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The demand for change in the way we sell to customers has never been greater. Businesses are struggling to grow revenues as they grapple with evolving customer expectations and buying complexity. Traditional ways of working are no longer fit for purpose as customer frustration mounts and sales performance stagnates. Increasingly, leaders are searching for new ways of working to meet these changing customer needs and reignite growth. Faced with a growing multitude of sales models, tools and techniques, finding the right new ways of working can seem impossible. But the key ingredient is something we all have and unleashing its potential is within our reach.
In this article, I will look at 5 ways in which you can transform your sales strategy to meet these new customer demands and help you start the journey towards sustainable revenue growth. I’ll explore how to orchestrate teams to elevate the customer experience and why helping customers adapt to change and disruption is the secret to unlocking future revenue predictability. I’ll also provide a new framework for success to help you get started.
1. Customers expect more. Think high-value innovation partner.
To begin, let’s put ourselves into the shoes of our customers for a moment. The explosion of digital technologies in the last 10 years has revolutionised how we do business and created unprecedented disruption in almost all industries. We all know about the companies that underestimated the impact that these technologies would have on their business viability and as a result lost market dominance– think Kodak, Blockbuster and Nokia to name but a few. These industry giants failed to see the existential threat on the horizon. They avoided taking the risky bet to move away from established ways of doing business to ready themselves to compete in a rapidly changing marketplace. The rest is history!
Today, your customers face an even more daunting challenge as the pace of change and disruption continues to accelerate. Their future success is dependent on their ability to adapt and disrupt themselves, if they wish to stay relevant in their marketplace. Perhaps then it’s not too surprising that customer expectations have changed when it comes to selecting suppliers to help them on that journey. Customers increasingly recognise the importance of forming high-value partnerships to help them adapt and respond to the constant change and disruption they are experiencing. The priority has shifted away from working with preferred suppliers, to finding high-value partners that can help generate the kind of continuous innovation that’s now so critical to maintaining competitive advantage. The ability to provide continuous value in this way, is now seen by many customers as a key differentiator when choosing a partner. Customers expect partners to provide deep expertise, new commercial insights and design led thinking to challenge the status quo and spark innovation. In a recent survey, 86% of customers said they would pay as much as 18% for this kind of partner value. A real indication of just how much expectations have changed. If partners can deliver continuous value in this way, rich rewards await!
The challenge of course for many Suppliers today is how to make the transition from existing, out-dated ways of working to deliver this kind of value time and again. Here in lies both the challenge and opportunity for many revenue organisations!
2. Breakdown the silos and execute on the promise.
We know that traditional revenue generation structures are failing to meet today’s customer expectations. We see evidence of this everywhere, with more than half of all teams missing quota and only 8% of customers saying they receive a good experience. Customers complain they are overwhelmed with content, struggle with conflicting messages and generally believe that the suppliers’ over-riding priority is winning the sale! (This is usually true in my experience.)
To make matters worse, the way most companies have structured their revenue teams only serves to reinforce this perception. Leaders prioritise short-term revenue results, with little emphasis on the customer experience and long-term value creation. Compensation plans and bonus structures are usually geared to reinforce these goals. Marketing, Sales and Customer Success teams are siloed, each operating with often competing prioritises that are more aligned to internal objectives, rather than customer goals. This system is designed for volume, speed and short-term revenue maximisation. Its perhaps not too surprising that so many customers are frustrated with this experience. In a world where customer needs and expectations have radically changed, old organisation design and sales operational models are simply no longer fit for purpose.