Today’s sales teams are at a crossroads. Many young college graduates are finding their first jobs in corporate sales. These Millennial employees are better educated, attuned to competition and hard work, have more technical savvy, and ability to quickly learn new technologies than any generation that has come before. But Millennial sales personnel also come with a native attitude of rapid upward mobility instead of long-term company loyalty. As a result, Millennial turnover is exceedingly high.
Millennial salespeople are just as skilled as their Baby Boomer and Gen X colleagues at relationship building. They move seamlessly between face-to-face conversations and social media, and build deep sales relationships quickly.
Customers buy based on relationships with salespeople even more than they buy on features, style, or price but when Millennials inevitably leave the company, the relationships that have been the impetus for so many successful sales evaporate.
Another challenge facing sales organizations is the explosion of available content to use as sales collateral. Everything is up for grabs. Sales people no longer have to rely solely on internal Marcom teams to design branded collateral.
Articles, testimonials, online reviews, academic papers, and video are all viable content to share with customers, in addition to company-provided materials but collecting all this information, and making it easy for sales team members to find quickly is next to impossible.
It’s not that the material isn’t there. In an era where content is king, proliferation has caused such a glut of information that salespeople must use a huge portion of their day weeding through it all, literally a needle in a haystack.
The answer to both of these challenges facing sales organizations is a system that makes managing both relationships and collateral simple and instantaneous.
The stakes rising for companies who must deal with job-hopping Millennials and an onslaught of unstructured, unindexed data spread across global sales teams. It’s becomes clear that organizations must invest in a system that will allow them to improve data access and usage significantly.
I Have It Here Somewhere:
The Challenges of Sales Content
in a Millennial World
Meet the Millennial Sales Team
Today’s sales workers are typically young, connected, and mobile. Millennial employees expect to work in a single position for no more than two years. For them, moving from job to job is not only common, it’s a mark of distinction. Once, “job-hopping” was a stigma that made an employer look on candidates in a negative light. Now, short-term employment could speed up career advancement. Millennials would rather move to a different company to climb the corporate ladder. They see no point in “paying dues” at a company, or attempting a slow climb to the top. Instead, they get there faster through strategic moves. While companies understand these workplace trends, they don’t like it.
Every time an employee leaves, the company and the department loses the investment they’ve put into training and developing that person. They have to start over.
For sales organizations, the cost is even higher. Relationship selling is still the core of sales techniques.
When sales employees move on, they take with them not only knowledge of the product and their sales skills. They also take their knowledge about business relationships and the human side of sales transactions. Baby Boomer salespeople believed in a culture of long-term employment and building and nurturing relationships over years or even decades. Crucial data about each client stayed locked in these employees’ heads. There was no danger of losing that information—neither salesperson nor customer was going anywhere.
Maintaining Nurtured Relationships with a Changing Cast of Characters
Now, CRM systems like Salesforce.com can track sales and call history, but it can’t track the personal relationship teams build with clients. New salespeople may be able to come into Salesforce and understand a customer’s buying habits, but they can’t use it to tell which of their clients play golf, for example.
In old style parlance, salespeople take their Rolodexes with them when they leave, and along with them, the potential for millions of dollars in sales based on relationship selling.
Companies already feel the strain of so many employees moving around frequently. “This is a problem all the time,” said Patrick Ewers, founder and CEO of Mindmaven, a relationship-based executive coaching company, and named by Forbes as the top business relationship coach in the Silicon Valley. “It’s overwhelming to try to keep a business running when the company’s vital relationship information keeps walking out the door every few months.
Customers want to believe that salespeople truly remember that their kid plays soccer or that they won a prize at the county fair last year. I’m pretty sure that intellectually, customers know that this level of detail is written down somewhere, but just bringing it up in conversation makes them feel special. It makes them feel that the salesperson, and by extension, the company, really cares about them as people.
Achieving that state is one the most powerful things in sales. It differentiates the good from the great.” For such customers, Ewers recommends integrating Evernote with Salesforce. Many people would not connect the dots between a note-taking and productivity app and a robust CRM, or would not see how one can enhance the other. “Once you look at it, though,” Ewers says, “It’s very clear.
Salesforce integrates with Evernote, so salespeople record relationship history notes and link them
to the facts and figures. Then, when sales staff inevitably changes, that vital human relationship information stays with you, allowing the company to continue to use this hard-earned information.
Structured data doesn’t differentiate between quality and quantity. Salesforce shows every interaction or task, but salespeople would need to read a lot of emails before they were able to extract the knowledge they’d need for a relationship-based approach. That information should always be contained in a format like Evernote that allows a new team member to come up to speed quickly. It’s editable and easily consumable. Sales staff members can feel more empowered to use this information as they’re deepening their new relationship with existing clients.”
Standing Out in a World of Data Overload
Throughout the history of modern sales techniques, account executives have relied on company provided collateral materials and literature to help drive the sale home. Data sheets, product pages, presentations, and white papers have been the proof points that nurture prospects into customers.
