The Sales Cycle Has Changed Dramatically. Why Hasn't Your Sales Training?

Posted by Tom Snyder on Tue, May 07, 2019
Tom Snyder
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There is little doubt that the sales cycle has undergone substantial evolution over the past several years, and most sales organizations have yet to adapt. Buyers may not be making full purchasing decisions before consulting sales people, but they are definitely doing more of their own research and sellers have less opportunities to influence them. So, modern sellers need modern training to appeal to modern buyers. How does your organization hold up?

There are four main forces driving changes to the selling landscape, and corresponding methods your sales coaching and training can use to catch up.

  1. Message saturation. Customers now receive a bombardment of messaging via email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites.  Years back, the only source for important information about products and services was interaction with a sales person.  Today, those considering a buying decision have to weed out tons of vendor noise to separate out the information that is most pertinent to what they are trying to achieve.  Increasingly, data show that buyers are relying heavily on their professional networks to make this separation more efficient. According to Demand Gen’s 2018 B2B Buyer Survey, 65% of buyers rely more on peer recommendations and review sites. Platforms like LinkedIn groups, professional society membership resources, conversations, conversations with colleagues and peers are now more prominent than ever. Buyers are reaching out to those with whom their affiliation provides a sense of trust and confidence. 
  1. Messaging that isn’t unique or good enough. Just because you start your prospecting email by using my name in the salutation does not mean I fail to recognize a standard one-size-fits-all message lacking in true personalization. Further, the vast majority of prospecting messages are disproportionately focused on features and benefits of the products, rather than the prospect’s unique needs. No thanks.
  2. Using social media platforms throughout the buyer’s decision journey. Sellers are obsessed with generating leads on social media, but often fall short in leveraging these platforms after a buyer starts on a decision journey. The number one job of sellers is to coach the buyer to make a decision that is good for both parties.  To most buyers, how the purchasing decision is made is almost as, if not more important than the decision itself. Social media platforms allow the seller to provide key information during the customer’s decision journey without having to rely solely on phone-based or in-person sales interactions.  Have any stalled deals in your funnel?  Perhaps your sales “touches” are too infrequent and provide too little insight.
  3. Sales support material that is not crafted to the stages of the buyer’s journey. It is well established that buyers go through distinct stages as they consider a buying decision. In other words, there are predictable stops along their journey. Therefore, sellers have an opportunity to provide insight at every stage and marketers have the opportunity to design sales support resources that facilitate such insight. Most fail to do so. Marketers need to establish that part of the brand promise is a sales force equipped to assist buyers in making the best possible decision (for both parties). Sellers need to be able to accurately identify which stage buyers are in, and use these resources accordingly Doing so will keep the sales funnel clean of “funnel filler”, make forecasts far more accurate and allow sellers to create value before a transaction is consummated. This can only be done with marketing resources crafted to fit each decision stage and sellers who have been trained to recognize the buyers place along the decision journey.

These four areas represent some of the most widespread ways in which sales teams are not equipped for modern buyers. These are also four areas of improvement that can have the most significant impact on your sales performance. In the modern era of B2B selling, staying current with buying trends is a necessity.

Want to train your team in proven prospecting techniques? Check out our comprehensive guide to sales prospecting, based on an analysis of 100,000 sales calls. 

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Topics: Prospecting