CSO Actions to Prepare for the Future of Sales

The future of sales is upon us and it is bringing seismic shifts to the sales organization. Changing business-to-business customer buying behaviours, revenue technologies which support end-to-end revenue generation and changing working patterns will mold the sales organization of the future. CSOs need to take steps now to begin the journey to adapt their sales organization to be prepared for the future.

When we surveyed B2B buyers, 75% said their preference would be for a sales-rep free experience. In other words, three quarters said they’d rather not to not engage a sales-rep at all. This is partly driven by customer’s perception that they can complete large parts of their purchase independently of sellers. The saturation of high-quality information available to customers helps fuel this belief – 91% of B2B buyers reported that the information they encountered as part of their last purchase journey was of generally high-quality.

Until now, sellers have been regarded as THE channel to engage customers. In the future of sales this will change and we’re already seeing this shift happen now.  Sellers are becoming ONE channel to engage customers. Suppliers will interact with various customer stakeholders across different channels based upon how, where and when customers choose.

This is a quick summary of the direction we’re heading but as I speak to sales leaders about this a simple question often comes up:  what should they be doing today to prepare for tomorrow?

In these conversations, four key themes emerge that CSOs should be focusing on now to begin to set their organization on the right path for the future:

Begin building the data-driven sales organization
Map customers buying journeys
Audit the revenue technology stack
Map future talent requirements

Begin Building the Data-Driven Sales Organization
Revenue technology will play a crucial role across the entirety of the revenue generating process in the future of sales. Sales leaders are investing more budget into technology yet many organizations are disappointed with their returns on technology investments. While there can be many causes for this, a common problem is a lack of both individual and organizational data capabilities which are critical to capitalize on the benefits of technology. To maximize technology’s potential to transform decision making, sales leaders need to begin building the data-driven sales organization today. CSO’s should work cross-functionally to:

Build organizational data literacy
Establish data and analytics governance
Optimize the portfolio of analytical tools

Map Customers Buying Journeys 
At the surface, this doesn’t sound like something new – many sales organizations will have undertaken exercises like this before. Yet many of these exercises fall short as they have a supplier-centric outlook and focus on how customers interact with them as a supplier.

Instead, organizations need to map customers buying journeys which focus not on how customers buy from them but on the entirety of customers purchase journey in a way which is supplier agnostic. Having specific details on what customers work on for each of their buying jobs will allow organizations to:

Provide customers with targeted resources to help them overcome buying challenges at specific parts of their purchase journey
Help enable sellers to tune their engagements to each individual customer’s buying context
Differentiate themselves against competitors based on the buying support and experience they provide customers.

CSOs should sponsor a team spanning customer-facing functions such as Sales, Marketing and Customer Service to map customer buying journeys to begin to capture these benefits.
Audit the Revenue Technology Stack 
As we’ve touched on, revenue technology will be a core pillar in the future of sales. In order to build the modern revenue technology stack sales leaders need to begin by evaluating where they currently stand with their technology investments. CSOs must conduct exercises to audit the existing revenue technology at their organization. This exercise should help them understand how each technology is being used, the value it brings and gaps that exist from a technology perspective. Understanding existing technology investments will help CSOs accelerate their journey toward the ultimate revenue tech stack in the future.
Map Future Talent Requirements
Talent is an evergreen concern for CSOs and attracting and retaining talent has been a key concern for many CSOs I’ve spoken to across 2022. Yet CSOs should not overlook the long-term talent implications as sales organizations adapt to the future of sales. The role of the seller will adapt as organizations engage with customers across multiple channels and therefore so too will the skills that drive seller high performance. While some skills will be evergreen other skills like Data Literacy and Digital Dexterity will become part of  high-performing seller DNA. CSOs should engage with cross-functional partners to map future talent requirements and begin cultivating the right skills across their organization.
Source: Gartner Hybrid Cloud

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