Industry sectors are always evolving. These days they evolve quicker than ever.
Are your team using the same sales strategies and benefit messages they were using 5 years ago? Or even 2 years ago?
Are you competing on the right factors for now?
An example of the way shifts in selling strategies can quickly evolve is the cloud computing space.
Not so many years ago major software vendors had “elephant hunters” on their sales team. These sales reps would spend months searching for, and then courting, decision makers from large potential clients.
These hunters often had low levels of technical product knowledge and relied heavily on introducing other technical experts from within the company to talk technical details with clients.
In many ways it was an old-fashioned style of selling; very much based on developing a relationship that leads to an opportunity for a sales conversation.
But times have changed
And a big part of what is driving the change in the corporate computing sector is cloud computing services.
Cloud services are now much more understood and trusted than they were a few years ago. This change in understanding brings about a need for changes in how sales teams interact with prospects.
It’s been reported that small software firms that address product niches in the tech space are become increasingly valuable as the cloud battles shift from the ‘price war’ era in 2014 into the ‘feature war’ era of 2016 and beyond.
Education + Easy trial = Less need for sales people
When you consider that buyers are now far more educated than ever and cloud software vendors make it easy to try-before-you-buy, it leaves little room (or need) for persuasive sales people to interact with prospects.
Nowadays many large corporate purchases may well start out as smaller localised trials. Possibly initially using the vendors DIY trial option. Sellers need to know what these new opportunities look like, instead of relying on the buying signals from bygone eras.
So much so that in an article on Bloomberg it was summed up as:
The cloud has made software sales a grind for $50,000 starter deals instead of an elephant hunt for seven-figure ones.
This change in the decision-making landscape has prompted changes in how sales teams are structured. With field-based reps costing up to 50% more than office-based reps, the use of ‘Inside Sales’ teams within tech and SaaS firms has soared over recent years.
Brian Halligan, CEO of marketing and sales software company HubSpot, has said:
The job is no longer to sell as much software as possible. It’s to help the customer get as much out of the software as possible. The personality profile of the technology salesperson has shifted from aggressive and persistent to technical and smart.
Tech buyers have moved on from a focus on cost
For example, if you are now selling cloud based services focused on cost-savings (as that was a major factor a few years ago) you would now be missing the mark with potential clients as their concerns have moved on to factors such as lack of resources and knowledge to implement, security and leveraging a hybrid cloud environment.
Simply having a large work force and abundant product expertise is not enough to be successful.
As a result of these changes cloud based sales teams (or any business impacted by similar changes in their sales landscape) need to be able to educate potential clients on how their system can create benefits for the business. The need for managing consultative sales conversations and providing suitable education to help clients make the best decision is now paramount.
If you’re not in the cloud computing sector don’t relax. Cloud computing is just one example of this changing sales scenario.
Don’t become a victim of industry changes
Stay ahead of the curve by proactively researching industry developments, paying attention to subtle shifts in buying patterns, and tuning in to the current concerns and requirements of your buyers.
Then train your sales team (or technical professionals) so they know how to navigate the new landscape.