4 Unexpected Ways to Improve Your B2B Sales Team’s Performance in 2016

Connect with buyers and drive revenue – those are the ultimate goals of sales professionals. Unfortunately, those tasks may seem easier said than done.

These days, there are dozens of channels and modes of communication available to buyers and sales reps. There are hundreds of tools that salespeople can use to connect with buyers. And there are myriad articles about sales best practices.

How do you make sense of it all? Here are 4 research-backed ways to improve your sales team’s performance in 2016.

1. Empower Your Sales Reps to Use Social Networks

The CEB surveyed over 1,000 sales reps to discover how they “got in early” with their customers. Specifically, they wanted to know what separated high performers from average performers. Here’s what they found:

Social selling is the single most powerful behavior separating high performers from core performers.

As you look at the chart, keep in mind that high performers don’t simply have accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter. According to the CEB’s research, the best sales reps use social media to:

  • Connect with potential customers
  • Share points of view valuable to customers
  • Generate leads

In other words, social sellers aren’t just chatting with friends on Facebook or posting hilarious animated gifs from BuzzFeed. Instead, they are actively positioning themselves as resources of information on social media.

2. Help Your Sales Reps Understand Their Buyers

The best sales reps are inquisitive. They want to know more about their buyers’ world. Then, they use their knowledge to gain trust with buyers and to shape their customers’ attitudes.

Unfortunately, few sales reps truly understand their buyer’s world, which makes it difficult for them to lead with insights (see chart above). Here’s what Forrester found when they surveyed executive-level buyers:

For sales reps to be effective in 2016, the knowledge gap has to close. Sales reps need to better understand their buyers.

That’s where sales enablement teams enter into the picture.

Not only can sales enablement teams educate their sales reps on their buyers’ industries and companies; they can show salespeople how to use that knowledge to have more productive conversations. That way, sales reps can offer more personalized insights to their buyers.

3. Take a Multi-Channel Approach to Sales Enablement

Your buyers have their preferred communication channels, and so do your sales reps.

After all, sales reps are busy people. They are juggling the needs of 40 to 50 prospects. They are generating their own leads, answering emails, making phone calls, and setting appointments.

Learning has to be convenient for your sales reps, which requires you to share information across multiple channels. I’d recommend starting with these:

  • Email newsletters – Send information directly into the inboxes of your sales reps, indicating when there’s new content to share and telling them why those assets are important
  • Mobile devices – Choose a sales enablement platform that allows you to reach your salespeople – on any device
  • CRM – Your salespeople live in your CRM; consider using your CRM as another point of contact with your sales rep

A good sales enablement tool will help you build a multi-channel strategy.

4. Don’t Rely Solely on Company-Created Content

Your marketing assets are awesome, I’m sure. But to validate your sales messages, your sales reps need someone else’s perspective.

If your sales reps disseminate only company-created content, their information looks one-sided. As a result, your salespeople can appear biased. By sharing other people’s content, not only are your sales reps following best practices; they are lending themselves more credibility.

As Maribeth Ross of the Aberdeen Group has noted:

Intuitively, your company’s employees know this. Earlier this year, we surveyed 400 employees about their content preferences on social media. The majority of them (55.0%) are inclined to share a mixture of company-created content and third-party content:

How Are You Going to Improve Your Sales Team in 2016?

2016 will be here before you know it. Now’s the time to start planning for the future.

It’s time to think about how your sales reps can leverage networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s time to revise your sales enablement program. More precisely, it’s time to create a multi-channel sales enablement strategy – one that supplies sales reps with content, both company-created and third-party, across multiple channels.

What ways will your sales team improve in 2016? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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