Longer Selling Cycles Demand a New Level of Support From and For Sales Teams

Feb 15, 2018

Today’s sales cycle – especially in the B2B sector – has gotten longer and more complex. Sales teams should be leveraging mobile software apps to help deal with this more demanding selling environment.

Leading mobilized sales force automation (SFA) providers are incorporating cutting-edge technologies and offering new tools to maximize account reps’ ability to be more flexible, responsive and knowledgeable in the face of rising customer expectations and extended negotiations. 

Sales personnel are no longer tethered to their desk PC or laptop when it comes to exchanging key information and guidance regarding their day-to-day selling efforts. Mobilized SFA solutions deploy a number of sales support features directly to a field sales employee’s smartphone, tablet or wearable. And these features cover the gamut of sales rep needs.  Capabilities can range from basic account, opportunity and contact management to also encompass more complex assistance – such as forecasting, quote management, sales enablement, complex analytics, etc.  By being mobilized, these capabilities are available anytime and anywhere the selling professionals require them.

And, right now, sales reps need all the help they can get.  Consider the classic sales cycle, which is typically defined in seven steps:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Making the initial contact/appointment
  3. Identifying needs and requirements
  4. Making the presentation
  5. Managing any objections/concerns
  6. Closing the sale
  7. Asking for referrals

The sales rep’s goal is to be aware of each phase’s requirements, be alert to potential pitfalls, and to step efficiently through the process – engaging, nurturing, and converting the customer along the way.

This is nice in theory but is becoming more difficult to implement as prospects take an even firmer grip of the purchase process.  Sales professionals are often kept stewing on the sideline as prospective customers begin their research earlier, fend off vendors until later, and involve significantly more parties in the vetting and decision-making process.  We can thank the Internet and its all-you-can-eat buffet of information for part of this phenomenon. We can also point to an increasingly sophisticated set of LOB (line of business) and IT personnel that are involved in the purchase decision-making, along with executive teams that are keeping purse strings tight and any investment well-vetted in today’s hyper-competitive climate.

In this more rigorous environment, mobilized SFA solutions have been introducing new ways to help sales representatives better control, understand, and influence the selling cycle.  For example:

  • Earlier and more targeted prospecting:  SFA providers are offering tools that allow the sales rep to quickly research and find new leads based on a wide range of criteria. And social media integration allows reps to easily keep track of relevant developments and breaking news at target companies … all of which surfaces on their smartphone or tablet in near real time. These capabilities can enable reps to take a more proactive approach, identify opportunities more quickly, and insert themselves earlier in the customer’s vetting process.
  • Higher-quality proposals:  The presentation stage is the sales rep’s most important opportunity to impress, educate, and convert.  SFA software is incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and leveraging a vast amount of data and history to score proposals for their success probability and to recommend specific add-ons and edits in terms of products, pricing, etc.
  • Real-time responsiveness:  Customers are an impatient bunch.  When a prospect has a question, a concern, or a follow-up inquiry for the selling professional, they want an immediate response. Delays can lose a sale.  Mobile-first SFA solutions allow the sales rep to engage in real time – and with all needed information available a click or two away on their mobile device.

Sales organizations would be advised to move beyond basic sales force automation. It’s past time to begin evaluating more of the new and improved mobilized SFA capabilities that can help their selling professionals dominate today’s more demanding selling cycle.

You can learn more about mobile SFA developments in the Frost & Sullivan study, “North American Mobilized Sales Force Automation Market, Forecast to 2021: Optimizing Selling Processes and Creating Growth Opportunities,” K1FE-65, December 2017 at https://store.frost.com.

Jeanine Sterling


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