“If you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly and if you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.”
– Jeff Bezos
Amazon has delivered tremendous revenue growth and shareholder value by embracing technology opportunities to disrupt brick and mortar bookstores, B2C retail, e-commerce, cloud storage (AWS), food shopping and more, while Amazon competitors fought change to their business models until it was too late. In B2B, Marc Benioff disrupted the CRM market with a cloud based solution (Salesforce) and virtually eliminated competitors.
Digital transformation is a reality for B2B Sales and Marketing leaders to embrace in 2018. “Fighting the future” to test and implement digital sales tools for your sales teams create major risks to your revenue plan, and in recruiting and retaining high quality sales professionals.
We’re in the fastest paced period of the calendar, when sales teams are pressured to close year end deals, and marketing is aggressively promoting digital campaigns to create more qualified leads entering 2018. What are B2B companies doing for sales teams? Sales kickoff meetings are being planned for Q1 to recognize high profile performers in 2017, introduce new innovative products and service offerings, and communicate more sales training, new sales methodologies, building bigger content repositories etc. to “help” customer facing sales teams achieve higher revenue quotas in the coming year. Time with buyers by customer-facing sales teams is critical to achieving revenue targets, so sales is always searching for new tools to engage customers early in the sales process and close more deals.
A recent B2B study showed a major gap in what Marketing was prioritizing for Sales (more leads) versus the Sales priority for Marketing: “better messaging and presentations to differentiate our offerings.” Basically, sales teams are asking for, “What’s new to help our sales efforts next week?” and they leave the kickoff meeting with enthusiasm for the new products and a calendar of events, promotions and training scheduled during the year. What just happened?
Sales & Marketing leaders are reluctant in today’s competitive, challenging B2B market to implement changes into sales teams because of cost, time to adopt, pushback by sales reps, “don’t fix what’s not broken” mentality and a myriad of others. Status quo is a sales team nightmare both with customer buyer decisions after a long sales process, and from a lack of new sales tools leaving kickoff meetings to win more deals next year. Here are three reasons why a “status quo” approach misses the mark:
- Denies today’s educated B2B buyers are >80% through the sales process before contacting suppliers through their own research, analyst briefings, supplier websites etc.
“Only 17% of the overall B2B buying journey is spent meeting with potential buyers, so buyers time spent with sellers MUST communicate VALUE first.” – CEB/Gartner 2017 Sales and Marketing Summit
Marketing automation solutions have done an outstanding job at embracing digital and interactive technologies to create new websites and promotions driving more marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales channels. However, Marketing has performed poorly in creating “sales-ready” content and messaging engaging educated B2B buyers in critical early sales meetings. At the recent CEB/Gartner Summit, it was stated that “99% of B2B sellers engage with buyers today with standard PPT sales decks”. Companies using digital technologies to drive demand in Marketing, only to send sales teams into initial customer meetings with an analog standard PPT deck will lose qualified sales opportunities to competitive organizations embracing digital interactive sales tools.
“The first vendor to succeed in communicating a vision of value to executives wins the business 74% of the time.” – Forrester Research
- Ignores shift in changing demographics of Sales and Marketing professionals
“There is no question Millennials are seizing on the new platforms of the digital era — the Internet, mobile technology, social media — at a pace and depth that older age groups simply do not match.” – Pew Research
We’ve all read multiple articles about Baby Boomers retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day, and Millennials now comprising a majority of the workforce and growing rapidly. What are you doing to recruit and support the future A-players on your sales teams? My wakeup call came 2 years ago when interviewing an outstanding candidate when she asked me, “Do you really still use PPT?” Demanding successful Baby Boomers to change from PPT is not recommended, however, digital savvy Millennials will soon, if not already, make up a majority of the 60-70% “middle of your salesforce” expected to be your next superstars.
- Slow adoption by Sales & Marketing leaders to develop sales tools with digital interactive, “sales-ready” customer-centric content, and graphically showing financial results achieved by your typical successful customers.
Sales teams still spend an average of 65% of time on admin, training and searching for content. Knowing in initial meetings buyers are 80% through the selection process, your sales team has ONE call to secure a qualified sales opportunity in most cases. Outfit sales teams with a sales presentation answering the question, “What do you do for your customers?” 10 minutes into the presentation. Successful sales teams differentiate their offering by “storytelling” using typical data from customers (i.e. case study results) to encourage buyer conversations, and in many instances, valuable collaboration with key stakeholders. A huge error by sales teams is asking 15-20 due diligence data questions too early. Buyers are more willing to provide data after seeing typical ROI/TCO results from similar industry customers based on a set of assumptions.
“Data storytelling is a structured approach for communicating data insights more effectively to an audience using narrative elements and data visualizations.” – Brent Dykes, DOMO
3 Ways Successful B2B Sellers Implement Digital Sales Tools
Understandably, Sales VPs are reluctant to change actions by sales teams due to training commitments, reducing sales time, a “don’t fix what isn’t broken” mentality, and fear the new approach will fail. Sales VPs and sales teams will positively embrace any change producing successful outcomes (i.e. more qualified opportunities) by peers (sales reps, presales SE’s etc.).
Here is a fool-proof, 5-step, low-cost, limited-risk process for Sales & Marketing to test digital interactive sales presentations in 30 days:
- Select a key product for 2018 revenue success that incorporates differentiation vs competition or status quo. (I.e. innovation, cost reduction, revenue increase, risk mitigation etc.)
- Based on successful customer case studies already developed by Marketing, create your basic Customer Value Proposition using “typical data” from these 2-3 case studies. On a single slide, summarize the case study business challenges facing customers and positive results achieved using your solution.
- Include the Value Proposition early in the sales deck using digital interactive technology so buyers can visualize results via appealing professional graphics and charts. Digital interactive calculator capabilities allow buyers to ask “what if” data questions and immediately see new results based on their data. (Try this with PPT!)
- Select 3-5 digitally savvy sales team members from the middle of the salesforce (choose high achievers vs low producers) to review, provide feedback, suggest changes and approve final version.
- Test the digital sales presentation in a minimum of 10 buyer sales meetings and report results back to a mobilizer in Marketing or Sales coordinating the test. (Recommend the mobilizer participate in several of the test calls if possible). Summarize results and communicate to VP Sales.
The stakes have never been higher for Sales & Marketing leaders in today’s highly competitive market to increase qualified sales opportunities, win more deals, reduce average discount levels, close more new accounts and maximize pre-sales resources by working on only qualified opportunities. Status quo is not an option to succeed in growing revenue. Test Digital Interactive Sales Presentations and enjoy the results many successful B2B sellers are already achieving.