The Inbound Sales Framework For High Growth Service Companies - How to Empower your Sales Team To Sell in a Humanistic and Helpful Way
by Mike Midgley, on Oct 5, 2021 11:00:00 AM
- The Inbound Sales Framework For High Growth Service Companies - How to Empower your Sales Team To Sell in a Humanistic and Helpful Way
- ‘ICEA’: The Four Foundational Inbound Sales Strategy Phrases
- How to Map and Create an Inbound Sales Process That’s Aligned to Your Buyer’s Journey
- Inbound vs Outbound Sales: Why You Need Both
- How to Transform Your Business Development Team into Heroes Your Prospects Will Love
- Sales Enablement 101
- Sales and Marketing Alignment: How to Achieve Better Performance From Your Sales Teams
- The Inbound Consultative Sales Coaching Guide for Sales Managers
- 4 Stages for Designing an Effective Sales Training Programme
- The 7 Lifecycle Stages of an Inbound Sales Pipeline
- The Sales Handoff Template - Your Process to Drive Customer Success
- How to Build a Remote Sales Team and Empower Them to Perform Better
- The Marketing-Sales SLA - What is it, and How to Create One
- The Frictionless Selling Framework: Moving from the Funnel to the Flywheel
- Sales Process Content - Empower and Enable Your Team to Win Today’s Modern Buyers
- How to Create a Sales Forecast - A 10-Step Framework to Measure Your Pipeline More Accurately
- Using Video in Your Sales Process to Close More Deals
The Inbound Sales Framework For High Growth Service Companies - How to Empower your Sales Team To Sell in a Humanistic and Helpful Way
Failure is not an option. Your service company is on the precipice of achieving its next level of growth and you have a revenue goal to get you there.
This could be as ambitious as tripling current performance within the next three years. How your sales team performs is therefore critical.
The number of leads generated and converted will directly influence whether or not your current average results become results worthy of what you know your service company’s potential to actually be.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, you’re naturally analytical and numbers-focused and enjoy the challenge of growing your business.
The missing piece of the puzzle is exactly how to take the lessons learnt from previous failures to make that leap.
To have the right people, who get your vision, in the right seats and the core marketing and sales functions working in harmony to sell more.
This is a problem more common than you may think.
According to the fourth edition of the Salesforce Small and Medium Business Trends report, almost half of SMEs cite acquiring new customers as the number one challenge facing their business, with the report confirming,
“Even in a roaring economy, like many were experiencing in early March, acquiring new customers was, by far, the biggest challenge SMB leaders faced in their day to day. It has only become more difficult. Other challenges have also become more prevalent since March, with SMB leaders now 33% more likely to have an uphill battle planning for the long term and 13% more likely to cite trouble retaining existing customers.”
Of the most constraining operational factors, SMEs also report that accessing capital, hiring the right talent, establishing and maintaining processes and motivating employees have all become harder.
Your frustrations at not being able to recruit the best talent, not having enough time, not enough budget and not enough tangible revenue growth could all derail your five-year exit plan and vision to be seen as a market leader.
Could shifting your sales process be the answer?
Think about it; if your sales activity becomes more effective and more efficient, you generate more leads.
That leads to more conversions and that generates more revenue.
In addition to scaling the business, success is a natural motivator for sales representatives. That also frees up more budget to hire more people and invest back into the business to drive you closer and closer to your growth goals.
Many growth-focused businesses see this purely as a numbers game.
Reach out to more prospects and you’ll eventually generate more leads, right?
This mindset could be what’s holding your sales team – and faster growth – back.
So, what’s the answer?
The outbound sales approach centres on reaching out; making as many calls or sending as many emails as possible.
It’s a blanket approach based on the assumption that the more people you speak to, the more leads you’ll generate. The problem with this is that you may not be approaching the right people, or you’re approaching the right people at the wrong time.
It’s an inefficient use of resources, which limits success rates and stunts growth.
