As power shifts from suppliers to buyers, leading companies are transforming how they manage the revenue function to better serve the 24/7 customer. At our 2021 Executive Forum and through our latest Sales Pulse Survey findings, industry leaders shared challenges and best practices with pivoting the revenue organization toward a more proactive, customer-centric culture.
Alexander Group’s research indicates that 75% of sales resources are targeted at persuading customers to make decisions. Yet, most buyers make up their minds before ever contacting a vendor. This gap highlights the need for more investment in resources to influence buyers BEFORE the buying decision
Emerging best practices include resources to such as chat specialists to shape opinions before a sale, and post-sale specialists to enable faster and more efficient solution adoption. In addition, companies are building a revenue ecosystem that connects all customer-touching functions, linking Marketing, Sales and Service.
More companies are investing in a CRO or COO to lead the total revenue function to bring harmony to programs, policies and behaviors across marketing, sales and service to deliver a consistent, superior experience to customers. These companies frequently embed common goals across functions and use incentive plans to motivate team-oriented behavior. Investments in shared digital platforms that link these functions are also on the rise.
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Executives shared five best practices that help marketers collaborate with sales in this new business climate:
Executive forum participants shared how connecting Marketing to revenue responsibility creates more targeted engagement. Customers engage with Marketing pre-purchase to acquire information, insight and explore options. Companies with relevant solutions are rewarded with a dialogue after which Sales can engage with a legitimate prospect. Digital channels help marketing and sales reach buyers at any point in their journey. But effectiveness depends on Marketing and Sales engaging in a far deeper partnership than ever before.
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Studies show that 75% of buyer decision-making happens before a prospect engages with a seller. This means that sales motions must integrate into digital engagement with customers before they make a buying decision. Therefore, it has never been more critical for Sales and Marketing to align with a common, customer-first goal while sharing digital resources that identify potential buyers and existing customers. But there is more.
Sellers spend two-thirds of their time in activities that are not related to customers, according to Tiffani Bova, Global Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. As companies struggle to allocate limited resources, they need to train sales managers and sellers to become customer-solution oriented, and support them with sales efficiency and additional solution expertise, both onsite and virtual.
The sales environment is evolving from primarily field-centric to a hybrid model which blends on-site and virtual selling techniques. Alexander Group’s research indicates that sellers are now 50% onsite and 50% virtual, going to the client site to secure relationships or address complex issues. A virtual environment increases seller productivity and enables easier integration of virtual solution support thus bringing more value to the customer interaction. In addition, Sales, and their related departments, are leveraging AI tools to predict customer selling patterns, helping them target their sales focus on customer needs instead of pushing products that may not be useful.
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The Alexander Group Sales Pulse Survey indicated that two-thirds of executives had seen an increase in virtual post-sale support and nearly 60% are investing in customer outreach tools for the service function. They are also changing the focus of service, from a reactive “break-fix” approach to a proactive stance where they anticipate what customers will need to help them succeed.
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Corporate culture is dynamic and must balance the needs of a primarily millennial workforce and the 24/7 customer.
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Sharing challenges, outcomes and best practices are how we all succeed. Our 2022 theme of Enduring Leadership is exploring insights from executives across industry sectors. The first of this year’s events is the Women Revenue Leaders Forum on April 18 – 19, 2022, at the Four Seasons in Chicago. This is a compelling two-day program shaped by the Alexander Group’s multi-industry expertise in Revenue Growth and an Advisory Committee of Fortune 1000 Women Executives. For more information on the entire Leadership Series, click here.