Perhaps you work in a company that’s struggling with tough competition and often think about how you can sharpen your organisation and the way you operate, to become more efficient, deliver better customer service and win more deals etc.
You are not alone. Many companies and people face the same issue.
This article is for you who are in a C-level position and want to learn how you can utilize modern tech and a changed view on leadership to increase your business efficiency, win more deals and at the same time get more committed, focused and happier colleagues, i.e. modern sales.
The next generation modern companies
You have probably a classical organisation with the CEO at the top and a supporting management group that runs your company.
You decide upon strategies, processes, targets, incentives etc. and are informing your colleagues about these decisions.
You might have issues with colleagues that are not committed and not delivering on their full potential. You spend a lot of time on follow ups, to get control, reports, administration etc.
Things are regularly falling through the cracks and you potentially miss out on new deals. Sometimes you might blame some colleagues for slow or sloppy behaviour.
You might have a good time receiving an abundance of incoming orders and perform pretty well.
Everyone seems happy but are stressed since you have so many things to deliver and miss out on things that has not been communicated properly internally, so you also get things that falls through the cracks.
Technology and new leadership will transform how we work!
At the same time the digital revolution goes on in dramatic speed and you don’t know what’s the next field to be disrupted by the new smarter technology.
Our point here is that it does not matter how well your company is performing today, you still need to be prepared for the revolution that’s coming.
The ones who takes the digital train will get bigger market shares, more satisfied and loyal customers, more efficient and happier colleagues, i.e. a much better situation, WHY , because they realized that the next generation companies are highly digitalized, efficient and fun to work for.
This article is about the 8 steps you can take to become a more efficient and scalable company that’s also more meaningful and fun to work for.
1. Become modern leaders
It has been proven beyond all doubts that the companies that are most profitable also have the most committed colleagues. To get there your company needs
> A clear and attractive vision
> Leaders that serve and not control the employees
> Clear requirements
> Clear expectations
> Clear rewards
> Time with the team (coaching, encouraging, mentoring)
This is a vital part of creating your company culture. To be successful as a company and deliver great results, you need the committed colleagues.
To create committed teams, managers need to be less controlling and more serving. You need colleagues who take responsibility, get creative, deliver results and share your vision.
This is only possible to achieve if you do the things in the list above.
To get here managers also need to spend more time with the team/team members, coaching and mentoring the team as a leader.
This is often hard because many managers are deeply buried in administration.
This can however be solved with modern tools that automate or simplify many of the administrative tasks.
With the right modern tools its possible to become 80-90 % more efficient and get the time needed to spend with and support the team.
Read more about how the introduction of modern tech can make you more efficient and a better leader. As a result you most likely will get a more committed team and better results.
2. Optimize the team
In modern sales a sales rep needs to master many different things to cover all interactions with the customers through out the day and sales process : from prospecting , high activity levels , behavioural science , physiology , financial knowledge , product knowledge , rhetoric , analytics , negotiation , how to pitch , how to create interest in 4 sec during a call etc.
The chances that you will find people who actually master all parts are very limited.
If you want to scale and grow your business you can’t rely on only finding super star sales people, you need to rely on team work.
This also makes your company less vulnerable for these super stars leaving.
So, if its a team effort you need to identify the specific skill set necessary to take your leads to deals.
Once you have the skills documented and grouped it’s easier to see how to form your team for success.
This could be as simple as splitting the team in junior people with high energy that schedule meetings for more senior people that can take the actual meetings.
Depending on how easy or complex your sales are, you can end in more groups like pre-sales, negotiators, closers, pitchers etc.
The point is to let people focus on what they are good at and have a natural capacity for. Then things run more smooth, people become more focused and skilled.
This is the way you build a scalable team that don’t rely on a few super people that gives you 70-80% of your revenue.
3. Make your sales scalable and efficient
Many companies have requirements from the owners and the board to grow. Its almost like a natural force that the expectation is to grow every year.
If those expected growth numbers are fairly low there are usually no issues. However, if the expected growth is higher its become trickier to achieve.
Regardless what you are doing, selling, delivering, building etc. If you want more of the same you need to apply it in a systematised way. That includes processes, checkpoints for quality, KPIs etc.