What’s more, your buyers don’t like, want or need this approach.
In addition to having an aversion to being prospected or closed, modern buyer’s don't actually want to speak to a salesperson at all, especially in the earlier phases of their buying journey.
In fact, research suggests that fewer than 2 in 10 buyers want to speak to a sales person during the initial discovery phase. Outbound could therefore be disruptive and unwelcome.
The inbound sales framework is the antithesis of this approach. It marries with the modern buyer journey to be personalised, consultative and helpful while also making the best use of resources.
- Outbound sales can be disruptive, especially for the 80% of modern buyers who don’t want to speak to a sales person right away.
- Focusing on getting in front of as many people as possible means resources are eaten up by those who may not ever be interested in your service.
- Inbound sales instead focuses on what the buyer needs with a personalised approach intended to help and support the buyer journey.
As with inbound marketing, the inbound sales framework puts the buyer at the centre of the process.
This approach takes the time to understand what the buyer needs, what their challenges are and how your solution can solve those problems for the buyer.
It offers a more personalised, humanistic experience that prioritises the buyer’s needs, empowering them with the tools, information, experiences and consultation they want, when they want it.
In short, this approach assists the prospect to buy, rather than trying to sell to them.
‘ICEA’: The Four Foundational Inbound Sales Strategy Phrases
The first step to growing your service business and scaling your revenue is to develop an effective inbound sales strategy for today’s customer-centric marketplace.
Your strategy is foundational to your success and offers a chance to ensure that resources are directed at areas that will deliver tangible results at the execution stage.
If you’ve ever wondered what your competitors’ secret sauce is, a strong strategy is likely a key ingredient.
The hero component of that ingredient list is ICEA. A four-stage framework that mirrors the inbound sales buyer journey.
ICEA offers up a quartet of building blocks for a successful, workable sales strategy precisely because it references how the modern consumer makes the purchase decision, allowing the sales team to be in lockstep with the buyer’s thought process and requirement at each stage of that journey.
If you often find yourself cursing the fact that your teams are siloed, and know that sales and marketing need to work closer together to help you achieve your growth targets, adopting an ICEA sales approach can also bring the two departments closer together.
Sales reps identify the highest quality leads and prioritise those prospects to make more efficient use of resources. A range of actions may qualify a prospect as being high quality, such as completing an online information request form or reaching out across social media.
The sales rep reaches out to the prospect. Communication is personalised to that person.
This part of the inbound sales framework recognises that the buyer journey is rarely linear. Instead, it sets out to empower sales reps to get to know their prospect’s challenges and needs and introduce solutions.
The successful inbound sales rep adopts a consultative or advisory approach. This part of the framework is an opportunity for the sales rep to demonstrate their understanding of the prospect’s goals and set out how suggested solutions can meet those needs.
How to Map and Create an Inbound Sales Process That’s Aligned to Your Buyer’s Journey
If your current sales process isn’t clearly aligned with the buyer’s own decision-making process, chances are your sales team isn’t asking the right questions at the right time, or providing the right resources to that buyer when they would be most helpful.
Worse still, it could mean that your sales reps aren’t prioritising leads as efficiently as they should, something which will undoubtedly hinder your progress towards your revenue targets.
If you’ve ever been stuck with a shopping trolley with a wonky wheel that constantly wants to go left when all you want to do is turn right, you’ll understand just how frustrating this conflict can be.
That same sense of annoyance happens to buyers when their designated sales rep is not aligned with their needs.
Sales reps too find this disconnect frustrating, as they will find themselves trying to pull prospects in a certain direction and encountering resistance, rather than progressing towards a sale and earning a commission.
This exasperation all around can be avoided by mapping the sales process to the customer journey.
HubSpot describes it as transforming “selling to match today’s empowered buyer -- so sales reps can sell the way people buy.”
