In 2021 and beyond, the top sales trends are all about leveraging technology, not for added complexity and platforms, but to actually optimize technology for simplicity. Below, we explore four main principles that serve as a guide for revenue leaders across all industries. You’ll see a continued emphasis on leveraging and simplifying the tech stack, using today’s modern revenue engagement process as the north star.
The four guiding principles for fixing what’s broken in digital sales are:
- Not just aligning sales and marketing, but ingraining them together
- Derive real business value from big data and advanced analytics
- Understand social selling and the nature of context-driven engagement
- Adopt advanced tech where it makes the most sense
1. Sales, marketing, and customer success not just aligned, but ingrained with each other
Alignment between sales, marketing, and customer success teams remains a critical aspect for sustainable revenue growth in today’s B2B environment, where buyer choice reigns supreme.
Companies with closely coordinated marketing and sales teams are 67% more efficient at closing deals. This is all well and good unless you’re not retaining those customers once they’re onboarded. In that case, you’re missing a major component to sustainable revenue growth. Customer churn remains one of the highest costs for larger organizations.
A typical customer journey no longer follows a linear path. They are bidirectional, circular, and multidimensional. Rather than a one-way process where marketing hands off leads to sales and then disappears, or sales passes a customer to the success team and then is out of the picture, modern teams are using a collaborative strategy with connected feedback loops that are proven to drive better insights and decision making across every team involved in the customer’s experience.
FIGURE: Gartner’s Illustration of The B2B Buying Journey, 2019
When each department’s engagement platform gets stacked up together, this often results in overlapping features because some needs and tools remain the same across all teams. So, the key to avoiding feature or platform bloat across your engagement tools is to enable a solution for sales and customer service engagement that’s native within a single platform, ideally your CRM.
2. Derive real business value from data and advanced analytics
What makes data so valuable to a customer engagement team is having it all unified and correct in CRM. CRM is meant to unify our customer relationship information and make our jobs more manageable. Ironically, in many cases, it’s become more painful than helpful. Yet CRM is here to stay: by 2025, the CRM market is expected to increase to $82 billion, growing at 12% per year.
CRM has a painful history for teams when it comes to logging, gathering, accessing, integrating, syncing, and maintaining accurate information. However, the data housed inside CRM can be incredibly beneficial to not only frontline sellers but customer service and success teams as well. Out of date or missing, data runs rampant in many organizations today, causing a host of customer-facing issues from flubbed renewal outreach, to missed opportunities for expansion.
Most teams will tell you that when a data discrepancy pops up, it’s CRM they ultimately trust for the final answer. CRM is the tie-breaker, but what’s in CRM is unfortunately not usually up to date. The speed of business causes many to turn a blind eye and assume that sales operations will solve the issue. Many sellers don’t bother with manually inputting data when they feel their time is better spent making a phone call or emailing a sales prospect.
Sometimes the answer is to shift the mess to another platform or just accept the status quo and lose the valuable context that could’ve been at your fingertips the whole time. Either solution presents a host of administrative issues and lost opportunities.
Rather than view CRM as a necessary evil or shift away from using CRM completely, sales teams should adopt a solution that addresses this challenge with a native sales engagement solution within their CRM. Such solutions can help automate data capture and workflows, transforming their CRM from a data management platform to an engagement platform.
Leaders must take steps to simplify the process of using CRM the way it was intended. The solution is not to add more platforms and more integration points, but instead, clean up and streamline your technology stack. The goal should be to transform the system of record into your system of engagement.
3. Understand guided selling and the nature of context-driven engagement
In particular, the B2B digital sales role will quickly evolve from having narrow objectives such as prospecting or qualification to being a critical part of a specialized revenue team, who will share data, trends, and insights via a central CRM platform and the use of sales engagement tools to stay connected to prospects and customers.
We will see a greater focus on Revenue Engagement from sales leadership with increased alignment in Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Account-Based Sales (ABS) initiatives. We’re seeing an evolution to a much more unified team of sales, marketing, and customer success all focused on driving revenue, with both new and existing customers.
“Sales teams have evolved from autonomous agents with their own prospecting and closely guarded contact lists to co-equal members of a team sharing lead data, using automation to stay in touch, and using CRM to manage activities and reporting.”
-John McTigue, sales and marketing stack advisor, The MarTech Whisperer
In today’s economic landscape and buyer preferences, the teams that are winning are hyper-focused on reducing buyer friction, bringing value, and capturing attention. You do this through context-driven selling. In other words, meeting your customers on their terms, with their unique needs, past history, and current situation in mind.
This is where Revenue Engagement comes in. Complete, end-to-end customer lifecycle management built directly within CRM. Such a platform makes it easy for every team involved in the customer’s revenue journey to execute, track, and optimize every interaction. When you truly understand the role a digital seller can play within your organization, you can begin identifying the characteristics of a successful strategy.
4. Adopt advanced tech where it makes the most sense
Sellers today are operating in a completely new world — one that is experiencing change at a pace never seen before. Sales technology and channel structures are constantly evolving and introducing new capabilities for modern revenue teams. Many teams struggle to keep pace with changing processes and tools.
“Injecting digital technologies such as analytics, AI and digital platforms into business processes makes them 40-50% more efficient.”
– Forbes Council: Digital Transformation Benefits Beyond Cost Reduction
Many new engagement channels, like video, social, and SMS, are now available to digital sellers, with somewhat low barriers to entry. Solutions have also been developed to monitor buyer engagement across content types and even suggest marketing content for sales reps to share with accounts, based on their stage or status within the customer journey.
Sales technology makes it possible to put underutilized marketing tools at the fingertips of sales professionals to expand the ways they can engage. When done right, digital sales techniques like guided selling and sales cadences mean there’s a better chance that a stronger connection will be made.
FIGURE: Visual Flow Chart of an Example Sales Cadence
Take text messaging, for example. SMS can be a powerful sales engagement channel, as it immediately indicates you’ve reached a new level of intimacy and closeness with your prospect. Using text as part of a sales engagement strategy helps teams engage customers with short and crisp informative messages instead of long descriptive emails. 61% of teams increased their text marketing budgets in 2020.
Whether it’s a webinar reminder or a demo follow-up message, sales engagement strategies can now incorporate text messaging as part of an overall sales cadence. Conversations accelerate and meetings are booked from text messaging. Believe it or not, as many as 45% of people reply to branded text message blasts they receive.
All of these innovations have a spot in the modern tech stack of a digital sales organization. Aligned toward the correct strategy and adapted over time as the sales team matures, each of these tools can become a game-changer in the evolution and success of your digital selling strategy.
So with all of this focus being put on digital sales, where do you think the future of sales is heading? Tweet us your thoughts on the matter. We’d love to hear from you!
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- How to build the business case for digital sales
- What matters most for today’s modern buyer
- Why the future of digital selling is revenue engagement