For years, the balance between buyers and sellers has been shifting. Thanks to global digitization, buyers have more access to information than ever before, allowing them to search for and compare business solutions largely without the intervention of human sales teams.
In fact, McKinsey found that B2B buyers do more than a third of their purchasing activity through self-service online, using an average of 10 channels to collect and maintain supplier information.
Sellers also have access to more information than ever before. On average, enterprise salespeople are equipped with 10 tools for sales training, lead research, account-based marketing, and customer relationship management. Added to this are massive amounts of corporate documents, financial reports, industry studies, media alerts, and more. Which must be analyzed to understand each buyer’s business dynamics and pressing issues.
But for both parties, the information is more difficult to understand than to find. By the time buyers are ready to meet with sales teams, they already have a complete supplier brief. They do not need any additional information about the product. Instead, they are eager to understand how these long lists of features and functionality translate into solutions to the most important business challenges.
Sales leaders immediately acknowledge that this fundamental shift has occurred. According to McKinsey, 85% of executives say selling solutions should be a critical skill, requiring solid product knowledge and account planning prowess.
So far, however, the sales teams have failed to deliver. In fact, the percentage of sellers achieving annual stakes actually fell from 63% to 57% in 2019, according to data from CSO Insights. Given the current climate of uncertainty in the markets, the recent performance is even more disappointing.
Skill development should be a top priority for sales leaders, but it’s just part of the equation. Telling sellers to translate hundreds, if not thousands, of public documents and statements doesn’t make sense if they don’t have the tools to identify what’s valuable in those reports and translate them into smart selling.
Accelerated by rapid developments in artificial intelligence, Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is poised to emerge as the next big B2B trend, as suppliers converge across a broad range of traditional categories (e.g., intelligent sales enablement and CRM) and grow their offering to help teams align. Sales with a clear understanding of the client’s needs.
Today, technologies such as semantic search and big language models allow sifting through vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, detecting patterns, inferring insights and recommendations, and generating business narratives. Clear and compelling to sales teams. As a result, SRM tools enable sellers to leverage a mutual understanding of the buyer’s current strategy, weaknesses, and industry context to close bigger and better deals.
Take, for example, an account manager at a large tech company who used SRM to close a seven-figure contract with a regional bank, and exited the IT business into a whole new industry, an activity no vendor had touched before.
Using SRM, the account manager quickly identified a 1.2% drop in mortgage approval rates that had a negative impact on revenue. Thus, the bank’s income was significantly lower than that of its sector peers. Developed a strategic sales pitch from this information, including a case study in which he improved mortgage approval rates for a similar regional bank. They were immediately connected to the consumer banking sector and struck a deal.
How to develop strategic selling
Sales success in 2023 requires teams to align and connect with customers. This means evolving technology and processes to prioritize fit over size and people over character. To get started, focus your SRM approach on three important attributes of automated strategic selling.
1. Align with real strategies
Matching your offerings to buyers’ professionals and strategic initiatives can help you anticipate the cost savings or revenue growth your solutions can generate. Ensure you prioritize specific and detailed use cases that demonstrate how your solutions can impact buyer outcomes and provide relevant case studies that provide evidence of success.
2. Targeting the right buyers
B2B sales requires identifying teams and individual buyers who are driving major initiatives and investing in new solutions to achieve their goals. By synchronizing strategic account plans with lead budgets and spending cycles, you can ensure proposals arrive when buyers have the budget and are considering new offers.
3. Customize each pipeline
With AI, you can generate a set of actionable sales recommendations with just one click, not months of research. Salespeople can access strategic recommendations for thousands of public and private companies, view competitive analysis, drill down into reports, and instantly create slides, automated emails, and other documents.
Sales teams are facing a fundamental shift in their relationship with buyers that requires a new relationship to data and information. Using the power of AI, SRM technology can derive actionable strategies from large-scale data and help sales teams adapt and succeed.
Translated article from Forbes US – Author: Anand Shah (Co-Founder and CEO of Databook, Pioneer and Leader in Strategic Relationship Management)
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