Navigate your sales tech stack with a sales technology roadmap
The best way to manage incoming sales tech is with a detailed sales technology roadmap to help your team plan for the future.
COVID-19 has irrevocably changed the world. It’s touched everything, from how we attend work and school to how we shop and pay for groceries. And it’s forever changed the ways that buyers buy and sellers sell.
Things have changed remarkably for sellers, with a sudden and unforeseen pivot to virtual sales. What sellers are selling—and how they sell it—has changed, with new mindsets and skillsets needed. How sellers they spend their day has turned upside down, with all salespeople effectively playing an inside sales role. And with buyers offering fewer and shorter calls, the time sellers spend selling has been reduced, while precise planning and execution has become essential to ensuring that opportunities haven’t been wasted.
Things have changed drastically on the buying side of the sales equation, too. Compared to pre-COVID-19, sales organizations are reporting longer sales cycles for both existing customers and new logos, according to the Korn Ferry Research 2020 Virtual Selling Study. Customers are reluctant to take action, and nearly half (43%) have made significant changes to their buying processes.
Most buyers—70%—are waiting to engage a seller until after they’ve finalized their needs and are ready to move forward with a solution. Buyers are delaying their interaction with sellers because they view them only as meeting, but not exceeding, their expectations; a vast majority (77%) told us that they don’t see sellers as solvers of business problems, and as a result they don’t feel the need to seek their advice or engage them earlier in the buying cycle.
Taking action doesn’t need to be that radical – while buyers don’t rate sellers, 90% of them also said that they were willing to interact differently with sellers and engage earlier in the process if they thought sellers added more value. This tells us that there’s a need to change the sales strategy, skillset and mindset of sellers, to move from pusher of products to valued advisor.
It’s a big transformational shift for sales organizations. But it’s certainly one that’s achievable and worthwhile. In chaotic times, it can be tempting to let the sale play out before determining your next step. But this is not one of those times to sit idly by, waiting for the pandemic to pass and letting opportunities—and revenue—go to another organization. Our 2020 Virtual Selling Study showed that those who effectively adapted their sales processes to align with buyers during the COVID-19 pandemic last year enjoyed 9% more wins and 5% more revenue than their counterparts.
It can be daunting to think about what needs to change while you’re trying to figure out how to keep your organization afloat in a turbulent market. We suggest that you start your transformation with quick wins that will give your transformation effort momentum. Here are three places you can start:
Leading organizations are taking three steps to future-proof their sales talent. First, they invest time in identifying the traits and competencies that have become more prominent because of shifting trends. Second, they use talent assessments to evaluate their current teams, new hires and redeployments against this agreed profile for success; and third, they make a plan to close the talent gap. And with only 27% of organizations planning to add to their sales team over the next year, the most likely route to closing this gap is to work on developing and deploying existing talent.
In a chaotic, rapidly changing market, where buyers are less reliant on sellers than ever before, your sales organization needs a consistent, methodical approach to reach reluctant, demanding buyers and win more complex deals. It’s critical that sellers know how to engage with potential buying influences, as six or more decision-makers often play a role in every deal. The numbers bear this out: organizations that follow a mature sales methodology have win rates that are 10% higher than organizations that follow a random or informal methodology.
When buyers need to solve a business problem, they’d prefer to turn to eight other resources before consulting a seller, according to our Buyer Preferences Study. That’s because few sellers exceed buyer expectations. But as we mentioned above, buyers are willing to engage with sellers earlier in their buying journey when they face a challenge that’s new, complex, or risky. COVID-19 presents this type of challenge. Sellers have an opportunity to reach buyers by offering perspective—insights and education that help buyers see problems in a new light, recognize new opportunities, and make better decisions.
We’ll be discussing each of these sales transformation areas in our upcoming three-minute Sales Quick Clips video series. In the first of these we ask Richard Hilton, EMEA Managing Director at Korn Ferry, his view on what’s next for sales. Listen to his thoughts on what needs to change to close the sales talent gap, and why. Watch the video here. Keep an eye out for the remaining videos in the series, coming soon.