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We are familiar with the old model for selling software; a salesperson with a briefcase would visit a business after months of back and forth communication, re-pitch the product, convince the person in power to sign over a lump sum of cash, exchange a tangible item and then pack up to move on to the next prospect. Today, in the wake of the SaaS industry everything about how we sell has evolved. Customers no longer hand over a lump sum, they opt into a monthly or yearly subscription; consumers are no longer in the dark about their options, they use internet resources to gain knowledge; and people have come to expect companies they do business with to care and learn their individual needs.
The Power Now Lies With the Customer
With this new subscription model, buyers can now evaluate and question the companies selling to them. The Internet allows consumers to educate themselves on products before the sales cycle even begins. Sites like G2 crowd and Glassdoor, search engines, social media outlets, etc. all provide routes to information outside of the sales person. This means sales people can be held more accountable while also removing the pressure involved in educating the prospect so that they can focus on the customer’s unique needs.
A Shorter Sales Cycle
Since the Internet now provides buyers with most of the background information they need, 75% of their buying journey is completed before they even speak to a company. This, along with evolved technologies which require much less implementation or buy-in from the IT department, creates a much shorter sales cycle. Therefore, it’s important that each touch point the sales person has with the customer is high quality, accurate and memorable.
Measurement Is More Important Than Ever Before
We are living in a data-driven era. With new technology, gathering and understanding data has become affordable and simple. We as individuals and as consumers have become accustomed to making decisions based on data and measurable outcomes. The sales process needs to reflect this expectation. Companies need to arm their sales teams with concrete data before and during the customer’s time with the product.
New Roles Are Needed
With the power now in the hands of the consumer and this emphasis on customer satisfaction, new sales-related roles have emerged, the most prominent being Customer Success Managers. Companies have realized that in order to have consistent and reliable revenue they need to ensure their customers are using the product effectively and seeing their desired results. Customer Success Managers keep in touch with customers, they become familiar with each customer’s unique needs, they highlight important results and more importantly they ensure the customer will renew again.
What This Means To You and Your Sales Team
• Emphasize transparency, integrity and customer service: sales people must meet the new standards set by consumers, their tools and the community. • Train you sales team to educate themselves on their prospects’ specific needs: today a successful sales person is a great listener and can anticipate the need and pain points of a future customer. • Ensure each sales touch point with a prospect is high quality, accurate and memorable: with the information and new technologies available, it doesn’t take long for a prospect to make a decision about your product. Now more than ever it’s important that every communication from email, to phone, to in person is seen as valuable. • Arm your sales team with data and focus on measurement: make sure there is a system in place to provide customers and prospects with accurate data. • Create the Customer Success Manager role: the sales cycle no longer ends with that first purchase, you need to have a role in your company solely devoted to making sure your customers are happy, productive and supported.
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Written by Mike Smalls, CEO at Hoopla Software. Mike founded Hoopla to answer the burning question he faced running sales organizations at a variety of companies: How do you motivate salespeople to perform their best? His inspiration came from a variety of sources including sports, motivational psychology, game mechanics, and a competitive drive.