As B2B sales organizations continue to reorganize their go-to-market (GTM) sales teams, there is a convergence into revenue teams. These teams comprise sales, marketing, sales operations, sales enablement, and customer success (once called customer service). The full-cycle B2B salespeople who used to walk into the client's office alone are now accompanied by a phalanx of team members. The resulting sales process is often more complicated B2B. Sales strategies and tactics continue to evolve to match the needs of B2B buyers and win opportunities. More resources are used to pursue large clients. This increases the pressure to generate net new revenue and hit targets. To drive sales growth it’s more important than ever to understand how to build a successful sales team. The following strategies can help.
Strategy 1: Implement a Collaborative CRM System
Once, a sales rep might avoid the customer relationship manager (CRM), a sales tool that is often called "Big Brother." Team sales and the pursuit of large clients can be complex and demanding. Therefore, the CRM becomes the center of communication and a team’s single source of truth.
The centralized information in a B2B CRM offers a number of benefits. Instead of piles of paper clutter, teams have an avalanche of digital content, but a CRM can help keep this organized so the team can find what it needs. For teams to pursue their ideal customers, they need access to recent updates and refer to past interactions and conversations. They also need to manage the meetings and documents to move deals forward.
A CRM also enables communication and collaboration. Teams can collaborate within the CRM and use other integrations like Slack for asynchronous communication.
As the sales process evolves to include more people, the CRM can set the foundation for an enhanced customer experience. Your clients benefit when members of the revenue team are well-versed in the relationship before they meet. No decision-maker wants to have to educate an incoming member of the sales organization. Your CRM can streamline this process.
The CRM will become increasingly significant to sales for these reasons and the following tools:
- Salesforce: The largest and most well-known CRM. As it has grown, it has opened its API, making it possible to integrate modules from third parties. It's essentially enterprise resource software.
- HubSpot: HubSpot is a different kind of CRM, because it is also a marketing platform. I have used HubSpot for five years. As their peers do, HubSpot continues to develop their product. It handles close to 5,000 blog posts here.
- Microsoft Dynamics 365:I haven't seen Dynamics in a while, but the last time I had a look, it was basic. I am sure it has been improved, and I know companies that like it.
Pick one suitable for your business and your goals. Selecting your CRM and technology stack is now a strategic decision.
Strategy 2: Develop a High-Performing Sales Team
If you haven't read Good to Great by Jim Collins, pick it up and give it a read. Collins would tell you to get the right people on the bus and in the right seats. Too many sales organizations don't spend enough time on the hiring process, but hiring and recruiting top sales talent is critical to success. You can proactively develop a high-performing sales team using the following techniques:
- Identifying key skills and traits: Whenever I show my sales competency model, people are stunned by how complete it is. I worked in staffing, so I understand how most people overvalue their experience and undervalue their character traits. The first step is to identify the sales skills and traits that will enable the individual to succeed, including strategic empathy.
- Leveraging industry networks: When sales leaders and sales managers are called by salespeople, there’s an opportunity. By connecting with them on LinkedIn, sales managers can build a bench of potential hires. As the sales funnel is critical to securing new clients, it is also valuable for hiring new salespeople.
- Training and Development: This is related to sales methodology and process. Longer sales cycles come with increased risk. They are more likely to be lost than closed, so it is important that team sales use a modern sales approach and a process that creates value for your prospective clients. Sales training programs help your team to hone a skill or practice a new strategy that will increase their performance and benefit clients.
- Product knowledge and industry expertise: The current and future of B2B sales is expertise. One part of this is hiring well, the other is gaining knowledge that uncertain decision-makers and stakeholders need to move forward.
- Performance management and feedback: In addition to setting clear expectations and goals, you need to evaluate your team’s performance and provide feedback that they can apply. Clarity and alignment make for effective team sales. This also engenders trust.
- Regular reviews and coaching: Any leader would do well to review their team's activities and results, and provide sales coaching to all members. Even if you are a sounding board, you need to make certain your teams succeed.
Strategy 3: Leverage Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
Account-based marketing (ABM) is essentially the main strategy for team sales. The benefits here are personalization, higher ROI, and building a bridge over the chasm that separates sales and marketing. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Personalized marketing approach: The ability to tailor communications and provide market insights on your client’s vertical demonstrates that you know your contacts, their problems, and how to help them improve their results. This takes us back to expertise.
- Higher ROI and faster sales cycle: ABM and ABS (account-based sales) provide a higher return on investment by allocating their resources to high visibility, high-value B2B customers.
- Identifying target accounts: The starting point of implementing an ABM strategy is identifying target accounts. It would be rare to have to qualify a targeted client in ABM. You already know they are the right fit. While it takes more time to align marketing and sales on communication, strategy, and pursuit, it speeds up results.
- Measuring success and refining strategies: An L is a loss or a lesson. By measuring success and failures, you can dial in your strategies. While many B2B losses tend to be large deals, it's worth taking the time to assess your approach after any loss.
Strategy 4: Embrace Digital Sales Channels
Selling will be more digital than it is now if you can believe it. If software is eating the world, it seems to have an appetite for sales and marketing. The rise in digital B2B sales influences what it takes to build a robust digital sales strategy. Take note of the following elements:
- Changing customer preferences: Customers' preferences have changed, and they continue to evolve. If you are not digitally ready, you are likely invisible or passed over. Buyers want more access to greater amounts of information. But not taking the time to meet with sales teams before making a decision can also lead to buyer's remorse
- Increased efficiency and reduced costs: Digital sales channels bring an upside to both sales teams and their prospective clients. It offers new data, like information on buyer intent, that can be incredibly valuable. The salesperson who calls a qualified lead is likely to find a contact with some idea about what they want or need. Marketers help here with top-of-the-funnel (TOFU), middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU), and bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content.
- E-commerce platforms: These platforms have been around for a long time now and can help large companies by lowering their costs and the costs of doing business together. This includes vendor management systems that provide oversight for vendors.
- Social selling is also old, but critical: Even though cold outreach is a giant mess, these channels will be more relevant to sales organizations. With CMOs automating cold outreach, it's becoming more difficult to get a client to open an email—or especially, an InMail.
- Content marketing and SEO: There is new sales collateral. It's not a four-color brochure. Instead, it's digital. Team sales in B2B need to be enabled with the content their clients need and the SEO that drives leads.
Strategy 5: Foster a Winning Sales Culture
The most effective sales culture is a positive culture of accountability. When teams are aligned and effective, a high-performing culture is the result.
- Employee engagement and motivation: Positivity, engagement, and motivation are critical to success. People working on team sales have their own reasons for doing things. Understanding someone's motivation is crucial to motivating them.
- Adaptability and innovation: A positive culture allows team members to challenge the status quo to improve business results. Punitive cultures don't allow for this growth or improvement.
- Sales management styles: It’s up to the sales leader or sales manager to cultivate a positive culture. Certain management styles support high levels of employee engagement and motivation, while others can lead to a toxic culture of favoritism and low accountability.
The Five Strategies for Team Success
It's crucial that you use your CRM as a strategic asset, hire and develop high-performing teams, implement an account-based approach to sales, embrace digital sales, and build a positive sales culture. Use these five strategies, and if you need help, click here.