If you’ve come across some of our content before, I’m sure you’ve heard me repeat the phrase #DontDoNormal time and again in the context of B2B modern sales. I’m pretty adamant about it, and as it happens, it is for a good reason.
Throughout my 25 years in the industry, I’ve witnessed dramatic changes to the way salespeople engage with prospects and customers. Technology and consumer habits have shifted significantly, and companies such as Toys “R” Us, Borders and Blockbuster are no longer in business because their leadership failed to acknowledge the shift in the new sales economy. In other words, they remained stuck in the norm and failed to deliver strategic and actionable guidance.
Back in 2018, I was a keynote speaker at Opentalk on the fast evolving selling environment. I spoke to B2B sales organizations about the need to react to these changes, and level up sales skills to adapt to the new sales economy. These principles are even more important today in a remote selling world. I’ve attached that video discussing the trends back then which are so applicable today. I encourage you to get your journey started and begin your search with the video below. You will quickly learn the modern mindsets and strategic selling approach required for today’s professional selling environment.In a time dominated by tech-savvy modern buyers, #DontDoNormal to stand out from the competition! Get inspiration from #DigitalSales evangelist, @M_3Jr's session at #OpenTalk18. #SocialSellingClick To Tweet
Nonetheless, I’ve outlined specific ingredients for modern sales success in B2B that even the best sales book doesn’t document.
What is a Modern Buyer & How to Engage Them in Modern Sales Economy
Before spending time on different value-based sales approaches like snap selling or reaching out to a professional services firm like Amy Franko associates to improve engagement with your buyers, you need a clear understanding of who they are. I’m not talking about your buyer persona, but more about the modern buyer’s common attributes as they have completely changed and there is a much-needed shift required today for a professional to be a formidable force in driving growth.
Below are four main traits of today’s modern buyer that you must be aware of when prospecting to drive more revenue. Today’s modern buyer is:
- Digitally connected – The average American has multiple digital devices: desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, and even a smartwatch. This means there are many digital avenues to connect with your buyer.
- Mobile attached – Sixty-six percent of Americans check their phones a whopping 160 times per day. Whether they’re sitting in traffic driving to work, waiting at the bank, in-between meals, your buyers constantly check new notifications on their mobile phones. Therefore, in addition to email, you must use text messaging to reach buyers.
- Socially engaged – Your buyers are on social media, so find them and connect. Linkedin® alone, the preferred network for B2B sellers, has over 690 million professionals networking on the platform. Distributing content with thoughtful commentary on Linkedin® will help you build relationships, attract new prospects, and establish credibility–sharing your opinion shows that you’re human!
- Video hungry – Approximately 60% of executives say they prefer watching videos to reading text. Use video in your marketing strategy to engage with buyers. While social media allows you to share video with many people at once, emailing personalized videos to prospects has a greater impact.
What is a Modern Seller?
Today, a salesperson’s job is more complex than ever before. According to Forrester, 68% of B2B customers prefer to research independently online without speaking to a business development rep.
With more access to information, the B2B buying process has become longer (an average of 4 months to close a new customer) and involves more decision makers (an average of 6.8 buyers). To effectively navigate the new buyer’s journey, sellers need to leverage digital platforms to find, engage and connect with the modern buyer.
As a sales leader, focus on helping transform the unique culture into a quality organization. When you do focus on leveling up the career skill sets, you can expect your sellers to prospect more efficiently, engage in more conversations, and connect better with buyers. When your sellers adopt these differentiated selling techniques and take advantage of the available modern sales tools, they will quickly fill up their sales pipeline and turn sales opportunities into revenue.
