In this research by Gartner "The Chief Sales Office Fourth Quarter 2020" they itemise a number of interesting developments and challenges for sales today.

As they say "As we enter the last quarter of 2020, chief sales officers (CSOs) are focused on closing the year strong and planning their strategies to win in 2021. This year has not been normal; however, many sales teams have shown incredible resilience. Things that once seemed impossible have now been achieved, such as moving entire sales forces to remote work."

Of course, it's not just the sales team that are working remotely, virtually. digitally, socially, so are are all your prospects and clients. 

It would seem that there is a spread of quota reviews.  Some people have changed the quotas, some people haven't.  I know that for some companies this impacted on jobs and pay cuts.  

(I am really sorry for people who have lost their job, we are still looking for freelance salespeople, if you are interested.  Happy to give you the names of salespeople who work for us, so you can get a reference of what it's like to work for DLA Ignite.  Or you could just look up DLA Ignite on Linkedin and get in touch yourself. )

Back to the Gartner research

The following diagram is interesting .. Gartner list the top 5 changes impacting Sales Leaders.

Let's work through these one at a time.

Conservative Customer Due to Economic Uncertainty

This backs up what we are seeing at the moment.  A buyer that needs more than just a brochure to buy, they need a relationship, they need an "expert".  As a salesperson you need a Champion and to have to have met the Economic Buyer.  We have seen many a deal slip as the sales person was working at VP and SVP level and they needed to be working at CEO level, to sign off the level of spend.  Or to sign off that level of discretionary spend.

Social is the idea place for you to find, connect and create conversations with prospects and customers.  It is also the idea place to wide and deep with the relationships we have with prospects and clients.

Shifting Buyer Preferences 

We have seen shifting buyer work as everybody is online, in this October (2020) report by Simon Kemp outlines the extent that social media has become part of our lives.  

Worldwide social media users: 4.14 billion - 53% of the world's population use social media in other words, more people use social media than don't use it.

Simon says that "two thirds of the working population in the world is now active on social media."  This obviously now has to impact on the way that sales people work as their territory is online.  But I guess, this is just one report, what does everybody else say?

Research From All These Companies Back This up

Mckinsey say so, Gartner say so, Hootsuite and We Are Social say so, Hubspot say so, Google say so, MIT say so, Trustradius say so Twilio say so .... 

This is also driving Gartner's third point in their CSO research for Q4 2020 which is "increased customer expectations of digital learning and buying channels."

Is this movement online impacting the way that buyers engage with companies and salespeople?

Decreased Selling Engagement

Sales and marketing is a mess, we have a pre-covid model is a covid world.  Let's take sales.  

The Business Development Representative (BDR) role was created to cold call and create leads for the field sales team.  The field sales team is now, virtual.  So who owns the customer relationship?  Read on and you will see that Gartner state that social is now the mechanism for prospecting for sales.  Field sales are just as capable at doing this as BDRs.  But let's not jump ahead of ourselves. 

We have a customer that is more and more annoyed by the interruptions of cold calls, cold emails.  The customer is on social, (see research above), the customer gets social, and they cannot understand why your sales team insists on dealing with them in an analogue why.  There is nothing that makes me laugh more than some super doopey startup selling some whizzy new software, using analogue methods.  It's totally bizarre.  

We (DLA Ignite) have also proved that we can get salespeople, SDRs and Field sales people totally self-sufficient in creating their own pipeline, even in a virtual world.  And in fact our methods and the results have gone up, not down in the pandemic. 

Let's move onto the next Gartner change they itemised for Q4 2020.

Shifting Buyer Preferences

We all buy online, we are all used to it, buyers don't get why business seem to hang onto these pre-pandemic ways.  Increasing the number of calls does not help and nor does increasing the number of emails.  In fact Hubspot (and they sell email marketing software) research show this is the case.  Sending more emails and making more calls, the results go down, not up. 

Changing Customer Stakeholders

This is an important point.  Apart from making sure you are talking to the real economic buyer, you also need to make sure you have a champion, in fact multiple champions.  What if you champion or the economic buyers gets laid off?  That's you sale lost, so what are you doing to cover your basis and build relationships high and wide? 

Now is the time to build a network and relationships (not contacts) across your clients.  Building a network with your clients on social, with also create conversations (conversations create sales) and forge relationships.  Of course, these relationships are not just for this sales, but for life.  People move jobs and your influence and relationship with move with them. 

