When’s the last time you pulled out the Rand McNally Road Atlas to plan a road trip or find directions when lost? Heck, can you even remember the last time you got lost on the road? The advent of GPS-tracking technology and smartphone-based navigation apps have improved outcomes and rendered the bulky Atlas obsolete for all but the most enthusiastic amateur cartographers.
Similarly, the B2B selling roadmap has changed, and the tools that a sales operations team need to navigate it have gone digital. That’s why we put together the Zilliant Sales Operations Guide, an essential, timely resource for B2B teams aiming for aggressive sales acceleration. The guide features six winning strategies for sales ops in 2021. Virtual sales models are here to stay, and sellers are tasked with executing more corporate strategies with less time, all while hitting growth targets.
The sales ops team must remove roadblocks and translate strategy into guided sales actions. To bridge that gap, the spreadsheets and communication methods of the past must be put in the rearview. The road to B2B sales growth starts here.
The Sales Ops Guide examines two major developments in the B2B sales world: the widening of the strategy-to-execution gap and the disrupting impact of a global pandemic.
In an ideal situation, sales ops would deliver guidance reflecting corporate strategy instantly across channels, tailored to the various market realities that exist in a business.
Despite best efforts, the following dynamics are increasingly widening the gap:
At any point in time there are many corporate strategies you’re trying to execute: For example, grow profit, but not at the expense of sales, win the deal but not at the expense of margin, push through a price increase, gain more wallet share, sell a preferred brand, sell through aging inventory.
While well intentioned, these initiatives may be in competition with each other from time to time, competing for mindshare and often lacking enough specificity to guide customer interactions and enough direction to be actionable on the front line.
That breakdown impacts marketing, sales, eCommerce, quoting processes, price setting processes, and ultimately the top- and bottom-line.
Flavor of the month initiatives fail to close the gap because some reps know there won’t be any follow up and will ignore it and wait for it to pass.
A majority of your reps are trying to follow the guidance, yet are overwhelmed with overly broad, hard-to-prioritize information while broadly being asked to do more with less time.
Compounding matters, there is less customer loyalty than there once was. It’s not uncommon for reps to operate in an order-taking mindset, and understandably so; it’s hard to focus and add value to buyers if they are managing 50+ accounts.
The bridge across this gap can be built, but it must contain guidance that is driven by data and pragmatic AI.
“Customer interactions will continue to be increasingly digital – forcing people, processes and technology to continue to adapt,” said Greg Peters in the opening keynote of Zilliant MindShare 2020. “People alone cannot scale in this world and organizations must learn and embrace AI technologies. While these changes are amplified by COVID-19, from a sales perspective they are largely permanent.”
The COVID-19 pandemic created a tectonic shift in B2B sales almost overnight. The inability to meet face-to-face and walk-through customers’ warehouses or factories was a shock to the system for sellers who relied on that personal touch their entire careers. Additionally, as the B2B market necessarily became more comfortable with remote purchasing, expectations for a seamless digital buying process have increased.
B2B buyers now expect omnichannel self-service, price transparency and personalization from their vendors. B2B manufacturers, distributors and service companies are pressured to meet these lofty expectations at each stage of the selling cycle, or risk customer churn. Poll respondents during Zilliant MindShare 2020 identified a reactive sales process as the leading sales challenge they face today. This is because the data and customer intel needed for a proactive sales strategy is often not readily available or delivered to sellers as easily actionable guidance.
If these problems sound familiar, it’s because they’re nearly ubiquitous in the B2B world after the reckoning of 2020. Those who emerge as leaders after 2021 will be the ones who embrace a reimagined approach to sales operations.
Six Winning Strategies for Sales Ops
Download the Sales Ops Guide to find the answers to these twin challenges, with our six winning strategies for 2021.