This is the second in a series of three blogs about what experts feel companies did well in 2015 and what they would do better in 2016. The panelists include:
Ardath Albee – Marketing Interactions
Miles Austin – Fill the Funnel, Inc
Jeffrey Hayzlett – The C-Suite Network
Dave Kurlan – Objective Management Group
Matt Heinz – Heinz Marketing
Mike Weinberg – New Sales Coach
… plus I pulled some additional comments pulled from Mikogo’s Sales Trends & Challenges in 2016 – 12 Experts Share Their Predictions (I am one of the experts).
Today we will hear from Jeffrey, Dave and Matt (to see what Ardath Albee & Miles Austin have to say, read part one):
Contributing Editor and Host of The C-Suite Network points to true one-to-one marketing.
In 2016, smart companies will need to realize they have everything they need if they look inside their existing customer base. For instance, if I’m in the top 1% of an airlines frequent flyers and I suddenly stop flying shouldn’t they notice? Shouldn’t they reach out and inquire into my sudden disappearance? One-to-one marketing will continue to be imperative to companies as we grow as a social and digital society.
Note from Dan: Jeffrey is a BIG thinker. His new book, Think Big, Act Bigger, shares 10 core lessons you need to tie visions to actions, get ahead of the competition, and achieve your goals. Definitely worth a read!
Founder of Objective Management Group is concerned about the lack of consultative sales skills (after all this time!)
What did B2B companies do well in marketing and sales in 2015?
There appeared to be more adoption of CRM, but most companies failed to improve the selling capabilities of their salespeople. Objective Management Group (OMG) has identified 21 Sales Core Competencies, and for the past 25 years our findings have all been reported in the context of those Competencies (note that Dave is being sarcastic using words and phrases such as “soared” and “tremendous increase”):
In 2011, salespeople had an average of 71% of the attributes of the Hunter Competency and in 2015 it has soared to 73%.
The Qualifier Competency has not changed at all during this time—still averaging around 55% of the attributes.
We have seen a tremendous increase in the Closer Competency as scores have risen from 29% to 30% over five years.
We have seen the average scores for the Account Manager Competency drop from 54% to 52% over the same time span.
We observed a similar drop in the Farmer Competency as scores went from an average of 34% to its current average of 32%.
But the real news is in the average score for the Consultative Seller Competency. After all, that is where the primary focus of any and all sales training and coaching should be. This is the Competency required for effective Value Selling. It is the Competency required for leverage in order to easily and effectively Qualify. And this is the Competency required to differentiate in the field, where all differentiation takes place. Are you ready for this? After years of Blogs, newsletters, speaking, videos, audios, books and training, salespeople have gone all the way from an average of 47% to 48% of the attributes of a Consultative Seller!
It has all been for nothing.
Don't take this the wrong way. Clients, whose salespeople are expertly trained and coached, see a spectacular rise that translates into increased win rates, shorter sales cycles and larger average orders. However, the sales population as a whole have not budged. We looked at data from nearly 350,000 salespeople so the sample size wasn't small. The salespeople and related data were from more than 200 different industries so no one industry could have skewed the results. Half of the data comes from existing salespeople that were employed at companies that underwent sales force evaluations, while the other half came from sales candidates applying for sales positions. Most of the candidates were experienced salespeople so that couldn't skew the data either. We constantly update the competencies and related attributes as selling requirements change so we aren't measuring outdated competencies. Facts are facts and these facts are clear. When companies fail to hire competent sales training firms that can effectively teach modern sales process, strategies and tactics, sales leaders on their own generally fail to bring their salespeople to the next level.
What can they do better in 2016?
It’s all about capabilities and while selling continues to require dramatic changes and shifts in process, methodology, tools and capabilities, companies must be more consistent about providing relevant, comprehensive training, where the goal is change, not education.
Note from Dan: The training needed is the ability and agility to change with the market—not simple education. I like that.
Heinz Marketing feels that the market needs to drive better coordinated/integrated execution between sales and marketing.
What did B2B companies do well in marketing & sales in 2015?
I think in general marketers finally started respecting, appreciating, and using buyer personas to drive sales & marketing content, offers and execution. Great marketing and sales is never about your product, it’s always about people and their problems. Even “light” versions of buyer personas can help companies get to the heart of this, and make all of their efforts more engaging and more effective.
What can they do better in 2016?
Now that we have those personas, we need to drive better coordinated/integrated execution between sales and marketing so that our prospects and customers hear a consistent story throughout the buyer’s journey. Too often, marketing tells one story and sales subsequently tells another. They don’t always conflict, but you still end up losing momentum created before sales gets involved. Furthermore, if you believe the SiriusDecisions buyer journey stages (especially that the first two are 1) challenge the status quo and 2) commit to change), those I believe are fundamentally marketing functions to achieve and are instrumental to setting up a foundation for successful selling.
Note from Dan: Marketing is not about features and benefits. It is about people, priorities, environment and process.