If you are going to deliver more of a specific product or service you need to have control of how much it costs to both produce and deliver that specific product or service.
Otherwise it will be impossible to understand what is required to scale up the production.
The same thing applies to sales. If you want to double, triple or even grow your sales 10 times, you need to know how much it is going to cost to recruit one new customer on average, in different geographies, industries etc.
You also need to know how long it will take to earn that money back. If it’s too long then it’s probably not worth it and you need to reconsider your strategy and see if it can be done in a more cost effective way.
Once you get control of your cost of sales then you can also extrapolate your costs, growth, revenue and profit.
Unfortunately most traditional sales departments don’t know their numbers including their cost of sales, customer acquisition costs etc.
Therefore many traditional sales departments have a harder time to answer the question what is required to grow and scale up the sales.
You can also put it like this: a high cost of sales can indicate an inefficient team.
4. Utilize social media to find new customers
In the name of modern sales many people are shouting; “Cold calling is dead”, “The numbers game is over”, rest assure, they are not!
However, how we find leads and when to approach them are changing. Especially when (May 2018) the new GDPR rules are being applied to anyone storing data about EU-citizens.
Buying lists are not only going to be illegal, (It’s not going to be allowed to sell individuals or companies contact info unless approved or already publicly available, e.g. through a company website.), it’s also a highly inefficient way of prospecting.
Anyone who has called a warm lead know the difference compared to a ice cold call from a generic list. Thank God we have more efficient ways to identify leads. There are plenty of ways to do that…
- Convert website traffic to automatic leads in your Information Hub
- Convert receivers of emails campaigns to automatic leads in your Information Hub
- Convert social media post campaigns to automatic leads in your Information Hub
- Do your prospecting on social media channels like LinkedIn. Search and identify who you want to do business with, connect and import as a lead to your Information Hub and begin qualifying.
In modern sales you utilize LinkedIn as an excellent way to find new leads and customers.
It not only is a more efficient way to generate leads compared to call through purchased company lists.
Visiting a person’s social media profile also tends to make it easier to pass the first 30 seconds of a call since the one you call recognizes you.
As an extra bonus you will most likely also experience a significantly increased hit rate from these calls compared to the classical calls.
In other words it makes life easier and more fun for the sales rep, the sales director and the entire company.
Does this mean cold calling is dead, no, it means cold calling is changing. There is still no better way than talking to your customers but you begin from a different stage than before.
Regarding the numbers game, it’s still there. Sales is often a combination of activity and quality.
“The more I train the more lucky I get” – Ingemar Stenmark, famous Swedish slalom skier
Regardless of all other parameters, if you double your activity level, we can guarantee you will do more business.
The thing you will experience as well when cranking up the activity level is that you become better.
Booking meetings, performing meetings, negotiating, closing etc. all activities that you get better and better at when doing them many times.
So, the conclusion is : To get quality in sales you need the activity. This is also valid in modern sales.
5. Start all new dialogues by sharing an idea
When you enter the call, meeting or video meeting with a customer they are already prepared for you as a sales rep.
They wait with their guard up to protect themselves to whatever you might throw at them to convince them about your product/service.
Most people have an experience of sales reps at that’s something you quickly need to bridge.
You need to lower their guard and make them feel you are on their side. You need to “move over” and sit on the same side of the table as them.
You need to identify something you have in common and can work together to accomplish.
It’s also well known that it’s easier to receive if you begin by giving something away.
Therefore we highly recommend you, as part of a modern sales strategy, to begin all new dialogues with sharing an idea of how you can improve your customers situation , of course based on your product/service.
If you manage to get an initial acceptance for your idea, it will most likely open up more ideas.
This is where the magic happens. You will by this time have put yourself physiologically on the same side of the table as your customer and you have the potential to drive a common project to finish.
The finish is of course them buying your product/service, but the point is that you work together , with you as a trusted adviser (modern sales rep).
6. Identify your customer’s true/actual driver to buy
In sales we have all been taught that its good to ask a lot of WHY questions to understand the customer’s needs.
However there might be a big difference on the official answer you get on WHY questions and the actual WHY.
In modern sales this is especially important to understand, when you are trying to identify the actual reason WHY the customer wants to buy something you can deliver.
The true driver behind the reason a person wants to buy something is often emotional (80-90% of buying decision is based on emotions, only 10-20% is based on facts).
