3 Ways Generative AI Will Help Marketers Connect With Customers
3 min read
The world of enterprise sales (or “complex sales”) is a good place to be — bigger playing field, bigger impact, bigger revenue, and exciting challenges.
But it can be hard to know where to begin. Ask an enterprise sales rep what they’re selling at the start of the enterprise sales process, and you might hear: “I don’t know yet.”
That’s because enterprise sales is not about selling products. It’s about delivering outcomes. You need to understand where the customer wants to go and work with executives at that company to get there. If this sounds complicated, don’t worry. We’ll break it down.
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Enterprise sales is when you sell to large companies. An enterprise sale could include a product with a large business impact, a multiyear contract, a complicated implementation, or a lot of risk.
Because enterprise deals involve business-critical buying decisions, the customer typically asks multiple companies to submit bids for the contract and brings in decision makers across departments before making a choice.
Small to medium business (SMB), mid-market and enterprise sales all aim to solve a customer’s challenges, but the scale of that challenge, the sales cycle, and the number of decision makers will differ. When you sell to SMBs and mid-market companies, you may be meeting with one person, and they have the authority to make decisions. You could close the deal in a couple days or weeks. In enterprise sales, the sales cycle spans across the organization. Each stakeholder will need to weigh in with their own concerns and requirements, and this process could take weeks to quarters.
Let’s say you’re meeting with the owner of a local law firm. They’re looking for copiers that work well with their new cloud-based document management system. You demo your company’s out-of-the-box integration with that system, meeting the customer’s need and budget, and the order could arrive for them a week later.
But if you’re selling those same copiers for the same reason to an international law firm, additional stakeholders are involved in the decision. The firm needs its copiers to handle heavy output by many users. The IT team will have integration requirements with existing systems, an operations team may need to determine the employees needed to install and train on the new devices, and then, procurement may need to issue a request for proposal and solicit multiple bids from competitors. Add all of this up and it will likely take many months to make the sale.
While enterprise sales deals often take longer to close, in part because of the stakeholders involved, it’s a critical source of income — both short-term and long term. Many companies and salespeople view enterprise sales as an opportunity to:
The world of enterprise sales is not without its ups and downs. With more stakeholders, extensive sales cycles, and longer-term, larger-budget deals on the line, challenges are a natural part of the process.
The sales cycles are longer. It can take months or even over a year to close a deal. That’s a lot of time to keep the customer engaged, and it leaves a lot of time for things to go wrong, or fall part entirely. This could also make it harder to predict an accurate sales forecast.
The room is bigger — and reading the room is harder. Enterprise sales often include 10+ stakeholders, and everyone needs to buy in before you can ink the deal. If you don’t, you can waste a year trying to sell to the wrong people. And with a room full of voices, you’ll need to cut through the noise to zero in on your key advocate.
The selling motion needs to be airtight. When you do find the right people, you need to be prepared to speak their language and solve their problems on their timetable, or they’ll move on to the next thousand people who are trying to sell them something. It takes an always-on approach, knowing your product in and out, and working in lockstep with your key team members to make the most of every meeting — all at the drop of a hat.
So you’re ready to take the plunge into enterprise sales? Selling to enterprises calls for a slightly different approach. You’ll need to focus on products that can scale, hone in on your key prospects, and act as an advisor to your customer.
1. Identify products that are scalable.
Enterprise businesses are run at scale, so it’s important to make sure that any products you sell to them can be implemented at scale. First, identify products in your portfolio that can be easily and quickly produced without a lot of dependencies, which can slow down delivery. Cloud-based software is a great example — the core platform is the same regardless of customer business size. All you have to do is sell additional licenses.
You can also tailor the idea of scale to what your customer needs. If your buyer balks at how many licenses they might need to scale, you could consider a consumption-based pricing model that scales based on adoption and usage.
2. Focus on the sweet spot in your market.
There are thousands of enterprise companies, but that doesn’t mean you have to sell to them all. Give yourself the highest chance of success by narrowing the focus to companies that best match your product.
But how can you get more prescriptive, dedicated, and intentional with the companies you pursue? Research and analyze your prospective enterprises and rank them based on how they align with your offering. Any enterprise that doesn’t make the cut should not be part of your enterprise sales activities. A sales tool with automation could help to save some rabbit-hole hours deciding the most effective leads to nurture.
3. Get into “solutioning.” (And here’s what that actually means.)
When you’re demo-ing to your customers, you need to do more than swap out logos on a deck in enterprise sales. You need to step into the customer’s shoes and show them you’re knowledgeable about their business.
The enterprise sales cycle is longer, so it’s not a one-and-done presentation. You have ongoing conversations where you actively listen to the customer’s needs. You build relationships by showing customers you understand their business challenges, competitive space, and strategy for growth. Then, as you engage with executives to validate your ideas for solving their problems, you earn the right to come back and present those ideas over time. That’s solutioning — and it’s why enterprise sales reps are more like consultants or trusted advisors.
