3 New Rules for the Modern Sales Org: Tech, Diversity, & Data

How sales organizations look and operate has changed dramatically in recent years, with 93% of buying processes now starting with an internet search. This massive change in buyer’s behaviors has many companies wondering what they can do to keep afloat during this transformation.

It’s no wonder that even with a fully stacked team of qualified individuals, sales managers are finding themselves at a breaking point trying to monitor existing processes and systems. In 2014, sales reps were spending only 34 percent of their time selling, down from 41 percent just a few years earlier. So how do sales leaders get their team back on track and learning the modern sales techniques that will keep them ahead of the game

The way that sales professionals work is transforming. We’ve reached a new era, leaving the sales industry in much of the same situation as the marketing industry was in the late 2000’s without clear signs of what’s to come. The science of selling is buyer-centric and requires that sales professionals focus on the value of what they’re selling. Buyers want to know how a purchase will change their daily lives, rather than simply the features of the product. How can a sales organization adapt to create the optimal path for a buyer?

What Qualities Define a Modern Sales Organization?

Modern sales organizations utilize technology and efficiency.

The first step into the modern sales world should be to recognize the importance of the digital world. Having an arsenal of employees well-versed in tech keeps your sales team adaptable to the ever-changing market.

Going “digital first” in 2017 is a no-brainer, as digital channels provided over 1/5th of revenues in 2015 for 41 percent of fast-growing B2B and consumer companies.

Internal processes, when matched with the implementation of technology, can literally change your sales organization from the inside out. Although many companies claim to be process-driven, the truth is that very few are. To make it in the modern sales economy, focus on implementing technology and bettering internal sales processes, rather than hiring more people.

The takeaway: Modern sales professionals are tech-savvy and implement new technologies to streamline better sales processes.

Modern sales organizations focus on value, not just the product.

Traditionally, sales organizations focused on building relationships. Relationship building with customers is an important asset of a trusted sales organization, but it is not the most important value-add.

Rather, modern sales organizations realize that the primary value-add to purchases is value itself. Customers want to know how an investment will positively change their daily lives, and it’s that reputation, combined with efficiency and good relationships, that will keep generating leads.

Most sales leaders aren’t adapting to the changing market at the pace that buyer’s behaviors are changing, creating a massive delta. Modern buyers find products organically and do their research. Three out of four customers prefer seeing different pieces of content while moving through the sales funnel. By adding value across multiple platforms to a purchase, a buyer has a wide-reaching, organic experience with the product.

The takeaway: Modern sales organizations focus on efficiency and value. They hire individuals who add immense value and truly act as consultants rather than product-pushers.

Modern sales organizations are diverse.

Surprisingly, the components of teams within both traditional and modern sales organizations are relatively the same, and include:

  • Marketing teams.
  • Sales professionals.
  • Managers of sales and new business acquisitions.
  • A Channel Partner Manager.
  • An operations and fulfillment team.

The fundamental difference between modern and traditional sales organizations is the diversity and efficiency of this team. Across industries, the average age of a leader is 42, and it’s at this age that they first receive leadership training. It comes at no surprise that many sales leaders have a difficult time finding and retaining an effective team.

Teams who are gender diverse are 15 percent more likely to outperform teams with a low gender diversity, and this number jumps to 35 percent for ethnically diverse teams. Winning sales teams take advantage of their differences to generate new ideas and cultivate their own lead methodology. The power of a diverse team allows for these new ideas and processes to be formed by a team who bring their own individualized expertise and knowledge to the table.

The takeaway: Modern sales leaders must make room for a diverse environment and adapt their processes and team structure at the same rate that buyer’s habits are changing.

Modern Sales Organizations Hire Expert Contractors Before Full-Time Employees.

Hiring a full-time employee allows sales teams to have a permanent working professional at their table, but what many sales professionals don’t realize is the decision to hire only full-time team members can be limiting and costly. Although contractors usually charge more per hour than a traditional full-time employee, hiring a full-time staff member comes with extra charges that can increase your payroll 20 to 30 percent.

Modern sales organizations realize the importance of having a network of industry experts, also known as contractors. By 2020, 40% of America’s workforce will be freelancers, meaning that the pool of qualified industry experts is already rising.

Hiring a skilled contractor allows sales teams to see which positions are most efficient in-house. By hiring for expertise and necessity rather than convenience, your team will be able to scale faster and more efficiently.

The takeaway: Focus on hiring industry experts who are in line with your company and its values. By doing so, you’ll be able to clean-up your internal processes and coordinate efforts with contractors to experiment and find what works for your company.

Go Further with Actionable Data

Data tracking is a norm within traditional sales organizations, but much of the time, teams are tracking the wrong data. Many sales companies focus on collecting “big data” – pipelines, closed deals, or leads generated – to track their progress. From the surface, data is represented as one clean line, but once you start to peel back layers of information, you’re left with a rough, mountainous graph. However, this data often doesn’t lead to revenue increases or more leads generated.

“Big data” doesn’t highlight where the lead or revenue generation is going array. Incredibly, only 10 percent of sales managers track lead follow-up rate. Real change is possible when sales teams review data that goes down to the representative level. CRM tools, such as Sales Force, help track both data and progress in modern sales organizations. These numbers represent who’s doing what, or who’s closing more deals.

Sales leaders in efficient teams utilize this data in relation to creating a better buyer experience. They focus on small, actionable data; that is, data which highlights individual performance and where improvements can be made. Sales managers can utilize micro-coaching tactics to help team members perform better, leading to the betterment of the entire department. Localized change yields universal change.

Modern sales organizations have the opportunity to create tremendous change and generate positive results by cultivating a diverse, “value-minded” sales team. Want to learn more about what qualities complete a modern sales organization? Download our free ebook, Hiring Superior Salespeople.

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