It’s Noisy Out There!

brandingWhether your company is launching a new product or focused on gaining more market share, the ability to attract client interest is becoming more and more challenging. Technology innovation has created myriad tools in customer messaging: LinkedIn, Facebook, Bullhorn, Hubspot, Marketo, Twitter, Clearslide, and the list goes on. All these options make it more and more challenging for customers to connect with your message. Access to data has practically leveled the playing field, with typical sales and marketing campaigns and techniques offering little differentiation between companies. So what does this all mean? A glut of technology has seemingly landed us back where we started – the human element once again plays a major role in pushing through the static to get your message heard.

 

Whether your company is focused on direct consumers or marketing goods and services to other companies, customer interaction remains an important part of the buying process. Although there is no denying that millennials will continue to change how we communicate, the human element is always a critical part of customer engagement. Here are a few key recent statistics:
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated (McKinsey)
83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase (eConsultancy)
61% of consumers prefer human support when needing assistance making an online purchase (eConsultancy)

 

How do we reconcile these trends with the constant cries that sales reps are being marginalized in the buying process?  When it comes to making dinner reservations, going to the movies or looking for a ride home, human interaction may be unnecessary, but when it comes to purchasing goods and services, the human element is as important as ever! There is no denying that technology and automation has impacted how consumers and companies acquire goods and services. Marketing automation has provided greater opportunities to reach and influence more and more prospects. However, the sales rep is still a crucial factor in driving sales across the line. In fact, a recent study by SalesForce.com found that in a B2B environment, the salesperson is the most important factor influencing prospects’ decisions to buy.

If you’re unsure what your sales and marketing strategy should be, the $150B (USD) consulting industry in the U.S. offers thousands of options to assist with topics ranging from customer messaging to sales process improvement. A variety of companies are available to tell you what and how to go to market with your product or services. And if you are confident that you have the right strategy and plan but unsure of your team’s ability to execute, experienced sales professionals can come in and train your team. The global market for sales training is estimated to have been $2.46B (USD) in 2015. Sales training programs often include topics related to client relationship management, better understanding customers’ needs, enhancing communication with clients, providing effective feedback to clients, and improving client interactions. While studies have proven the best training will improve performance by 15% and consulting ideas and initiatives may move the needle a bit further, these short-term solutions will eventually lead companies back where they started.

No silver bullet solution exists to dramatically change your sales performance, but the marketplace is filled with a lot of noise for business leaders to absorb. The obvious answer and largest variable in every customer interaction you have or hope to have is your people. In 2001, Jim Collins wrote one of the most insightful business books “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t.” His message remains salient and simple: First, Get the Right People on the Bus; Next, Get the Wrong People off the Bus; Next, Get the Right People in Key Seats; Only Then Drive the Bus.

Although most companies and leaders agree that their people are the most important aspect of their success, consider the following statistics:
The average company spends 10x more time and resources in choosing IT assets then they do on their sales hiring
Over 50% of sales managers are too busy to train and develop their sales teams. Sales and marketing content makes up more than a quarter of a spending but well over 80% of it is not used by salespeople.
Per a Harvard Business Review study, 64% of salespeople who fail do so because they are in the wrong job, not because they are not good at sales. Consulting companies may provide good insight and best practices to improve your go-to-market sales strategy and a few of your reps may learn some new techniques from sales training, but the long-term impact is limited.
So as organizations look to finish strong in 2016 and begin planning for 2017, perhaps the biggest area of focus needs to be on making sure you have the right people in the right seats.

 



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