Innovation is a vital ingredient for any business that wants to succeed in a free market economy. New technologies, shifting market trends and changing business practices have all evolved in response to changing market conditions.
Of course, these aren’t the only business areas that have changed over the years. There was a time when a sales pitch resembled a one-way street, with potential customers often bombarded with a dazzling array of facts and figures to help seal the deal. Times have changed, however. The evolution of the technology market has ushered in a new age of competitiveness. Extensive prospect lists and high volumes of meetings are no longer enough to bring in sales by themselves. Customers are no longer satisfied with bland pitches that are packed with generic data. After all, businesses can now access most of the same information themselves – and many do.
The question, therefore, is how can salespeople engage with this new breed of data-rich, well-informed customers? The truth is that the answer still lies within the sales pitch – but only when it is done effectively.
The race to beat sales targets has resulted in many organisations simply taking on too many clients. As a result, many sales departments are failing to understand their clients’ desires, product and industry adequately, which is hindering their ability to react to evolving market opportunities effectively.
A recent report from Forrester, the global technology research company, highlighted the dissatisfaction felt by B2B customers about the level of understanding that salespeople in the technology industry currently possess. According to the research, a mere 24% of salespeople appeared knowledgeable about their clients’ business.
The words ‘knowledge is power’ have never been as applicable as they are in 2015, as there is nothing more powerful than knowing your clients and understanding their market, their challenges, their competitors, and their needs.
This bears little resemblance to the antiquated practice of conducting research for research’s sake, which is firmly on its way out of the door. Modern research has evolved into the scoring of big data for operative business insights. These insights allow your sales team to gauge the needs of your clients by using relevant, timely data that has been collected with the precision of a scalpel, as opposed to a sledgehammer.
Of course, it’s easy to think about sifting through big data to produce relevant business insights in theory, but the reality can be quite different. There are significant costs and man-hours associated with building the infrastructure for such a system internally, not to mention the time spent conducting research in-house. While these costs can be discouraging, it does not mean that effective research and business insights are exclusive to large corporations.
Sales teams should focus on the quality of their research, not the quantity. Effective insights can only be gained by understanding the factors that drive their clients’ business. This can often be achieved by asking a few simple questions:
- What are their capabilities to deliver a distinct customer value proposition?
- What competitive advantages do they have in the market?
- How are external forces impacting their business?
- What are their strategic options?
- How ready are they to adopt new solutions?
By Manoj Madhusudanan, Managing Director, InsightBee