As the dust settles from the challenging times of the last few years, several new realities have emerged in b-to-b sales and marketing: there are fewer sales people tasked with selling more; there is a mandate to do more with less; buyer expectations of quality and predictability have never been higher and, perhaps most important, social networks are not a passing fad, but rather a fundamental change in how buyers and sellers interact.
B-to-b sales executives need to structure their approach to this new landscape, using myriad tools available online. In a general sense, sales execs can breakdown the process into three categories:
Aggregate: Aggregation tools are those that gather information from multiple online sources and combine, or “aggregate,” them onto one screen. For example, web tools are available that combine your Outlook e-mail screen with relevant information, displaying a history of your contacts and their recent activity on the major social sites.
Automate: Web tools are now available that can replicate many of the ‘desk-time’ activities that your sales team now spends precious time working on. Rather than cold-calling to identify leads, there are several tools that will scour the Web automatically and deliver fresh contacts to your e-mail box every morning. E-mail companies can automatically generate and send information to your contacts at every stage of the sales process, ensuring that the desired follow-up is taking place. You can also deploy powerful sales dialers that will dramatically increase your daily sales contacts using the telephone. All of this activity can be tracked, measured and analyzed to continuously improve your sales results.
Collaborate: It is a rare sales win that can be completed without two or more people involved. It might be a vendor, a sales manager, someone from finance or even a technical engineer, but most sales efforts will be enhanced when you have multiple activities and talents that are all focused on the opportunities at hand.
Most of sales tools offer either free or low-cost trials. The time is now to embrace a new approach for your sales efforts. You are sure to reap the benefits in the months ahead.
Miles Austin is president of Fill the Funnel, which helps sales execs implement Web tools to spur sales. He can be reached at email@example.com and you can read his blog at www.fillthefunnel.com.