According to Forrester, 66% to 90% of B2B corporate buying cycles are completed before sales is engaged and only 3% of sales interactions are considered worthwhile by prospects. The traits in a salesperson that executives find valuable and strategic, namely focusing on solving a problem (13%) and on driving an end result for them (8%), were the least common traits perceived by buyers. So are sales teams falling behind and risking becoming dis- intermediated from the buyer process? How can sales teams become more relevant to their accounts? And how can sales leaders help sales teams become strategic sellers rather than deal chasers?
Sales leaders need to get back on the driver seat and craft sales initiatives to target valuable accounts with growth and retention strategies. But the sales initiatives need to have a fact-based foundation based on complete account intelligence, and means for sales people to harness and uncover buying and retention opportunities from data buried in multiple back office and front office systems. With buyers having access to a lot of information before engaging sales, a lot of buyer intent and product interests triggers can be tracked from self-service channels (web site visits, product downloads, video views), social media channels (blogs, tweets, new feeds), and external data. These web analytics and external data can be married with financial, order management, lead generation and sales force automation data to provide a solid foundation for sales intelligence and strategic sales initiatives.
Developing a solid customer intelligence foundation provides the building block for generation of fact based customer strategies. Leveraging the foundation with insight to action capabilities like customer targeting, and sales initiative management enables creation of sales initiatives with personalized treatments that meet revenue, share, and margin targets. Optimizing talking points and sales collaterals in real time with dynamic adjustments based on buyer triggers enable strategic sales execution. And sales leaders can monitor and learn in real time about sales initiative effectiveness. Welcome to the era of real time customer value intelligence.
What are the key components for strategic customer intelligence to gain this competitive advantage?
1. A real time customer value intelligence platform integrating back office, front office, and external data for a complete 360 customer view
2. Powerful analytics to visualize, measure, and predict customer value and identify hidden revenue, margin improvement and retention opportunities
3. Customer classification, segmentation, and targeting capabilities to stratify customers in simple and easy ways that sales persons can understand
4. Ability to manage sales initiatives that offer differentiated customer care treatments based on the predictive guidance
5. Ability for sales teams to act upon the predictive guidance during sales calls with complete mobile account intelligence and optimized sales guidance and talking points
6. Ability for sales and marketing organizations to identify and track multi-channel trigger events to accelerate pipeline velocity
7. Ability for sales and marketing leaders to assess sales initiative effectiveness and make adjustments in real time during a sales call
According to Gartner, by 2023 sales managers will have instant, always-on, seamless connectivity with their sales reps, marketing individuals and the customer, resulting in real-time access to meaningful decision-making, actionable information. They will have access to smart and actionable intelligence that will detail what the customer will buy, when they will buy it, and more.
By why wait until 2023? Advances such as in-memory customer predictive intelligence, real time sales trigger detection, high volume segmentation, and sales play optimization will enable the vision already in 2013.
Sales leaders need to act swiftly to gain a competitive advantage. Sales reps can become relevant to their customers again when they are armed with account intelligence to carry on engaging and contextual conversations while guiding the buyer journey. So, get back in the driver’s seat and stop waiting for leads to magically appear. Go ahead and drive new opportunities with your customers and meet sales and margin targets.
Is your sales organization up to the task?