Top 12 World-Class Sales Practices| Mutually-Valuable Sales Calls

The idea of a “sales call” is as old as sales itself. However, as buyers are constantly changing, the challenges salespeople face in creating mutually-valuable sales calls are different – and increasing – from just a few years ago.

A full 91% of the World-Class segment in our 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study reported consistently and collectively conducting mutually-valuable sales calls, compared to 43% of all study participants. (click to tweet)

Some insights from one of our other studies help put the huge impact of this practice into context. Our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study revealed that 70.2% of B2B buyers prefer to engage sellers late in the buying process, when they have already defined all of their requirements. Even worse, there is another group of executive buyers (more than 40%) that usually engages sellers even later, when they have already decided on their solution. In parallel, buyers don’t perceive salespeople as one of the top resources they turn to when they have a business problem to solve.

In fact, the data on this question could be perceived as being a bit disillusioning. Only 23% of buyers consider salespeople as one of the top three resources that can help them solve a business problem. Buyers do a lot on their own, not only because they can research almost everything online, but also because most do not perceive salespeople as being able to help them solve their problems.

World-Class organizations ensure their salespeople follow a customer-centric, problem-oriented and value-based sales approach to ensure sales calls are mutually valuable. (click to tweet)

As the buyer data suggests, the pressure on salespeople is twofold. One is that there are actually fewer buyer interactions, as buyers usually decide to engage with salespeople later in the process. Two is the increasing expectations modern buyers have (e.g., around insights and perspectives) to help them solve their problems. Salespeople have to ensure they are relevant, valuable and differentiating in any of these interactions and excellent on every communication channel buyers choose to use. Both reasons tremendously increase the pressure on salespeople. And, of course, the pressure also is on sales enablement.

Sales enablement has to ensure salespeople are engaged, equipped and empowered to be the kind of problem-solvers modern buyers are looking for. (click to tweet)

Let’s look at three steps to ensure salespeople are adequately equipped to create mutually-valuable sales calls:

#1: Design, prepare and practice sales call skills. (click to tweet)

Sales call skills are not inherent; they must be developed. Organizations often hire sellers who possess high emotional intelligence or who may be naturally good at interpersonal conversations. That doesn’t always translate to the effective buyer interactions modern buyers are asking for. Instead, mutually-valuable buyer interactions have to be designed, prepared and practiced.

Sales enablement plays a vital role when it comes to developing the related sales call skills. Effective sales enablement leaders make sure their salespeople master both areas: the foundational selling skills that are often overlooked and the relevant analytical and value messaging skills to ensure relevance and value for both parties. Sales managers have to ensure salespeople have opportunities to practice and are regularly coached to get better with every call.

#2: Ensure sales enablement follows a customer-oriented framework. (click to tweet)

Sales calls are different at every stage of the customer’s path. In the awareness phase, buyers have to understand the actual impact of their problem and how solutions that ensure they achieve their desired outcomes could look. In the buying phase, their focus changes to making their best buying decision.

The focus for salespeople also is different in different phases. Early on, they have to create a shared vision of success with the buying team. In the buying phase, they have to ensure they are the best buying option ever. It’s crucial for sales enablement to make sure salespeople have tailored content that adequately supports the different goals in each phase. Additionally, they have to make sure the content also is tailored to the organization’s relevant buyer roles.

We learned in our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study that tailoring content to the phases of your customer’s path is crucial to driving customer engagement throughout buyer interactions. In fact, organizations that apply this practice effectively improved win rates of forecasted deals by up to 11.5%.

#3: Master a variety of techniques that add value. (click to tweet)

Sellers can provide value through content, advice and even by asking questions that cause the buyer to better execute their purchasing process. In our 2018-2019 Sales Performance Study, we found that those who excel at providing perspective and insight during the sales process have a substantial impact on win rates – an increase of 23% – compared to those who fall short of expectations. Make sure your sellers are armed with a repeatable approach and methodology for conducting sales calls that add value.

Providing perspective is a skill that requires fluency regarding foundational selling and communication skills, an intellectual interest in solving the buyers’ problems and business acumen. Only then will the provided value messaging, the tailored content services and the related sales training services to ensure enough practice that sellers feel confident to have these conversations create the desired impact: mutually-valuable sales calls.

 

If you haven’t already, take a look at our new book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of “how to” information to address the challenges mentioned here.

 

Questions for you:

  • Are the sales calls in your organization always mutually valuable for your buyers?
  • How do you engage, equip and empower your sales force to always have mutually-valuable sales calls?
  • What are the top three critical success factors you see in your organization to ensure mutually-valuable sales calls?

 
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