May 11 by Patrick Wolf
Some people are born sellers. That is just the way of the world, right? There is a small minority of individuals that can unexplainably connect with prospects on a level that seems foreign to the rest of the selling majority. This has always been a major problem for enterprise businesses; no matter the training, coaching, or (even) threatening, something in the ballpark of 20% of a sales team will produce upwards to 70% of revenue. No matter how much managers have tried in the past, top sales behavior is hard to mass produce.
Organisations are increasingly relying on the revenue generated by the top sales performers. These top sales sharks consistently exceed their target, dragging along the rest of the sales team in their wake. Their sales behavior, be it the ability to create urgency or the ability to respectfully challenge a customer, seem like instinct almost impossible to replicate, and businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on them.
This problem is only becoming more acute as the increasing complexity of deals and the evolution of solution selling gets thrown into the fold. As the difficulty of making a deal increases, the gap expands between successful sales reps and the rest. This can be a scary situation for any company.
The Power of Mass Sales Behavior
As a result of this gap, there is endless opportunity available to companies that focus on improving core performance. Because core (and underperforming) sales reps make up the vast majority of sales teams, they have a huge impact on a company’s bottom line. Even a small boost in performance across the group, can produce a massive increase in revenue. These reps do not need a complete overhaul in their habits. Small, incremental improvements at key points along the selling process can produce incredible results.
How to Reach the Masses
As the selling world becomes increasingly data driven, it has become possible to use data analytics to do just this: mass produce top sales behavior. Although it may be impossible to replicate some of underlying factors, such as personality, companies can leverage data to automate behavior in key situations and milestones along the selling process. Some current possibilities include: quoting, writing contracts, and the use of discounts and rebates. By using Quote-to-Cash, and other CRM software, companies can automate the process from start to finish, optimising the behavior of salespeople. Rules, created by each company, tell reps when it is best to use mechanisms such as rebates or discounts, as well as eliminate wasted time by streamlining time consuming process.
Leveraging Machine Learning
In the last couple of years Machine Learning technology has become much more mainstream. No longer is it just an experimental technology that beats people at board games or powers driverless cars; companies can now use the power of Artificial Intelligence to shift away from the older style of descriptive data analysis towards the ability to provide proscriptive insights. Machine learning algorithms will learn and give recommendations on the necessary action in an endless improving cycle, allowing companies to continuously improve business outcomes.
This is a new technology for cloud based software companies and its full potential has yet to be realised. The stage is set, however, for it to produce a major shift in sales. Not only can sales reps already follow a data supported, pre-set, pre-approved process, but now this process will continually optimise to get the most out of every sales rep.