Sometimes even the best sales strategy falls short. When it does, it’s time to evaluate what went wrong and identify corrective actions to ensure future success. This list of six things that can sideline the most well-designed strategic sales plans is a good place to start.
Overloading buyers with too much information
Too much information can overwhelm and confuse decision-makers. In a recent survey of B2B buyers on how B2B vendors could improve content quality:
want more data and research
want sales messages curbed
prefer shorter formats
Give buyers content that adds value. Make sure it answers a question or provides a solution that is relevant. In the survey mentioned above, 90% of B2B buyers said they are more likely to engage with content related to a topic that they are working on or thinking about.
In another more recent survey, 53% of B2B buyers report seeking resources and information tailored to the current stage of their buying journey for more meaningful engagements.
Hold back on the tendency to over-share just because you have access to a buyer’s email or cell phone. Be selective about what you send and when you send it. Your content should align with where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey, and address the information needed at that stage and to move the journey forward.
Sales reps doing most of the talking
Let’s face it. Salespeople are a talkative bunch. And their enthusiasm about the products they sell, and their certainty of how their products will help buyers in so many ways, is hard to keep under wraps. As a result, many reps find themselves chattering away in their excitement, while the buyer’s eyes glaze over and their head spins with all the information flung their way all at once.
Better sales reps know that they should do more listening than talking. Particularly during the early stage of the buyer’s journey, asking open-ended questions to truly understand the buyer’s needs, motivations and challenges is critical. (For more on this topic, read our blog Listen More. Talk Less.)
Answer the buyer’s questions and concerns, knowing that brevity may be your friend. Communicate value in a way that resonates with the buyer’s problems or worries but refrain from going off on tangents that don’t meet the buyer where they are in their journey.
Relying on an obsolete or inefficient tech stack
Your sales tech stack encompasses all the tools and platforms your team uses in your sales operation, such as automating lead generation and nurturing, tracking communications, reporting and analyzing data, managing pipeline progress, and more. Technology can be a game changer for B2B sales companies.
Beware of the tendency to be mesmerized by bright, shiny objects! Many companies buy the latest and greatest technology without thinking about their specific operational needs and how it will integrate with their existing sales ops technologies. Select tools based on whether they save time and effort (we think of it as minimizing ‘red time’ and maximizing ‘green time’ in your sales reps’ days) and add value to your activities. They should solve a specific problem and have a measurable ROI.
As you onboard new reps or acquire new tech tools, make sure to have a thoughtful training plan in place. Your tech stack is only as good as the ways in which people are using it.
We’ve covered this topic in depth. A good place to start is with How to Build a Kick-A$$ B2B Tech Stack.
Spending too much time on non-sales tasks
Selling is an art and a science that involves a variety of motions that must be completed before, during, and after the sale. Sales reps must meet the demands of prospecting, crafting marketing messages, entering and updating information, and more. But devoting too much time to administrative and clerical activities can consume so much of a sales rep’s day that they are actually being counterproductive.
According to the Salesforce Second Annual State of Sales Report, 41% of salespeople say they spend too much time on administrative tasks in an average week. In fact, research shows that most salespeople typically spend 65% of their time on non-selling tasks. Don’t let your sales reps misuse their time this way. They are not merely wasting time—they are wasting revenues! Greater efficiency is required to meet the competitive pressures of B2B sales.
Your goal should be to maximize the amount of time that your reps spend in selling activities (‘green time’) and minimize the time they spend doing administrative tasks (‘red time’). Don’t forget to look at how your sellers are using technology to ensure that you’ve reduced as much ‘red time’ as possible. For example, are your reps using the CRM out-of-the-box or only marginally customized? If so, there is plenty of ‘red time’ you can eliminate by constructing your CRM instance to match the specific workflows for each sales role and remove as much ambiguity and unnecessary steps as possible.
Sales coaching is not regularly scheduled
It has been shown that coaching for continuous improvement can significantly increase win rate and deal size. So, it’s a must to make coaching and mentoring an ongoing priority. Investing resources in a disciplined sales coaching approach doesn’t just enhance the growth of the company as a whole; it supports each sales rep’s ability to achieve their own personal best in terms of performance, contributing to their on-the-job satisfaction. This improves morale across the entire organization.
One-on-one coaching that is not judgmental is essential. A forthright environment where sales reps are comfortable asking questions and expressing concerns without fear of repercussions can lead to better performance.
A conversation intelligence tool can simplify coaching for modern B2B sellers. Artificial intelligence flags keywords, phrases, and topics during a recorded call, and analyzes the conversation to provide insight into best practices. The recordings also reveal simple but important things such as how much time rep listened versus spoke during the call.
Call coaching is the most effective coaching approach for remote sales teams or inside sales teams because when sales leaders give feedback on the call, there can be immediate improvement on the very next call; it provides instantaneous impact. And, once a “good” call is identified, sales reps can use it to self-coach themselves to better results, in addition to using the recording as a teaching tool by sharing it with other reps.
You’ll find more ideas on coaching and training in the blog, Optimize B2B Sales Training & Coaching with the Right Tech Stack.
Insisting you can go it alone
Nearly every B2B sales organization is limited in growth by deficiency in resources. Whether you suffer from insufficiency of time, budget, staffing, technology, or capabilities, it’s likely that a lack of resources is keeping you from reaching your full revenue potential.
Perhaps you can’t expand as fast as you want, penetrate a new market, or reskill enough sales reps to keep pace with the competition. Or you want to make innovation a priority, but you are frustrated because you need more support before you can put your plan into action.
This is when it makes sense to consider forming a strategic alliance with an outside partner. Even the most skilled and experienced sales leaders rely on outsourced professional sales expertise to fill in the gaps so they can realize accelerated sales performance. A turnkey sales outsourcing provider, for instance, can:
• Provide sales training and coaching services
• Utilize business process engineering to design optimal sales methodologies
• Audit new technologies and align elements of the tech stack with your precise business needs
• Hire and manage top sales talent to augment your current team or initiate a special sales campaign
• Orchestrate a Customer Success program
• And much more
With the right managed sales provider, you get a team of sales professionals that is singularly focused on one thing: selling. They will tackle a B2B company’s most challenging projects because they have the specialized knowledge, experience, and people dedicated to achieving your sales goals. A good managed sales provider will not just work for you, they will work with you to become an extension of your brand and achieve your business goals.
For more on this topic read What is B2B Managed Sales Outsourcing?
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Author: Karen Salamone
Karen is Head of Marketing for MarketSource. She is a transformational B2B and B2B2C leader with a history of building marketing organizations, content teams, and demand generation centers of excellence from the ground up. She is recognized for delivering meaningful insights and fresh approaches and for earning best-in-class content, design, and multi-media awards.