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How Strong Sales Leadership Drives Customer Obsession

By Peg E. Ventricelli October 20, 2016

Today’s businesses must be customer-obsessed. Successful organizations—from Salesforce to General Motors to Home Depot—have focused their efforts on creating optimal experiences for their customers. What these major players know is that failure to meet increased customer expectations will impede business growth.

Research shows that customers are 5.2 times more likely to purchase from companies that provide a great customer experience. Not to put too fine a point on it, falling short in this area will negatively impact sales, customer loyalty and revenue. 

Businesses are feeling the pressure and responding accordingly, with near single-minded devotion to connecting more intimately with customers. Nowhere was this evidenced more clearly than at the Dreamforce 2016 conference in San Francisco. The second-largest tech conference in the U.S., host to 170,000 participants this year, devoted great swaths of time and energy to the customer relationship.

Keynote speaker and Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff spoke of major trends in cloud, social, mobile and IoT, but argued that these technologies should all take a back seat to developing a closer connection with customers. He stated that successful organizations are currently rebuilding their business processes in order to create the greater customer intimacy they need to thrive.

However, only companies with strong sales leadership can rise to the challenge of providing a great customer experience. After all, your sales organization is your business’ primary point of customer contact, so it critically impacts how your brand is perceived. Good customer relationships depend on sales leaders who are well-prepared to guide sales teams toward effective customer engagement.

Businesses Must Empower Sales Leadership

Company executives must ensure that their sales leaders are well-equipped to promote a customer focus in their sales organizations. In many cases, this will require allocating resources to help sales leaders develop new skill sets, a deeper understanding of their role in delivering a stellar customer experience, and better approaches for interacting with sales representatives.

Highlighted at Dreamforce, here are three ways you can empower sales leaders to improve customer focus and drive a better customer experience:

1) Improve training processes for sales leaders. Great salespeople do not always great sales leaders make. Yet, of today’s midmarket senior sales managers, 59 percent were promoted from within their organizations. Most of these individuals have not been trained on how to coach their teams, and must be encouraged to do so—instead of what they usually do, which is incessantly crunch numbers that don’t necessarily lead to improved outcomes. Let them know that one-on-one coaching needn’t be an onerous or time-consuming endeavor, and that it is effective.

Without training, most sales leaders naturally gravitate to late-stage intervention: coming in to rescue a deal at close. However, according to research shared by Jason Jordan of Vantage Point Performance at the Sales Summit, coaching has the biggest impact earlier in the sales cycle. Coaching earlier in the process helps disqualify the bad opportunities—giving reps more time to prospect and focus on the right opportunities.

The net-net: Choose your coaching model carefully. Many fall flat in the selling environment because they lack the specificity of developing sales behaviors that will drive improved customer experiences.

2) Give sales leaders more buyer-side intelligence.  Sales leaders cannot operate successfully on sheer instinct or rely on what worked for them in the past. The times are a changin’ and sales leaders need to keep up. To be effective, they need data—data on customer needs, behaviors and preferences; on which team processes work and which don’t; on how reps are performing, to set up one-to-one coaching; and many more key areas affecting business outcomes. Once analyzed, the data will give sales leaders insights into best practices for driving customer satisfaction. For example, data analysis can show which rep behaviors result in better performance, and use that to help every rep provide top-notch customer service.

Technology that dispenses intelligence to sales leaders continues to emerge. Existing platforms, such as Salesforce’s Einstein, which brings artificial intelligence capabilities to the company’s Customer Success platform, and LiveHive’s sales acceleration platform, which optimizes sales processes with automation and analytics, already deliver on the promise. LiveHive’s latest incarnation takes the guess work out of rep performance with on-demand visibility into all activities across the sales funnel, transforming how organizations operate by delivering real-time sales intelligence and automating routine tasks to speed the sales cycle.

3) Give sales reps technology that’s easy to adopt and integrated within existing systems. The right sales technology solution—one that integrates all your disparate sales tools onto one platform—will empower your sales reps. It will automate processes and provide intelligence to help the entire sales organization better serve customers. With this potent combination, companies can speed outreach, decreasing the length of the sales cycle. Manual processes that impede sales performance and lower productivity are designated to history. Process improvement opportunities are discovered, and insights into prospect interests and follow-up activities and messaging that work best are gained.

Sales acceleration technologies, in short, are driving revenue. For example, an on-demand sales generation company—Operatix—recently adopted LiveHive’s sales acceleration platform and has been able to build bigger and better sales leads. Just two months into using the platform, the company reported a 50 percent increase in its revenue pipeline. Automated email and call scheduling, combined with prospect ranking, helped sales reps prioritize sales efforts.

Seculert is another company gaining from these technologies. A leader in attack detection and analytics, the company was limited in sales by a manual system for writing and sending emails, and it had no means by which to prioritize prospects.

With the ability to send automated—yet personalized—emails, as well as analytics on prospect interactions and interests, Seculert saw a 700 percent increase in meetings that were booked from email only.

The right sales tool will help your sales leaders develop spot-on coaching parameters, make better-informed data-based decisions, and empower their sales reps to drive more sales. All these improvements will be reflected in the enhanced experience you provide to your customers, ultimately driving revenues skyward. Hop on board the customer-powered gravy train now to keep your organization headed in the right direction.

Edited by Alicia Young
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Contributing Writer

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