As client dinners and golf outings are replaced with video meetings, sales teams face a much tougher issue than remembering to update the meeting invite. The B2B selling landscape has changed and with it, the relationship between buyers and sellers. Now more than ever sales leaders are being asked to pivot and adapt at a record pace. For teams to effectively keep up, sales leaders will need to reconsider the role sales data plays in how they manage their teams.
Avoid Buying Group Blind Spots
In B2B sales, buyers don’t buy as individuals but rather, as a larger group. These buying groups can include up to 10 different decision makers, all with their own level of influencing power and/or preconceived notions about your solution. There’s also no guarantee that each individual within a buying group will even speak to a rep, especially given the availability of information across digital channels.
In order for reps to avoid buyer blind spots, they need to proactively seek out every opportunity available to engage with the full group earlier in the sales cycle and ideally, in tandem with engagement buyers are having on digital channels.
“If you can’t figure out how to have multiple conversations within a business and talk about outcomes (making money, saving money, or reducing risk), vs. features, you’re going to struggle.” says People.ai’s Vice President of Sales—Americas Zack Sikora. “The best enterprise reps get wide and horizontal across the enterprise to collect data about key business type topics that align what they're selling to those themes.”
Navigate Complex Deal Cycles with Data
Reps aren’t the only ones to feel the challenges of the new B2B landscape. As buying groups expand, and deals get more complex, sales leaders are often left looking for details they need to influence the trajectory of their team’s deals and forecast but come up short. Without those insights, leaders are left trying to piece together the status of deals through rep anecdotes or pipeline coverage dashboards.
Per Zack, “Whether they cut corners or didn’t capture all the details of their deals in progress, sales reps are not the most reliable source of this insight. They’re certainly not an objective source.”
Sales leaders are only as effective as the data they have access to. For leaders to more proactively plan and maneuver potential deal barriers, they need to be able to leverage a mix of leading and lagging indicators and trust that the insights surfaced are backed by real sales engagement.
Embrace Data-Driven Coaching or Get Left Behind
While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with data, especially when it’s spread among reports, dashboards, or spreadsheets, no effective sales leader can run their team without it. Of course, access to reliable data is only half the solution. The other is knowing what to do with it, especially when it affects whether or not your reps close deals.
Take this story from Zack Sikora, a proven Silicon Valley sales leader who climbed the ranks from rep to VP, on the role data played in coaching his rep to closed-won:
One of Zack’s reps had met with an account 67 times and pushed the deal out two quarters. The rep was frustrated so Zack dug into the data and saw that 42 of the 67 meetings were with the same mid-level manager. The data also showed the rep had last met with the executive buyer (the CIO) four months prior.
With these facts in hand, Zack advised the rep to put off meetings with the mid-level manager and focus on the CIO. He coached him to align with this stakeholder’s story and challenge. He used the data not as a stick but as insight into where and how he and his rep could collaborate to de-risk the deal. Hand in hand with his rep, Zack helped define a precise, prescriptive strategy.
Within 30 days of meeting with the CIO, the rep closed the deal. According to Zack, “Without the insights from this data, I wouldn’t have known how to coach him to success.”
By marrying sales data with rep coaching, Zack was able to achieve what every sales leader and rep want: a clear path forward.
Move Up the Maturity Curve
As buyers mature, so must the sellers. Today, sales leaders must evolve their approach to data and coaching if they hope to stay ahead, not simply maintain the status quo. When sales leaders lean into their data, not shy away from it, teams are able to deliver predictable results amidst an increasingly shifting selling landscape.
To learn more about how sales engagement data helps sales teams evolve with the changing tides of B2B sales, download our ebook: The Power of Managing with Leading Indicators.