in a digitally enabled B2B buying journey? How many are confident in the solution selling capability, with strong product knowledge and solution design as well as account-planning skills, cited by 85% of sales leaders as key to B2B revenue growth?
If organisations are to empower the entire sales team to be more successful, a new approach is required. Adopting AI and behavioural science techniques can rapidly identify and propagate successful behaviours across the entire sales team to accelerate change, fast track new team members and ensure everyone can achieve their preferred work/ life balance.
Rapid Insight to Accelerate Change
Different sales people have different skillsets and to transition effectively and successfully to the new B2B sales behaviours, businesses need to look closely at individual activity. Highlight the salespeople who need support and skills; flag up the individuals already mastering the new behaviours and leverage their expertise across the entire team. This can only be achieved if businesses stop thinking revenue is the only measure of sales success. This blunt approach fails to distinguish between good and bad deals – those that boost the business’s reputation and those that are likely to turn toxic. It does not provide any insight into those sales behaviours that are delivering business value, behaviours that should be widely adopted by the rest of the business.
This is where AI and behavioural science enabled sales intelligence tools are completely changing the game for sales teams keen to both accelerate the adoption of digital skills and accelerate the performance of new starters. Mapping revenue against behaviours is a revelation. It highlights those top salespeople who are following the right behaviours, including selling to the priority customers. It reveals the dangerous individuals who hit their revenue targets but do not follow the right behaviours, the mavericks who are creating potentially serious business problems by offering deals that cannot be fulfilled or selling to customers who may not meet required financial credentials.
It also identifies the people who are doing all the right things but failing to achieve the same level of success as the top performers. These people know what to do, they understand digital selling behaviours, but will most definitely benefit from mentoring or specific sales training to improve their conversion rates. For those that fail on both counts – they are in the wrong job and should be reallocated to a different area of the business that is better suited to their skills.
Fast Track New Starters
Speed of response is key in an increasingly dynamic sales environment. Companies need to be able to analyse and interpret this complex data quickly to highlight both success and failure. Tools that deliver real-time insight ensure the time to discovery is incredibly fast. There is no need to wait six months to uncover if an individual is struggling to adapt: if someone is failing to embrace the right sales behaviours at the right time, it’s obvious and the business can use this knowledge to tailor training, coaching and support.
This proactive approach not only accelerates the adoption of best practice behaviours throughout the team. It also minimises the danger of losing good salespeople who just need a little additional support to make the transition to the new B2B sales model.
Sales intelligence tools are also transforming the speed with which new starters can deliver business value – a process that improves their confidence and reduces the risk of staff churn. Using gamification and behavioural nudges as they use the CRM – loading opportunities or field selection, for example – is proven to get new sales reps contributing to the business in less than half the time. This investment in sales intelligence is also an added incentive to join a business: employees are calling for better technology and ways to stay connected, with 13% choosing to leave a job due to their employer not investing in collaboration technology.
Better Employee Life
Every B2B business is now focused on retention – and that means investing in the B2B sales team, in their skills, confidence, knowledge and day to day working experience. Face to face enterprise selling has changed; digital selling is here to stay so a hybrid model looks certain. Good people need to be nurtured; the less good empowered to be better. This is not about sending everyone on a sales methodology course. Or implementing a blanket training approach. No individual is the same; no deal is the same. The B2B sales process is more nuanced than ever and that means organisations require a far more detailed understanding of what works – for both sales individuals and the business.
By supporting salespeople with sales intelligence tools, businesses are not just improving performance and hitting revenue goals; they are changing the salesperson’s day to day experience. When salespeople are empowered with tools that identify the most likely deals, eradicate duff leads, reduce wasted time, enhance every customer conversation and improve conversion, job satisfaction skyrockets. Individuals can hit targets while working fewer hours, they can embrace flexible working hours and have time for the daily dog walk – essentially have a more balanced and all round productive life.
The B2B opportunities are there but companies need good salespeople – and they are thin on the ground. By investing in talent, not just with training but with tools that improve productivity, performance and pay, a business becomes a great place to work – and in the current market that is the real bonus.