Part 1

What are the keys to building a peak-performing sales organization? These articles, Part 1 and Part 2, will not only introduce you to best practices but provide you with practical next steps.

Allow me to ask you a few questions first:

  • Are you happy with the recruitment and onboarding of your new sales team members?
  • Would you like for your sales organization to deliver more consistent results?
  • Do you feel your team is leveraging technology as well as they should?
  • Do you feel aligned with your CMO / marketing colleagues?
  • Is your team well prepared to sell in this virtual environment?

It is my goal that by the end of our time together I will have addressed each of these questions and offered several ideas for your consideration. Selling in this digital world is very complex, and COVID has added a new virtual level of complexity.

Here are some key data points:

  • An industry source predicts that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels
  • 60 % of B2B sales organizations will transition from experience – and intuition based selling to data-driven selling, merging their sales process, applications, data, and analytics into a single operational practice.

Here are three critical trends for us to watch:

  1. B2B customers radically discount the perceived value of sellers. Industry research shows that customers perceive little distinct value (beyond their own learning) from sales reps. Generational preferences are compounding the trend. Millennials, the first digital natives, are now decision-makers and are far more skeptical of sales reps than their predecessors.
  2. Customers reward-rich virtual buying experiences. B2B organizations have fallen behind the seamless, accessible, and informative standard of B2C digital platforms. As business customers learn and buy more online, unflattering comparisons to advanced digital retail and media companies are unavoidable.
  3. Increased digital buying means more data. Increased digital activity and information storage systems mean more detailed data on customer behavior and product usage patterns. However, few sales organizations can yet capture, organize, clean, and query that data systematically — or use it to deploy even rudimentary machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI).

With this information as a backdrop, let’s begin with the people — the challenges of recruiting, selecting, onboarding, training, and developing.

The future of sales is adaptive.
The future of sales is the permanent transformation of organizations’ sales strategies, processes, and allocation of resources, moving from a seller-centric to a buyer-centric orientation. Also, it involves moving from analog sales processes to hyper-automated, digital-first engagement with customers and brings together the following capabilities:

  • Hyper automation, e.g., implementation of complementary sets of tools that automate and augment business processes
  • Digital scalability, e.g., through new skills and digital tools, helps sellers become digital-first sellers and transform sales enablement practices
  • Artificial intelligence, e.g., shift from highly analog decision making to automated, algorithm-based decision making, helping align sales process, channels, and seller capabilities around customers

The future of CSOs: Leaders of selling, not sellers
Leading Chief Selling Officers (CSOs) must become leaders of selling — wherever and whenever it happens — rather than leaders of sellers.

This requires an enhancement in the focus of the sales organization, from sales professionals as the primary commercial channel, toward digital sales channels. In that digital paradigm, sellers’ decision-making is based on data, analytics, and AI, in addition to intuition and experience.

In Part 2 of this series, I’ll examine evolving new sales processes, planning, marketing processes, performance metrics and technology.

Darrell Gunter
Darrell Gunter is an innovative Digital Sales and Marketing Executive leader experienced in launching, building, conducting turnarounds and managing digital business enterprises in both small and large information and technology businesses. He is also skilled and experienced in advising C-Level executives on their M&A strategy.