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The way we sell is changing. Perhaps it’s how the customer now buys and connects with the market that means we have to.

The fundamental way we approach sales has moved on.

A prospect is much more likely to take an introductory sales call when they already know it’s contextual, relevant and will deliver value to them personally.

The market has become customer-centric and sales are now won on relationships over product, brand or even service.

I don’t see b2b sales as a funnel anymore, I think of it as a flywheel where the ongoing experience of the customer sits at the centre.

The sales cycles are longer, our customers are only ever a few clicks from our competition, everything is measurable and the demands we ask of our sales teams are far greater.

I would argue that behind all the best b2b companies there is data informing how they should sell tomorrow.

But, what are the companies at the forefront of b2b doing today that you’re not?

Each week, we’ll be inviting a guest on to demystify the processes behind some of the leading success stories in b2b sales operations.

This week, we have Alex Williams, Head Of Corporate Strategy & Development at Roxhill Media who will be sharing how they sell LIVE on the Sales Ops Demystified Webinar, you can claim 1 of the 50 spots here.

Anyway. here are just a handful of companies that reimagined modern sales and are well worth a follow.

Drift

Having the best product, brand or service is no longer enough to guarantee you stay at the cutting edge of sales.

Those closest to the customer will meet their needs best.

Drift identified that today’s typical buyer is almost permanently connected online. So much so that they sleep with their phones lying in their hands.

Whether it’s socially or professionally, the preferred vehicle for engagement is through real-time communication platforms like Messenger, SMS, Instagram and Slack.

They introduced the idea of conversational marketing as a way to sell, but they also showed that it would happen with or without using Drift.

Customers come to their own conclusions that Drift is the smartest avenue without them having to push their service.

It pays dividends to their bottom line that their sales engagements are helpful, informative and there to match the customer with the best service for them.

They turned traditional lead capture techniques on their head and suggested forms, emails and gates alone are a perfectly good tactic for a world that no longer exists.

This is the on-demand generation that captures customers at the point of interest. Drift’s conversational marketing and email arm attempts to do just that.

Nordstrom

Find any dominant brick-and-mortar retailer that’s thriving in the age of Amazon and you’ll find a company that truly understands how to sell to its customers.

Retail is going to continue moving further away from bricks to clicks and Nordstrom had to evolve or follow the fate of Blockbuster, Toys R Us and many more.

Last year, the retailer encouraged online shoppers away from their keyboards and back to physical outlets with the promise of a better experience.

Free cocktails, personal shoppers, the option to return unwanted items at exclusive kiosks and a service to embroider customised phrases onto purchases.

Think of it as a goody-bag of freemium, personalisation and exclusivity. They sold to a customer they understood and offered them a better experience. An exclusive experience that focused on the individual.

All tactics that enjoyed success, but will have little impact alone in a digital-first world.

Buyer-behaviours have changed and Nordstrom understood that. It’s not a question of physical or e-commerce, but a delivery of both, together, to service customer experience.

If you imagine that your business is a store and every customer is an individual that shops differently.

Priceintelligently.com

Most of us have heard of buyer personas to map who we sell to.

We usually build them through a series of workshops, based on the informed opinions of leadership and they usually form the guidelines for who we sell to.

They usually have alliteration in them and a degree of putting your finger in the air.

Priceintelligently.com take it to a completely new depth with measurable personas qualified by the customer and even produced a 140 page eBook to map how to do it.

They show you how to qualify who you should be selling to with data and identify each personas cost acquisition, lifetime value and willingness to buy.

You can pinpoint where they sit in the sales decision and match which granular features they will have the biggest appetite for.

Zuora

The biggest barrier to converting a prospect is often the voice inside their head that says:

“We’ve done alright without this so far.”

Companies like Zuora and Drift didn’t push prospects over the line by scaring them into a purchase. They identified a change and became a movement.

Showing recognisable and relevant change in the world creates a sense of urgency with your prospect.

For me, that means finding the context for each customer and showing a change that’s relatable.

Zuora believed we’ve moved into a “subscription economy” where buyers want an end to ownership.

They then became the dominant force in supporting that reality.


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