Every year, from November through January, the sales and marketing world lights up with new reports: upcoming trends, yearly recaps, and more, all of them eager to point out what’s working and what’s next. If they end up a little off the mark, that’s the nature of the business – by the time the next year comes around, everyone’s allowed to start fresh.
That’s not a bad thing – how many years was it ‘the year of mobile’ before it finally broke through? Sometimes, trendsetting needs to build up a little momentum. But all the same, it’s been a few months since the prediction-storm: let’s take stock of what’s on-pace. My organization, Apttus, published a Sales Trends report that gathered perspective from dozens of industry experts. The in-depth results are well worth a read, but one set of predictions in particular is worth examining now. Sales will move forward based on the ongoing commitment to Digital Transformation, Sales Automation, and Tool Consolidation.
We are already knee-deep in the era of digital business, driven by cloud and SaaS models, connectivity, and smart technology. The world is moving at a faster pace than ever before, and businesses must remain adaptive, agile, and responsive to the shifts in market demands and customer expectations. Think about it like this – your customers are used to a smooth experience like Amazon’s when they’re ordering B2C – are they going to forget about that when it’s time for their org’s B2B deals? Not a chance. There’s no time left for keeping your pricing on a spreadsheet, or running every deal through your team’s elder statesman. Customers will simply look in a different direction.
From a team-wide perspective, there simply is no excuse for mindless and tedious manual work. Hours can be shaved off prospecting, dialing, emailing, data input, drawing up sales documents and more. That’s time better spent in front of prospects and customers. Leaders need to audit their sales processes, augmenting manual steps with automation. Look to do so by selecting the right tools, not necessarily more tools. Is there a discount that gets applied universally to a certain size deal? Cut out a step in your process. Is there a product that synchronizes perfectly with another service? Bundle them together automatically at a discount. Saving your team time ultimately saves customer’s time, and that’s a point in your favor.
The marketplace is near saturation. There is an abundance of small, standalone sales tools that can only solve one pain at a time. As a result, technology-forward sales orgs are noticing their sales tool stacks are starting to become unwieldy. In some cases the variety of tools is detracting, rather than enhancing rep productivity. Many experts predict that 2016 will see its share of acquisitions, mergers and bundling of these tools as they are added as features into existing platforms. Already, we’ve seen a rise in more universal offerings – take a look at the rise of ‘Quote-to-Cash’ offerings: this is a process that, within one silo, escorts a deal from opportunity to revenue. It’s simpler, streamlined, and ultimately faster than using a series of disjointed solutions.
The rate of adoption and the evolutionary development of these buckets is driven by a simple need: the need for speed. Implement the right sales processes and technology, and your organization can maintain (or improve!) deal accuracy and accountability even while putting the pedal to the metal.
These changes aren’t simply being driven by the folks in your organization in charge of selling more. There is a legitimate demand for faster processes from your prospects, customers, and your all-important channel partners. Every facet of the sales cycle runs faster by increasing visibility, efficiency, and flexibility. Re-selling partners need immediate updates to a constantly evolving catalog, your sales teams benefit from automatically bundling and discounting key items, and customers are always going to appreciate a smooth, simple operation. Speed is always the goal, and the trend to watch from 2016, but not everyone knows how to get there. The answer is here: make things easier for everyone involved, and the results speak for themselves.
Maria Pergolino is Global Senior Vice President of Marketing at Apttus.