With the advent of technology, B2B sales are no longer as simple as they once were. Peer recommendations and online content swarm us constantly and, subconsciously or otherwise, often change your client’s opinion on what they need.
That being said, there are still several ways of improving the efficiency of your sales team. Note that we use the word efficiency and not effectiveness. The first step of enhancing the former is by understanding the difference between these terms.
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Sales Efficiency or Effectiveness?
Sales effectiveness refers to the ability of your sales team to identify, track, and close the deal with a lead. In simpler words, whether or not they can accomplish a successful sale. Effectiveness is important, however, getting the job done is not the same as getting it done well.
Sales efficiency refers to acquiring a sale in a short amount of time using limited resources. Cost-effectiveness and time management are vital factors while judging efficiency. A simple equation used to check sales efficiency is:
Sales efficiency= (revenue / cost of sale) x 100
For example, imagine your revenue to be 10 and your cost to be 10, and then your sale efficiency would be ranked as 100% or 1. A score above 1 and above displays good sales efficiency. You want to maintain a score of 1+. However, note that a disproportionately high number indicates a reduced cost of sales, which could mean a lack of marketing efforts.
Before we get to the workplace practices that can enhance efficiency, we must understand the change in general consumer behavior:
The Past and the Present
Imagine a transaction that would have occurred more than 20 years ago—a client identifies a need and contacts a known organisation to purchase a service that would satiate the said need.
However, the same does not hold true in the age of overflowing information. Clients are constantly subjected to messages and advertisements on traditional media (radio, television, newspapers), social media, and other online platforms. This gives them unlimited options to consider. With the help of the Internet, geographical barriers are no longer a hurdle and customers can purchase products and services from anywhere in the world. So, your customer today has 100 companies promising the same service as you. What can you do to give yourself a competitive edge?
General Workplace Practices for Efficient Sales
Whether you believe that your sales team is perfect or a work-in-progress, you can always introduce some basic tactics in your work operations to improve their performance.
(1) Know your Customer: To serve your clients well, you must first know who they are. Your sales team needs to understand your consumer base and modify their sales pitches to align with the interest of the consumers. Research is inevitable and imperative.
Learning about clients will give your sales team insights into their minds—what they want, how they think, what they like and dislike, etc. The research will also enlighten the team to insider information such as the lingo of a particular industry. When your sales team’s pitch caters to these minute details, you will be sure to bag the deal.
(2) Focus on Sales: Your sales team can only be efficient if their time is spent on the task at hand. If they are burdened with administrative work and reports, their time will be divided. Optimise their workload so that they can continue to do what they do best—sell!
(3) Specify Priorities: As a B2B business, each order is bulkier than that of a B2C firm. Inadvertently, certain clients will pose a higher demand than the rest. Inform your sales team of your priorities when it comes to these transactions. Specify what requires utmost attention and what can be assigned a low priority. Once they identify crucial focal points, you will receive higher profits in exchange for a lower investment.
(4) Coordinate marketing and sales: Marketing and sales go hand-in-hand. After all, the point of marketing products and services is to generate higher sales. So, why must they be discussed separately?
If you are having a marketing meeting, include your sales team. Ask for inputs from both parties to create attainable goals. Else, it may lead to a situation where neither are achieving their key result areas (KRAs). The departments need to be on the same page and consistently collaborating.
According to Precision Marketing Group, companies with tightly-aligned sales and marketing teams achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth. To increase sales efficiency, you must ensure better collaboration of these two departments.
(5) Segregate sales: Every industry has its own needs, interests, and jargons. As a B2B firm, you must adapt to these aspects. Divide your sales team by industry. Using this method, your sales team can create a base pitch that caters to a particular industry. Your team will not have to switch back and forth like they would have when dealing with varied companies. A base pitch can be altered based on the specificity of the client. Going industry by industry is also helpful during the research process.
(6) Listen to them: As a manager, owner, or founder, you may be disconnected to what your sales department wants. The team members might want to incorporate new technology, hire recruits, or install better equipment.
The best way to know what they need is to simply ask them. Encourage respectful yet free-flowing dialogue. Once you are aware of what they want, you can judge whether you have the resources to provide the same. However, simply listening to them will boost morale and loyalty, which in turn will yield better results.
(7) Invest in inbound marketing: First, let’s understand the difference between inbound and outbound marketing. For decades, traditional media has encouraged outbound marketing—broadcasting messages and advertisements to a wide array of audiences. Inbound marketing, however, refers to pushing your messages to targeted audiences, the ones that are most likely to become potential leads. Examples of inbound marketing include social media campaigns, web-based seminars, topical blogs and videos, and search engine optimisation. Social selling (using social media to gain new prospects) has become more and more prevalent in the present times.
By investing in inbound marketing, you are driving in consumers who are already interested in your services. This eases the pressure on your sales team, allowing them to make quick sales instead of chasing cold leads.
According to a study by Hubspot, social media is the most common international marketing tactic and brand awareness is the primary goal of paid advertising. A company must expand its presence to other channels to attract potential leads. Consumers view at least 5 pieces of content by the winning vendor.