What could be a more powerful boost to your bottom line than having a team of salespeople who sell exactly the way your prospects buy?
Mapping the inbound sales process to the buyer journey begins with first defining and understanding the three core stages of that journey from awareness and consideration through to the decision-making stage.
Pinpointing roadblocks and potential bottle necks comes next. To map the sales process to the buyer journey, you don’t just need to know which path the buyer takes, when you can be hands-off and when they need help.
You also need to design interventions, which can be rolled out to help the buyer overcome those obstacles when they crop up.
Inbound vs Outbound Sales: Why You Need Both
As every entrepreneur will inevitably find out, trying to cut corners and do something with a DIY approach can often end up costing more in the long run.
If you have done this without seeing the results you expected and found it frustrating trying to get the right people on your team and those teams all communicating with each other, the thought of running both inbound and outbound sales might leave you feeling like you’re about to get burnt once again.
The truth is, you actually don’t need to pit inbound and outbound sales against each other; there is a place for both methodologies in successful, high growth service businesses.
The good news?
You may already have the people you need to successfully run both types of sales campaigns sitting in your sales department right now.
You might be thinking if that’s the case, why has it been so challenging to get your revenue rising at a speed you’re happy with?
If you have also begun to realise that diluting your focus has also impacted the results you have been able to achieve thus far, you may not be keen to pursue outbound and inbound sales.
This lack of results is precisely why you should create a sales strategy that puts both inbound and outbound approaches to work for your business.
The fact is, the problem might lie in how you’re approaching sales, not from an inbound or outbound perspective, but in the internal organisation of your team. If everyone on your sales team wears many hats – if everyone is prospecting, qualifying and closing for example – they are set up for failure.
So, why go to the trouble of rearranging your sales team’s structure and responsibilities?
Once you have the right people sitting in the right seats, you’ll naturally have the resources and skills needed to cover both inbound and outbound activity, and that matters because you can then close up any gaps in your sales process where certain leads may be falling through the cracks.
Although 81% of people don’t want to connect with a sales rep during the awareness stage - preferring instead to do their own research -19% say they do.
An outbound sales strategy could be used to target that 19% - a not insignificant figure that could make a notable contribution to achieving your revenue targets.
How to Transform Your Business Development Team into Heroes Your Prospects Will Love
When your growth trajectory feels like it’s in limbo, it’s tempting as an entrepreneur to simply press the accelerator a little harder; make more sales calls, send more emails, target more people.
When this happens, your focus naturally becomes diluted.
In the course of trying to grow your revenue, you might also begin to reach out to new sectors and new types of businesses to grow the numbers, reasoning that the more people you connect with, the better the chances of making a sale or recording a conversion.
Go too far down this path though and the opposite could well be true.
Why? The answer is actually simple.
In addition to spreading your focus thinner and stretching your existing resources to the point where they are no longer effective, you might also be diluting your expertise and therefore unable to properly align with the prospects you can genuinely make a difference with.
Your services and solutions won’t be right for everyone.
And that’s OK. You don’t need to be something for everyone.
To scale, you need to be everything for the right someones. Or, to put it another way, you need to have the optimal solution for your target customers.
Data suggest that the majority (60%) of buyers wish to connect with a sales rep at the consideration stage of their buyer’s journey; by this point, they have researched their available options and created a shortlist of suitable solutions.
If your sales reps are focused on being all things to all people, rather than experts in a few specific types of prospects, the chances of them being able to assist that buyer, provide advice and suggest optimal solutions are slim to none.
If, in contrast, your business development team has a clear idea of whom they are targeting and the challenges and requirements of prospects within those segments, they’re immediately better positioned to be a guide or hero to those prospects.
“It is worth noting that while buyers today are massively more well informed compared to 10 years ago, they are likely still missing crucial information that they haven’t considered in their research information that only a salesperson can provide. Logistical considerations like how long an integration/installation will take, how long it typically takes to see results, or even if the product is a proper fit for their organization are rarely found online,” explains HubSpot Head of Market Research and Competitive Intel, Mimi An.
