Which of these looks more like your sales process? Roadsigns, content and communication that guide a prospect through the buyer's journey or blindly ice fishing for wins with cold calls and mailers? If your sales team looks like this sad, cold figure on the right, you're probably not making many deals. It's time to optimize your sales process with new tools, strategies and the power of data.
The thing is, modern businesses know that sales needs to match the new buyer landscape. A landscape where customers have Google and social media at their fingertips to seek out solutions, read reviews and reach decisions based on compelling marketing and sales information. In this landscape, sales needs to align with marketing, use enablement tools and support prospects through the buying journey with the information they need to move forward. And that process starts with collecting data and using the latest technologies to learn about, empathize with and speak to the right kinds of prospects.
And look, it doesn't take a sales prodigy to master selling. You don't need to be born with the irresistible charm of woo. All you need is a little gift of gab, discipline and adherence to a step-by-step sales process and you'll even outperform the most charming sales person that relies on improvisation and spontaneity. That step-by-step sales process is defined by replication. A playbook that is customer-centric, clearly defined, repeatable, goal oriented, measurable and adaptable. Whether you've been using it for a year or you're onboarding a new hire, the playbook should work for everyone.
Writing the Playbook
Step 1: Understanding Your Buyer and Her Process
Your customers are in control of their destiny. In fact, 94% of B2B buyers conduct research online before making a decision, 55% of them search for their solutions on social media, and 60% of their entire buying process will be completed before they even consider speaking to a sales rep.
That means that you can't rely on dropping cold calls and trying to rope in one lead per hundred mailer. You have to dig deep into the buyers process and make an appearance there, but only with value. Don't corner your prospect with sale-sy language and big promises. Instead, give them the information they need up front to assuage fears and move forward in the buying process.
Start by interviewing your current customers and tracking how people are navigating the sales process on your website using live data gathering tools like Hotjar. What are your cornerstone pieces of marketing and sales content that drive conversions? What are your most successful paid ad strategies? At what point in the buyer's journey was your phone call most impactful? Answering these questions by looking into how your customers used your website and sales materials will align you with an accurate representation of your specific user's journey. And this in turn will tell you how to improve sales.
Generically, the buyer's journey is going to take shape around this skeleton:
Lead generation -> Conversion into a prospect -> Targeting and identification of prospect's needs -> Presentation of product and pricing -> Closing -> Delivery of product -> Follow up.
At each stage you should implement KPIs and specific user behaviors that qualify your visitor to advance to the next stage of the funnel. The better you hook them in the early stages of the funnel, the easier it will be to close them in the end.
Step 2: Write Sales Strategies for Each Turn of the Journey
Your sales strategy is your playbook. It's a set of rules that determine how to run a sales play, which plays are needed for specific personas, when the plays should be triggered in your pipeline and what resources you need to run them. These rules should be universalized throughout your sales department. It should work in tandem with marketing. It should be a living document that you can leverage and grow as you learn from successful sales plays. As every industry will have a unique body around their funnel, the skeleton will look something like this:
Lead generation is about finding the right kinds of people for your business. Just because you sell cookies doesn't mean you should reach out to everyone who eats; you need to narrow your scope and maximize your outreach success rate, saving money and time. So don't scattershot your sales outreach, snowball it.
Generic ads, mailers and cold calls don't work. In fact, they only have a miserable 2.5% success rate, and they have for awhile. Your potential leads don't want unsolicited, out of context contact. You need to go where people seeking solutions like yours are expecting you. You need to embrace digital platforms and level up your sales content. That means using paid ads, retargeting, blogs, drip emails and social media. Sales reps that reach prospects through social platforms outsell their peers by 78%. And even better, sales reps that build influencer referrals from satisfied customers and deliver those through digital platforms are outselling them all.
When your leads are on the verge of crossing over or abandoning the funnel, it's your duty in sales to start the conversation and identify if they have the 3 essentials needed to proceed: interest, need and the ability to decide. Get your prospect talking. Ask questions, empathize, don't push anything. Uncover if they have a desire for your service. Ask "what are you hoping to gain?" Highlight their need for your solution. Ask "what problems need fixing?" If they aren't the decision maker in their business ask if you can reach the person who is or put together the data and presentation they need to sell it themselves. Through your targeting you're also able to uncover which of your services is the best offer for your prospect, ensure that you're not wasting time and resources on an empty lead and allows you to personalize your relationship which in turn helps convert, close and retain your customers.
Once you've delivered your product don't just attach a thank you card, make a personal outreach and create a relationship that lasts and a customer that advocates for your product. When a customer closes on one product, they're more likely to return to you for another, and when their associates and friends need a solution like yours, they'll become your sales minions. Hop on the phone the week they receive your product, answer their questions, offer a video tutorial or a live-screen share, etc. And make sure you use a sales CRM to schedule follow-up calls at regular intervals to keep your relationship burning.
Step 3: Sales Enablement
Since most of the sales process happens before you even pick up the phone that means that your marketing team is doing some heavy sales lifting. It's time for you to get involved in content creation. Create sales oriented videos, compile data to make product sheets, digital scripts, battlecards for differentiators between you and your competition. Use the same sales information you would use in a phone call to write a blog post that will assuage fears as your lead is turning the corner in their buyer's journey.
A great tool that we use for sales enablement is the HubSpot Playbook. Here you can build enablement content, sales-ify your sales data, and collect CRM and sales collateral and keep it on hand for instant access. It also has a dashboard feature that minimizes your manual input of data, keeps your resources up to date and makes onboarding a breeze.
Step 4: Data Collection and Optimization
When everything is in place, collect all the data you can. Data, when used right, is the great optimizer. Use data gathering and resourcing tools to start solving specific problems and boosting the performance of low areas. Our last blog goes into great detail about building a tech stack to maximize optimization and data resourcing. You can check it out here.
One key component to data resourcing is to minimize the need for manual input so you can spend your work day working and not rehashing conversations and filing data into spreadsheets. You can achieve this through automated tools that integrate with your CRM, or to start using a sophisticated CRM that comes with high-level sales features. You should be tracking your activity numbers like outreach attempts, total appointments, total prospects etc., as well as performance metrics like click-through rate, conversion rate and traffic.
Audit your date periodically. Remove erroneous, outdated and superfluous data to keep your sales reps from drowning in data and improve the efficiency of your tools and resources as well as sales summaries that you can use in content. Then, rinse and repeat. Always be updating your playbook with new wins, new tools and the lessons learned from your data testing. Now it's all you. Break.