Today's customer is more informed and knowledgeable than ever before. The resources they have to research product information such as capabilities, price, options, and availability allow them to enter into the sales process much further down the path to purchase.
This more intelligent buyer is putting pressure on sales teams—especially B2B sales teams—and forcing them to work across their internal organization to understand the context of the customer's engagement, and put the best possible consultative selling proposal forward.
This requires sales organizations to work with their marketing, customer service, and IT teams to create a competitive advantage based on sales and customer information and analytics. This advantage allows them to provide timely and relevant information, make informed recommendations, and know how and where to engage with prospects. As customer expectations become increasingly more complex, the need to respond in a timely, knowledgeable fashion has never been greater.
The next era of sales is upon us, and it is a full-team effort.
It starts by defining internal roles and responsibilities. A good starting point to driving sales success is defining the relationship between sales, marketing, and customer service functions. It's essential to come to agreement on what role each department will play when it comes to understanding customer behavior, creating content, taking action, sharing the data, and undertanding where each is contributing to technology deployments in support of CRM.
Use Content as a Cross-Departmental Bridge
Quality content at every step of the transaction process is a crucial element to building a link between sales, marketing, and service. Today's buyer is anywhere from 65 to 90 percent on their way to a purchase before they even contact a vendor. Whether you are selling within the B2C or B2B market, it is critical that you have a well-thought-out and executed content marketing plan in place.
In today's highly competitive world of sales, companies must provide as much relevant information as possible via externally facing resources in order to attract more prospects at the top of the funnel. Engaging and informative content helps prospective customers understand how and why certain approaches and products are used. By having the right type of content available that's tailored to individual customer needs, a sales team is able to point its prospects to it and help them become more informed and ultimately engaged during the process.
The development of this content requires an extremely close relationship between the sales, marketing, and customer service teams so that the key questions for their buyer personas are being answered throughout the content. Once in production, marketing should then be able to communicate insights from their data, sales professionals can better understand how prospects are interacting with content, and customer service can anticipate any issues that may arise. Data insights can provide the necessary bridge for each department to understand the impact of their content efforts and learn what underperforming material should be reworked or eliminated to ease the sales process.
Collect Customer Data to Drive Predictive Intelligence into Sales
In today's constantly connected world where an increasingly large amount of data is collected and analyzed, organizations that don’t intelligently leverage customer and prospect data are missing a huge business opportunity. Dashboards, scorecards, and data visualization tools are one route to drive business intelligence, but predictive analytics has become a real competitive differentiator as it helps you predict and monetize these insights in real time.
Traditionally the benefits of predictive intelligence have been confined to marketing and customer service roles. But for the sales function—where information is particularly prone to change and there's a need for decision management—the opportunities are very real.