The COVID-19 global pandemic has changed B2B sales forever. Remote selling has become the norm, and according to McKinsey, more than 80% of B2B professionals expect remote selling to remain in some manner in a post-pandemic world. This is an inflection point in sales. To remain competitive, B2B sales organizations have to reassess their sales infrastructure and identify new strategies to promote business agility.
Your competitors are doing everything they can to build sales in an increasingly fragmented market. They are looking at ways to drive new sales quickly and efficiently by meeting the changing needs of potential customers. To stay ahead of the competition and drive growth, you must be faster and more creative, as well as collaborating with key customers so everyone comes out ahead.
Here are five strategies to help you increase sales agility.
Enhance Your Go-To-Market Structure
Restructure your sales team to be nimble and able to adapt to new market conditions and changing customer needs. For example, consider the case of a manufacturer of metal working and finishing products that was having trouble differentiating its standard product line from competitors while concurrently selling its engineered custom applications. The company was relying on their sales reps to decide how to split their time between working with distributor sales reps on standard products and highly technical (and profitable) products. Rather than leaving this decision to the sales reps, the company verticalized its sale approach by creating teams which included technical sales and marketing people for their engineered business and employed an outside sales rep agency to support and grow their distributors and end users. This approach provided the rapid growth, profitability, and sales cost efficiencies they were looking to achieve.
Increase Sales ROI
When sales decline the mistake most organizations make is looking for areas where they can cut costs rather than investing in improving sales performance. There are several ways to improve sales ROI:
- Shift fixed costs to variable costs that change with the market. For example, rather than adding or cutting sales staff, consider augmenting your sales team with independent sales reps. This way you can scale quickly without increasing or reducing headcount.
- Improve sales staff efficiency by adopting more technology to automate routine tasks. Reducing much of the administrative burden frees more time for active selling.
- Diversify the sales channel to increase sales without adding costs. For example, have in-house sales reps focus on core customers and outsource lead acquisition and qualification, which is one of the most time-consuming and least cost-effective uses of in-house sales reps’ time.
- Segment your target market into smaller, more manageable customer segments to make it easier to prioritize and close prospects.
Apply Customer-Centric Selling
The B2B buyer’s journey has changed. Today’s prospects come armed with a better idea of what they need, and they have already researched potential solutions. Sales reps need to be prepared to provide relevant digital follow-up information, engaging customers at the right moment with information and insights to help address their unique pain points. Sales organizations must also make sure they nurture new and existing customers to ensure customer loyalty and reduce churn.
Adopt a Selling Mind-Set
You can train your sales team, but you need to motivate them as well. Your sales team must be willing to pivot and embrace new ideas and procedures, adopting an agile mindset. The best way to motivate your sales team is to:
Identify the right selling behaviors, such as ensuring that reps balance their focus on existing customers with new business prospecting to reduce churn. Research shows that most companies earn 80% of their revenue from 20% of existing customers.
Connect desired behaviors to rewards such as linking bonuses to sales goals. For example, be sure financial bonuses are tied to products you want to sell, not just overall sales volume. If you are having trouble keeping the CRM system current, consider tying compensation to data entry.
Use Data Analytics
Mine your data systems to identify what’s working and what isn’t. Point-of-sale analytics can reveal sales patterns by industry, geography, product, and other metrics to show you where you need to focus your sales and marketing resources. Use available data sources to get a holistic picture of your sales operations and identify new areas of opportunity.
To cultivate new strategies to increase sales you must find practical ways to adapt to ever-changing market conditions and customer needs. Cultivating sales agility by eliminating inefficiencies in the sales infrastructure, focusing attention on activities that yield a return, and staying tuned in to customer needs and customer experience will help keep your sales team adaptable and agile.
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