This report by Salesforce explains a number of fundamental changes that have and are taken place in sales, you can download the report here, or read my analysis below.

In terms of the data sample of the report ...

"Data in this report is from a double-blind survey conducted from May 13, 2020, through June 30, 2020, that generated 5,951 responses from full-time sales professionals, including sales operations, sales representatives, and sales leadership."

Anyway, on with the analysis..

The report states "Since the advent of business, sales strategies have evolved in response to customers’ changing needs. COVID-19 has shaken up customers’ circumstances with unprecedented scale and speed. As a result, 79% of sales reps say they’ve had to quickly adapt to new ways of selling. Building trust has always been important. However, it’s now even more crucial, as customers and prospects with scarce resources and foggier outlooks question long-held assumptions."

Sales people are having to deal with many other changes, such as working from home, not meeting customers face-to-face, having to work with a digital customer.  Most salespeople realise that a buyer-centric Linkedin profile, a network and creating your own content are all now part and parcel to the sales person daily life.

This importance of building trust pre and post sale is a game changer for the digital sales person.  You don't build trust by calling people and emailing them this just interrupts clients and annoys them.  The modern salesperson is connecting with prospects, customers and people who influence your prospects and customers online.  And from this platform they are having meaningful conversations and building trusting relationships.

The modern salesperson is also creating their own authentic, trusting, educational content that helps to form that bond.  None of this corporate content that just says the same old, same old message "buy my product, because it's great" but content that educates and connects with the prospect and client.  Such as humanised content. 

See how the confidence of outside sales people has plumpted, now than less 50% of salespeople who sell face-to-face have confidence that they can close in the current environment.  Talking to a CEO recently one of his sales people said to him, "I cannot sell, unless I face face-to-face meetings" and in this current climate of the "Covid years" this just isn't going to happen.  And if one sales person is saying this, how many are thinking it.

It is these issues that as leaders need need to recognize and support amongst our teams. 

Can Sales Operations Support You in These Changes?

These outside micro and macro economic changes are happening fast and we know our competition are changing.  It is why we rely on functions such as sales operations and sales enablement to support us through these changes.

But, are these people qualified to support all the changes?  Let's take the current transformation all business are undertaking to digital right now.  Is your sales enablement and sales operations digital already?  Are they the high water mark of digital in your business?

It's easy to find out, look at their Linkedin profiles.

Check our Eric, Vanessa, Adam if you want to know what good practice looks like. 

If your sales enablement team are not exhibiting digital profiles, then maybe, you need outside help?  

Leaders Pivot For Recovery and Growth

"Seismic economic and social shifts are prompting sales leaders to reevaluate their needs. For instance, few could have anticipated such a radical shake-up of business as usual while establishing budgets at the start of the fiscal year. Many leaders admit they’re not completely ready to map key business priorities to changing conditions. For instance, only 26% feel completely capable of adapting team culture, and 28% say the same about staff skills."

The Salesforce report states ...

"Rather than shaking up their teams’ foundations, where possible, leadership is adjusting to new staffing needs by reskilling employees for new or changed roles in the organization.

While it’s unsurprising top sellers lead in these efforts, the gap is vast: High performers are 4.8x more confident in their training abilities than their underperforming peers. As selling shifts away from the field, a major focus of reskilling efforts is on the outside sales team. Seventy percent of organizations are now retraining field reps to sell from home, where they’re braving new technologies and ways of engaging customers."

This is certainly what we are seeing, Covid has accelerated the sales teams digital transformation plans.  To move away from legacy sales methods such as cold calling and email and transforming to using social and digital.

The difference is that in the past business tended to "make do" with a presentation from marketing hear or a "hints and tips" session there, the business understands that moving to digital is make or break, so they are looking for a tried and tested methodology.  This is then rolled out across the whole of the business.

Back to the Salesforce report..

"Beyond reskilling, sales leaders have many other tools at their disposal to steer their sales organizations toward success. As always, the first priority is adapting to the customer. Rigid deal terms that worked historically may need revision as customers buy more cautiously. Leaders recognize that flexibility is key, rating it as their top tactic for success over the next 12 months."

Let's widen our research so that we can get a world view.

What the modern sales leaders knows about the modern buyer

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

If you are looking for more research to back up your strategy, try these .... 

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

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

The research is overwhelming that buyers are online, sticking plasters will not make this problem go away. It won't and covid 19 pandemic has accelerated this. 

So what can sales leaders do?

Case Study 1.

Most big tech have implemented employee advocacy, but they have done this in an "old tech" way.  The old way of marketing was that you interrupted somebody and you told them about your company, it's often called broadcast or push marketing.  Big tech treat social media as if its push.  Employees are given corporate content to distribute, which is course, pretty useless in the modern socially empowered world.

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. 

Case Study 2

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?

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. 

Want to see what Eric posts, it's all here on Linkedin, nothing to hide.

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?

Another example, is 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. 

It's Time to Stop Being Analogue and Transform to real Digital Marketing

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."  

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.