“After finding out what the buyer knows, a well-prepared sales representative can elaborate on their product and share advice they are best equipped to provide. This advice should be new to the buyer and educate them further on the product or service.”
Focusing efforts on a certain segment, and taking time to understand their needs, empower your sales teams to be useful, helpful and take on a consultative role – something which can only increase sales effectiveness and the overall buyer experience.
Sales Enablement 101
Do your sales reps have the tools they need to do their job?
You might answer yes on the basis that they all have the basics to hand; an up-to-date smartphone, a modern computer, laptop or tablet, access to email and so on.
But are those alone enough to meet your ambitious revenue targets? The answer is probably not.
And certainly not if your sales and marketing teams operate in silos and are rarely on the same page. In the modern, customer-centric marketplace, 70% of the buyer’s research process takes place before speaking with a sales rep.
This self-serve approach means the modern sales rep needs to take a different approach to nurture prospects through the funnel.
To do that, you need to afford the right resources, tools and processes that enable them to sell.
As per HubSpot, “Sales enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals. These resources may include content, tools, knowledge, and information to effectively sell your product or service to customers.”
Creating a sales enablement strategy might sound like it could be a vastly complicated and expensive endeavour but it doesn’t need to be.
Quite simply, it’s about understanding what the empowered buyer needs and expects and then giving the sales rep the structures, systems and resources they need to deliver on those expectations.
Process is foundational to having a functional sales enablement strategy, and that often means bringing marketing and sales teams closer together.
The fact that content is a second key element also further strengthens the need to have the two departments working seamlessly together, rather than acting independently of each other.
Holding up those two key elements is one vital pillar; technology.
A CRM system can enable important processes such as email automation for example or handoff from marketing to sales, but it can also be used to target content or track the prospect’s interactions with content, all of which puts the sales rep in a much better position to sell.
Sales and Marketing Alignment: How to Achieve Better Performance From Your Sales Teams
There is a natural synergy between inbound marketing and inbound sales, with both built around the ‘attract, engage, delight’ philosophy. That makes sales and marketing alignment a no-brainer when it comes to improving performance and growing revenue.
While it sounds like it should be easy, you may well find that there is a disconnect between your sales and marketing functions with neither one clear on where their role ends and the other department steps in.
This dysfunction between the two core business units can make bringing the two together in a harmonious manner feel like 'mission impossible' for, allowing the status quo to continue can impede growth which in turn puts revenue goals out of reach.
According to HubSpot data, organisations that align sales and marketing are 67% better at closing deals. This success is directly felt on your bottom line too, with 209% more revenue generated from marketing on average.
Creating a two-way SLA between marketing and sales can formalise the alignment and instil scalable processes to smooth the transition to a closer working relationship.
To successfully create alignment, the following foundational elements are useful:
A lead quality matrix:
This defines the stages that the average prospect will pass through and indicates which department is responsible for which stage.
This matrix alone can bring alignment to sales and marketing activity by making it clear where handoff happens.
A shared CRM is invaluable for cultivating better alignment and unlocking greater revenue generation potential.
It can eliminate silos and data duplication by ensuring both teams have access to the same customer data, recording all sales and marketing interactions with each prospect.
A smarketing (sales + marketing) culture actively works to bring together both teams in a collaborative manner.
One of the best ways to encourage this is to schedule regular meetings with representatives from both departments in attendance to discuss progress, brainstorm ideas and suggest solutions.
Closed loop reporting:
We’ve all heard the saying, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. Adopting closed-loop reporting can help you go far by facilitating continuous feedback between sales and marketing.
The Inbound Consultative Sales Coaching Guide for Sales Managers
According to figures from Glassdoor, it costs an average of around £3,000 to hire a new recruit.
