3 Ways Sales Tools Can Help you Drive Revenue [Data]
Did you know that just 6% of sales leaders are confident that their reps can meet or exceed revenue targets in 2021? The post-Covid world has thrown up a number of problems, making B2B sales even more difficult than it already was. In this article, let’s talk about how sales tools can make life easier.
Based on our findings from the Sales-Marketing Alignment report, we found that for 65% of the 1200+ organizations surveyed, 2020 was a lean year owing to Covid-19. Sales teams had a lot changing for them, including a sudden transition to remote work and a massive change in buyer behavior.
32% of B2B customers now order online
That’s right — one out of 3 customers are now doing research, evaluating, ordering, and even reordering through a “digital self-serve” model, according to this report from McKinsey.
Of course, prospects doing their own research during the research and evaluation phase is not new, but what has changed drastically is the fact that 32% of B2B customers now use the self-service mode for completing the sale.
This is a 12 percentage point increase from the previous year, demonstrating a massive change in the way prospects buy from vendors.
Not surprisingly, in-person sales have declined to a mere 21%, a 7 percentage point drop compared to pre-Covid times.
What does this mean for the Sales ecosystem? It signals a shift to a “digital-first” buying environment, a scenario where buyers increasingly prefer a digital-first buying experience, right from doing research, evaluating, ordering, and even reordering.
And digital is rapidly becoming the medium of choice for sales, with 83% of B2B decision-makers saying the new selling models are as effective or more effective than pre-Covid models.
We also found something striking in our research – despite the pandemic, a small percentage of businesses (about 15%) continued to grow and thrive. Sure, these are also the organizations that focused on digital selling models.
But what’s their secret sauce? What did they equip themselves with to ensure they stayed afloat and went above and beyond?
How an all-in-one CRM Can Help You Hit Targets
The stellar performers in our survey used sales tools at different junctures in their sales process to stay ahead of the pandemic curve. Here are three actionable ways in which sales tools can power up different stages of your sales process.
Stage 1: Generate more leads with chatbots
With a large majority of decision-makers working from home, calls meant for them are not going through, and getting an alternate number for prospects is often an impossible task unless it’s your lucky day.
But we still have targets to hit, don’t we? We need more leads, and in such a scenario where we cannot reach prospects through cold calls, converting leads from other sources becomes critical.
This is where sales tools like chatbots come in — they help you convert as many website visitors to leads as possible.
An interaction with a chatbot shows customer intent, and a customer journey of 1,000 touchpoints often begins with a single step of interacting with a chatbot.
- In our sales-marketing alignment survey on sales tools, chatbots were used by 36% of the companies that recorded the highest revenue growth (20% growth and above).
- 57% of companies that recorded the highest growth in lead generated year-on-year (20% growth and above) have chatbots deployed on their website.
Why are chatbots such successful sales tools?
- Automate responses: You can program them to instantly answer basic questions that a prospective customer has about your offerings. You can deploy them to the right resources and pages that see maximum web traffic and page visitors.
- Capture leads: On the business front, chatbots are powerful sales tools that can gather more information about your prospects, segment them and chart out their customer journeys.
- Warm up cold leads: Even as sales reps struggle to connect with prospects with cold calls, chatbots give you and your team warm leads on a platter as they provide a sales rep with the context they need to kickstart a conversation. They provide insights into what a prospect is interested in and what would be a good time to call them, among others.
Since the prospects themselves are directly giving you their contact information and are demonstrating intent to engage with your brand, you can be sure that it’s not a dead end.
Stage 2: Contextualize your interactions with CRM
Once you’ve started generating more leads, sales tools like an all-in-one CRM can help you solve problems of context and missing information in the next stage of the sales journey.
Once you have leads assigned to you in the CRM, the most crucial step is to do some background research before reaching out to them. Understand what they’re interested in. For example:
- Which web pages have they visited?
- What content themes have they engaged with?
- Which webinars did they attend?
This knowledge will give you more context about what your lead is looking for and what problem they’re trying to solve. The sales tool will also help you personalize your interactions with them.
If your prospect already has a fair idea about your brand and offerings, it’s not going to help the case if you start the conversation with the ABCs of your company.
This is why having a 360-degree or unified view of the customer and buyer journey becomes critical. However, this is easier said than done. A potential customer’s buyer-journey information is often fragmented across multiple systems and can be difficult, if not impossible, to access.
By no means is it an industry-specific or company-specific problem. In fact, leaders from half of the companies (50%) we surveyed said that “fragmented customer information” is their #1 challenge with Sales-Marketing technology.
Using sales tools like CRM ensures you speak their language — contextually engage with them on the most relevant topics, thereby becoming someone they can rely on and eventually booking more meetings.
But more than anything else, about 50% of the companies that reported the highest revenue growth (of over 20%) in our survey said they used a Customer Relationship Management solution.
Not just any CRM will do the job, however. An all-in-one CRM is what gives you a seamless and coherent view of your buyer’s journey so far, and helps you hand-hold them and take them through the gates of conversion heaven.
Stage 3: Closing the loop with sales analytics
Your team is now booking more meetings and they also have some context about the prospect and their digital footprint. But how do you know which deals are likely to close? How can you estimate when they will close? Can sales tools help here as well?
One common problem that keeps cropping up since Covid-19 hit — buying decisions take much longer, resulting in longer sales cycles.
Right from the discovery call stage, putting a finger on the timelines is becoming a challenge. Factor in stages like stakeholder buy-in, and sometimes, your deal begins to look like it’s in suspended animation.
The fundamental problems here are two-fold. First, businesses want to focus on business continuity during the pandemic rather than enhancements or new features.
Second is that internal collaboration between stakeholders is becoming more difficult because people are now spread across geographies and largely restricted to boxes on a Zoom screen to make high-impact decisions like onboarding a new vendor.
Now, let’s go back to look at a couple of data points about our cohort of outperforming companies, the ones that recorded a growth of 20% or more:
- 50% of them use sales tools like AI-powered Sales Assistants to prioritize deals
- 54% of them use sales Analytics/Forecasting/Intelligence tools
Let’s break this down into actionable advice – how can salespeople put this insight to use?
First, based on data like previous deals and customer profiles, Artificial Intelligence can help salespeople identify and prioritize deals that are most likely to convert.
This will turn their attention to the ‘right’ deals, which have a high probability of conversion, given the customer profile.
Second, sales tools like AI-powered sales assistants can give you insights to determine how the deal is faring and the next-best-action on a particular deal based on historical data. Since AI learns on the go, it factors in business disruptors like Covid-19 as well.
It’s the right time to dive into modern sales tools
According to LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2021 report, 77% of sales professionals say their sales organization plans to invest more in sales intelligence tools.
According to the Sales Enablement Outlook report, 3 out of 4 companies also think buyer insights are “extremely” or “very important”. Sales tools such as chatbots or an all-in-one CRM can help you get these vital buyer insights.
Armed with AI and sales analytics, you can also improve your conversion rate and thereby elevate your sales velocity and, eventually, drive revenue growth, even in a post-Covid scenario.
Images in this post were created by Kalaimaran Jeyagandhi
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