Companies engaging in B2B marketing and sales are starting to recognize that the way people buy has changed dramatically over the years, with the continued development of Internet search and the emergence of B2B social media. What many of these companies haven’t yet realized, however, is that they may need to respond by changing the way they sell.

The maxim that “people buy from people” remains true, but how the selling is done needs to change rapidly. Continuous face-to-face selling can become very expensive where the buying cycle has changed dramatically from how it has been in the past. Unnecessary travel to prospects who are not ready to buy will have a huge impact on your sales effectiveness.

Selling over the Web is the obvious answer to these issues, but it remains challenging for a lot of companies to adopt Web selling due to salespeople’s continued over-reliance on in-person meetings to do their selling. These days, modern collaboration tools and the phone are the only means required to sell sophisticated products; while face-to-face meetings can still be helpful in some cases, the necessity of continuously meeting with prospective customers has been largely removed.

Therefore, changing the mindset of your sales force has become critical for Web-based sales effectiveness. Common sales force mindsets that may stand in your way may include over-reliance on “telesales” or “selling on the phone”, protestations that “our product is too complex” to sell on the Web, or that Web sales constitutes “junior-level selling.” This may be true not only for your current sales force, but also among those you may wish to hire or transition to a new model.

So, where do you start?

First, your C-level executives will need to break their old model and start planning for a sales hub that has on the following core functions:

  • Quota-carrying sales executives
  • Marketing specialists
  • Sales development representatives (inbound and outbound)
  • Sales consultants

Next, the executive team will need to decide which market segments will best lend themselves to this approach. Typically these will be a range of SMB (small business) companies in the target market. An Enterprise-level sales group, which will travel more frequently but not exclusively, can manage any companies outside of the SMB segments.

After these two first steps are complete, then you can start thinking about recruitment, training and process such as lead management – and that’s when the fun really starts!

Author: Fergus Gloster heads up Marketo’s new EMEA office, based in Dublin, Ireland, as Managing Director. Check out this interview of Fergus with Marketo founder and CEO Phil Hernandez.