Today, collateral is more important than ever, but salespeople have a much greater arsenal at their disposal. Videos, published articles and customer reviews from external sources provide an even more compelling enticement to buy.
Company collateral is still relevant, of course, but external proof points lead credence to company claims. The question sales organizations face is how to manage all of this new information, and how to use it to its full advantage. Every sales rep and field application engineer (FAE) has to anticipate and assess each customer’s needs before the sales call. The onus is on the sales reps and FAEs to find and produce the right collateral material for each client in advance, and they must predict which materials their customers might want to see before they even meet. This pre-meeting prep takes precious hours to complete, and can adversely affect a salesperson’s productivity.
After all, the field sales rep’s job is to close deals, not to hunt for supporting materials.
The field sales rep’s job is to close deals, not to hunt for supporting materials.
A survey by Docurated of 127 sales and marketing executives, The State of Sales Productivity 2015,
revealed that sales staff spends only one-third of their time selling anything.
They spend another 31 percent of their time searching for content. Why?
57 percent of the respondents agreed that high-quality content is a top sales driver.
trouble is, sales reps can’t easily find what they’re looking for. Having the right information at the right time can make the difference between a closed sale and a lost opportunity. With sales staff members geographically dispersed across the globe, it’s easy for silos of information to form. No matter how fast a marketing department updates and pushes content to the employees, the Internet is refreshing itself every 12 hours.
Marketing can’t keep up.
It’s not unusual for well-meaning sales reps to find content on their own, or even create it independently. Some sales reps may forget to share their newly-found or created materials. It’s far more likely that a sales rep will simply save it to his or her computer, and never share it with colleagues.
It’s not surprising, then, that 84 percent of those surveyed said that searching for and using content is the number one area for targeted improvement in sales productivity.
Despite this alarming statistic, only 35 percent of companies are doing anything at all about it.
Salespeople spend 31% of their time searching for content.
84% of sales and marketing executives agree that searching
for and using content is the #1 area for improvement.
It is natural for sales management to seize any opportunity that makes the most of an existing system. That’s why managers turn to their CRMs for answers, but CRMs alone fall short.
Corporate storage repositories like Dropbox only work if everyone remembers to put new and updated content into them, and even then, searching for something can be arduous. “We see this all the time,” said Shawn Watson, owner of Innovative Nous in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, an Evernote Certified Consultant. “Companies have invested so much into their CRMs and content repositories, but when they need them to break up content silos, they don’t work. They know about Evernote, but they think of it as a notetaking app.
They don’t realize its potential to cut this content silo problem altogether.” “If a company is already using Salesforce with the integration, they can get so much more value from their investment by having sales and marketing people put all of their content in it,” Watson continued. “All the silos disappear, and
so does that 31 percent of time spent looking for content,” he added. “A single word search brings
up in seconds everything anyone has ever put into Evernote.
Sales and marketing teams located all over the world can collaborate, and it’s utterly seamless.” Standalone use of Evernote in a sales situation quickly addresses the content search and sales productivity issue, Watson notes.
“Evernote Business keeps everyone on the same page with content updates and new content,” he said. “Shared notebooks keep the whole team in sync, and salespeople on the road can get anything they need in real time, without having to take the time to search for it in advance.”
Many salespeople carry personal Wi-Fi devices to access the Internet where connectivity isn’t available or is too expensive (such as inflight, in auto, and in some hotels). Evernote Business syncs when each customer is connected, so all the material is available even when connectivity isn’t possible.
A system that can improve sales productivity by as much as almost one-third regardless of the sales person’s whereabouts is an invaluable asset to any sales organization. It maximizes time, shortens sales cycles, and breaks down barriers to successful team selling.
Investing for Millennial Changes
Sales teams are in crisis, and content is at the heart of the issue. Generational differences, changing work styles, a demand for immediate response from a customer while still expecting old-fashioned relationship sales has created an almost impossible situation for sales teams. These challenges are so overwhelming that more than 40 percent of organizations have no idea how to solve them. One thing is clear: sales organizations need consistent and easy access to large amounts of data, both structured (such as can be found in Salesforce.com) and unstructured (relationship data and shared collateral).
Organizations need to make investments that can ensure sales reps have continual access to all the content they need to do their jobs successfully.
Organizations must also make certain, despite trends toward shorter tenure in the workforce due to Millennial job changing, that their records are complete, and relationship selling can continue.
Evernote can help sales organizations quickly get a handle on both of these issues in a user-friendly
and scalable way.
Evernote Business can give more than 30 percent of sales reps’ time back to closing deals, and give organizations an unbroken line in sales’ intellectual property and relationships.
The value of continuity and improved time management is immeasurable.
An investment in content management and search, such as is available in Evernote Business, can provide a solid defense as the sales process becomes more complicated.
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