The cost of replacing that person – if they underperform, are tempted away by a rival or simply find the job doesn’t live up to expectations for example – is as much as £12,000 research shows.
Over and above the immediate and hefty hit to your bank balance, an underperforming salesperson can seriously impact progress towards your growth goals and demotivate other team members.
Hiring someone is a not-insignificant investment of time and money. While you may have a process in place to onboard your new recruits and provide additional training, it’s common to overlook the importance of ongoing consultative sales coaching and professional development.
Your sales team is the engine room of your service business in many respects and much like a high performance engine needs to be maintained to keep it at its best, so too does your sales team.
Regular coaching means your sales team won’t get stagnant; these sessions are a chance to reinforce positive behaviours and introduce new processes, techniques, ideas and skills reflective of changes in buyer behaviour and the wider marketplace.
According to HubSpot research, over a third of businesses deliver 30 minutes or less of sales coaching each week.
An investment in coaching could well be one of the components of your most successful competitor’s secret sauce, given sales team in receipt of two hours of coaching per week record a 56% win rate.
Creating an effective and impactful sales coaching programme can be done in four steps:
- Conduct a gap analysis to benchmark sales activity against established sales processes, with an emphasis on identifying weaknesses and gaps so you can then mitigate against them.
- Develop appropriate resources and make them available to your sales team. Sales process content or a handoff template are good starting points.
- Hold one-to-one sessions with individual members of the sales team to discuss and monitor progress.
- Create a culture of involvement, with sales team members able to coach, support and assist their colleagues in areas where they are stronger.
4 Stages for Designing an Effective Sales Training Programme
Buyer needs and behaviours are constantly in a state of evolution, which means that despite your best efforts, your sales process may fall out of sync with the buyer’s journey over time.
For high growth service companies serious about scaling, there’s a continual need to evaluate the buyer’s journey versus the sales process.
Ensuring that your team remains aligned with the buyer and well placed to support their prospects even if their path deviates from what you used to consider the norm is non-negotiable.
But how do you best deal with a moving target?
The answer, of course, is to remain in motion too with ongoing, dynamic training focused on keeping your sales reps current and in the best position possible to close the maximum number of deals.
If you’re used to feeling like you aren’t quite getting the best from your team, a solid training strategy, consistently deployed, can be used to drive continuous improvement, delighting both your prospects and your bottom line.
Developing an effective sales process is something that should be very personal to your service business. Crafting an effective strategy however will always be based on:
- Knowing what’s needed – what new skills do your sales reps need to master?
- A personalised approach – successful sales training needs to be appropriate to your team, both in scope and in their preferred method of learning.
- Identifying an appropriate training provider – this could require a third-party to be brought up or involve a mix of peer-to-peer and specialist providers.
- Agility and flexibility – the buyer’s journey is constantly changing, therefore to keep step, your training will need to be agile too.
The 7 Lifecycle Stages of an Inbound Sales Pipeline
With ambitious revenue goals comes the need for effective, streamlined processes and a clear vision. It’s also important that your team is on the same page; something you’ll have learnt if your recruitment efforts to date have failed to deliver on the promise that you were looking for.
Often, performance issues are rooted in a lack of clarity and systematic processes and procedures across the business.
If a sales manager or sales rep isn’t aware of or doesn’t understand the sales lifecycle for your pipeline, this will inevitably translate into unfulfilled potential.
When you’re a new business and keen to demonstrate viability and quickly establish yourself, systematic processes might take a backseat to the more immediate need to hustle prospects through the system to conversion as quickly as possible in order to keep the lights on.
This approach isn’t sustainable when you enter the scale stage of your business growth – and if you’re looking to scale rapidly, it’s even more important that you have structure in place to direct that trajectory and keep everyone moving in the same direction, towards the same goal.
A lack of process also means that each salesperson might approach each prospect in a different manner.
