The Benchmarks of True Sales Effectiveness
Paul Melchiorre – Global Vice President, Ariba
Ariba was an early leader in the e-business revolution. With great working products, it survived the tech crash a decade ago, and since thrived. It is no surprise that today Ariba is a thought leader in Sales 2.0 best practices.
Paul launched his presentation with a Buyer 2.0 profile. The “new” customer is informed by multiple sources, is empowered through knowledge, has higher demands, and is tech savvy. It was a subtle reminder from an earlier session the Buyer 2.0 exerts far greater product discrimination and control over the purchase process than 5-7 years ago.
Post-recession, the nature of selling has changed. Customers now value the sales experience itself over the Company, Product, and ROI.
What Drives Effectiveness in a Sales 2.0 World?
People. Process. Technology. No mystery, that’s been a winning tripod for years.
How sales reps work with the customer has changed. To me, Paul builds on Solution Selling concepts of exploring pain impacts to the organization. But it is more. The Sales 2.0 rep understands the impacts to all stakeholders. They become the Trusted Advisor, perceived as the Thought Leader. Sales 2.0 leaders can “visualize the Finished Basement”.
Think about the buyers in the sales process. The CMO, CIO and CFO have different interests. Sales 2.0 leaders understands all the stakeholders – their issues, pains, requirements, etc. They engage their customers how they wish to interact, using multiple communications channels.
A well-defined sales process ensures sales effectiveness that is repeatable and extendable to new hires. Uses common standards to qualify leads and opportunities. It mitigates risk in the sales cycle.
Help your customers see the “Finished Basement”. This especially important if you’re selling transformational technology. Help them see the end result. Lock in the vision.
Paul underscored the need to have clear visibility across your sales organization. Starts with training and education. Every sales operation needs good repeatable process and accurate measurements. Process, in my experience, is often weakly defined and poorly enforced in most sales environments. I worked for 2 companies that used well-defined practices and accurate measurements via reporting to evaluate progress towards goals. One of those companies started with the training foundation, and certified every new sales hire prior to assigning a territory. Ariba does this, too.
Paul listed 4 Principles of Success in training employees:
- Have clear objectives
- Be concise
- Understand your buyers/audience
- Speak to that audience
Paul advocated using top sales performers to deliver training. They make the best trainers. Their success and vision may not be passed along through osmosis. They need to lead and be involved in training and new hire on-boarding initiatives. Does your company today leverage the top performing sales reps to pass along insight and best practices?
Harness New Tools and Techniques
Best in class companies have changed their selling model to sell to the 2.0 Buyer. Sales professionals who don’t understand 2.0 are set up for failure. Even if they hire and employ the very best sales reps in their industry, companies that do not embrace 2.0 Sales will be left behind. New tools and techniques are required. If you still follow the same practices today you used 5-7 years ago, it’s time to change.
Knowledge sharing is the cornerstone. Collaboration and Social Conversations on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, video message delivery via YouTube. Sales 1.0 tools like Salesforce remain in use to automate the sales process and provide reporting. Paul recommended adding social media to your practices, and showed this compelling graphic indicating Sales 2.0 companies increased revenues by 37%:
Ariba’s Social Vision: We will leverage the collective IQ of our 4,500,000 customers. Our solutions are smart. But our customers are even smarter.