By Craig Nelson, Vice President of Sales Enablement
Today many firms are transforming the way they sell to address the needs of a very savvy customer. With the power of the internet and access to more information than ever, the customer is smarter than ever. Many times before the first sales call, the customer knows your product, your company, your competition, pricing, and the social buzz about you and your market. In addition, due to economic pressures the customer continues to be more risk averse than they have been in the last 20 years; thus the "no decision" is more prevalent today than ever.
Because of these conditions, today's sales reps must be better:
- Sales must be problem solvers that determine on-the-fly what value proposition will make a difference in the eyes of the customer.
- Due to the need to shrink SG&A costs, sales must do this without the supporting roles they had in the past such as SEs, Inside reps, PMs, etc – gone are the days of the 6-8 legged sales calls.
- Sales are responsible for having an in-depth needs type conversations on the very first call, regardless if the call is in person or on site.
- To advance the sale, sales reps must be able to convey value throughout the buying process, not just at the start of the process.
- They must differentiate and sell value over price at every step and need to leverage subject matter experts and best practices to get it right.
The bottom line, being a B2B sales rep in 2011 is hard work – and if the products are complex and the portfolio vast, the challenge to sell effectively is magnified.
So how do companies begin to address these challenges? Companies that understand sales enablement believe there are in a sense two key sales roles: 1) those that sell; and 2) those that enable sales. I've worked with this type of firm and it's truly amazing how they sell, compete, and adapt despite the challenge of information overload that many firms face today. From the day the rep is hired to the day the rep reaches sales maturity, the muscle of the organization drives their success and they are compensated to transition to the new way of selling.
- Deliver the right content, tools, and resources based on the seller’s profile to help them effectively communicate value to the buyer
- Launch campaigns through a sales enablement solution to drive mindshare while providing sales-ready material that is easy for all sales channels to use
- Give subject matter experts the ability to create community portals to effectively deliver key messages on a 24/7, on any device
- Allow sales reps to personalize the sales enablement portal to fit each rep’s needs
- Allow marketing and product management to update the sales portal in minutes and give them a collaborative voice with those that sell while they sell
- Give sellers a voice to communicate with content providers, SMEs and other enabling roles
- Provide everything from onboarding training to learning through selling via a "single source of truth"
In the end, if sales enablement is taken seriously, marketing, product management, and sales work together to drive the value proposition to the customer and ultimately drive profitable revenue growth.