Today’s Sales Success Requires a CRM Mind-Set

"Sales" as an industry is undergoing a massive transformation. The role of the sales rep is changing. The practice of simply pitching the product and pushing for a close has been replaced by the more consultative pitch, with rep and buyer working together to find a solution to the buyer’s dilemma. 

There are two significant reasons for this shift. First, Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age at a rate of more than 10,000 per day and Millennials are quickly taking their place as Boomers exit the workforce—both as sales reps and prospective buyers. Second, B2B buyers have far greater connectivity to the world’s collective knowledge, so they are more informed and savvier than ever before. As a result of these two dynamics, the entire sales process must be re-evaluated and redesigned for the modern business world, or those who still practice the sales methods and processes of old will be left behind.

Two Key Drivers

Modern workplaces are incredibly diverse environments generationally, with Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials working side-by-side. As Baby Boomers age and retire, Millennials are taking their place in record numbers. When it comes to sales, Millennials need to both sell and be sold to differently than their predecessors. The Millennial mind-set for sales is innately rooted in collaboration, trust, and technology. "Hard" selling simply doesn't work with this group; instead, they need to trust the person offering them a product or service, and they would much rather interact with a salesperson who acts as an adviser helping them solve a problem.

Additionally, increased access to information means that prospects are more educated and informed than in past generations. More often than in the past, they'll have done their research and will have a greater understanding of what will be pitched to them before a rep even jumps on a GoToMeeting conference, provides a demo, or walks into a conference room. This is hardly unique to Millennials—just about anyone can access vast amounts of information online, so it's incredibly important that today's sales reps possess a deep understanding of what they're selling, and the ability to apply it to a customer's business challenges.

The CRM Mind-Set Holds the Key

Adopting a CRM mind-set is the ideal way to adapt to this new sales environment. Reps must embrace their role as advisers. They must also realize that as they travel the journey alongside their prospects, they must proactively identify the business issues, recommend solutions, and help implement the products and services to ensure success, even after the sale is completed. This approach requires tighter collaboration and consultative interaction between rep and prospect, and eventually the rep and customer. After all, this is a relationship that the rep is working to create, nurture, and establish for the long term.

Unfortunately, many sales organizations remain deeply rooted in traditional selling methods. Shifting to a new way of doing things won't happen overnight, and considerable investment is required, but perhaps not in ways that the organization might think. Training and education must continue to be a big part of the equation, not only to prepare sales reps on how to communicate product and corporate information effectively, but also on how to take a more consultative approach to selling. Thankfully, the technology to achieve this new CRM mind-set is already in the palm of sales reps' hands. In fact, it is one of the most common applications for global Internet-based collaboration, communication and information absorption: mobile video.

Harnessing the Power of Mobile Video

Video helps sales reps by giving them the information they need when they need it, and encourages repeat viewing when sales reps are most motivated to learn, such as just prior to walking into a sales presentation. For example, highly successful and experienced reps can share insights and approaches that have been successful to them with their counterparts. This just-in-time learning approach makes it easier for reps to share and consume content, best practices, and customer and industry insights when it's convenient for them, and this content can be accessed whenever it's needed. With this sort of preparation and education, reps are better positioned to address the key concerns of their prospects.

Video also lets sales managers evaluate their reps' practice pitches and give them feedback and pointers, without requiring the rep and manager to be in the same place at the same time. Given that today's workforce is always on the go, make sure your sales team has access to the most relevant content and best practice videos from their mobile devices, so the content they need is available to them whenever and wherever they are.

But what good is all that? When executed correctly, mobile video makes sales teams more collaborative, and in turn, reps are better positioned and prepared to provide real value to prospects during the sales process, while remaining aligned with the modern sales paradigm of consultative selling. By knowing the key care-abouts, industry trends, and decision drivers, the reps are positioned as trusted advisers to the buyer by better understanding not only what the buyer is trying to achieve, but how to help them achieve it.

Like a successful relationship based on CRM principles, the need to adapt to changing conditions during a long journey is imperative. The key is to ensure that your sales force is well-prepared for that journey through modern, proven methods of collaboration, learning, and training. 

Mark Magnacca is the president and cofounder of Allego.

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