4 steps to using information to drive the success of sales teams
For any salesperson starting out, the first lesson in selling will be to listen to your customer, BUT the customer is only one factor in your market. To sell something, to someone (or anything, to anyone), you need to understand your market, inside and out… to become an industry or market know-it-all. Your market consists of your customers, competitors, complementary products, substitutes, regulations, trends, economic forces, and much more. Each of these has an impact on your prospect’s interest or willingness to buy from you.
To be truly successful, you need a complete and timely understanding of all the factors at play. In this blog, we will break down how information can be used to give sales teams a complete oversight of their market and drive the success of their efforts.
1) Reduce internal information silos
Sales teams rarely operate in isolation. In a large enterprise, a sales team could have access to a whole range of supporting teams who are tasked with analyzing market information. These teams can take the guise of Competitive Intelligence, Regulatory Intelligence, Marketing, Corporate Library, etc. Each brings a unique and vital insight into your market – yet, is this information being fully utilized? This gets us to our first point – oftentimes the information you need to know is already available, you either can’t access it or don’t know where to look. Your information is ‘siloed’.
To overcome these information silos, you need to first get a handle on what information exists within your organization that is useful for your sales team. Then, decide what is missing and what needs to be sourced externally. Once this is understood, the next step is to make sure this information is available. A centralized information tool is often the right solution here. Once centralized, information resources become easily accessible for salespeople. Accessible in the sense that; they become aware these resources exist, can find them when they need them, and (crucially) use these resources to determine what it is that can help solve the needs of their clients or prospects.
2) Provide real-time(ly) information
The debate around real-time vs timely isn’t a new one. The question always leads back to which is best, having information now or having information when it’s best used? Information that is real-time can be of critical importance but it can also just add to the information overload that we are all familiar with.
The trick – particularly for supporting salespeople – is getting the specific information they need to them as they need it. In some cases, real-time could be the answer… Walking into a meeting with a client and getting a real-time update on an announcement from their CEO will put your salesperson in great standing for that meeting. But, in contrast, being constantly bombarded by news on competitors in the industry might just distract them from the task at hand. Finding that balance of information timeliness is key to ensuring a salesperson can make the right decision based on the information that matters.
3) Elevate the signal from the noise
As much as information needs to be timely, it also needs to be relevant. We live in the Age of Information – not the age of relevant information. There is a lot of information noise.
As Edward Wilson once said; “We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom”.
Raw information doesn’t help a salesperson – analysis and insight do. Salespeople are fast-moving and need ‘wisdom’ as quickly as possible. There is no scope for them to be sifting through seemingly unending sources of information for the nuggets of insight that are going to help paint the landscape for them or their clients.
For your information to add value, you need to be able to draw the key details to the surface and get it under the nose of your sales teams, so they can react to it as effectively as possible. It’s not just finding the insight, it’s delivering it to them to suit their needs. Of course, this is situational. In some cases, a bi-weekly report on market trends in your information portal may be sufficient, but in others, the delivery of these insights needs to be in the salesperson’s hands on demand, which leads us nicely on to our next point…
4) Access on-the-go information
It seems bizarre writing this in the middle of a pandemic when we’re not going anywhere anytime soon – but, with the expectation (hope) that things will get better and largely go back to the way they were before – we’re going to highlight the importance of information ‘on-the-go’ for sales.
As we alluded to before, information is only as effective as its ability to be accessed. If your sales teams are operating in a mobile environment, moving in and out of client offices, pitching in-person to new prospects, traveling overseas, they need mobile access to their information resources… so, make that information available on the move and give them the confidence that they are adhering to our first rule of sales; know your market!
Information is a critical resource for any team. But each team has its own information-specific needs and challenges… sales teams are no different. For a salesperson, information is the key to unlocking their market and becoming the ‘know-it-all’ that is so critical to success. Ultimately, salespeople need to be able to access the key insight, when they need it, wherever they are to effectively understand their market and confidently go about doing their job… selling.