This is the sixth column in a six part series on the future of sales that Colleen Francis wrote for the Adobe Document Cloud Blog.
What does the future of sales look like?
Having studied the habits and decisions of today’s leaders in sales and marketing, I’ve zeroed-in on five fundamental traits that are already redefining what it means to sell and what it takes to grow in the marketplace today and in years to come.
Team dynamics matter because revenue matters. In this first in a series of articles, we look the future of sales teams: why they’re important and how you need to change the way you think about using them. In the future, you’ll only achieve revenue by assembling a team that’s focused on customer success first.
Consider three cautionary examples teams that are not structured around customer success:
- A supply chain department overlooks having backup employees on hand to approve orders. Each time an employee goes on vacation or calls in sick, raw materials aren’t ordered. This means production is shut down and orders are delayed.
- Within a parts manufacturing company, the shipping division regularly messes up the ordering process. Customers don’t get the products they ordered and bring their business elsewhere in frustration.
- Within a technology company, a new marketing program is rolled out at the same time that the firm’s sales team are out of the office for the week. No one is available to answer questions when customer interest about the program is at its peak.
It used to be that teams were siloed, built to drive internal requirement and each functioned independently of the other teams regardless of the customer’s needs (i.e., companies had a sales team, a marketing team, and accounting team, and so on). Moving forward, everyone within your company has a role to play in ensuring customer success, revenue and the health of the organization. Build for the future!
There are six dynamics your team needs to have to ensure customer (and sales) success in the future:
- The team must be organized around creating a successful customer experience. Ask yourself: which job functions in my company are integral to the customer having a positive experience with us? The list could include: quality, production, shipping, marketing, customer service and sales or more. Build a virtual cross-functional team based on a territory or product line you serve with representation from each of these groups. Agree to meet virtually to discuss your mutual client base and set metrics for success based on customer success.
- Be transparent. Don’t leave the customer guessing about why you’re building a new team. And be clear about the process. Communicate upfront that you’re focused on creating success for them and want to ensure that both sides have access to everyone who has a stake in their success. Ask for their input on the metrics they consider to be important. For example, they could offer on-time delivery, invoice accuracy, one-call resolution for QA.
- Be the concierge. Confusion occurs quickly when your customer is passed off to too many people they don’t know, or who are new to the process. As the seller on the account, think of yourself as customer’s concierge. Make personal introductions to those team members that are new, or that the customer doesn’t know. Trust is transferred through you as the seller. Leverage that trust by ensuring the customer isn’t receiving random calls from people at your company that the customer does not know, and therefore does not trust.
- Synchronize. Ensure your prospect-to-customer qualifications process is aligned within all departments (e.g., marketing, sales, installation, shipping) and are communicated in a central system, ideally a companywide CRM. Nothing irritates a customer more than having to repeat the same information to multiple people multiple times. Just think about how you felt the last time you called your power company.
- Remove barriers. Your team should identify processes that are aligned with the way that your customers want to buy from you. Task your team with putting themselves in the shoes of the customer. Have them look at every part of the buying experience and ask what could be done to eliminate barriers and smooth-over any speed bumps that stand in the way of that customer doing repeat business with you. Don’t be surprised to find that you have policies on the books that inflict pain on a customer rather than help speed-up the buying process.
- Be decisive. Give your team the authority to make decisions quickly in favor of customer support. There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with a customer support group that spends all its time giving excuses why they can’t solve a customer’s problem (i.e., “I’d love to help, but our company policy says…”)
These six dynamics form the foundation of building a customer-focused team: one that will help you qualify more buyers in less time, create a positive experience for the customer ensure they have deeper relationship with each buyer. Getting this right is integral to the future of work in sales.
Colleen Francis has been a successful sales leader for over 20 years. She is the author of Nonstop Sales Boom, and is recognized as a top tier sales consultant. She understands the challenges of selling in today’s market and that business leaders can no longer rely on approaches to sales based on techniques from decades ago. In this blog series she will share her experiences and predictions as she looks towards the evolving sales landscape.