Salespeople are usually set in their ways and not known for rapid change. At most companies, changes to sales models occur because of major events, such as shifts in the product portfolio or market disruption. But despite such structurally altering events, stability is the norm.
This goes to say that salespeople do customize their approach and offerings to each customer’s needs, but at a macro-level sales model elements tend to stay the same.
Anchored By A Repeating Sales Process
The reason behind this is that salespeople are anchored by a repeatable and proven sales process. These demarcated territories define salespeople’s customer, product, and task assignments, allowing them to develop expertise and build long-term customer relationships in their domain.
But the times are evolving and so is the sales-customer landscape. Meeting the needs of today’s buyers requires more frequent change. Digitally-informed buyers move nonlinearly between purchasing steps, choosing when to engage with salespeople.
The Evolution Of The Customer
Customers expect sales interactions to be customized to their evolving needs and knowledge. Further, salespeople are not a single entity for customers and are a are part of an ecosystem of digital channels (e.g., chat bots, web content, social media campaigns) and sales roles (e.g., sales, success, support).
Seller-dictated sales processes and fixed sales structures are incompatible with the fluidity of buying in the digital world. In fact, rigidity leads to missed opportunities.
Here’s What You Can Do
The following are 3 ways, as mentioned in the Harvard Business Review, that can help your organization evolve and build a more adaptable sales force.
- Monitor and track where customers are and the direction in which they are headed. Most organizations have a general understanding of typical customer buying journeys. But the biggest challenges are integrating data from multiple sources, synthesizing insights on where each customer is in their journey, and creating a forward echo of customer needs. Closing the gap requires digitalizing customer interactions, turning disconnected information into institutional knowledge, and building intelligent always-on digital capabilities for gleaning real-time insights.
- Support agile decision-making processes. It’s challenging for sales leaders to make changes in a timely manner while also assuring the right answer. Ongoing experimentation creates insights for balancing the speed and quality of decision-making. By trying out new concepts on a small scale, organizations can see what works before making broad changes.
- Shift sales team mindset from “closing the sale” to “mining for value.” Salespeople are used to working autonomously, often motivated by the thrill of closing the deal. In contrast, fluidity in sales roles requires salespeople to function as part of a collective. The change necessitates rethinking sales incentive plans that pay for individual topline performance, while reducing the role of incentives and motivating and directing the sales teams.