With the economies of Europe and the rest of the globe currently in a state of instability, business-side buyers are less likely to take risks with new vendors. Alyssa Merwin Henderson, LinkedIn’s VP Global Sales Solutions, calls the resulting climate the “great rationalization,” because there’s so much scrutiny over budgets nowadays that every new procurement needs to be backed up with documented justifications.
Indeed, McKinsey’s “Future of B2B sales: The big reframe” report has found that 78% of buyers will disengage from opportunities where the vendor doesn’t offer performance guarantees as part of their sales pitch.
For organizations looking to keep ahead of the competition, this means critically evaluating their sales processes and revamping best practices. About half of the McKinsey survey’s respondents believe that their organization’s sales reps don’t currently have the capabilities required to succeed.
Clearly, it’s time for executives to take a hard look at their sales operations to see what needs improvement. Here are a few key changes that leaders can implement immediately to boost sales team performance in 2023.
Upgrade your reps’ knowledge base
For some time, organizations have been making use of knowledge bases as a place to consolidate the information sales reps need to make their calls. Yet too often, it has proven to be inadequate for the needs of the team.
According to a Demand Metric report, 52% of sales reps ask their managers for information before searching a knowledge base. This statistic reveals a major inefficiency that takes up both the reps’ and managers’ time when ideally, the reps should be able to self-serve. The solution, rather than forcing reps to use the system, is to better understand why they aren’t using it in the first place and make adjustments according to their feedback. Company knowledge bases should be straightforward and easy to use.
One way to upgrade your organization’s knowledge base is by making it a non-separable part of your sellers’ daily routines and promoting knowledge sharing. This means incorporating it into their calls, training programs, and internal team collaborations so that the organization and its reps are constantly connected and up-to-date on product/service information, which can also lead to a stronger and more cohesive sales team.
There are also sales tech solutions that can help integrate company knowledge bases into sellers’ everyday calls. Demoleap, for example, is a sales enablement platform that guides sellers throughout the various stages of the sales cycle, from sales qualification and discovery calls to live demos and customer onboarding. During calls, its live AI “assistant” guides sellers and helps them navigate their presentations, even going on autopilot to take over mouse actions so that sellers don’t have to multitask when speaking to prospects. When it comes to accessing information, Demoleap is connected to an organization’s knowledge base so that reps can easily pull product information on-demand, and its seller dashboard can quickly search the web for any questions still unanswered.
Bringing your organization’s knowledge base to the forefront can foster rep self-sufficiency, free up managers, and drastically help sales leaders improve their teams’ efficiency.
End manual calculations
A recent report from DealHub found that while 73% of the C-Suite is “very confident” about understanding their company’s profit margins, 80% of sales reps are not. Given that sales reps are the ones actually issuing offers and closing deals, this gap in understanding can have a damaging effect on a company’s bottom line.
The DealHub report also found that 33% of reps have the autonomy to provide discounts, and given that many do not know how valuable the sale they make actually is, this could mean trouble. If a rep does not know how high or low their company’s margins are, they could mistakenly send out price quotes that are ROI-negative for their own organizations – or they might pass on profitable deals.
DealHub’s configure price quote (CPQ) solution makes life much easier for sales reps to ensure they protect healthy margins, especially when complex product or service bundles are involved. Using the platform effectively means that manual, subjective calculations are taken out of the rep’s hands and are based instead on a set of rules that are driven by complex, but easily configurable, formulas.
In addition to informing sales reps on what the acceptable price range is, CPQ removes the possibility of manual pricing mistakes, which can prove costly.
Qualify leads automatically
When an organization has a limited number of sales representatives, it’s especially crucial to qualify leads before prioritizing them.
According to a survey by Sales Insights Lab, over 71% of sales reps believe that less than half of their initial prospects turn out to be good fits. While in some cases this can only be determined through dialogue, in many cases, the information is out there to prevent time being wasted.
Lead scoring and qualification tools such as Salespanel can flesh out prospect details without any manual labor. Through a series of rules and metrics, leads are given scores and only those with a certain amount are qualified for further action. Additionally, there are borderline ranges which reps can manually contribute to in their spare time to sift out leads that are more promising than the software suggests.
Beyond saving reps’ time on dead end leads, greater qualification can also boost success rates and team morale. If a team on average is having better conversations with a higher win rate, reps will be more confident and motivated. Plus, the extra information available about the leads will enable them to create a rapport more easily and avoid needing to ask basic questions on sales calls.
Create a library of email templates
Despite the variety of communication and sales channels which have arisen in recent decades, email is still a highly useful way to connect with prospects. According to Litmus, email drives a return on investment of $36 per dollar spent, which is the highest of all channels.
However, success rates can vary wildly depending on individual reps’ knowledge of email outreach and nurture methods. Sales leaders should work with the best performing sales reps to create email templates to share with the team.
In addition to an increase in win rates, organizations will likely also see a reduction in time spent on emails, as reps simply change the variable fields rather than manually type emails from scratch. This can be particularly useful for new sellers who might have otherwise needed to wait for approval from a superior before sending an email.
Even with templates readily available, sales leaders can still encourage more experienced reps to experiment. If a new template is found to have a higher win rate than an existing one, it can be expanded upon across the team. If new techniques are found to work, templates can be updated, and the reps who had the winning idea can even be rewarded for their contribution. Using SalesBlink, running A/B tests on sales outreach emails is easy, and doing so benefits the entire team.
As companies shift from a hyper growth to efficiency-based mindset, getting the most out of existing sales reps has become increasingly important for sales leaders.
To recap, here are four key ways organizations can level up their sales enablement:
- Upgrade your reps’ knowledge base: use tools that bring the knowledge base to the reps, instead of the other way around.
- End manual calculations: empower reps by giving them CPQ solutions that guide them on pricing.
- Qualify leads automatically: save reps time and energy by using automated tools that gather information about leads before they invest too much in manual nurture processes.
- Create a library of email templates and optimize them over time: make use of cross-team best practices to maximize win rates.