Beyond Productivity to Seller Value Creation

In the last five years we’ve seen an explosion in digital technologies and software applications that are transforming the way B2B teams sell. From intelligent CRMs to powerful automation platforms, enablement tools and advanced analytics, today’s sellers have access to more sophisticated technologies to enhance their effectiveness than ever before.

Using these technologies sellers can now reach 10 – 50x the number of customers they could just 5 years ago. Combining this with a 1200% increase in the number of sales development reps (SDRs), companies are primed for a new era of exponential revenue growth. Yet when we look at the impact of these technologies on performance, we see the emergence of what Dr. Howard Dover calls the “Sales Innovation Paradox”.

Despite, widespread use of new technologies to scale productivity and outreach, sales performance is worse than ever! Sellers are doing more, but it seems we’re not enabling them to be more effective. Today, almost 60% of sellers regularly miss quota, close rates are as low as 19% and young sellers are leaving the profession after just 18 months, frustrated with outdated methods and an inability to deliver for their customers.

Have we reached peak productivity and scale?

Its seems that current practices may be doing more harm than good, as more and more customers disengage frustrated with the constant barrage of email and social media messaging, much of which offers little value. There is a growing sense that nobody is winning in this era of hyper-productivity and scale.

  • Customers are bombarded with a continuous stream of automated multi-channel messaging, that bears little relevance to their business needs. There is a perception that sales are unable to provide the insights and value they need. As a result, 87% of customer now prefer to self-serve online, only engaging with sales late in the decision-making process. Trust is at an all-time low.
  • Sellers are overwhelmed with multiple sales platforms that make selling more complex. Most use up to 6 different tools to manage opportunities, with no single view of the customer journey. Workloads are on the increase even with automation, reducing time available to develop opportunities. Tools are often seen as an admin burden rather than an enabler. Adoption rates are as low as 30%.
  • Leaders are finding it difficult to be effective. Traditional performance management methods are failing to improve performance. They have limited insights into what skills and capabilities sellers really need to be successful. Teams are working harder than ever, but the results are just not coming. There is a growing realization that we may have reached a point of ever diminishing returns.

Despite these challenges, 80% of companies continue to implement traditional sales methods. Most are doubling down on more tools, training, and enablement to improve results, even if this means pushing customers further away. As Dr. Dover describes we’re created a modern “dust-bowl” of opportunity, where the mantra of scale and outreach is diminishing the chances of a positive sales outcome. We believe it’s time for a radical re-rethink!

Hyper-productivity & scale are creating a dust bowl of opportunity

What customers really want is Value (not noise)

In all the relentless change that customers and sellers have experienced in recent years, there is steady constant that remains true – Value. It’s at the heart of commerce and today’s its worth is greater than ever. Value is no longer seen as just the benefit acquired from goods and services, it extends to the ideas, insights the expert guidance a company can offer.

What customers value has radically changed in recent years. Most are battling to adapt and survive disruption in the markets. Increasingly they want partners that can help them to stay one step ahead in this constant flux. They know that to be competitive, they need to continuously adapt and innovate. They want partners that can challenge them will new ideas and concepts contextualized to their business needs. They want help building knowledge and understanding across business stakeholders. And they want help driving agreement and consensus to act. When sellers fail to provide value in this way, customers quickly disengage frustrated with the experience. It’s clear, we need to do a much better job of enabling sellers to engage with customers on their terms. We need to enable them to create the value that customers crave. If we achieve this, we can unlock a new era of revenue growth.

Enabling seller value creation

The Value Equation tells us that ‘value’ is dependent on three key components. It is the product of the intervention (IN), the nature of the context (C) in which the intervention is being implemented, and the implementation strategy (IS).

Value = Intervention (IN)*Context (C)*Implementation strategy (IS)

If we apply this equation to B2B sales and create a set of methods and practices for each component, we can build a new model to unlock seller value creation:

  • Intervention (IN): The standardized sales workflows that guide sellers towards an optimal outcome (sales excellence). Includes the defined roles, responsibilities, points of collaboration, and tasks to be performed. The extent of seller adherence to the prescribed practices should be measure, i.e., how sellers are executing to the organization’s description of sales excellence.
  • Context (C): The customer and organization context. It’s important that sellers gain a deep understanding of internal drivers, motivations, and decision-making processes to deliver optimal value. Research and analysis should be promoted to make sense of evolving buyer needs to personalize interactions. This should be an ongoing exercise as customer and marketplace dynamics shift and evolve over time.
  • Implement strategy (IS): The strategies needed to help sellers to adapt interventions to meet changing customer demands. This Includes performance insights into selling behaviours and an ability to identify skill gaps and emerging best-practices to target coaching and training actions. At an advanced level, it should also include shared compensation structures and agile team formation bespoke to customer types.

Technology Amplified Seller Value Creation

All three components play a critical role in enabling sellers to deliver optimal value. Refining and optimizing over time will help sellers to stay one step ahead of customer demands – turning the buying experience into true differentiation for your company.

With this mind, we believe it’s time to rebalance the focus between seller productivity and value creation. Technology should not just be used to amplify productivity and scale. Opportunities exist today to use technology to dramatically increase seller value creation. The companies that can get this balance right, will be the winners in the future.

If this is something you’d like to explore in 2023 for your organization, get in touch!

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