(8) Weed out Pointless Meetings: Billionaire Mark Cuban is known to hate meetings. He has called them a productivity killer where half the time is spent talking about things that have nothing to do with work. Frankly, he makes a good point. Several bits of information can simply be put in an email. Too many meetings can act as communication overkill. They waste your sales team’s valuable time and effort and distract from the task at hand.
Discourage meetings regarding information that requires no discussion. Instead, communicate via emails or messaging services. This will save time and help agents focus on sales.
(9) Motivate them: Might sound like a cliché but motivation is indeed the key to success. Motivated staff is likely to yield high results and remain loyal to the company. To encourage your sales team, try the following:
- Arrange a reward system, where your team members are acknowledged and awarded for good performances.
- Allow them to make professional advancement in terms of job title and compensation.
- Organise sales retreats where your team can relax, unwind and recharge their social and personal battery.
- Introduce team-building exercises to enhance collaboration amid the sales team. A healthy work environment should be refreshing and motivating.
(10) Analyse their performance: Call analytics can give you a clear indication of what is working and what is not. Once you analyse your sales team’s performance, you can identify critical points in the teams’ or an agent’s performance and help them improve. Analytics will also provide insights for your future goals. Furthermore, call analytics and monitoring can give you information about any misuse or foul play. And lastly, knowing that they are under surveillance will encourage your team to perform their best.
(11) Give them demonstrations: Your sales team must be trained to answer any queries posed during a transaction. To accomplish this, the team must know everything about the product. Demonstrations are an excellent training tool. Additionally, demonstrations can also be used to show your team how to handle different queries, and what to do or not to do in any particular situation. Demonstrations encourage interaction and a better understanding of any product or service.
(12) Inform your consumers: Consumers do not want to constantly fall into a sales pitch. Instead of focusing on selling the product, take a step back and give them the information they desire. When you help a customer with their research, you earn their trust and, at a subconscious level, increase the chance of a purchase. Encourage your sales teams to build connections with your consumers instead of simply seeing it as a transaction. A loyal consumer will ultimately bring-in multiple sales and recommend your brand to its peers.
(13) Ensure up-to-date technology: The lack of efficiency in your sales team might have nothing to with the competence of your agents. Today, every company is equipped with high-quality technology and software. The presence of outdated software will set you back competitively, as well as internally.
You don’t have to invest in every new gimmick; pick and choose according to your requirements. Technology will support your agents to perform easily and cut down manual work. It will save time, effort as well as money. It’s a win-win-win.
How can Cloud Solutions help the Efficiency of your Sales Department?
Cloud solutions refer to servers that can collect, process, and store data, and perform functions identical to your computer. Except, everything is over the Internet. The benefits of cloud solutions include the freedom of hardware and infrastructure and the scalability of the application as per your requirements. You can use features as required with the pay-as-you-go models. Following are some features you can use for the efficiency of your sales team:
Cloud telephony lets you perform all telephonic operations over the Internet. IVR (interactive voice response) can reroute your calls without any receptionist. This will save money, speed up the process of answering queries, keep your clients satisfied, and shorten your wait times. You can also enable call recording. An analysis of the same can give you an idea of how every agent performs during calls. Cloud telephony services also give you statistics on call durations, call initiation time, and the number of incoming and outgoing calls that can be studied to review your sales team.
Data Storage and Access
When you work in a sales team, time is money. Customers do not want to wait around, only for your agents to give them information at a snail’s pace. Availability of data must be instant and omnipresent. However, in traditional set-ups, documents might be saved on different devices, making it harder to retrieve. Cloud storage allows a common server to hold all your information. Agents can retrieve the information in seconds from any remote location. Several backups protect your data and encryption keeps it secure.
Video Conferencing (VC)
Video conferencing applications allow you to connect to your employees over the Internet. This is particularly handy when you have people working in remote locations. Video conferencing also allows screen-sharing through which all members can view the same information for easy communication and collaboration. VC apps can also host demonstrations. Since geographical boundaries are no added concern, you can appoint experts from around the world to train your sales team.
Every agent requires consultation every once in a while. However, connecting to other representatives might get difficult, especially if your sales team is not in the same office. Cloud-based communication platforms provide internal communication that allows the agents to chat with each other in real-time. The agents can enjoy one-on-one conversations or enable a group chat if they please. Internal communication is vital for not only consultation but also support. Conversing with fellow agents will keep your sales team motivated and well-informed.
B2B sales are different from B2C sales. They are generally more complex, bulky, and more targeted to industrial requirements with longer supply cycles. However, the B2B sales of today are also very different from what they were a couple of decades ago. It is vital to constantly improve the efficiency of your sales team as the market becomes more and more competitive. Technological advancement must be considered as better use of technology generally yields higher profits.
Cloud solutions provide you with several features that can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales. Try out cloud solutions now to equip your sales team with a competitive edge.
Vanita Arora is a marketing enthusiast. She is currently working with Servetel, a leading cloud telephony service provider based in India. Reading novels, travelling, researching new online marketing trends are some of her interest areas that keep her rejuvenated.