A recent study of more than 1,200 companies worldwide points to five practical tactics that companies can take to improve sales tactics, not just within the sales organization, but also across the enterprise, including marketing.
Align marketing, sales and services
The research indicates that less than 50 percent of leads result in an initial discussion with a customer. Another 82 percent are not directing customer service representatives to take advantage of cross-selling or up-selling opportunities.
In order for companies to resolve these issues they must improve the link between marketing, sales and service to provide a customer-centric and unified experience that maintains and grows the customer base. Companies should start by integrating internal processes and handoff points among the three functions.
This can involve the alignment of marketing, sales and customer service leaders around the same objectives and using the same metrics to guide behavior and award bonuses. Leading-edge companies are also leveraging each touchpoint to increase consistency across the customer experience.
Enhancing the customer experience
Customer loyalty is becoming more complex. Indeed, chief sales officers (CSOs) reported that less than one-quarter of total leads come from existing customers.
In addition, approximately 70 percent of firms have not developed strong relationships with customers. In fact, only 12 percent of CSOs believe that their customers and prospects view their companies as trusted partners.
Enterprises thrive by revolving around the customer. Smart companies gain a 360-degree understanding of their customers by synthesizing internal data and harvesting external data. They start by asking customers which channels they prefer to interact in, and then developing a customer treatment model that matches preferred buying behaviors.
Boost sales practices and processes
More than half (57 percent) of CSOs acknowledge that they need to improve their companies’ ability to incubate promising leads for the future. The study also found that sales reps are spending only 35 percent of their time in front of customers.
Strongly performing sales organizations optimize the end-to-end marketing and sales processes, and plan for flexibility as market conditions change. They ensure that the methodology and processes add value to sales representatives and managers, and reevaluate if it is not improving productivity or performance -- whether it’s generating leads or getting more customer face-time.
Make the talent processes more precise
Unscientific hiring practices can be a bottleneck to creating a robust team structure. More than one-half of CSOs said they plan to increase the size of their sales force. Meantime, about 34 percent believe that their enterprise's ability to hire successful representatives needs improvement, and slightly more than 40 percent do not apply aptitude or competency testing to hire the right talent for the job.
Building the right talent strategies, competencies, learning models and analytics capabilities helps generate agility, speed and integration inside and outside the organization. This process requires understanding the DNA of high-performing marketing and sales staff, developing more targeted recruiting and effective onboarding processes and improving staff retention.
Leverage sales technology for better results
Although nine out of 10 enterprises have implemented some kind of CRM system to streamline forecasting processes, improve sales organization communications or reduce administrative burden, more than one-third still face low CRM tool adoption rates.
In addition, 61 percent of CSOs are using external sales intelligence service providers, but one-third say they are unsure about the investment’s benefit.
Social, mobile, analytics and the cloud are critical to support sales technology investments. Leverage these technologies to follow, sense and guide customers; listen, filter and curate content (via social media), and optimize services and experiences through context-based cloud services and experience-as-a-service solutions.
Employing these five tactics will help companies interact successfully with their customers and produce stronger results. Better marketing through agile selling requires dramatically higher execution speeds and different levels of collaboration. When done strategically, it can help provide the flexibility, accountability and responsiveness to capitalize on growth opportunities in today’s economic environment and in response to changing customer behaviors.