Welcome to your sales weekly roundup for June 9-16. This week we’re circling back around to some valuable insights that snuck past our radar: why B2B salespeople should act more like travel agents, why you need more women in your sales force and high-level advice on becoming a social selling master.
B2B customers are in a state of purchase paralysis. With the wealth of information online, they’re taking longer to make purchasing decisions, often abandoning them, and sometimes even regretting them. “Buyers are now looking for sellers who can make the process easy once again,” write CEB Researchers Nicholas Toman, Brent Adamson and Cristina Gomez in their latest HBR article.
By becoming the “travel agent” and simplifying the solution process, salespeople have seen win rates in high-end solution sales boost by 60%. Here are three examples of how this has happened:
An employee wellness benefits provider uses content marketing.
Buyer: Human Resources decision makers
Problem: Wellness programs are a fairly new initiative, however, as HR departments try to learn about solutions, they are overwhelmed with a sea of information from salespeople, evangelists, etc.
Solution: One benefits provider decision to differentiate themselves by creating content focused specifically on best practises for purchasing wellness solutions.
Why it works: The content cuts through the noise by teaching buyers what to look for, and provides value with benchmarking. It is vendor neutral yet still subtly positions itself as showcasing its unique strengths.
Result: Dramatic increases in marketing and sales.
A marketing automation company creates readymade presentations.
Buyer: Marketing leaders
Problem: When marketing needs more add-ons to their additional marketing stack/automation software, the CIO often may block the purchase.
Solution: One vendor created premade sales decks to present to the CIO and other members of the buying committee.
Why it works: The decks contain benchmarking tools, ROI calculators and other content. Most notably, they “use the language and metrics of the stakeholder receiving it.”
A healthcare software company uses networking events early in the sales process.
Buyer: Healthcare professionals
Problem: Most customer reference checks happen late in the sales funnel. They are typically used as a way to get through the final stage to purchase.
Solution: One healthcare provider decided to unite recent customers and potential buyers who are similar early in the buying process. They spend half a day together and the company asks the customer to honestly discuss the purchase process, pitfalls to avoid, etc.
Why it works: Both companies benefit from peer-to-peer networking and best practices. Anticipates and facilitates the sales cycle.
Result: Cycle times fall and deal win rates increase.
*This is a summary of B2B Salespeople Need to Act More Like Travel Agents by HBR.
Sales managers, did you know only 1 in 4 mid-level sales managers and only 1 in 5 sales leaders are female? In addition to that, women in sales are generally paid less than males.
As the B2B sales space becomes increasingly difficult and sophisticated, leaders have the opportunity to step ahead by diversifying gender within their sales force.
Four reasons more women will improve your sales team:
1. Women achieve equal or higher quota attainment than men: According to an analysis by Xactly Insights, women achieve 70% quota attainment on average compared to men, who achieve 67% on average.
2. Women stay in their roles longer: “Women typically stay in their roles for one year longer than men, leading to lower attrition costs.”
3. Women build more diverse teams: “On average, female-led teams are 50% female and 50% male, while male-led teams are typically only 25% female. Teams with greater gender diversity contribute to a more stable workforce and are more effective as a variety of perspectives are brought to the sales organization.”
4. Companies with greater gender diversity achieve better business results: “When compared to companies with a less diverse workforce (less than 20% female), companies with a highly diverse workforce (greater than 45% women) have significantly higher revenue, more customers, higher than average market share, and higher than average profitability, according to a 2009 study from the University of Illinois at Chicago.”
Alex Hisaka from the LinkedIn Sales Blog gives some great high level on sales fundamentals. Here’s what budding social sellers need to know:
Start With Relationships
“Behind every closed deal is a strong relationship,” says Hisaka. With social selling, we know information fuels insights, and insights open doors. Build your relationships on social networks, share your insights and add value in discussions. You can also leverage your network to pave the way for warmer introductions.
Position Yourself as a Go-to Resource
The more your participate in social discussions, create and share the right content at the right time, the more buyers will see you as a trusted resource rather than a pushy salesperson. If you align with the right brands and people, you can further position yourself as a thought leader and industry expert.
Harness the Power of Information
Buyers have more information at their fingertips than ever before—but that doesn’t mean sales professionals are at a disadvantage. By tracing your buyers digital fingerprints you can gain insight into what content to share at the right time, helping buyers cut through the noise and open new doors for smarter, more targeted engagement.