Selling in 2022
Bring Clarity to Effectively Engage Customers in 2022
In 2022, selling organizations need clarity on the customer’s digital-first buying journey and must engage them in the way they want to be engaged. The customer looks and behaves differently than they did two years ago. Their buying journey involves more touchpoints.
Many of those touchpoints are invisible to the seller. Therefore, viewing their path from deliberation-to-deal has become considerably more difficult. Even sellers who manage to track the customer’s journey are learning that they have fewer opportunities to influence the buyer because the buyer’s expectations of the conversation have changed. Yet, sellers must guide the conversation. Moreover, buyers increasingly seek intangible products and expertise from sellers who can articulate the value of data-driven solutions.
These characteristics of selling in 2022 have created an environment of constant change. Moving alongside this change means becoming agile. Sellers need to understand what matters to every buyer persona based on who they are, their pain, and where they are in the buying journey. Personalization is paramount.
Leaders are addressing these needs by training professionals to sell effectively in a virtual setting. However, they recognize the unique demands of selling in this format. In response, they are building capabilities that bring the effectiveness of in-person interactions to virtual selling over the long term because engaging customers online is no longer a stopgap measure. The pandemic will pass. Virtual will not. In this piece, we offer a brief overview of these and other challenges.
Position Your Sales Team for Success in a Digital Environment
Sales organizations face two challenges.
- They must equip their sales team with virtual selling skills that truly engage the buyer
- They must articulate the value of solutions that are increasingly IoT, SaaS and data-driven
Professionals accustomed to selling tangible products must adapt. Increasingly the value proposition of these solutions is the connectedness of their components and the data they generate. Consequently, more sales teams will position subscription-based solutions. Selling in this environment will prove challenging. It already has. Constant change has made sales organizations feel off-balance. There is unpredictability in the buyer’s behavior. No two sales motions are identical.
In response, sellers need to be agile. They need the in-the-moment conversational skills to understand the customer’s shifting priorities. Effective sales professionals are learning to adopt a kind of fluidity seen in martial arts. That is, they are learning to convert the customer’s fast and unpredictable movements into a countering force that maintains momentum and reaches a meaningful end.
Focus on Mapping the Customer's Digital Journey
Sales leaders know that the fundamentals of how buyers engage with sales organizations are changing. In just the last 12-18 months, the average number of customer touchpoints has increased dramatically. Moreover, the frequency of touchpoints has also risen. The nature of the customer’s journey is more iterative than ever.
The buyer occasionally surfaces above the water, then submerges again and becomes invisible to the seller. The customer might first research the solution on the organization’s site, then seek validation of the solution from peers on social media, then engage in a live conversation before returning to the site.
Sellers must adapt. Some are digitizing the customer buying journey and improving the end-to-end digital experience. The goal is to see the customer’s movements. Knowing how buyers engage with the seller’s digital content prepares the seller to show up in a way that is in harmony with that material.
This approach can’t wait. Traditional marketing efforts are showing diminishing returns. Sellers need to understand customer segments and the personas in those segments so they can craft compelling messages that encourage buyers to engage. Specifically, sellers will need the discipline to develop outreach cadences so that sellers can develop the right messaging over an extended period. The lines are blurring between marketing and sales. Therefore, sellers need to become micro-marketers.
Anticipate Diversity within the Buying Team
Diversity in the buying group has implications for the ways buyers make decisions and what they expect to see from the selling organization. As the buying group becomes more diverse, they also become more digitally savvy.
Today’s buyers are digital-first. Value-driven purchasing has become more important to the buying group. Sellers with a long history in the industry must rethink their approach to the sales conversation because they are no longer talking to people who look and sound just like them.
Sellers need greater cultural awareness. The seller’s value proposition must include some dimension of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) because buyers need to see that their ethos is reflected in the solutions they buy and in those from whom they buy.
Similarly, DE&I and ESG initiatives matter to sellers. People want to work at a company where they feel aligned with the values and mission of the business. Importantly, buyers expect values-based selling and at the same time, good sellers want to work at an organization that is values-based.
These initiatives paired with sales training represent an investment in the seller. These investments have never been timelier because sales organizations are fearing a loss of talent as resignations rise. An investment in the seller’s career is an investment in the company because successful sellers are more likely to stay. A major component of those investments is training that equips teams to sell virtually. This approach is no longer the stopgap measure it was in the early days of the pandemic. Selling organizations are making a long-term commitment to virtual training. Leaders are working to get their sellers to a degree of proficiency in virtual selling that is equal to or greater than their capabilities selling in person. Sellers need virtual selling skills that rise above good enough for now. As a result, sales leaders are completely rethinking their organizational structures and traditional divisions of inside sales and field sales.
Learn about Richardson Sales Performance's Virtual Selling training program by downloading an informational brochure here.
Sales Capabilities Required to Compete Today
There is no key skill that closes deals. Rather, it’s a collection of sales capabilities that need to be learned, practiced, and applied to create a differentiated experience for your buyers that delivers results for your business.Learn More
Integrate AI Into the Sales Tech Stack
AI is increasingly becoming a tool that can deliver data-driven insights about the nature and quality of interactions sellers are having with their customers. Leaders are exploring how data can inform their sales teams where they should focus efforts and resources.
The most forward-thinking organizations understand that there is a need for AI to reveal, through the data, gaps in selling skills. While AI is effective at uncovering deficits it is enablement’s responsibility to close those gaps, doing so often means developing the ability to uncover customer needs effectively. Sellers must know how to deliver a compelling message and float new ideas. They must position value that aligns with the customer’s needs. AI alone cannot do this. A focus on only one of these areas – AI or skills training – does not get the optimal output. What does is having both the AI capabilities to reveal skill gaps and the training to provide those missing skills.
Emerging technology also has implications for the marketing tech stack. The buyer seeks a personalized experience. Delivering on that expectation means knowing who that buyer is and where they are in their buying journey. Personalization is also important for the effectiveness of capability building. As sales training content becomes digitalized and modularized it is increasingly possible to deliver learning that is predictive and personalized. The result is tailored learning. At the same time, organizations can align a team to a core set of skills and thus a common sales methodology.
Properly engaging a dramatically changed buyer means gaining more visibility into an unseen, iterative buying journey. Sales teams will need to understand the customer’s new end-to-end digital experience. Doing so means embracing the invisible nature of customer movements today. Those who can address this challenge with an agile approach that engages the customer’s fluid movement with equally fluid skills will succeed.
To learn how Richardson Sales Performance can help your sales professionals navigate the year ahead click here to contact us and schedule a meeting to speak with one of our experienced team members.
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