10 lessons learned after 10 years of modern selling

A lot has happened in the B2B world over the last decade. We’ve seen rapid technological innovation, a total evolution in the ways we work and a dramatic change in how commercial teams engage with buyers. Here are 10 insights from 10 years of experience.

Showpad recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. This has been a major milestone, both personally and for the rest of the team. To see Showpad evolve from what was once an idea to the platform that it is today, and from a small core team to the global workforce that exists today, makes me immensely proud. Throughout my years of experience, I’ve gained some tips and tricks along the way, and our 10-year anniversary is the perfect time to share.

1. Deliver a solution, not only features

In sales and marketing, experience drives revenue. Over the last decade, the sales and marketing technology stack has exploded. Innovative features in a platform are one thing, but if the platform as a whole doesn’t offer a solution to meet the end-to-end needs of its users, it will never succeed. In order to be successful, sales and marketing professionals need to marry features and solutions in a strong harmony in order to bring high-quality experiences to users. 

2. Power is with people, at every stage of the experience

Experience is not only driven by technology, but equally by and for people. In B2B sales and marketing, it's not only about empowering your commercial teams, but  also about empowering your buyers, those who are on the final end engaging with your team. High-quality customer experiences are driven by the ways in which people are empowered to succeed. If you enable your people and customers to deliver exceptional experiences built upon strong relationships, you’re getting it right.

3. Content, coaching and intelligence - a roadmap to sales effectiveness 

Equipping your team with strong delivery skills is crucial, but even the most competent salesperson cannot be effective if the content is stale. This works both ways - if your delivery is uninspiring but the content is fresh and exciting, the content simply won’t land. Teams need to offer engaging, personalised content having already been trained and coached on the most effective methods of delivery. 

4. Empower people to be at their best 

Building a good team isn’t a one-and-done process that starts and ends with hiring the right talent. You must actively nurture your employees’ development throughout their journey with your business, fuelling their growth and prioritising their wellbeing. When this team-oriented approach becomes part of your organisation’s culture it encourages greater collaboration, in turn encouraging employees to share their ideas and opinions more freely regardless of hierarchy. It's important to encourage people to express themselves authentically, as employees who embrace their unique selves at work are ultimately more successful.

5. Buyer experience impacts your top line 

Strong content accompanied by strong engagement contributes to an overall positive buyer experience. B2B buying has shifted to digital-first and buyers have become used to the Amazon-style seamless B2C buying experience. To be a successful modern selling organisation, B2B revenue teams need to deliver personalised conversations and experiences that engage their buyers. Engaged buyers result in more revenue, so buyer experience should always be a top priority.  

6. Intelligence powers growth and iteration

Buyer experience is vastly improved when it is based upon quality insights that are driven by data. Investing in revenue intelligence is crucial for making improvements across the board. The more those -whether revenue team members or customers- interact with and use tools that you implement that have buyer engagement capabilities, the more you can learn what happens with these individuals during the sales process. These insights can then be leveraged for best in-class training and content to drive continuous improvement. Business leaders must ensure that all of their staff become data literate, not just the tech team – this is vital to revenue generation. 

7. Inspire change, but use your insights

When your workforce has had sufficient training in data literacy it not only benefits sales, marketing, and customer success, but fuels the business’ overall productivity. Data insights should go beyond the customer, looking at the market as a whole and your business’ position within it. When you begin to implement this kind of analysis into the everyday workings of your company you can begin to make the kind of industry-changing moves we all dream of as entrepreneurs.  

8. Leverage technology for innovation

Increased access to data is only the beginning of the technological growth we’ve seen in the last ten years. Now that face-to-face conversations are becoming increasingly difficult in sales and marketing, due to changes in the sector brought on by the pandemic, we need to find new ways to maintain that personal connection. Video is an extremely strong medium through which sellers can connect with buyers, especially given that it now beats out the phone as the communication channel of choice in B2B sales situations. Buyers want the freedom to communicate on their terms, their schedule, and their purpose. Video is the optimal tool for this customer-first approach, enhancing relationships by giving full control to the buyer, thus making for a more seamless experience. 

9. Improvise, adapt, overcome

It would be remiss to talk about growth without mentioning the new forms of engagement businesses have been testing out in the past 18 months. The pandemic has revolutionised how we operate, and given rise to numerous opportunities, such as the widespread embrace of digital technologies and social media. The leaders who jumped quickly on these opportunities are those who have been the most successful, and that kind of mindset is exactly what we should be taking forward from this moment.  

10. Think global, not local

We all had to adapt to the world of remote working in the last 18 months, and that doesn’t appear to be going away. Widespread hybrid working is being welcomed by almost every business in the world right now, and that means taking an increasingly global approach to work. Additionally, data from McKinsey has found that 85% of B2B decision makers expect hybrid sellers–those using a mix of video, phone and occasional in-person visits will be the most common sales role in their organisations in the next three years. This is an opportunity for revenue teams to innovate, as taking a global approach opens up new and exciting customer bases and perspectives. Now is the optimal time to innovate, providing highly relevant training content for your teams on the revenue channels of the future. 

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