When I spoke with Alyssia and Abby, we talked about how sales has been revolutionised over the last couple of years. But change isn’t new — things have been changing forever, and will continue to do so. Sales teams are always rapidly adapting to new strategies and business values — the best salespeople thrive in that ever-changing environment. Of course, one thing that never changes is the push to generate leads and increase sales productivity.
On top of that, as I talk with customers, I get a sense that there is a built up demand for something different. Customers are starting to buy in different ways, and sales leaders have had to quickly pivot to meet that demand.
Finally, cross-channel selling is made more complicated as the channels themselves are constantly changing. So how do you reach your customers in this continuously evolving market? And how do you lead a modern sales team effectively to help them reach their goals, achieve the best results for the business, and ultimately provide your customers with what they want, when they need it?
The three phases of the modern sales process
My conversation with Alyssia and Abby was built on the three phases of the modern sales process:
The sales process — how do you build up your product knowledge, your sales knowledge, and your knowledge of the methodologies that you’ll be using?
Aligning action to purpose — why are you in business? People buy what you are, as much as they buy what you do. It also helps motivate your sales team, and their colleagues in other departments.
Sales strategy — how do we reset to work where we should, generate leads, and take action? Fundamentally, it’s great to have a good idea, but you have to get out there and execute it.
Throughout our talk, I was reminded again and again of the ways that these two experts are maximising the productivity of their sales teams and driving growth for their business. Here are five major takeaways that I want to share with you.
1. Provide more than just a sales pitch
Alyssia said it wonderfully — your sales conversations cannot be simply transactional. Our customers have dozens of meetings a week, and sometimes spend their whole day sitting in front of their screen, talking in video calls. Your conversations with them need to build relationships, and you need to provide them with solutions to the problems they have right now, and those that they might face in the future.
A single source of truth
One way of adding this value is leveraging customer data. If you have a single source of truth, that every department and business unit can access and add to, you’ll have a well of information that you can draw from when creating your proposals.
2. Sell across every channel to boost lead generation
Abby described the rich multichannel approach that Trustpower takes. They mix out-of-home channels such as retail, traditional outreach techniques such as telephony and field sales, and advanced digital marketing. All of these methods, of course, generate leads. By optimising their channel mix using real time data, they are able to constantly improve their customer journey, while also increasing sales productivity.
Simplify your message
But with multichannel communication comes the risk of confusing your message. Simplifying the user experience so that it’s consistent is key. As Alyssia said, you can use your single source of truth to understand your customer, and tailor your messages to meet their individual needs.
3. Make use of data, and automate the simple stuff
At the heart of everything Alyssia and Abby do, is data. As we’ve already described, real time data, based on a 360-degree view of the customer, is at the root of every decision that they take.
Abby described how Trustpower is leveraging automation to surface service availability, rates and pricing, and eligibility for rewards and offers. Not only does this create a smooth customer journey, but it also allows salespeople to focus on the conversation, not the product.
Automation also helps mitigate errors — as Alyssia pointed out, quote-to-cash tools help sales, marketing, and service teams, but they also protect the company from a financial point of view, which saves finance teams a lot of time and effort too.
Never stop learning from your data
Alyssia made a final point on using data: you have to continuously learn from it. Don’t just set and forget — ensure that you continue to analyse your data, and don’t fall into the trap of assuming that things will never change. At Simplus, analysing real-time data is part of the everyday operations of Alyssia’s team.
4. Never forget your employees
The ways we work have changed over the last few years, and we’re never going back to the old ways. With more and more people preferring a flexible, hybrid way of working, there are growing challenges in keeping sales teams cohesive, productive, and happy.
Abby described the process of moving Trustpower’s workforce onto a hybrid way of working. “We were really early adopters of flexible working arrangements, and when the pandemic hit New Zealand, we were piloting a cloud-based telephony system, which we were able to scale in a matter of days,” she said.
Maintain the human connection
But you can’t just implement the best technology and leave it there. As Abby described, “the technology did a great job, but it’s equally important to think about connection and how you maintain your relationships with your people virtually. We’re continuously refining things from an employee perspective. It’s a constant state of change and evolution.”
It’s fun to experiment with ways to keep your teams connected — not everything will work, but as we all settle into a hybrid working environment, we’ll each find something that works for us.
5. Bring your teams together with a shared vision
The ‘Why’ element of the modern sales process is perhaps my favourite. These days, customers make purchasing decisions based on a wide range of criteria, many of which have nothing to do with your products — they care about your values. By understanding your customers, and defining your values, you can make sure that every person in your organisation is aligned.
As Alyssia said, “you have to start with the customer. You have to know them in order to connect with them. Understand what your target market is, and align your teams to that. We ensure that we have industry expertise in our teams, so that sales teams can speak their language – that helps them give value back to the customer.”
Selling belongs to the whole organisation
This shared vision, of course, extends beyond your sales team. Alyssia emphasised that it’s vital that we recognise that selling is no longer just the responsibility of the sales team — it involves the whole business. In fact, you could say that it’s not selling any more — it’s customer experience optimisation. As a whole business, have a shared vision of what drives business forward, and what success means for your customers.
Every team should understand how they fit into generating leads and making things better for customers, and every member of those teams should understand how their contribution helps. Of course, this boosts motivation, and connects every person to that shared sense of purpose.
More sales advice
As well as contributing to our webinar Pro Sales Tips: Blueprint of the modern sales team, Abby and Alyssia have shared more tips in to our 21 Pro Tips ebook series. Download them now to get advice from industry experts, Trailblazers, and Salesforce execs, including yours truly!