Recalibrating the Sales Organization for the Digital Age

In the digital age, buyers are in charge. They’re always connected, and as a result, their process is anything but linear. Armed with mobile devices, search engines, and social media, customers do more and more research on their own. They look for solutions to their problems and product information anytime they have a spare moment.

If you’re trying to learn to adapt to the new reality of the digital era, it’s okay. You’re not alone. Many sales leaders are trying to answer questions about how they should approach their customers, what skills their team needs, and how they should partner with other departments, especially marketing.

To get you started, here are five things to think about as you recalibrate your sales organization for the future.

Create Flexible and Agile Sales Playbooks

In the past, sales playbooks could be extremely regimented because phone calls were the primary means of communicating with buyers. Sales reps were supposed to make X number of follow-up calls in X number of days to X number of prospects.

Now, all that has changed. Sure, sales reps still need to pick up the phone to close deals, but a phone call is not always the best way to contact a buyer.

Customers aren’t waiting in one channel for communications from a company. They’re moving across devices and channels. As a result, sales reps need to learn to engage customers wherever their customers are. That could be on the phone and email, but it could also be on Twitter, LinkedIn, text message, and a variety of other messaging apps.

To engage this digitally connected buyer, your sales playbook needs to champion flexibility and agility. It can’t toggle back and forth between email and phone.

Forge a Strong Connection with Marketing

Marketing and sales have much to learn from one another. While marketers can learn from the sales team’s deep knowledge of customer relationships, sales teams can learn from marketers who have experience delivering a consistent message across multiple channels and multiple devices. Whether your team realizes it or not, that consistency helps boost customer perceptions of your company, and ultimately, it drive sales.

How does marketing create those consistent experiences? One of the prominent ways is through content. Rather than pitch, pitch, pitch, marketers help, help, help. They share content that adds value to the buyer’s journey, and when they freely share your company’s knowledge and expertise, they build trust with buyers. And trust is ultimately your most valuable selling tool.

Many buyers are uneasy about sales reps. Forrester has found that the majority (59%) of buyers would prefer to avoid sales reps. That’s largely because many sales reps are quick to pitch their products, but they aren’t quick to understand their buyers’ problems and help their buyers solve their problems. This is where a marketer’s mindset could come in handy for sales reps.

Invest in Sales Enablement Technology

To create a consistent, unified customer experience, you need the right technology in place. Marketing needs to be able to supply content and messaging to sales, and sales needs to be able to share that content and messaging with the customers across a host of channels.

By connecting the dots between marketing, sales, and the customer, your entire enterprise will be moving together in unison, making it easier for your customers to interact with your company. What’s more, each department will gain a better understanding of your customers. In turn, this will lead to customer acquisition and profitable relationships.

Revamp Your Team’s Skill Set

In the digital age, sales organizations will need a new blend of talent. Sure, you’ll still need sales reps who can deliver engaging presentations and persuade buyers to purchase your solution. But your sales team has new arrows in its quiver, and reps need to learn how to hit the target with their digital arsenal.

For starters, sales reps need to learn how to leverage new communication channels like social networks and messaging applications. This does not mean that you need to hire an entirely new sales team of tech-savvy millennials. But it does mean that you need to invest in training your sales team on how to leverage these channels, and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised. Your veteran sales reps may become more adept at leveraging new technologies than younger generations.

As your sales team becomes acquainted with new communication channels, they must also learn what works on those channels. In today’s digital world, content is king. Sales reps must learn how to use content to attract buyers, nurture relationships, and build trust.

It sounds easy. You simply post content, right? Not quite. Content savviness is a skill that reps must develop. To effectively leverage content, sales reps must learn to act like consultants. They need to assess the buyer’s current state, envision where the buyer should end up, chart a path for them, and determine how they can leverage content and insights to guide buyers along their path.

Revamp Your Skill Set

There’s a difference between a strategic embrace of the new digital world and being a figurehead for digital change. Sure, you can tell your team to embrace the digital age. But if you don’t use social, mobile, and other digital channels to communicate with your customers and your team, your reps will never fall in line. They’ll believe that digital is optional.

So, while your sales team is learning a new skill set, use that opportunity to revamp your skill set, as well. Here are some additional resources that you might find useful:

Winning in the Digital Age

To win in the digital age, sales organizations need to evolve with their customer. This evolution requires careful planning, and it requires an investment in the right training and technology. Only with the right skill set and the right tool set in place can sales reps execute their playbooks and drive profitable relationships.

Embrace the new reality, and don’t fret. Not everything has changed. Sales reps are still responsible for building relationships and driving revenue. But how you approach those challenges has changed.

Posted byMark Bajus

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