3 Ways Generative AI Will Help Marketers Connect With Customers
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According to the State of Sales report, cross-functional alignment is sales leaders’ #1 tactic for driving growth. With sales budgets expected to increase, sales teams have an exciting opportunity to work together to try new things and drive revenue for their companies, but this requires a strategic mindset. As a sales leader, it’s your job to distribute this investment wisely and set your team up for success. Here’s where that starts.
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With 82% of sales reps saying they’ve had to quickly adapt to new ways of selling amid global challenges, agility is one of the biggest competitive advantages a company can have. When teams aren’t afraid to fail and seek to learn from experiences, they can become more agile. Keep testing your messaging, questions, and objection-handling techniques. Do they work? Why or why not? Use a repetitive approach that lets you continuously learn and improve.
Another way to build agility is to ask for feedback from your customers on a regular basis. Consider setting up a customer advisory board, so you can ask them what’s working and what’s not, what they like and don’t like, and what they’re seeing in the market right now. You can also use these customers as a sounding board instead of sending something out blind to your whole customer base. Testing your messaging with trusted customers first can give you a better idea of how it might do with less familiar audiences, so you can move forward with confidence.
Finally, think about creating frameworks that support all members of your sales team. This can come down to considering how different generations prefer to work. Although Gen Xers tend to dislike imposed structures, they typically excel at building them. On the flip side, Millennials and Gen Zers generally thrive on structure. Creating frameworks that support everyone in your organization and utilize their skills sets them up for success and keeps your organization functioning even when business changes roll out.
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Do you have the right people in the right seats to support the structures you’ve set up? As you’re mapping out your 12- to 24-month business plan, assess your sales team to see if they have the skills, mentality, and coachability to support your vision. If you find that there are people in the wrong seats, it’s your job to reassign them to meet your goals.
Beyond the standard DISC or Myers-Briggs assessments, there are other tools that can help you figure out if a rep is in the right role on your team. By reviewing conversations flagged by AI tools, for example, you can determine if a particular rep would be a better fit for another role based on their performance. Would they be better suited in channel sales versus direct sales? Do they prefer coaching or prefer to lead their own self-improvement? By analyzing performance data, you can make informed decisions about where people are best suited.
You may also want to consider hiring people based on their network. Checking out a potential candidate’s LinkedIn profile will show you valuable insights, like where their network is concentrated, for example. You can use that information to match a new recruit to the right role. For example, you might place a new hire in a specific territory because of the influence and connections they have there.
You also have to be quick to identify the right sales opportunities. Put another way: Who are the buyers who genuinely need your product right now?
You need to pursue your active buyers and nurture everyone else in the meantime. This way, when they’re ready to make a purchase, you’re at the top of their minds for consideration. Gathering intent data — including behavioral signals like engaged product research or outreach — can help you move in that direction, so you can gain clearer insight into who’s ready what you have to offer.
A lot of people take their ideal customer profile (ICP) — or buyer persona — for granted. They run a list based on basic factors like demographic information, industry size, and the number of locations. Then, they start going after those prospects. You should dig further into the nuanced and detailed parts of your ICP. After all, with today’s sales AI tools, you can find and home in on more granular information like behavior, past engagements with others in your industry, and unique challenges.
One strategy you can try is to look at your ICP’s ICP — your customer’s customer. I tried this approach during the SaaS (software as a service) industry downturn, which hit my own SaaS company hard. I realized that if you were a SaaS business and most of your customers were also in SaaS, it was pointless for me to reach out to you because you were getting clobbered with similar offers. But if most of your customers were outside of SaaS — say, retail — you were actually doing all right. Once I made that shift and started looking at my customer’s customers, I saw that there were opportunities again.
Many people only care about the aspect of a product or service that’s relevant to them. This concept applies to sales, too. If you’re going through a deck of 30 slides, your prospect probably won’t pay attention to everything in that deck. They only want to hear about the part that they think is useful.
Focus on the areas where your offering aligns with the company or individual’s priorities. Your job, as a sales professional, is to figure out what everyone’s area of interest is. What’s the technical buyer’s area of interest? The economic buyer’s? The executive suite’s? Is there a center on the Venn diagram where it all comes together? Once you figure that out, you can lean into the common ground.
Here’s an exercise you can try: Dig into a specific buyer persona, like a retail chief information officer (CIO). Have all of your sellers do research on that persona’s perceived priorities and challenges for the year. Then, set up teams and have them create a series of sales cadences based on what they’ve learned about that persona, with each team taking on a specific cadence based on channel — a 10-touch email sequence, a 10-touch phone sequence, and so on. Test these cadences and bring the whole group back together to review responses from prospects. Once you see how they performed, you’ll have solid insight into what resonates with specific personas.
When your sales reps engage with these CIOs later on, prospects will be far more interested and engaged than they would be if they’d been approached with a boilerplate series of sales questions. You’ll also find that you get more positive results through personalization.
Most sales teams use an average of 10 tools to close deals, and only 37% of sales professionals strongly agree that their organization fully utilizes their CRM. On top of that, their approach to using tools can be highly individualized. That means inconsistency and, likely, confusion. This is especially true when you use multiple tools to train reps.
You can raise your team’s baseline knowledge by hosting a routine collaborative learning activity. Bring your organization together to review the State of Sales report, break into teams, and have each team pick a sales process stage they could improve with AI. Have each team research the best AI tools for making those improvements. Then, bring everyone back together to share the results and create a plan for implementing the best solutions — trying to minimize the number of tools in the stack.
Another tip is to look for your power users. I guarantee you there are some folks in your organization who know your tools inside and out. Reach out to a power user who can break down a particular tool or feature. Have them host a lunch where they can teach the rest of your team what they know. Repeat this process with other power users for other tools. Doing this can empower people to take on leadership roles and create consistent learning opportunities so that everyone on your team has access to the same knowledge.
I’ve seen it time and again: Strong sales teams drive growth, which is why many companies are increasing their sales budgets. When it comes time to allocate those investments, though, it’s important to choose the right strategies to maximize your top-line growth and bottom-line performance. Following these proven methods will help you build an agile, high-performing, and consistent sales team that drives revenue.
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