If you can identify the true/actual driver to buy, it becomes easier to also target that true driver (emotion) and increase your chances to win the deal dramatically.
How do you do it? Most of us buy/consume things because it makes us be perceived in a specific way.
Why do people by a Porsche, few do it to take it for a spin on the race track. Most do it to look successful.
We buy specific products/services because it tells a story about who we are.
By asking your WHY questions but listening to words not spoken and understanding how this purchase makes the surrounding people look upon the person you deal with, is the key.
Does you product/service makes your customer look more innovative, more powerful, more successful, more healthy, more knowledgeable etc.
If you understand this on a few of your customers, it also makes it easier to search for the same driver in your potentially new customers.
The lessons learned : If you understand this true driver it makes your future dialogue so much easier. That is modern sales.
7. Get the sales forecasting right
If you have growth plans for your company, getting accurate sales forecasts are vital, not only to plan your future sales but also to plan your marketing, your production/delivery, customer care etc.
Basically the entire company gets affected by sales forecasts.
If you want to grow your company you need to plan for that and as in any plan you need to base it on as much facts as possible. The sales forecast affects your need to:
> Recruit more sales reps and when in time its needed
> Plan and execute marketing activities to generate leads and when in time its needed
> Plan and recruit more people on production/delivery and when you need them in time
> Plan and expand you customer care/support
Here are a few TOP REASONS most companies struggle with inaccurate forecasts:
- You add all leads/potential deals to the pipeline directly
- You only use one common process for the whole company
- You work with stage/phase based processes where you move the opportunities forward in a predefined way
- No control of KPIs or it takes huge administrative efforts to get control
- Lack of digital flows
In modern sales you have control of your KPIs and work in efficient flows that gives value to all involved.
8. Implement a digital, seamless end-to-end solution
Sales reps in general are only spending 18 % of their time selling (Sirius Decisions). A lot of time is spent on prospecting, the Information Hub (Entering, managing & searching information), summarising email campaign results, discussing during follow up talks internally just to understand where you are on specific deals etc.
Marketing is often working in separate tools, so is the finance department. Even if they all work in digital tools it often results in deep trenches between the departments.
It also generates long lead times to deliver relevant information in between since it often relies on manual labor (exporting, importing, copy/paste, emailing etc.)
So even if you have digital tools to serve all departments you still have tons of potential to become more efficient, agile and secure from things falling through the cracks.
In modern sales all departments are seamlessly connected, in user friendly digital flows.
Anyone working with sales, customers or marketing regardless of when in the process, from first time web visitors to the people paying your invoices, should be part of these flows.
A wise man I once met used to train thousands of people in sales.
In the beginning of each training session he usually asked the audience if they believed their company was customer or production focused.
Most of course participants claimed they were customer focused. When he thereafter asked what was their most important business system, most people answered the ERP.
He then replied : “How can you call yourself customer focused and not see the Information Hub as the most important tool and the spider in your business tool network?”
I can not agree more. An end-to-end solution for managing sales, relations, marketing, invoicing, communication, service, support need to be centralised around an Information Hub.
It’s there your customers are managed, it’s there your sales is managed, it’s there your leads pop up to be qualified.
A proper end-to-end solution should connect web, mail campaigns, communication customers, orders, opportunities, documents, invoking, finances etc. and by doing that also creating seamless flows that flow over several different departments, real or virtual.
This type of automated and digitized end-to-end solutions can make your company 80-90% more efficient and let you deliver several times more results with the same number of people.
You probably see by now that you need a combination of new tools and changed business processes, work ways and even leadership to be able to scale and become more efficient in sales, customer management and marketing.
In modern sales you work with completely digitized and integrated work flows (end-to-end) that removes manual administration and connects departments digitally into seamless workflows that it gives you.
- 80-90% increased efficiency
- A scalable organisation
In modern sales you combine that new end-to-end solution with updated processes, workflows, KPIs, requirements and expectations, that are very clear for all team members.
If its not clear how you operate, when and how data is added and what requirements you have, there is no solution that will make you be more efficient.
In modern sales you as leaders will also get more time to spend with the team for coaching and mentoring. This makes it easier for you to optimize the operations and grow your company.