Both actually need to be enabled for an organisation to be successful; salespeople need to have every possible sales tool at their disposal and buyers need more information that allows them to make better buying decisions.
Here are seven ways to enable your B2B key account sales team:
1. Conduct research
Many organisations make the mistake of focussing only on the sale. They research the key accounts, who the decision-makers are and what the favoured channels are and then create tools to help salespeople sell.
That's no longer enough. They also have to research how the buyers buy. They need a better understanding of:
- the buyer
- how they make decisions
- what collateral they consume to better inform them and influence their decisions
- how they search for the products and services they believe they need, and
- how proposals are generated and flow through the organisation, towards approval.
Once the organisation has a well-rounded understanding from both perspectives, the sales team is really properly enabled.
2. Have a strategy
A sales strategy should be about the nuts and bolts — 'what do we actually do?' with a view to solving the sales team's pain points.
Do they need to be empowered with tools that help them present better? Do we enable them with appointment setters?
This only follows on the back of research and should form the backbone for the decisions the organisation makes to enable the sales team. No strategy is the same; it's different from industry to industry, and even from organisation to organisation within the same industry because of the way sales cultures differ between organisations, even with the same clients.
The strategy must be appropriate and play to the organisation's and the sales team's strengths.
3. Map out the touchpoints
With an understanding of both sales strategy and buyer behaviour, the organisation can then map out the touchpoints that both sides have in the purchase journey.
Those two maps can then be overlaid to illustrate the common touchpoints and that's where the sales enablement focus should be. In the places where the touchpoints don't overlap, it's over to marketing to help the sales team play a stronger role.
4. Identify your assets
The overlap in touchpoints illustrates where engagement can happen. Now the decision is over what assets are needed to make a meaningful contribution to both sides of the sales journey.
That means assets need to be developed for both salespeople and buyers. The sales team may need assets that help them:
- understand how to sell to specific customers
- what the company positioning is
- how to deal with objections from potential buyers, and
- how the solutions can enable buyers.
These are all internal. The external assets are for buyer consumption — for the buyer to understand how the product or solution can benefit them. Even if the ideas are the same, they need to be presented from the two different perspectives to properly enable the salespeople.
5. Undergo training
So much of sales training is around'‘how to sell better'. No matter the solution, the focus is just on the 'how'. Product training is the other side of the coin, with a pure focus on understanding the products and services being sold.
There are organisations that are good at doing one or the other, merging these two types of training will deliver maximum
benefit. Pursuing both training avenues educates salespeople in how to sell products and solutions in a way that the company wants and needs them to, in line with their culture, values and in a way that shows that they understand their customers.
6. Measure your performance
Now that the sales team is equipped with understanding, assets and training, they need to go out and sell; and that performance needs to be measured. An organisation needs to decide on what the metrics are.
Once the metrics have been decided, it's easier for the organisation to measure whether the touchpoints that have been mapped are being supported by the tools and training, and weight, optimise or tweak them, accordingly.
7. Roadmap your implementation
An implementation roadmap is the final stage. What kills a sales team is being given 25 new assets at the end of this process and being told to 'make it work'. The assets need to be rolled out strategically over time, as all the prior steps impact their weight and where they fit into the sales journey.
Salespeople are also busy and it's easy to overwhelm them with new tools when the point was to make their lives easier. The implementation plan is often coupled with a change management strategy, which enables the entire organisation.
The most successful sales organisations in the world have sales enablement built into the core of their sales model.
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