They may or may not use the same sales content. Some sales reps might employ video content, others won’t. This overall lack of consistency creates an inconsistent customer experience and that could cost you the sale.
Defining the individual stages of the sales process replaces this haphazard and scattergun approach with a scalable, consistent experience. HubSpot says this is critical to moving prospects efficiently through the funnel and helping sales reps maximise their potential, explaining “To properly categorize your contacts, leads, and customers — and move them through the funnel — it’s imperative to know the difference between each stage, and more importantly, what triggers a move from one stage to the other.”
There are seven lifecycle stages within the inbound sales pipeline:
- Subscriber: Someone who has opted in to hear from you, usually on your website.
- Lead: Someone who has taken a further action such as engaging with your content.
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): A prospect who engages with a marketing effort, such as clicking on an advert, downloads an offer etc.
- Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): A prospect who is ready to engage with the sales team – this could mean they have requested service information or a call back.
- Opportunity: A prospect who has had contact with the sales team and exhibits strong signs of interest.
- Customer: The deal is closed.
- Evangelist: A customer who spreads positive word about your business and advocates to others on your behalf. This could be via social media or personal recommendations for example.
With these stages defined, sales reps can then tailor their approach and actions according to the prospect’s position in that pipeline.
The Sales Handoff Template - Your Process to Drive Customer Success
What happens when a prospect signs on the dotted line and officially becomes a customer?
Hopefully that customer will go on to be an evangelist; someone who is so pleased with the service received and quality of care offered that they’ll tell others about it.
This could mean recommending your business to others and spreading positive word online.
In addition to the service you actually deliver, there is an important middle stage which can make that scenario much more likely; a stage which is critical but often overlooked and that’s the sales handoff.
Once your sales rep has closed a deal, that prospect will transition to dealing with their account manager or designated client contact.
If the handover is chaotic, incomplete or disorganised, the goodwill that your sales rep has built up will rapidly start to wane.
But what information should be shared and how should that transition be managed?
A sales handoff template can be used to define that process and ensure a seamless transfer from the sales rep to the customer success team. Having a documented playbook also means the experience will be the same every time, no matter how many times that customer is pulled back into the marketing funnel and re-sold to.
To be useful, your sales handoff template will need to cover:
What does the sales rep need from the customer success team to begin the handover? What kind of information or action does the customer success team require the sales rep to provide or complete? And perhaps most importantly, what are the customer’s expectations at this point?
Speed is central to a successful handover but, that can’t come at the expense of information. To enable your customer success agent to step in quickly and manage client needs, they’ll need detailed customer notes to refer to right off the bat.
Definition of success:
What does a successful handover look like? Chances are, if you asked your sales rep, customer and customer success agent that question, you’d get at least two different answers – and that’s why it’s important to get a definition down on paper that the sales rep and customer success agent can agree on.
If the customer’s definition of success is outlined upfront, the customer success agent can direct their efforts to guide the customer there.
How to Build a Remote Sales Team and Empower Them to Perform Better
The sales landscape has shifted enormously in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, with face-to-face sales wholesale replaced by remote activities. The move towards more remote activity has been on the cards for a while but the dramatic acceleration caught many businesses short.
Now however, with the initial scramble to immediately transition from a central office to myriad remote locations complete, there is a chance to take stock and carefully consider how to build a remote sales team that can operate effectively and drive your service business closer to its growth goals.
Creating a successful remote sales team requires more than just a change of location. Expecting quotas to be maintained without a formal transition, appropriate training and on boarding for new technologies is unrealistic. Likewise, processes may also need to be reviewed and adapted, as measures created for success in a face-to-face environment are unlikely to be as effective in a remote one.
If this all sounds like it could be more trouble than it’s worth, consider this: the Harvard Business Review estimates that cost per acquisition for remote sales can be as much as 90% less than face-to-face sales. What’s more, 90% of employers say productivity levels can be maintained or improved upon within a remote environment – providing you set your team up for success.
