Let’s face it, salespeople, bless ‘em, don’t have the best reputation.
Look at any “least trusted profession" poll and inevitably some form of sales based job is towards the top, usually just behind politicians. To be fair, us marketers usually aren't too far behind.
Part of this is down to the historical “sell, sell, sell” attitude we’ve come to associate with a profession bonused or paid on commission, and the “Always Be Closing” mantra sales is tagged with in TV and films.
Some of this reputation, it has to be said, has been earned.
We’ve all had those harassing sales calls at one time or another trying to flog us some vague product we neither want nor understand why we’d need in the first place.
But as times have changed and the way people buy things has shifted, sales has undergone a major change in the way it operates to be more aligned with giving potential customers useful information they can use to make up their own mind.
This sales alignment with the new buyer journey creates the basis for today’s method of frictionless selling - the idea of making it as easy as possible for someone to buy from you by giving them information quickly, without the disruptive, pushy and annoying sales tactics of yesteryear.
Frictionless selling and inbound sales
The whole idea of frictionless selling and inbound sales is in making everyone who comes in contact with your company feel like they got some kind of benefit from it. Whether this is finding something out on a blog or in a report, or actually buying something they need.
But to do frictionless sales properly, you have to align your sales with your prospects’ and customers’ needs to improve their buying experience.
Ironically, moving the focus off the hard sell is the thing that will generate more sales in the long run if you get it right.
Sounds like a win-win for everyone, right?
But how do you improve your sales alignment with your client's needs and still ensure your company grows?
Creating sales enablement content to drive frictionless selling
Today, prospects are more likely to be introduced to your company through your website, so the first stage of frictionless sales starts there.
Your website is your company’s most valuable sales tool. It’s available 24/7 so instead of filling it full of that “sell, sell, sell” stuff we all hate about sales, fill it with useful, educational content that gives information prospects need.
After your website, sales will have the most contact with prospects and you need to carry over the sales enablement ethos to them.
Believe it or not, your sales team is the biggest source of content and ideas you have.
They talk to prospects everyday, they hear about their challenges, they are told what people are looking for and they know your buyer personas inside out - or they should.
There are a couple of important things to consider to align your sales around a frictionless selling approach:
- Identifying a good fit lead
- Connecting with them
- Exploring their needs
- Advising them on how to move forward
Identifying a good fit lead
Knowing when a lead is a good fit is a vital part of your sales strategy.
Understanding this benefits your sales team and good fit prospects alike because it means your reps have more time to focus on helping prospects find useful information or helping them make buying decisions, rather than spreading themselves too thin dealing with enquiries from people who will never buy from you.
It also means other prospects won’t be bombarded with sales calls or emails for something they don’t want.
Using a tool like HubSpot CRM is a good way of prioritising leads and identifying leads worth following up with.
There are other CRM’s out there - we’ve done a comparison between HubSpot and Salesforce for example - but the thing with HubSpot is that it automatically fits in with their Marketing and Sales Hubs so you can do everything in one place.
Connecting with good fit leads
How you get in touch with good fit leads, or how they get in touch with you is another important part of your overall sales alignment and frictionless sales approach.
Remember, the whole theory behind frictionless sales is that your prospects can get access to the information they need, when they need it. Not being forced to wait until someone from sales is available.
While your website is a good tool for this, why risk a prospect getting lost on your website looking for something and having the potential they can’t find it and go somewhere else.
Introducing conversational marketing through tools like HubSpot or Drift can negate these risks by using chatbots to guide people towards the things they’re looking for.
Even if it’s just pointing them towards a useful article that answers part of their question before they can talk to sales, or sending them to a guide that helps them solve a problem on their own, it will help keep you front of mind.
Similarly, using video for sales is another useful method of getting in touch with people to answer questions.
Yes, it can be a bit weird getting a video from a sales person you’ve never contacted after visiting a few pages on a website, so you have to use a bit of judgement, but a useful video answering questions or demonstrating how something works will get you noticed in a world where video for sales is still something of a novelty.
Exploring your prospect’s needs
Obviously exploring the needs of a prospect is something you should be doing all the time.
Without knowing their needs you can’t tell if they’re a good fit, but once you’ve identified that they are you can spend more time looking at their needs and how you can help.
In the past, unfortunately, whether you could meet their needs relied pretty heavily on the size of a prospect’s budget. You’d be surprised how easily a lead can become a “good fit” for some agencies once said agency figures out there’s plenty of money to be had.
But, if you’re really looking to use sales alignment, you should be trying to figure out how you can help based on the problem the prospect is having, rather than the size of the budget they’re offering.
True, the size of the budget might dictate how much you can do, but it shouldn’t be the starting point.
This will also stop you wasting time on bad fits with big budgets, which will inevitably end up causing your delivery team headaches and causing problems later down the line.
Advise your prospects
Once you’ve figured out what a prospect is looking for, you can guide them on the best solution to fix the problem they’re having.
Sometimes this might be completely different to what they thought they needed when they came to you - or they might need to set up some basic marketing and sales processes before they can benefit from your services.
Whatever the situation, you shouldn’t be afraid to offer your advice on what they should do, that’s why they’ve come to you in the first place.
If you’ve managed to get everything right up to this point, your prospect will trust you as an expert source of information and will value you not just being a “yes man” to get their money. In the long run, if you can demonstrate results for them, they’ll keep trusting you.
Ultimately if you want to increase your sales in today’s “customer centric” world you need to make sure your sales is aligned with the needs and wants of your prospects, and not the other way around.
If you can align your selling process to answer questions and provide value at every stage of the buyer journey you make it much easier for prospects to make decisions and, ultimately, make the decision that you’re the best fit to help them solve their problems.
Want to know how sales alignment and frictionless selling works with inbound marketing? Download our complete guide to frictionless sales.