Anyone who has worked in Silicon Valley for more than a decade has seen first-hand how the early adopters of transformative technologies can gain competitive advantage and outperform their counterparts.
By tracking trends and paying close attention to market signals, you can watch where the best-in-class companies are moving and make more informed decisions for your own business.
Today, we are undergoing a well-documented shift within B2B selling. With customers able to educate themselves about products and services online, B2B buyers are behaving more and more like B2C buyers. As a consequence of these changes, sales organizations have to establish relationships and relevance early in the buyer journey.
However, the big question now is not “Why are these changes occurring?” but rather “What are the top-performing organizations doing about it?” What strategies or technologies are the best-in-class companies using to address and capitalize on this fundamental shift? (Aberdeen Group defines best-in-class companies as 72 percent of sales reps achieving quota, 7.4 percent year-over-year growth in average deal size, and 6.7 percent year-over-year reduction of average sales cycle.)
Best-in-class companies lead the field
The research firm Aberdeen Group recently gave answers to these questions with the release of new data findings. Aberdeen’s research shows that best-in-class companies respond to these changes much differently – and gain huge benefits as a result. These organizations are seeing upwards of a 71 percent increase in achieving company revenue targets and 18 percent shorter sales cycles in comparison to average and laggard performing companies.
Gartner Group analyst Tiffani Bova has stated, “The most disruptive thing in the market today is actually not technology, it’s the customer.” She is correct; however, it will be how businesses respond to this disruption that will separate the winners from the losers.
From Aberdeen’s report, it’s clear that best-in-class organizations are already adopting emerging technologies that put them ahead of the competition. At the same time, major investments are being made in sales analytics and automation, and new startups are rapidly creating sales automation tools to fill a growing need.
Follow the technology trail
Leveraging analytics and automation, the technologies being adopted provide a laser focus on the customer. They deliver real-time insight about customer interests, so companies can personalize and time their sales outreach. Additionally, by integrating automation with analytics, these technologies shed light on team performance and uncover the most successful approaches so they can be repeated throughout the organization.
Customer personalization is a key theme for these technologies. The best-in-class companies aggressively align their marketing and sales activities around content development, management and deployment. Aberdeen found that best-in-class companies give their sales reps access to sales enablement platforms that allow for more personalized content.
The benefits of using sales enablement technology for content personalization are striking, with organizations achieving a 21 percent stronger lead acceptance rate and a 36 percent higher conversion average.
Analytics are key to personalize
Analytics are key to deliver this personalization by showing companies where the buyer is in the customer journey. Analytics can:
- Identify specific areas of buyer interest
- Reveal if buyers are nearing a decision
- Show non-engaged prospects to remove them as targets
This insight tells companies what content to use, when and to whom so sales teams can work with customers more effectively.
Automation with analytics can make processes repeatable
Moreover, tools that combine automation with analytics – dubbed by Aberdeen as automated engagement tracking software (AETS) – bring added value by showing organizations the performance of individual reps, including what processes – or sequence of processes – they use. By doing so, managers can see what approach has been most effective and repeat the process.
What’s happening isn’t just a technology shift. It has to do with changing buying behaviors and new processes. But, as history repeats itself, new technologies are quickly emerging to address the changes, and the top performers are embracing them faster and benefitting.
Suresh Balasubramanian is CEO for LiveHive, Inc., whose sales acceleration platform automates sales follow-up to increase buyer engagement insights that power repeatable sales processes. Suresh is a seasoned software industry executive with more than 20 years of operations and senior management experience. Before LiveHive, Suresh served as CEO for Armor5, and GM worldwide at Adobe Software.