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The main reason why so many of today's sales organizations underperform is simple: sales leaders are applying traditional thinking to modern buying behaviours. Your leads and customers expect to receive significantly more added value in return for their attention, consideration and money. Your sales team also has to sell better, faster and smarter than your competitors. All of that is adding to the complexity of the modern sales leaders' job.
Having worked with many sales leaders, both traditional and modern, we've been able to distill the two key themes to explain and address sales underperformance:
The remainder of this page serves to challenge the sales leader's conventional thought patterns, and to inspire a modernized, customer-centric, measurable and more productive way of selling.
We'll address the following key topics to help you drive sales success:
Are you in a sales leadership position, and are you getting pressure from your executive team or investors because they don’t see the expected revenue growth trajectory? Were you under the impression that your traditional go-to-market strategy plan would deliver better sales results than it ultimately did?
If you’re thinking “yes” to either of those questions, then investing in a digital go-to-market strategy (DGTM) is probably well worth exploring. Designing a revenue-generating strategy that is actually in line with today’s market expectations and requirements, is absolutely crucial for continued commercial success.
A traditional go-to-market strategy describes, mostly in generic terms, where and how a product or service is taken to the market. It typically includes target markets, target audiences, a pricing strategy, value propositions and perhaps a few sales trainings. Yet in many cases, generic doesn’t cut it any longer. The proof is in the pudding when your strategy does not result in the desired revenue growth.
The difference between traditional go-to-market strategy and digital go-to-market strategy, is that the latter is more focused on leveraging digital capabilities. Typically, a DGTM is more customer-centric, more focused on providing an excellent customer experience, more in line with digital marketing best practices, more measurable, and therefore more actionable. In other words, digital go-to-market strategies eat their old school predecessors for breakfast.
Ultimately, any business outcome is merely the result of the actions (or lack thereof) that preceded it. If your marketing and sales results are sub-par, it’s because the execution was sub-par, which is most likely because the go-to-market strategy was non-customer centric, hard to measure and improve on, and in the broader sense, you guessed it, sub-par. Any commercial leader who feels they may be able to do a better job, should strongly consider developing an effective digital go-to-market strategy plan.
An effective digital go-to-market strategy alleviates both key sales challenges mentioned at the beginning of this article: insufficient sales pipeline and lacking modern sales skills. That is why the following elements must always be considered, discussed, and documented:
An effective and truly fruitful partnership between marketing and sales has, for the overwhelming majority of companies, always been an unattainable utopia. Sales teams feel like the marketing team doesn't deliver the amount and/or quality of leads they need to be successful. Marketing teams are wondering what sales reps are doing with the leads they so carefully generated and nurtured. Result? Misalignment, mistrust and missed revenue targets.
Ultimately, the growth of any company is largely determined by the amount of sales they generate. That's precisely why marketing and sales alignment is key. Better collaboration results in more good leads, more deals, and more revenue.
In the past, the division of labour may have been too simple: marketing generates leads, sales generates customers. Today, we recommend our customers to expand their traditional views and run their revenue-generating teams more holistically:
Whereas there is no single correct answer, there are plenty of high-growth organizations who have already figured out the mechanisms behind proper marketing and sales alignment. We actually recommend many of the sales leaders we work with, to consider concrete initiatives such as these to achieve and surpass their sales goals:
One of the biggest mistakes many companies make, is not implementing a simple and repeatable sales process.
There are five distinct reasons as to why sales leaders should take the time to design, implement, and stick to a measurable sales process:
Sales productivity is one of the main drivers behind success. The more productive the sales team is, the more sales they bring in, the more revenue growth. The formula for sales productivity is simple:
Sales productivity = sales effectiveness x sales efficiency.
Effectiveness means "doing the right things". In sales, that relates to the sales team's ability to open new opportunities and close good deals. Good metrics to keep track of sales effectiveness are:
Efficiency means getting more work done in less time. It is important to note however, that driving sales efficiency is only sensible when the sales team understands how to do their job right, i.e. sales effectiveness, first.
Sales reps typically only spend about a third of their time doing what they were hired to do: meeting with customers and selling. They spend too much time on non-revenue generating activities. A few things you can do to help your sales team:
Modern sales leaders understand that just giving sales reps a laptop, a phone, and a friendly handshake isn't setting anyone up for success. Instead, more and more companies are investing in sales enablement. So how does that work, exactly?
Sales enablement is typically said to consist of five different categories:
As sales content is usually produced in tandem with marketing, it's actually not that hard to get started. The marketing team, in many cases, will already have the skills required and systems in place to create helpful content that the sales team will actually use, such as:
Sales onboarding: Many sales leaders invest not nearly enough in new hire onboarding. Yet failing sales reps are expensive: there's hiring costs + compensation paid to failed hire + benefits awarded to failed hire + equipment purchased for failed hire + training costs + burned leads + sales not generated + opportunity costs for a successful hire. Multiply that amount by several failed hires per year, and the business case for better sales onboarding practically writes itself. So what should sales leaders include to design an effective sales onboarding program?
Is your business fully optimized for the fast-moving digital evolution? By becoming a Digital Master, you will have paved a strong path for success!