That is the case of the sales team at MarketMuse, an AI Content Intelligence and Strategy Platform that helps its clients transform how they research, plan, and write content. MarketMuse realized that they needed to up their digital selling skills and they turned to Vengreso to learn how to master LinkedIn®, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t think there’s anything that would be more awkward to try or more negatively perceived than cold prospecting outreach in a time like this,” says Chuck Frydenborg, CEO at MarketMuse. “If you’re going to engage a potential buyer successfully it has to be highly customized, and it has to be relevant to them, and it really needs to be informing them and helping them solve a business issue and not ‘Hey, I want to sell you, you know our products or services.’ And Vengreso enables us to do that. Vengreso enables you to create content, share content, amplify content that is going to be of interest to your target buyer, and what that leads to are conversations. Now, effectively handled that should not be a sales conversation, that should be a professional exchange of information and ideas, and sometime down the road, whether it’s a week, a month, or six months from now, you set the table to eventually be able to have a solution sales discussion with that person.”
How to Measure Modern Sales Success in B2B
As sales leaders or a business owner, you have three choices when it comes to transforming a team member into a modern seller in the current business environment:
- Do nothing.
- Let your competition go first.
- Adapt and get help!
If you see that your team is not having as much impact on your organization as it used to, then you need to transform your sales strategy to modern selling. Adopting modern selling techniques to your sales process can significantly boost sales productivity and improve the desired outcomes of your sales team.
Modern sales success can be measured in two categories:
Metrics for Sales Effectiveness
Sales isn’t about selling anymore; it’s about helping. When your sellers have a mindset to help rather than to pitch, their effectiveness to turn conversations into connections (and then to offline conversations) will surge.
Today’s modern B2B buyers are looking for more personalized outreach and messaging. They want a business relationship based on trust before they finally decide to purchase your service or product. Read more about this in our comprehensive Modern Sales Leader’s Guide to Social Selling.
Here are three metrics to measure the effectiveness of a modern seller:
1. Increase in sales conversations – How many sales conversations are your reps having with prospects? The goal of online conversations is to form a relationship that can lead to an offline conversation.
For instance, Carousel Industries, an IT Consulting company, selected Vengreso to deliver our LinkedIn® Sales Mastery for Teams training to a team of 53 people. The goal of the training is to teach sellers how to turn connections into conversations. As a result of the virtual sales training, 88% of sellers reported they were able to connect and engage with prospective buyers and/or clients, which will help them create more sales conversations. In fact, their team has added over $1 million in the pipeline during the training period.
During the training, the SVP of Sales at the company began posting valuable content on LinkedIn®, using the techniques he learned. “As a result,” he says, “I have received 4 leads from past clients reaching out to meet with a member on my sales team. Great stuff!”
2. Boost in the opportunity to closed deals – How many deals are they closing? As your sales reps establish trust and credibility, they can continuously nurture the formed relationship both online and offline. Your sellers can feed prospects helpful content to move them further down the sales funnel, ultimately leading the prospect to a sales opportunity, and then to a closed deal.
A sales team from a Data Storage company that went through our Selling with LinkedIn ® training began to boost their opportunities to close won even before finishing the program, just by applying modern selling techniques learned during the training program.
For instance, during the 15-week training program, 37% of the company’s sellers booked an appointment using the lessons learned and 11% of the reps in the program closed a deal using the techniques taught in the training, providing immediate ROI for the company. These results were impressive, given that the appointments and the closed deals happened during the training and only increased afterward.
3. Customer retention – Are your customers coming back for more? Modern selling techniques not only help sellers with prospecting but also assist in the after-sales, upselling and cross-selling.
After a buyer purchases your product or service, sales reps can strengthen the buyer relationship by providing content that can help with the implementation of your solution.
And when you have great customer retention, you’ll also earn new business through the referrals of your satisfied customers.
Metrics for Sales Enablement
Sales enablement is a function inside your organization in charge of streamlining the different departments to provide all the needs of a functioning and effective modern seller. Overall, sales enablement improves the sales process and your reps’ skills and performance.
These three metrics are the foundation of a sales enablement strategy for a modern seller:
1. Better seller performance – This is tied to sales effectiveness. When your sellers are better enabled to find, engage and connect with prospects, their overall performance improves. With access to content for sales and effective sales coaching, salespeople are empowered to build relationships.
2. Rep competency and behavior change – One of the requirements of becoming a modern seller is behavior change. Your sellers need to consistently be active on social media platforms where their prospects engage in order to prospect and feed their network with valuable content. When you see your sellers leveraging digital channels, and they are having more sales conversations, they move a step toward modern sales success.
