The top 7 B2B sales trends from 2012


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Last week we published our top B2B marketing trends from the past year. Here’s a similar list of what drove B2B sales innovation and results in 2012.

1. Continued shift from field to inside sales
Field sales isn’t going away, not by a long shot, but far more organizations are diverting more of their team, and launching new efforts, with a primarily inside focus. There are several reasons this is happening, outlined in this post from earlier this year. Most assume it’s an internal, cost-driven decision. But the primary driver of this shift is actually the buyer. They’re busier than ever, appreciate long-term relationship building vs. in-the-office pitches, and are just fine making complex purchase decisions remotely.

2. Better outcome-oriented needs analysis
World-class sales organizations, and particularly those reps working the top of the pipeline, are doing a far better job of having business conversations vs. tactical product conversations up front. Instead of asking tactical questions about the prospect’s existing use of similar products or services, sales reps are digging into the aspirational needs and objectives their prospects have above and beyond any product purchase decision. This requires those sales reps to not only understand their prospects better, but be able to have high-level business conversations – a new skill, but a critical if not mandatory skill to increase top-of-pipeline qualification and conversions moving forward.

3. Smarter lead follow-up based on activity and/or intent
Not every lead is equal. We already know this. But our sales-driven lead scoring and follow-up processes historically have still treated every lead equally. This year, thanks in part to sales partnering with marketing on more advanced lead scoring methodologies, sales is able to focus their time by following up on the right leads, at the right time, based on the activity and observed/implied intent of the prospect. Fewer calls, better conversations, happier prospects.

4. Rep-driven content curation
Some sales organizations encourage their reps to blog and create content. And although some sales reps are pretty good at that, most don’t have time to do it on a regular basis and not materially take away valuable selling time. At least just as valuable, and with a fraction of the required time & commitment, is content curation – the act of aggregating and distributing relevant content from elsewhere to their prospects. Through a combination of Twitter accounts, LinkedIn updates, and even simple FYI emails from time to time, more successful sales reps are leveraging content curation best practices to nurture and activate more of their own pipelines to great results & success.

5. Daily best practice sharing, weekly training
Most sales organizations focus their training & best practice sharing at quarterly sales meetings. Few follow the best practices of market-leading organizations that know daily best practice sharing and weekly training are keys to keeping their reps sharp, focused and successful. This takes many forms – group sessions, online and interactive sharing, peer-to-peer sessions and more. But in 2012, more organizations started devoting extra resources to their ongoing training efforts.

6. Daily huddles at the team/manager level
Successful sales organizations in 2012 often practiced daily meetings. Not the 15-30 minute meetings that often drag on and provide little incremental value, but quick “stand up” huddles of five minutes or less. Focused, fast-paced, intended to get the reps quickly the information and inspiration they need for the day, then back to work. In less time than before, these organizations are actually increasing coordination, communication & morale among their teams.

7. Broader tool adoption for productivity & deal velocity is not enough. World-class sales organizations in 2012 significantly increased their adoption and leverage of add-on productivity, prospecting and market research tools to speed up existing processes, increase the quality and context of their prospect conversations, and give the entire organization (from rep to manager to executive) far greater transparency & visibility to what’s working, what’s not, and what to do next. There are too many excellent sales tools to name here, and the right tools and/or tool mix varies based on the make-up, focus and strategy of the sales organization.

I’m very curious to hear more about your sales organization, or the sales orgs you work with. What directly led to their increased results, productivity and success in 2012?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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