Sales Steps into a More Prominent Leadership Position in an Account-Based World

Bill Harris, VP of Sales at Trapit, shares his views on how B2B sales will evolve in 2017. In the upcoming days, we will continue to publish predictions about the future of B2B sales and social selling in 2017. Enjoy!


I predict that, in 2017, sales leaders will play a more prominent role in shaping how Marketing supports Sales. Why? Buyers want one-to-one engagement, and sales can provide that at scale. That’s largely because of two critical developments:

  • Sales and Marketing are working together on their account-based initiatives
  • True engagement through social is now possible with the maturation of viable social engagement platforms

Sales and Marketing Alignment Around Accounts

Up until 2017, the perspectives of Marketing and Sales have been vastly different. Marketing has been focused on engaging as many people as possible, while Sales has focused on one-to-one interactions. Likewise, Marketing has focused on inbound conversion of leads, while Sales has focused on outbound conversion of deals.

The whole notion of Account-Based Everything tries to remedy this problem. Marketing and Sales work together on a targeted set of accounts, which are usually the largest and most lucrative. It’s a quality over quantity strategy.

For companies to pull off an account-based strategy, sales reps need to conduct deep research on their target accounts. One way to do that is through social listening. Hear what is important in the buyers mind, listen to what competitors are saying and not saying, and listen for opportunities to maintain that subject matter expertise or thought leadership.

After listening, sales teams need to be present in the conversation with buyers, and they need to be seen as a valuable resource as early as possible.According to Forrester, 74% of buyers choose the sales professional and company that gets in early while adding value and insight in the buying journey.

Social is a great venue to add value. According to IDC, 84% of C-level/VP executives use social media to make purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, so many salespeople and sales operations do social poorly. They simply cold pitch their product, and their buyers ignore them. To stand out, reps need to offer their buyers content that offers industry insights and helps customers think about their business problems in new ways.

And that’s where marketers step into the picture. The marketing organization can offer content and messaging to the sales team, and they can work with sales to create engagement strategies for their target accounts.

When you step back and think about it, the role of sales reps will change in an account-based world. Sales reps will no longer be closers at the bottom of the funnel. Rather, they will be involved throughout the customer lifecycle, and at crucial stages, they will serve as a linchpin between the customer and the marketing department.

Technology Built for Sales Reps

But there’s one big hurdle for sales reps in an account-based world: The Account-Based Everything technology soup:

This soup is a marketing technologist’s dream, and a sales leader’s nightmare. No sales team will patch together all of those tools and create a simple, intuitive sales process. That’s why Sales needs to take a leadership role in 2017 to cut through the noise and offer clarity about the sales organization’s needs in an account-based world.

The tools that work for marketing departments won’t work for sales departments. As Henry said in his prediction, sales teams need an approachable platform that enables and empowers sellers of all levels of digital competence to achieve best practices, provides marketing and sales leadership a set of tools to support and measure these efforts, and easily integrates with other systems of record within the sales and marketing technology stack, such as marketing automation and CRM.

If you’d like to learn about how our platform can help you engage your buyers and position your sales as trusted advisors, contact us. We’d love to talk.

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