Still not convinced? Modern customers may actually prefer the online experience says the Harvard Business Review, noting
Taking time to build a remote team and empower them to succeed means you’ll need to rethink:
Your systems: remote sales demand digital solutions, such as a robust CRM, marketing automation and online quotes.
Your processes: remote sales reps need different ways of engaging with prospects. Video content for example could replace face-to-face demos or video conferencing used in place of in-person meetings.
Thought too must also be given to the human element – with onboarding, training, coaching, mentoring, reviews and collaboration taking place at a distance, consideration must be paid to how sales reps are supported, how resources are made available to them and how engagement can be nurtured. While each person, and each team will be unique, tactics such as setting daily goals, holding regular knowledge-sharing sessions, clearly prioritising tasks and keeping channels of communication open are universal.
The Marketing-Sales SLA - What is it, and How to Create One
You know the frustration that abounds when resources are not being used effectively. And you’ve seen firsthand that dysfunctional, disconnected sales and marketing teams impact service levels and success rates. The question is, how can you bring siloed sales and marketing department together when they’ve long been used to operating independently of each other?
A marketing sales SLA can be used to align the two departments. Just as your customer SLA will define what your customers can expect from your service business, a marketing sales SLA sets clear expectations for each team. As per HubSpot, “A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contract that establishes a set of deliverables that one party has agreed to provide another. This agreement can exist between a business and its customers, or one department that delivers a recurring service to another department within that business.”
By easing friction and managing expectations and responsibilities, the marketing sales SLA can also have a positive impact on your revenue growth. In fact, 65% of marketers working in businesses with a marketing sales SLA in place report a higher ROI from marketing activity.
An effective marketing sales SLA will include:
- Buyer personas agreed upon by both sales and marketing
- A breakdown of the buyer journey (the seven lifecycle stages of the inbound sales pipeline will be indispensable here)
- Specific marketing and sales goals
- Agreed reporting methods and tools to achieve that (closed loop reporting is ideal).
The Frictionless Selling Framework: Moving from the Funnel to the Flywheel
How can sales perform more effectively? How can sales reps be empowered to close more deals? How can the sales process be optimised so sales reps feel empowered and customers feel heard, engaged with and supported, rather than sold to? As the name suggests, frictionless selling focuses on reducing any friction which may impede the sales process and impact on conversion rates and the customer experience. Instead, it prioritises engagement and convenience. Or, as HubSpot notes, “Frictionless selling prioritizes buyer-seller collaboration versus buyers being sold "at".”
Central to this ideal is a rethink of the sales funnel. In fact, the modern sales funnel isn’t actually a funnel at all. It’s a flywheel which puts the customer at the heart of the action with sales, marketing and service activity revolving around that customer.
Setting sales targets and increasing sales activity can power the wheel to spin faster. A poor customer experience creates friction which slows it down.
Creating a frictionless selling framework can smooth the transition from the old style funnel and ensure that potential issues which could cause the modern flywheel to falter are mitigated before they have the chance to derail performance.
An effective frictionless selling framework is founded on a three-pronged approach.
The first stage is to ensure your sales reps are enabled to actually sell. Enablement will mean different things to different businesses because it depends on what you already have in place and what needs to be adjusted. If you have an established remote selling function, you may already have a CMS system you’re happy with, for example. You may decide that your sales processes are outdated and could be improved. Perhaps an automation tool would free up a serious amount of time? The key here is to focus on specific measures which will enable your sales team to sell.
Stage two focuses on better aligning the buyer journey with sales activity to remove as much friction as possible. Your sales reps will likely be a treasure trove of insight here; ask them where bottlenecks creep in and where customer frustrations arise. Do reps continually need to fill in blanks around pricing for example? Do prospects typically baulk at the length of contract or express frustration when it comes to booking a meeting or accessing a sales rep?