Enterprise sales takes a loyal and dedicated team to close deals. That starts with hiring the right people with the right qualities, onboarding and training your team through sales enablement, and then measuring the success of the team so they can only get stronger.
Take these steps to build your enterprise sales team:
Most enterprise sales teams have three layers. There’s a management level that oversees the overall direction of the team. The sales reps are the feet on the ground constantly interacting with customers, and a support layer does all the things to assist sales like business development and marketing.
The most common enterprise sales roles include:
The job market is saturated with multiple sites and headhunters, all offering to help you find the perfect candidates. Cast a wide net by leaning into your network for potential candidates for your enterprise sales team. Ask your network for candidate referrals and to share job opportunities on social.
Once you have your leading candidates, follow this principle: Hire for character, train for skill. Look for these traits:
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An artist doesn’t just pick up a brush and paint a picture. It takes years of training to make a masterpiece. Same goes for enterprise sales. Once you have your enterprise sales team in place, it’s time to focus on the second part of the principle and train for skill.
You’ll tap into the art side of the equation by hiring for the traits above, but when it comes to science, there are no chemistry lessons here. This is where you use sales training and coaching as part of onboarding and for continual development. It’s called sales enablement and the term is just what it sounds like — to enable sales teams to sell more by giving them the right skills for your business, like helping them get the most out of a sales call or mastering the upsell.
Why do enterprise sales metrics matter? They’re proof that our team is delivering value to our customers and revenue to our company. Knowing these numbers gives us a past, present, and future look at where our company has been and is going.
Data can also tie back to your sales enablement efforts. You can use these measurements to recognize high-achieving team members and track areas where they need to adjust. Some sales tools with AI features can automatically surface that room for improvement based on sales metrics as well.
Create an enterprise sales dashboard for a visual representation of sales metrics, and make sure to include these:
So now you’ve built your team of rockstars, you’re showing enterprises their future, and you’re mapping that vision back to what you want to sell. Now, how are you going to take things to the next level?
Great leadership, integrity, and values are all table stakes. At the end of the day, the best enterprise sales reps are focused on these three things.
As you juggle all those stakeholder relationships, customer meetings, and the quota you’re trying to hit, that’s too much to keep in your head. Enterprise sales tools can help you keep track of it all. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can capture all that sales data and speed everything up, which is critical for edging out all the other companies clamoring for deals. Sales mapping software can visualize all your prospects in one place. You can augment your CRM software with sales engagement platform that keeps those customer relationships buzzing. Then, AI tools help you focus on the most impactful tasks, spending less time on waste and more time on the right stuff.
Cloud CRM software
Your customer calls you before you’ve even had your morning coffee. Your brain is still a bit foggy trying to remember what moves the needle for them. That’s where CRM software comes in. You can do a quick search for your customer and find their wish list of needs. Check on where the client sits in the sales cycle and see what you talked about in your last convo to keep that natural rapport going. Based on how the call went, you can update your sales forecast, and if you’re looking for a speedy quote, a CRM can whip that up. And with this kind of software in the cloud, everyone on the enterprise sales team can point to this sales data as their single source of truth.
Sales engagement platform
The data in CRM software must be actionable to be valuable. A sales engagement tool takes your CRM data and lets you connect with customers on their channel of choice. Whether that’s tapping out a follow-up email based on a template, getting context for your next call, or helping you plan the next way you’ll engage with your customer, a sales engagement platform makes it easier to build relationships throughout the enterprise sales cycle.
Generative AI tool
If deals closed equaled how many emails a sales team sends in a day, you’d all be sitting pretty. But it’s often the email quality rather than quantity that matters in enterprise sales. A generative AI tool built into CRM software could automate emails that are personalized, data-informed, and that your customer will actually open and read. Or you could use it to recap your sales call with an actionable summary. Predictive AI can also power sales insights and forecasting throughout your sales cycle using your CRM’s data, so more brain power can go back to developing personal relationships rather than visualizing the latest stats.
Sales mapping software
Sales mapping software keeps territories organized when you have sprawling enterprise companies spread out with offices in multiple locations. You can visualize CRM data on the map interface and overlay nearby competitor activity or identify potential prospects, so that one territory can lead to endless sales opportunities.
Enterprise software sales tools are an intelligence multiplier. You can pinpoint the most valuable leads to go after. You can zero in on the tasks that are moving deals forward and set those best practices into motion. You can load up on account and opportunity intelligence, and bring more value to the table — and that’s critical.
Because the person who can bring the most powerful insights to the customer — and show them their future, and guarantee their outcome — is going to win.
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