Let's change gear and look at where the Chief Sales Officer (CSO) should focus. 

The Chief Sales Officer Perception on Where to Focus Initiatives

The number one area of focus for Chief Sales Officers (CSO) is accelerating pipeline.

In every blog I write you will see that we state that we can increase your revenue by 30% and reduce your sales cycle by 40%.  A prospect of mine, didn't believe us so I put them in touch with one of our clients and they said, and I quote directly in the email back to me.

"He wanted to know how you prove ROI. He was skeptical about this. I set him straight on how doable this is." 

Let's drill down into what Gartner sales about virtual / social / digital / modern selling.

So How Is Your Virtual Selling?

To quote the Gartner research "Most organizations were not fully prepared for what was an abrupt transition to virtual sales."

That was in the past, what about the future?  Back to the Gartner research

"However, with the absence/restriction of in-person meetings and social distancing norms likely to persist for the near term, most CSOs recognize virtual engagements to be key for prospecting success."

I totally agree.  But I'm biased, what does Gartner say?

"Organizations can enable sellers’ virtual engagements by helping them to leverage social media to create and nurture relationships with prospects."


"To drive digital dexterity, relevant behaviors and mindsets should be modeled and communicated to sellers."

"Coupled with this, CSOs can rethink how they pilot technology, creating an environment that enables sellers to safely experiment with technologies and access support as needed."

I think we all get that, we know the world has changed, the research says so (see above), our behaviours have changed and we know in our heart of hearts that the buyers have changed. But ... back to Gartner.

"While most CSOs are focused on the need to upskill field sellers to sell virtually, only 4% of respondents to our 2020 CSO Priorities Pulse Survey aim to enable buyers to execute all buying jobs digitally."

That is a damning indictment on business leadership and sales leadership today!

What is it that you can do to help your business and support your sales team? 

A CEO Just Said to Me

 "there is a race on.  First we need to shock people into understanding that the world has changed.  Second, we need to give them the skills to work in the changing world."  

He went onto say "By giving my team(s) “new world” skills will gives us a competitive advantage."

Interesting that he finished by saying

"The thing is there is a “burning bridge” and we need to make sure we are over that bridge."  

Who's doing this?

Case Study 1.

This is Eric, he's one of the team at DLA Ignite here is a post that he put up, it only took him 10 minutes to create.  We have all seen posts like this, we see them everyday, but people treat social tactically.  You post, because you think you have to or somebody tells you you should and walk away.  Let's talk about this post. 

 Eric's post of his 16 year old son, Austin, on his Birthday got 8,000 views and 165 likes?

But better still, he got 6 - C-Level meetings from this post?  How?

Let's stop and think about this for a second.  This post took 10 minutes to create and it got 6 C-Level meetings, how come?

Because, all of Eric's post are strategic.  He knows exactly why he is posting it and knows how to monetise it.

He doesn't always post "humanised" content, I'm using this as an example.  But an example of why you need to get your employees and sales team on social, just think of the $ impact to your business.  Especially if you scaled this across your business. 

How does Eric do this?  He builds relationships with prospects and customers and because they have a relationship with a human, not a brand, people are happy to engage.  Eric is also able to cut through the myrmid of noise that brands keep putting out.  If you are a buyer, where will you spend your time?  Reading an advert that says "buy my product because it's great" or look for the insight and educational content that people like Eric is putting out?

The Microsoft Azure sales team actively use this as part of their sales strategy on accounts.  They find "changemakers" who will take this insight and share within their businesses.  This is how businesses are actively engaging with and influencing business and sales. 

This is a sales approach, what about getting your your employees online? 

Case Study 2

In this case study, Danielle Guzman, talks about how Mercer, empower their employees to talk on social.  The ROI (return on investment)?  Danielle explains how Mercer as a brand will develop the business a certain amount of business, because they are well known in certain markets.  She also confirms in this video how empowering people on social and giving them personal brands gives Mercer 4 times more revenue than the brand. 

Sounds like plan? 

Where Do We Go From Here?

Just give me, or one of the DLA Ignite team and hour of your time and we can walk you through what we are doing for other companies.  No hard sell, just take you through what other companies are doing to transform.

Please contact me here or one of the DLA Ignite team here, so please pick one of our industry experts or one of our experts in your geographical locality.  Our website is here.