We have been meeting with a number of media salespeople, tracking articles about the transformation of the sales process, developing a number of theories specific to transforming the media sales process plus what is needed to support the transformation. We will be exploring a number of these theories and observations supported by sales rep interviews and an upcoming survey to be presented in a new Advisory in the coming months.
CSO Insights recently completed its annual global sales force survey and has come to some interesting conclusions. While sales objective achievement has increased overall, 2012 sales objectives are being projected at their highest level in recent years coupled with the lowest confidence levels in actually achieving them. One of our core beliefs with sales objectives is you can’t expect increased performance without increased support. CSO Insights’ data seem to support this:
“Increases in revenue goals need to be backed by investments in sales rep efficiency and effectiveness,” added Jim Dickie, managing partner, CSO Insights. “The study uncovered a wide variety of factors that can positively impact sales performance including optimizing lead generation, better alignment of the sell cycle and the buy cycle, and leveraging CRM 2.0 technologies such as sales collaboration, sales management analytics, and sales intelligence. Best-in-class sales organizations that focus on formalizing their sales process and deepening their relationship with customers are significantly outselling their competitors.”
From our point of view, those organizations willing to provide updated training on a more consistent and effective sales process, coupled with better market intelligence, are the ones winning in the local media space. So much of what we are seeing are inconsistent sales methods, lack of central management control over the sales process, more managers who are player/coaches, and a void in preparing media salespeople to have a deep strategic discussion on how digital media works with their core media or how digital media supports a small and medium-sized businesses’ needs and goals.
Recently, BIA/Kelsey has developed many new tools and research to help support managers and salespeople with market intelligence, education on the value of digital media and, more important, how digital media and traditional media can be sold side by side. Our core philosophy is that media salespeople should be the value experts with any of their portfolio products. As the value expert, they need to understand the customer’s challenges and the industry’s challenges so they can translate their portfolio of solutions to the customer’s needs and goals.
Sales is becoming less about personal relationships and more about information relationships. There is too much information on digital media available for SMBs and even brands to process which means the salesperson has to fill the role of information interpreter to become the valued consultant. Translating the myriad technical functions and features of digital media into concrete value messages, supported by simple to understand facts and figures, is what SMBs crave.
So while contemplating how to move the sales needle, think about how best to support the sales team and what support is needed to achieve even higher goals in 2012.