1. Find the key people in your accounts, and maximize your team’s impact.
When I speak to executive teams and sales leaders, the most common frustration is that their sales teams are not in front of customers often enough. Time spent understanding customer needs and building relationships is invaluable, but according to research by Sirius Decisions, sales teams spend only 18% of their time with customers.
This sales time shortage reflects not only the need to rethink time allocation, but also to equip sellers and your customer-facing teams with strategies and tools to maximize customer-facing time. Sales teams need to focus their attention on identifying people and problems. While sales is a people game, most organizations don’t dedicate enough time to identifying which people matter most in an account and what problems they face. Understanding these two questions will enable your team to execute in every interaction. According to Altify’s benchmark study in 2016, 39% of companies say their sales teams are not successful at accessing key buying influencers.
Successful strategies to maximize sales team time and impact includes:
- Mapping the organization to understand key players, their power, and their influence. Make sure the sales team can clearly articulate who matters in the account, and their relationship status.
- Aligning all members of your team to their counterparts at the customer. The sales team should assign owners across their team to the most important contacts at the customer, across all levels of the relationship.
- Having a plan to win the meeting. While larger and more sophisticated sales and services teams do account planning, most reps and teams don’t have a clear plan for their next customer meeting. Have a call plan, clear objectives, and stick with it to maximize time.
2. Improve win rates and reduce sales cycles by organizing sales and marketing around the customer.
Everyone understands that customers today are highly knowledgeable and empowered to make smart purchasing decisions, raising the bar for vendors to earn and keep the business they win. Keeping the customers you have is critical to business success across industries and geographies, and it drives many organizations to take a “customer-first” approach to strategy. Where the rubber meets the road is the intersection of sales and marketing teams.
Our research shows that when the teams are aligned and focused on customer outcomes, the results can be dramatic. According to our survey, when sales and marketing teams report working well together, the win rate is 18% higher and sales cycle time improves by 26%. In this dynamic, there is alignment around the definition of the ideal customer profile, the go-to-market strategy, and the ability of team members to align their value against the needs of their market and customers.
3. Diversity as a competitive advantage.
Anyone who experienced Dreamforce this year saw the power of diversity and inclusion at scale in everything from the broad range of keynote speakers, to the Women’s Summit, to the inclusion of people from all walks of life in all conference content. This is a rarity in the technology space, but the underlying insight here is that companies that value diversity and inclusion are more successful than their peers.
Seventy percent of respondents believe that diversity policies have a positive impact on business performance. Plus, those who felt their organization had a “good” or “great” track record on diversity report:
- 50% better performance on customer retention
- 17% better win rate
- 17% faster sales cycles
This data suggests that diversity should be core to team and company strategies to unlock higher performance and greater financial return. According to research by McKinsey and Co., in the United States there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and improved financial return. And while McKinsey notes that racial and ethnic diversity has more of an impact on financial results than gender, the more inclusive your hiring practices, the more likely you are to see better performance and get a competitive advantage.
“Sales teams need to focus their attention on identifying people and problems. ”