The Science of Selling – Three Things to Know
- The art of selling is also a science, with advances in analytics helping organizations be much more scientific in their selling efforts
- Analytical engines can provide sales reps with great insights into buyers’ likelihood to buy
- These same engines drive proactive recommendations to reps on what to do or share with buyers
Successful sales leaders know that selling is as much a science as it is an art, and today’s technologies are playing an increasingly important role in sales success. Selling is not as easy as one-two-three, but we know that a successful selling process takes a prospect through a series of steps to become a buyer. The overall steps of the selling process are typically the same, though the activities may vary from deal to deal. Here are three key ways that technology has enhanced the science of selling in today’s B2B organizations:
- Propensity-to-buy analysis. Marketers know that a prospect is more likely to engage in certain activities, like access a Web page or download a white paper. Similarly, potential buyers will do certain things when they engage with the sales rep – e.g. take a meeting, ask for a demo or review some material. Today’s technologies, such as sales force automation (SFA) and sales asset management (SAM) systems, can track buyer engagement with sellers (e.g. meetings, email opens). SAM systems can track a prospect’s level of engagement with material he or she has received from the sales rep, including time spent reviewing the material or forwarding to others. On the basis of this information and other buyer behavior, the SFA and SAM systems can now provide insight at the rep level on which deals are more likely to close, enabling reps to prioritize and properly forecast their deals.
- Activity/results correlations. SFA and SAM technologies can also track seller behavior and provide guidance according to the behavior of top reps. An example of guidance could be an early warning indicator when a deal is not progressing. SAM systems can suggest a rep activity to resolve the issue. For example, if all buyers of a product consume a third-party white paper before they buy, then suggesting that the rep send that white paper to the stalled buyer could facilitate seller success. This guidance encourages reps to undertake activities that have already proven successful.
- Activity-based sales enablement. Once organizations can track and assess the activities of successful sales reps, they can not only drive the right activity but also provide supporting materials to the rep to excel in that activity. For example, if a rep is about to send the potential buyer a proposal, the SFA or SAM system could send a video showing best practices in client proposal articulation to the rep. SAM technologies can also deliver collateral – such as competitive battlecards or call scripts – for reps to use for a specific buyer interaction type. The technology can deliver information reps need to know, when and where they need it, instead of clogging their email inbox when they don’t. When organizations can identify consistent activities and materials that reps should use with a specific buyer and buyer need, these activities can be grouped together into guided-selling processes that semi-automate the repeatable activities that correlate to success.
The science of selling does not replace the need for reps to form relationships of trust with buyers and adapt information to the buyer’s needs, nor does it replace the need for reps to effectively communicate the value of the future state and the differences between their solutions and others. However, it does help ensure that reps focus their energy on buyer interactions, leveraging the tools and insights the organization can provide to optimize their efficiency and effectiveness in those interactions.