Many UK sales teams are stuck in the past and do not have the skills or tools to deal with the new web-savvy customers, whether business buyers or private individuals, a report has highlighted.
Steve Gilroy, the CEO of Vistage, the peer-to-peer advisory organisations for SMEs, said: "Many people are familiar with the term Web 2.0 that describes the new and interactive web pages that have emerged in recent years, such as social media and pages that adapt according to the history and preferences of each user.
"Sales 2.0 is the term that many use to describe the way sales teams need to adapt in today's transparent and information-rich marketplace where buyers are in control of the sales process."
The report describes:
• How the customer, whether families or large corporates, has changed dramatically through the volume of information now available,
• How sales teams need to adapt in the new environment, including research indicating that those that have adapted are outperforming their competitors,
• It also includes tips for nurturing customers in the new environment and case studies of Vistage members already applying Sales 2.0 concept in their sales approach.
Gilroy added: "Salespeople have traditionally been ‘hunters’ but in the new environment the successful sellers are ‘farmers’ who are cultivating knowledge and long term relationships. While meetings and the phone will continue to be vital sales tools, in the new environment it is all about using greater customer insights to focus on the best prospects. Old sales techniques like cold calling long lists are firmly on the way out, with successful sales teams making fewer calls - but making the ones that will provide results."
He stressed the importance for businesses to transform their out-of-date sales processes.
He said: “SME business owners must make sure their sales teams aren't living in the past and are starting to use the new range of tools that can help them be much more successful.
"However, Vistage's research and also my weekly discussions with dozens of business owners around the country, indicate that many sales teams are not using online tools as part of the sales process. For instance, our research found only 58% of SMEs have case studies online, only half have advice guides and 54% have videos for their sales team to use with potential customers." (See tables below for full research).
Survey from international research firm Forrester Research found that up to 70% of a customer’s buying decision is made before they engage with a sales representative (Forrester Research: Buyer behaviour helps B2B marketers guide the buyers journey).
Also Forbes Magazine has recently reported that 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers (Forbes Magazine, Study May 2013), and these findings were confirmed by the research conducted by Aberdeen Group (Aberdeen Group report, November 2012) that suggests that not only 70% of best-in-class sales teams use social media but those using what they termed ‘social selling’ outperform across a range of measures.
Gilroy concluded: "Many of Britain’s SMEs are slow in adapting to customers' changing approaches. For instance, our research found that many to not feel their website or social media is a useful channel. But a big reason for this is because they have little relevant online material for their sales team to use!"
Sales 2.0 the new approach is here report is available free of charge from www.vistage.co.uk.