November 2, 2017

Is Your Sales Organization Stuck in the Mud? Here’s How You Can Break Free

By Stephen Fioretti

We’ve all heard the old saying: “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Let’s face it – switching up a good- enough routine can be scary! But, by resisting change, organizations fail to adapt to ever-shifting market dynamics and customer preferences.

With that in mind, here are a few guidelines successful organizations have followed to increase sales potential.

Look for ways to adapt and prepare for change
“This is the way we’ve always done it.” This way of thinking, anchored in the past, makes a company vulnerable to competitive disadvantage and even disruption. Remember, your competitors are adapting to change – even if you’re fighting it. They’re looking at patterns, predicting trends, and uncovering connections to make their sales processes and methodologies more efficient.

According to CSO Insights, companies with dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes reported an average of 10 percent more salespeople on quota than other companies.

Build a culture of innovation and shared best practices in your company
Ditching a stale sales routine for a more innovative approach not only provides a competitive advantage for your company; it also keeps employees on their toes – cutting down on sales fatigue and burnout. Incentivize and reward your sales teams to share ideas and give input on approaches and processes. Resist a top-down command-and-control culture where the front lines are afraid to report back on what’s happening in the field. Your employees are full of creative ideas and they can be your greatest competitive advantage.

Employ a dynamic sales process that is flexible, based on the preferences of buyers
Today’s customers have greater expectations of how they do business, and your existing process may no longer cut it. They are increasingly educated about your products and services and often leverage digital sources and peer networks before they even get to you. Keep them and their decision journey in mind when selecting, reviewing, and tweaking your sales process.

Furthermore, your salespeople can and should know a lot about your prospects before engaging with them. Encourage them to leverage their connections and social networks to do so. Some employees boast far broader social networks – as recognized experts – than the company they work for. Meaning? Social selling is in and should be supported by an established sales process to nurture that digital connection and elevate the seller as the trusted advisor as early as possible in order to differentiate.

Embrace technology for efficiency and productivity
Technology has evolved to make sales reps’ jobs more effective, allowing them to spend more time selling and less time with manual input. Sales force automation (SFA) systems leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver more qualified leads and opportunities. They also suggest and direct optimized next steps or actions in a sales process. Mobile voice and text interfaces, such as “sales bots” or “my sales assistants,” can complete CRM tasks, create or update opportunities, schedule appointments, draft an email, and check a prospect’s social networks. Additionally, reps can find more value by integrating SFA with productivity tools like MS Office 365 and social networking channels. Just as consumers are embracing automation in their buying journey, reps should follow suit.

There are thousands of sayings about change. Here’s a poignant quote from Oracle founder Larry Ellison, advising sales and other professionals to not only embrace change, but foster it themselves: “You have to act and act now.”

Stephen Fioretti is VP, product management of Oracle Sales & Service Cloud.