• June 1, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

The Five Ps of Sales Success

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The COVID-19 pandemic brought about not only huge socioeconomic shifts, new buying habits, and technological advancements, but it changed the way B2B sellers need to engage with buyers. As sales leaders update their strategies to accommodate new B2B buyer expectations and drive company growth, they should consider adopting what Forrester Research identified in a recent report as the five Ps of sales—purpose, precision, personalization, productivity, and profitability.

The first, purpose, means that organizations will need to offer more than a competitive product to succeed. Phil Harrell, a vice president and group director at Forrester, says in the report that modern buyers will place greater emphasis on companies’ social and corporate responsibility, and seller candidates will seek more than income when considering job opportunities. “Corporate social responsibility will be a differentiator among sellers, and those who get it right early will get a head start on their competitors,” he says.

With the advance of artificial intelligence, sales leaders can now be more precise, the second of Forrester’s Ps. Forrester calls AI the revenue engine of the future, noting that it will enable sales professionals to set more realistic goals, better target and segment customers, qualify leads, and engage with potential buyers to drive efficiency among sellers. Harrell adds that implementing the right AI products and effectively integrating them into the rest of their companies’ technologies “will be paramount to leverage the gold mine of customer and seller insights that AI will surface.”

The problem is that only 68 percent of global data and analytics technology decision makers have implemented AI or are in the process of doing so, according to Forrester data.

Personalization, the third P, will also be key in the future of sales. Buyer journeys will need to be hyper-personalized and consistent at every touchpoint through every step of the customer life cycle without violating their privacy preferences. Sales leaders will also need to enable their teams with personalized coaching, according to Harrell.

And because the average sales rep today only spends 23 percent of their time on core selling activities, productivity will need to be a key consideration for sales leaders as well. Harrell expects sales rep productivity to be a key differentiator, with companies looking to root out and automate time-consuming administrative tasks to free reps up to spend more time selling and working toward their quotas.

And while productivity was expected to slide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, research found that sellers could succeed working remotely, without in-person meetings, according to Harrell.

Lastly, selling will need to be more focused on being profitable, the fifth of Forrester’s Ps. This will mean that sales leaders will be tasked with reducing costs while growing revenue. Doing so will require sales leaders to shift their focus away from hiring reps who can meet quotas to a broader mix of the right investments in technology, enablement, and sales support.

Companies that align people, processes, and technology that directly influence demand across sales and marketing achieve 36 percent more revenue growth and up to 28 percent more profitability, according to Forrester data.

The five Ps reflect larger industry changes brought about by the influx of younger, digital-native buyers, exemplified by the fact that by 2023, 20 percent of B2B transactions will happen via e-commerce, web direct, and marketplaces.

“As buyers increasingly interact with vendors and their sellers digitally, they leave trails of insights that new AI technologies can capture for organizations to help them provide customers with what they want, when and where they want it,” Harrell concludes. “Adapting to the new B2B selling landscape will take time, and those who wait will end up missing out.”

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