A new report from Salesforce Research examines how the role of sales is changing and highlights new approaches replacing traditional sales pitches in order to meet consumer expectations for instant, tailored, “always-on” sales. According to the research, which included a survey of more than 3,100 global sales professionals, high performing sales teams (those that significantly increased year-over-year revenue) are 2.9 times more likely than underperformers to strongly agree their company is available to customers anytime.
The report showed that leading teams are better at understanding and anticipating their customers’ needs by adopting five tactics: collaboration; a single view of the customer; a connected sales process; personalization; and real-time interactions.
Seventy-three percent of sales teams across all performance levels said collaborating across departments is absolutely critical or very important to their overall sales process. Sixty percent of sales professionals say that collaborative selling has increased productivity by more than 25 percent, and more than half (52 percent) say it has done the same for increasing pipeline.
Sales organizations can no longer exist in siloes. In order to successfully deliver and track customer experience they must connect across departments, channels and partners. A 360-degree view of the customer journey is only possible through collaboration, and customers expect a seamless experience. In fact, 73 percent of consumers say they are likely to switch brands if a company provides inconsistent levels of service (i.e., it feels like they are dealing with a different company, instead of a different department at the same company, when they talk to a sales rep versus a service rep). Sales teams across all performance levels understand that collaborative selling is key.
Sixty-eight percent of sales professionals say it is absolutely critical or very important to have a single view of the customer across departments. Yet, only 17 percent of sales teams rate their single view of the customer as outstanding. In order to achieve the collaborative selling mentioned above, it’s imperative for organizations to have a single view of the customer. To do so, companies must connect disparate systems of engagement and provide access to customer data across the entire organization.
Seventy-five percent of sale professionals agree their company connects customers, employees, partners, and products. By extending the spirit of collaboration not only through the organization, but also to partners, companies can deliver a seamless, branded experience while simultaneously discovering new opportunities.
While sales professionals identified six important channels for connect with customers, 87 percent said its absolutely critical or very important to connect in person (phone was a close second at 83 percent). Consumer data backs this up: two-thirds of consumers, and 72 percent of business buyers say they are likely to switch brands if they’re treated like a number instead of an individual. While technology like artificial intelligence (AI) will no doubt affect the way humans interact, there is also no doubt that the human touch will remain at the forefront of sales.
It’s imperative that sales teams meet customers’ real-time expectations. Sixty-four percent of consumers say they expect companies to interact with them in real time, and 80 percent say a company responding immediately when they reach out for help influences their loyalty. However, only 29 percent of sales teams currently provide mobile apps to their salespeople. Successful sales teams meet customers where they are, when – or even before – they are needed.
In order to exceed customer expectations and avoid disruption, sales organizations must adapt a new blueprint for success that recognizes the realities of living in the Age of the Consumer.
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