Today's post is by Danny Wong.
Sales organizations of all sizes value predictability in their pipelines, as this ability to forecast future revenue impacts all strategic decisions surrounding the company – from hiring plans to reinvestment in the business.
Making these predictions accurately requires the ability to control the sales process and assess the likelihood that the deals in progress will close. While that’s typically the role of the sales reps and their managers, there are ways the IT team can support that mission – allowing reps themselves to prioritize the deals they have in flight, better determine how to move them along to the next stage, or flag those that need more of their attention.
IT teams specialize in maintaining and implementing technological solutions for the betterment of the organization, so there’s a match made in heaven for sales teams that suffer from antiquated procedures and tool sets when newer options exist.
1. Facilitate Sales and Marketing Alignment
One of the first things IT can do is help ensure there is alignment between sales and marketing to create a better path for tracking and managing the deal stage of leads and prospects. As the line between these two departments increasingly blurs, it’s more important than ever that everyone is speaking the same language. The marketing half of a lead’s journey – from the initial conversion to a contact, and later an MQL and SQL – can quickly move into the sales side as they work through the exploratory stages and closer to buy-in from decision makers. Establishing these (and other incremental) stages in the process can then be used to determine a corresponding likelihood to close and, when coupled with the deal value, allows organizations using a CRM or some form of tracking to gain additional insight into their pipeline.
2. Research Technology Worth Purchasing and Implement It
With the process and procedure nailed down, IT teams can lean on some of the technology at their disposal to implement sales enablement tools. A wide variety of these tools exist with a range of capabilities, but aggregated review sites like G2 Crowd can help illuminate the best fit for your needs. While the potential use cases are virtually limitless, some of the common desires are for improved marketing automation and lead nurturing.
How this takes shape will often depend on the sophistication of your sales and marketing process, but can include everything from better email nurturing to triggered outreach events and content personalized to the viewer on the Website. Imagine, for example, how your sales team would respond to receiving a notification that a lead they’d been working was currently viewing the pricing page on a Website and might be ripe for a call. Similarly, the ability to understand how and when their messaging is resonating with prospects by knowing when old emails are re-opened or links are clicked is well within the feature range of some email clients and tool extensions.
3. Build Tools that Complement the Sales Process
While the core of an IT team’s responsibility is integrating disparate systems to ensure the compatibility of everything in their arsenal, this isn’t always constrained to off-the-shelf products and might include a few custom tools. Some teams have the ability to create these from scratch, whereas others prefer the DIY sandbox environment of a platform like SnapApp – but creating tools that can add value to prospects during their evaluation stage can help accelerate the process for the sales team.
In this instance the only limits are on the imagination, so work with marketing and sales to figure out where the potential lies – but interactive questionnaires, ROI calculators, or product configurators are examples of modules that can help everyone involved in the transaction.
4. Simplify the End-of-Funnel Process for End Users
Consider the problem that e-commerce companies frequently worry about – where shopping cart abandonment represents enormous chunks of lost revenue. A similar problem can arise when snags come up in more considered B2B purchases and – given the average deal size – it's imperative that, when a prospect is ready to buy, there are no barriers in their path.
Creating an easier purchasing process is an area of potential refinement for many sales teams. While a unique payment link and the opportunity to use a credit card is an easy process that mirrors the online purchases most of us make in our personal lives, this isn’t always feasible for enterprise solutions. Even still, there are a host of document e-signature tools to manage contracts, which are especially helpful when sign-off needs to come from different people throughout an organization, or even different offices.
Taking strides to create an easier procurement process can help remove friction at the finish line, where neglect can also do the most damage, but the broader goal aligns with every stage in the sales cycle. The motivation for everyone involved should be to give sales and marketing as much information as possible about their prospects, be able to seamlessly provide value back to them, and strike while the iron is hot. The better armed an IT department can make the client-facing teams, the more dangerous and efficient they’ll be when they’re finally in front of prospects.