As 2020 is finally in the rear-view mirror, the workplace as we have known it looks drastically different. Sellers are growing accustomed to the remote working environment, and the top players have quickly transformed their workflows to accompany the rapid change. As the largest vaccination operation in history is underway, there are promises that life as we have known it will begin to return to “normal” – however, can the same be said about your sales organization? In this blog post, we will look at how the “hybrid” or permanent shift to remote working is becoming a mainstream movement, and how to prepare a best-in-class sales organization to enable remote sellers to succeed.
Want to assess your organization's maturity and preparedness in a post-COVID world? Start with the SBI Growth Index.
Shifting Working Environment Trends and Its Impact On Your Sales Organization
According to LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index, “half (47%) of U.S. professionals believe their companies will allow them to be — at least partially — remote after the coronavirus pandemic wanes. That percentage is even higher among certain industries which see flex work as the future, including tech (73%), finance (67%) and media (59%).” These studies are at the forefront of every major professional outlet and almost all point to a permanent shift to a remote environment. If your immediate thought is, “how will this affect rep productivity,” you’re not alone.
We know once COVID passes, most companies will operate under a hybrid working environment. This will allow employees to have the option of working and collaborating with their peers in a physical environment when needed while also enabling employees who might not be able to work from their homes sufficiently. A hybrid environment creates an opportunity to level the playing field by ensuring quality prospect, customer, and peer interactions.
Reps will not only need to adapt to selling in a hybrid environment, but they will also need to adapt to their buyers as they undergo the same transition themselves. Factor in how a hybrid working environment and the ability to connect with your customers through digital channels affect your current ideal customer profile (ICP). This is an optimal time to reconsider how your firm defines the ICP and align with your sales organization on who to target. Companies will need to invest in their coaching culture and tactics to support sales reps as they change their prospecting and effectively approach their addressable universe.
To build on these assumptions, I’ll allude to a recent Gartner report which outlines the future of B2B sales, “by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels”. In addition, SBI research indicates that digital commerce accelerated more in 2020 than in the preceding 10 years. As a sales leader, are you prepared to cater to a vast majority of your customers virtually?
It’s clear that success in the virtual selling space primarily indicates your firms' ability to onboard and ramp reps remotely in an efficient manner. Having specialized virtual selling roles and digital tools in place to make sellers more efficient isn’t going to cut it in the post-COVID selling environment. It’s your responsibility to oversee the implementation of enablement programs and ensure your remote sellers are equipped to handle a wide variety of selling situations they might not be fully accustomed to in this new era.
Improving Digital Maturity Through Enablement Resources
- Aligning Your Sales Enablement Content to Your Organization's Buyer’s Journey
Your firm’s Buyer’s Journey must be standardized and communicated through your sales organization. Enablement content must be consistent and intertwined with each step within your Buyer’s Journey. For those who have not established a Buyer’s Journey that prioritizes the customer touchpoints that matter. An effective Buyer’s Journey is integrated within the sales process as your inside sales team and beyond are the first individuals that interact with the buyer.
- Establish Consumable Content for Your Sellers to Grasp the Firm's Buyer’s Journey at Their Own Pace
Create micro-lessons for your sales organization that split up each relevant stage of the Buyer’s Journey into modules, allowing easy absorption of critical information necessary to be successful. According to a recent study, “well designed and effective sales process/methodology training increase the chances of achieving targets by about 17.7%.” Structuring enablement content in consumable portions allows increased focus and retention in an otherwise distracting remote environment.
- Integrate Products in Your Tech Stack That’ll Drive Data-Driven Recommendations to Sellers in Real-Time
Staying one-step ahead of the customer in the buying process is crucial. Use the remote environment to the advantage of your sales organization by offering products that’ll incorporate real-time recommendations based on customer behavior. This can lead to proactive decision-making and an increase in won deals. In addition to investing in a tech stack that supports data-driven selling, according to SBI’s pulse survey, companies were “planning on increasing their Marketing budgets from 11.4% to 12.3% of revenue.” This proves that demand generation is more important than ever in a virtual selling environment and if your organization isn’t prepared for this shift in investment, your competitor certainly will be.
Transforming Maturity and Long-Term Success
The impact of COVID has rapidly progressed the transition of selling virtually and will introduce a new hybrid working environment in the future. Now more than ever, companies are preparing for their sellers to succeed outside of the office as SBI has confirmed trends in greater investment in virtual selling tools, digital enablement content and delivery, and demand generation tools. Using SBI’s Digital Maturity Model as a guide to improving your firm's preparedness in a post-COVID world will keep you one step ahead of the competition while enabling your sellers with resources that have been proven to decrease ramp time, increase productivity, and ultimately result in more won opportunities.
2021 has just begun and if you’re still unsure where to start, evaluate your firm’s digital maturity with this assessment. You can also learn more about implementing or optimizing your sales execution plan here where you’ll find a full range of content, tools, and articles to build a best-in-class sales organization. SBI wants to prepare your company for success, so please feel free to contact us to discuss actioning your digital sales strategy.