Transformation comes next. In practise, this means adopting an agile mindset and taking proactive steps to instil and nurture a culture of continuous learning. This may mean that you enable real time access to data reporting, create a system of peer-to-peer knowledge sharing or formalise coaching.
Sales Process Content - Empower and Enable Your Team to Win Today’s Modern Buyers
According to IDC, sales enablement is nothing more than, “The delivery of the right information, to the right person, at the right time and in the right place.” Sounds simple, right? In practise, most sales teams find it a little harder to get the right information to their prospects at the right time – and that’s because while marketing teams are well versed in crafting content and messaging that resonates with the target audience, the sales team often won’t have that same resource.
Quite often, the sales team will refer to and use content created by the marketing team for their own purposes (such as case studies or blog posts) but they’ll lack their own specific content created with the express intention of helping sales reps succeed. To win over modern buyers, sales reps need to be empowered and enabled with sales process content.
Sales process content ensures sales reps have all the information they need at their fingertips across each stage of the sales process. This will typically cover a range of both internal content (such as sales scripts, competitor comparisons, and product information sheets) alongside content intended to be shared (slide decks, videos, brochures, one pagers, a range of email templates and perhaps even pre-written social media updates).
It isn’t enough to simply have this content in existence however. Its use should be baked in to the sales process so its deployment is both standardised and consistent.
How to Create a Sales Forecast - A 10-Step Framework to Measure Your Pipeline More Accurately
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if you had a crystal ball? You could peer into it, see how many sales you’ll record next quarter and then plan accordingly. In the absence of a portal into the future, you can only make a best guess; but this forecast shouldn’t be a shot in the dark.
For a sales forecast to serve you, it should call on historical data and quantitative information to draw a realistic picture. Too optimistic and it could lead to disappointment further down the line and prevent issues such as underperformance now from being addresses until it’s too late. Too pessimistic and sales targets might become unrealistic and resource allocation skewered.
While you can’t peer in to the future, you can create a framework which makes it possible to more accurately measure and interpret your sales data for forecasting purposes.
The sales pipeline is a core component of this forecast. For it to provide you with enough of the right kinds of data, habits such as accurate record keeping need to be firmly embedded within the sales process.
Taking a goal-orientated approach can help to focus your forecast while automation tools for data analysis can increase accuracy. There is a danger in relying exclusively on historical or quantitative date in your forecast however; if your market has shifted quite dramatically for example, such as happened in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the impact of those changes won’t be reflected so you’ll also need to factor in your own observations.
Using Video in Your Sales Process to Close More Deals
The need to be humanistic and helpful in your sales approach has never been as critical as it is today. With close human connection and face-to-face interactions increasingly replaced with remote communication and collaboration, new methods of building rapport and sharing information are called for. This is especially true in the sales department, where relationships are all-important.
There is one medium that can instantly foster a sense of rapport, efficiently deliver useful information and add the human touch to a distance selling environment: video.
Adopting a video sales process not only removes the distance in distance selling by beaming the sales rep directly into the office of their prospect, it also offers an engaging, digestible and entertaining means of conveying important information. And that makes it an indispensable tool for closing more deals.
Incorporating video doesn’t need to be a terrifying prospect, either. A simple four-step framework can be used to create a video strategy. This should clearly set out when video should be used in the sales process and what types of video are helpful.
For those sales reps who feel overwhelmed or reluctant to use video, video scripts provide reassurance and ensure that all important points are included. While some teams will already be familiar with technologies such as Zoom for video calling, others may need training.
With HubSpot reporting that marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t, there is no better time to embrace this adaptable, hardworking content format and bring it into your sales process.
Are you ready to future proof your sales? Is it time to achieve consistent, profitable growth and hit your ambitious revenue targets? Get the maximum performance from your sales team and extract the maximum potential from every lead. If you’re ready to double or triple your revenues, increase your market share, stake your claim on market leader status and firm up your exit strategy, get your inbound sales campaign underway today.