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One Big Idea for 2013: Test One New Sales Initiative

21 December 2012

A condensed version of this post appears this week on the  SAP Sales Effectiveness blog, along with additional Big Ideas from Hank Barnes, Sales Benchmark Index, Dave Brock, Bob Apollo and the SAVO Group. We were asked to answer this question:  “If you were having a  conversation with a friend and they asked you for one thing they should do, or focus on, in 2013, what would it be?”

My advice for 2013 is to identify and try at least one new thing in your sales approach next year.

I know from personal experience that running a sales organization is demanding.  The pressure to deliver sales results quarter after quarter is all-consuimg. There aren’t enough hours in the day to hire and onboard new reps in a growing organization. Keeping existing reps focused, on message and consistently following your sales processes and using your systems is a full time job. Management and the Board require regular forecasts and other reports or have other special requests, often at a moment’s notice. And keeping customers happy advocates is another top priority. However, in order to stay competitive in today’s sales and marketing reality, sales managers cannot get stuck in the mode of doing the same things every day, every quarter and every year. To avoid the risk of losing customers and our quota-carrying reps, we must continuously look for ways to improve, innovate and change, as their behaviors, preferences, and expectations change – and we know for certain from numerous industry research sources that business is changing.

In order to stay ahead, we need to adopt what we’ve described in the Sales 2.0 book as a Sales 2.0 mindset. Sales 2.0 is a measurably better way of selling for both the buyer and the seller that’s enabled by technology and integrated and aligned across an organization so the customer’s experience is consistently positive and relevant. Those who have embraced Sales 2.0 combine the art of selling – creating meaningful long-term and mutually profitable relationships with customers – with science – establishing measurable and scalable sales that are predictable.

What does this mean for your organization in 2013? For organizations that are evolving from Sales 1.0 to Sales 2.0, there are always new opportunities to test that can improve your company’s results, but it can take some discipline to get out of your status quo, business as usual comfort zone. By talking to customers,  peers and subject matter experts across industries, attending networking events and conferences, reading blogs, watching videos and following innovative thinkers on social platforms, or just leaving the office to give yourself time to think, you can identify just one new thing that will make the difference in your 2013 performance.

Some examples  showing encouraging results that are being tested or fully implemented today by forward-thinking organizations include:

  • Personalizing customer contact with measurable, scalable social selling, especially when integrated with  phone & e-mail outreach (aka “inside” sales)
  • Finding those customers who are most likely to buy and are most profitable, using data and analytics – and prioritizing and personalizing contact with those buyers
  • Customizing your sales team’s Incentives and approaches to motivation, enabled by gamification
  • Optimizing recruiting and hiring using Sales 2.0 practices and technology to stand out from the crowd of companies with sales team growth goals
  • Accelerating onboarding and insuring consistent Sales 2.0 process using robust sales playbooks that cover everything from messaging to systems to step-by-step checklists for customer contact and frequency
  • Leveraging sales team productivity with automated, consistent and personal content marketing
  • Optimizing sales performance while improving responsiveness by adding specialization and segmentation to your sales organization (e.g. With Sales Development/Lead Qualification, Inside Sales, Renewal Sales, etc.)

What new sales initiative are you planning for 2013?