Prognosticators today abound on the demise of sales. Not so fast. While the notion of field sales shrinking for the SMB is a fact, it doesn’t quite mean the end of sales. We’ve seen tremendous growth in the arena of Inside Sales over the past decades as the expense of dedicating field resources to SMB is no longer affordable as well as seismic shifts in buyer behaviors. Where are we today? The roles of sales in general and inside sales functions are struggling to adapt to the new psychology of the buyer and the new rules of engagements. This is creating a clarion call among the Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 to attain deeper buyer-based marketing and sales capabilities for the SMB markets.
Success in expanding inside sales is highly dependent upon shifting to buyer-based models of selling that redesigns the roles and make up of inside sales departments. Expanding the number of inside sales reps while not changing models of buyer conversations and engagements will just lead to more frustrated inside sales reps. Far too often, who the SMB buyer is and understanding how and why they make purchasing decisions gets lost in the shuffle of statistics on number of dials, connections, and product pitches. In a few of my qualitative research efforts, I’ve sat with frontline inside sales reps for a few hours. I know and I get it – the grade that counts is meeting the quota numbers for dial and connections let alone revenue. What the new breed of inside sales reps wants today is more engaging conversations with buyers and less focus on product pitches once they connect.
How To Make This Happen?
In this series, we’ve focused on buyer-based modeling. Modeling buyers today is the path towards creating models of buyer conversations that engage the SMB buyer today. Let’s take a look at the path towards creating buyer-based selling models that transform inside sales to unified communicators engaging the SMB buyer:
Model the SMB Buyer Persona: researching and developing composite archetypes of various SMB business executives and owners can be a powerful tool for inside sales enablement. Visual representation gets inside people beyond the wall of the computer screen and to thinking about who their buyers really are.
Model Buyergraphics: stopping at buyer personas today is a grave mistake. Modeling a detailed set of SMB Buyergraphics gives your Inside Sales teams the contextual situations and predictive scenarios they need in order to engage the SMB buyer. With the savvy SMB buyer adept at researching and making quick decisions, this approach gets Inside Sales teams to the same level.
Model Range of Interactions: the SMB buyer is rapidly changing their range of behaviors depending on the context of their situation. The model of inside sales has been a simplistic idea that you hope to “catch” the buyer when he or she happens to be sitting by his or her desk phone. In today’s world, SMB buyers are hurriedly going about running their businesses and not sitting still. The range of behaviors includes their behavioral attributes associated with social networks, the web, while at customer locations, engaging with employees, and several others. Accounting for these ranges of behaviors puts your organization in the right place at the right time -the SMB buyer’s time.
Model Unified Communicator: inside sales has lived with the equivalent association to telesales. If you are still doing this today, this is another grave mistake. The range of communications and engagement is becoming more expansive than ever. The phone now is only one of several. Building a range of available interactions albeit social, mobile, web, and etc. is needed to transform inside sales to a new role. A new role of Unified Sales is critical to engaging the new SMB buyer who, as mentioned above, is expanding their range of how they behave to get information and meet goals. Today’s buyer-based Unified Sales reps must have the skills and capacities to meet the SMB buyer where they are – at a critical moment in time.
Model Buyer-Based Selling: remapping processes is going to take some hard work. Shifting from product-based and phone-based sales processes is in essence a cultural change within organizations. And anyone who has ever been involved in managing culture change in large organizations knows the mountain that must be climbed. However with the right gear, product and phone-based selling processes can be transformed to buyer-based conversational models. Modeling new buyer-based selling processes will lead to incorporating newer technologies that enhance engaging the SMB buyer such as cloud-based technologies and tools.
Engaging today’s SMB buyer will take profound changes in how organizations market to and sell to this important growth segment. It will take big thinking as opposed to the small thinking that sometimes has been accorded to the SMB markets. Today’s SMB buyer is more technologically savvy, nimble in making changes, and certainly don’t think of themselves as small. Meaning, that the Fortune 1000 or Global 2000 has to change their approach – and not let their own largeness get in the way.
(This 5 part series has been compiled into an eBook entitled, No Small Hurdle: Buyer-Based Marketing and Selling to the New SMB Buyer, for easy reading and sharing. Click on the hyperlinked title to receive.)