How to Compete in the New Era of Sales: Webinar Recap

Johnny Marx
March 26, 2015

Yesterday, Handshake hosted a “How to Compete in the New Era of Sales” webinar with CEO Glen Coates, along with Louis Jonckheere, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Showpad, and Jake Gasaway, Co-Founder of Stitch Labs. We had three great presentations about the topic of sales competition and a panel discussion. If you missed it, here’s a recap.

Defining The New Era of Sales

What is The New Era of Sales? It all boils down to one thing––the user experience. Most people probably think of user experience, or UX, as a bit of a software industry term, but it’s much broader than that. When we talk about a “user,” we mean anyone who is involved in your sales process––both your actual customer and the people from your team responsible for working with your customer, i.e. your salespeople and customer service teams. The reason we’re talking about “user experience” as opposed to “customer experience,” is that being competitive in today’s market is about driving the best possible experience for both the buyer and the seller whenever they’re interacting. Delivering an amazing user experience around the sales conversations powering your business is an opportunity to differentiate your brand amongst the competition. In a sense, this has always been true. It has always been clear that delivering an amazing user experience around a sale adds value for both sides. That’s why we try to hire salespeople and customer service people who are intelligent, caring, and effective (click here for a recap of another recent webinar, “How to Hire Top Sales Performers”). Ultimately, that’s how most companies have competed on UX throughout history––with their people. The New Era of Sales is now about stepping up your game to elevate that user experience with technology. It’s about using cutting edge mobile and web applications to transform how your salespeople and customers interface with one another. Ultimately, the “why now” of this story comes down to the fact that the explosion of web and mobile technology in the last five to ten years has fundamentally altered what’s possible in the sales experience. It’s effectively reset the competitive landscape.

Sales Competition in The New Era of Sales

Amidst shifting customer expectations, increasing access to information, and demands for efficiency, here are three ways to differentiate your business in today’s hypercompetitive landscape and enable your sales reps and customers to have better conversations:

1. Compete on Customer Service

Competing on both price and product has its limitations. Products are often easily imitated, and driving down prices is ultimately unsustainable. Improving your customer service at all touchpoints––from your sales reps and back office teams to your online sales channels––is therefore the most solid way to maintain an edge over your competitors. Take action:

  • Give sales reps access to key metrics, data, and customer intelligence that will enable them to create a more personalized experience for each customer.
  • Provide a modern, more efficient sales experience by replacing outdated paper processes with digital tools.
  • Reduce transactional activity and replace with strategic value.
  • Make investments in efficiency to speed up the fulfillment process.
  • Make omni-channel availability a priority.

2. Compete with the “Educated Buyer”

With the growing availability of information online, customers are becoming more and more knowledgeable about your products. Often, they’re already familiar with your brand before they even speak with a sales rep for the first time. Giving your reps access to the right content at the right time can make a huge difference in driving better conversations. Take Action:

  • Anticipate pain points based on past trends.
  • Prepare reps for sales conversations with the content (presentations, videos, etc.) they need in a centralized location.
  • Use analytics to create more relevant content and keep sales collateral updated.
  • Leave prospects with materials tailored to their interests.
  • Analyze engagement data to gauge interest level with prospects and provide better, more tailored follow-up.

3. Compete with Better Data Tracking

As businesses expand their sales channels both offline and online, inventory and sales information can remain scattered and disorganized. By improving data tracking and centralized reporting, businesses can reclaim time once spent on manual processing, concentrate more on revenue generation, and make smarter business decisions. Take Action:

  • Automate data tracking systems to reclaim time once spent on manual processing.
  • Centralize reporting from different sales channels.
  • Use data insights to improve forecasting, inventory planning, and sales conversations.
  • Leverage efficiency gains to expand to new sales channels.

In the end, delivering the best possible user experience in the New Era of Sales is about providing better access to information, emphasizing strategic value, and increasing efficiency to save time and enable richer interactions between your customers and reps.