Selling in B2B markets has always been a challenging endeavor for sales teams. Purchases and deals are often “difficult” or “very complex.”
An average of 6-10 people are now involved in most customer-side buying decisions– and that’s for a typical mid-market customer; for enterprise accounts, the number of teams and evaluators involved is even larger.
Meanwhile, seller sales teams have also traditionally faced higher turnover rates (around 35%), and that’s an especially key hurdle in the era of “the great resignation.” It’s not helped by the fact B2B teams are now becoming ever-more attractive “talent targets” for recruiters.
The Pangs and Pain of Onboarding New Salespeople
It takes an average of over six months to fill a sales role, and then another several months to fully onboard and train a new account executive. And even then, most B2B buyers say that sales reps are unprepared to discuss their particular business challenges.
How can companies combat these challenges and maintain sales traction? As usual, technology can help– when paired with the right processes to empower your people. Value-based selling has proven to be one of the most profitable approaches to pricing and dealmaking, but it requires an intimate understanding of a customer’s unique value chain to work properly. I like to summarize this precursor as knowing:
- Who you are selling to;
- What you are selling them; and
- Why what you’re selling is a good fit
Read In the Know or in the Dark? How to Prepare Sales Teams for Volatility
In the Commercial Excellence landscape – where Vendavo defines “Commercial Excellence” as the intersection of intelligent pricing and effective selling – the first bullet (Who) is often managed within a well-structured and continuously cultivated CRM system. The other two bullets are where complementary solutions (like Vendavo Intelligent CPQ) can fill the gaps for new and experienced sales reps alike. Let’s take a look at how.
What: Identifying Hidden Revenue with Sales Optimizer
Repeat business, or “land-and-expand” selling, can be highly valuable when selling to global enterprises. But even with good reporting and analytics, it can be hard to spot opportunities to cultivate value with seemingly disconnected product families or business units. Vendavo Sales Optimizer is a great way to uncover these opportunities.
For a lighthearted example, suppose you were selling pianos to an orchestra – a healthy, though probably not frequent, revenue stream. But what if you could also sell that orchestra timpani drumheads? You could potentially expand your share of that orchestra’s buying patterns.
There could be many reasons why they don’t buy timpani heads from you today – the customer might not know you sell them, the procurement person might not talk to the percussion section’s chair to know there’s an opportunity for consolidation, or maybe you just acquired the percussion line of business. Based on other transactions with other orchestras, these patterns can be identified earlier, to the benefit of all involved.
Why: Selecting the Right Products with Guided Selling
Another challenge for B2B sales teams is knowing which products or solutions to offer a given customer. With complex configurations or large collections of SKUs, it can be tricky to keep up, even for experienced sales reps. In the past, this was also often held as “tribal knowledge,” or a skill concentrated with a few seasoned employees.
Guided Selling complements more traditional catalog and product hierarchy structures by focusing on customer needs. Through a structured series of questions and requirements, a Guided Selling tree can help reps land on an appropriate selection of products or configurations for a particular customer’s needs.
This can keep things efficient for experienced sellers, and give new sellers the confidence that what they’ve included is valid and reasonable from a technical perspective. It also helps speed up the ramp-up time and allows new reps to start quoting and contributing earlier. As one sales leader noted, Guided Selling also helps mitigate the risk of established knowledge “walking out the door” when an account executive leaves or retires.
Guided Selling complements more traditional catalog and product hierarchy structures by focusing on customer needs.
Digital Transformation, Commercial Excellence, and Retaining Sales Teams
As you can see, the right technology can provide more than just the chance to digitize your sales processes but supplies ways to transform them so your sales organization can be more confident and informed about the opportunities around them.
The benefits can help mitigate the costs of turnover and training and keep existing B2B sales teams happy and productive as well. Investments in Commercial Excellence can help companies weather turbulent times and remain consistently profitable, in large part by keeping one of your most essential and valuable assets – experienced salespeople – on board longer.