3. Impact on sales culture – A culture of helping prospects and customers, plus supporting each one on the sales team is imperative for a healthy sales culture. A highly-motivated team that is driven to reach success together is a sign of a successful modern sales organization.
Techniques for Building a Modern Sales Team
With an understanding that the modern B2B buyer has changed, which calls for a change in career skillsets to be a modern seller, your reps MUST have an optimized LinkedIn profile with buyer-centric messaging that appeals to buyers. Actively using social channels to share helpful content amplifies their digital presence, boosts their credibility and their thought-leadership within their network. Yes, a modern seller can and should build thought-leadership – with your help.
An interesting case study illustrates this point. Woodruff Sawyer, one of the largest and oldest (founded in 1918) insurance brokerage and consulting firms in the U.S., rebranded themselves in 2018 to appeal to modern buyers.
Woodruff Sawyer recognized they had to rebrand not just their logo, websites and sales collateral, but also the LinkedIn® profiles of their employees, who represent the company. Watch this short video to hear from Jeff Fenigstein, VP of Marketing and Sales Operations at Woodruff Sawyer, about how this incredible change of mindset boosted their team’s confidence and how they’ve become a modern selling organization.
Leveraging modern selling techniques such as sharing different types of content for sales enablement and using the PVC Sales Methodology TM will enable your sellers to find, engage and connect with today’s buyers more productively.
Still, there are two things that you, as sales leaders, must initially prioritize to have a successful modern sales organization:
1. Build an Awesome Team
The root of your organizational success boils down to the people you have on your team. Modern sales professionals must be coachable and open to learning and development. They also need to be tech-savvy and learn how to use the customer portal solution the company uses for communicating with customers and handling their requests. When your sellers have a closed mindset and are not willing to adopt new techniques, they won’t develop the remote selling skills required to become an effective modern sales organization.
You have to help your team understand that the modern buyer has changed, and that they need to provide guidance and value to the buyer at every stage of the sales cycle.
A formal social selling training and consistent sales coaching can help instill this need for a mindset and behavior change.
2. Create an Effective Modern B2B Sales Strategy
A clearly-defined strategy within your sales plan empowers your modern seller to leverage digital selling tools and techniques to find, engage and connect with prospects to start more sales conversations and build better relationships. For example, a great tool we recommend to find and engage with prospects is LinkedIn® Sales Navigator.
However, it’s not enough to provide your sellers with tools if you don’t train them on how to use them in their everyday sales activities. In our LinkedIn training program, for instance, we enhance sellers’ critical skill sets by providing practical strategies such as the PVC Sales Methodology, which stands for Personalization, Value and Call to Action. This methodology provides a framework to leverage data into actionable insights.
Once they begin to use the tools with the right techniques, you must measure the ROI.
As sales leaders, it’s your duty to measure the impact of the adopted tools and techniques and improve your growth coaching strategy according to the data. As you measure the performance of your modern selling adoption, you can adjust your sales strategy, get rid of the tools that you determine do not contribute to desired sales outcomes, and enhance the current sales process of your organization to achieve modern sales success.
The Path to Modern Salesmanship
Brandon Bornancin, CEO and founder at Seamless.AI, has been very successful in his sales career. He shares some of his secrets in this video interview with our CVO and Co-founder, Viveka von Rosen, including the importance of exactly the mindset needed to increase revenue.
He speaks about everyday sales activity’s and real-world sales experience that creates the agility of sales professionals.
Is Your Organization Equipped for Modern B2B Sales Success?
In today’s new sales economy, hiring to the characteristics of a modern seller is a requirement for any sales organization that wants to engage their modern buyer effectively. Implementing modern sales techniques can significantly result in more productive sales conversations that can quickly fill up your team’s pipeline.
Discover how Vengreso instructor-led Modern Sales Mastery sales training for teams transforms sales professionals into the modern seller your modern buyer needs. And be sure to read our complete guide to Virtual Selling!