4 Steps To Jump-Start SMB Digital Sales To Grow Your Business
As SMBs mature they need to scale-up mission-critical functions such as sales, marketing, and service. Here’s a look at how to start with your SMB digital sales.
[© MARC TRAN | Stocksy United]
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are often saddled by constraints on time, talent, and budget. While we typically talk about these constraints relative to the challenges of selling to small businesses, they’re also why many SMBs have trouble getting started with digital sales.
Don’t let the word “digital” throw you off — you don’t need an enterprise-sized budget or dedicated IT department to reap the benefits of digital selling. In fact, in many ways SMBs are uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of digital sales. What, exactly, are we talking about when we say SMB digital sales?
Let’s dig into how selling this way works.
What are the challenges of SMB sales?
SMBs are different from enterprise-size organizations, so they need to approach digital sales differently, too. SMB sales cycles are typically faster than enterprise sales cycles (which takes into account a long-game full of building trust with multiple stakeholders and approvers, loss of objection handling, and ultimately piecing together complex deals), so being nimble with digital solutions can be the key to success. SMB sales teams typically gather as much information as possible via outreach (cold calls, email introductions, event booths, etc.), as opposed to dealing with slower, more bureaucratic processes involved in enterprise deals.
Sales teams at growing SMBs, in particular, need to be aggressive — when small businesses grow into medium ones, they usually face an uptick in expenses related to recruiting, expanded headcount, and marketing. These common expenses of growth need growing revenue.
Upskilling or reskilling employees is a plus for SMBs, as well. The more the global economy tilts towards a 24/7, “work from anywhere” way of doing things, the bigger a role technology plays in facilitating deals. A sales rep or business owner might need to quickly spin up a virtual demo or connect with multiple stakeholders all using disparate systems — SMBs need to be prepared to make it work, whenever, and wherever an opportunity presents itself.
Preparing for opportunities includes empowering sales reps with easy, mobile-friendly access to a “single source of truth” — a back-office system for key business information.
Preparing for opportunities includes empowering sales reps with easy, mobile-friendly access to a “single source of truth” — a back-office system for key business information. Digital sales is all about people and technology working together so key decisions can be made based on business data. For example:
How are customers using the product? (Usage monitoring)
Are customers making payments on time, or are they often late? (Collections/billing data)
What’s customer sentiment like on support calls? (Service data)
When sales teams have access to vital business information and insights at their fingertips, they can leverage technology to fuel their deal-making efforts. In a word, SMBs need to embrace digital sales to build trust with prospects as quickly as possible.
How SMBs can go digital
Ready to get started? Here are five steps to skill up your small business for digital sales, including a peek at the future of technology-enhanced sales coaching:
Get everyone onboard with why digital sales are important. Make sure your sales team understands why digital sales are important. Help them understand why with success metrics, internal and external success stories (similar companies or competitors that are successful with digital sales), and/or areas for improvement in the organization. Here’s an example to get you started: SMB travel company Jet It realized a 300% increase in sales year over year after adopting a digital sales strategy and the tools to make it happen.
Empower salespeople to learn more about the market. It’s harder to beat the competition if you don’t know what they’re up to, especially when it comes to objection handling. Leverage online resources to help your salespeople stay up on industry and product trends. Software review site G2 is a great place to start. Browse to their site, enter the name of a company, product name, or industry in the search field, and read the user reviews to get the latest intel from actual customers. You can also browse by category and tag to hone in on functionality or user characteristic. Tracking competitors’ pricing, promotions, and products help you keep tabs on what customers are buying — and helps you avoid getting unpleasantly surprised on a sales call.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a sales coach’s new best friend. Sales coaches are embracing AI’s ability to review calls faster and easier, by highlighting the calls and keywords to hone in on during coaching sessions.
Review mistakes and conduct call reviews. Call reviews are when sales leaders listen back to recordings of sales calls to identify areas where reps might need improvement, or where they deserve recognition. As Brooke Gerhardt, sales director for manufacturing firm Armstrong Steel, explained in this guest blog post, call reviews are an integral part of skilling up any sales team. “Key performance metrics, such as conversions or contract value, tell only part of the story,” she said. “These call reviews provide useful context on why our reps may, or may not, be hitting their numbers.” To that end, artificial intelligence (AI) is a sales coach’s new best friend. Sales coaches are embracing AI’s ability to review calls faster and easier, by highlighting the calls and keywords to hone in on during coaching sessions. As Gerhardt detailed, “AI has saved us 60% of the time we used to spend going through sales calls. Before we’d go through calls manually. Now we simply click on keywords. We’ve eliminated the number of calls we listen to by 40% because we trust machine learning to help.” Armstrong calls their process conversational intelligence, and it’s saving time and revenue while improving sales training across the board.
Offer additional resources. Growing, medium businesses generally lack the resources enterprises leverage to get sales teams up and running with new technology and strategies. SMBs can lean on external resources to jumpstart digital sales without shouldering the cost of full-time headcounts. Salesforce offers a host of adoption services specifically for SMBs, including:
The CRM Starter Pack program
Guides and playbooks, and
Trailhead trails for self-paced learning.
Implementation partners, in particular, are vital for growing businesses wanting to maximize their investment in CRM technology. The right partner can help an SMB pick the right tools for the job and jumpstart implementation, saving time and money up front and setting the entire business up for long-term success.
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