07 Jan

According to a recent report published by the Fortune magazine and Deloitte, two-thirds of CEOs expect their organization's growth to be “very strong” or “strong” over the next 12 months. Also heeding Winston Churchill wise words during WW2 – “Never let a good crises go to waste” – CEO’s are optimistic about 2022 and are looking for opportunities to reinventing their organizations, boosting productivity by embracing technology and employees’ wellbeing via the hybrid work models that have become standard during the pandemic. 

The push for growth and revenues in 2022 will place sales and marketing at the forefront of upper management’s attention. However, the hybrid working environment does, from a sales perspective, present challengers that sales executives are facing and will need to be addressed. 

Client engagement   

The hybrid working environment has made getting clients to respond to the sales effort a major challenge. The primary reason is that the increase in remote working has made it easier for clients to ignore or avoid being contacted by sale executives. However this is not the only reason, clients are looking for solutions specific to their organizational needs, not a one product fits all approach. 

Sales can no longer be about selling product; the entire sales and marketing effort will need to be tailored to suite the clients’ exact requirements to get the prospect’s attention. This is nothing new, but the current economic climate, particularly in South Africa, the hybrid working environment, monetary restraints, and the overselling of expectations by tech companies, clients will only engage with vendors or suppliers if their products or services provides solutions that meet the organizations immediate needs and long-term business objectives. 

Thus, next phase of client information and / or data collection and interpretation, has evolved from the collection and interpretation of behavioral patterns and basic data collection to Intent Data or intelligent data science, which is best described as the set of behavioral signals that helps an organization to understand the intention of its prospects to purchase a product or service, particularly in B2B environment. 

Therefore, the intention of the potential client is noted which can reduce the time needed for prospecting by as much 67% and sales executives can focus on the remaining 33% i.e., closing the deal. In addition, this offers sales executives the opportunity to tailor their efforts to meet the specific products and services required by potential client’s intention to purchase and creating a greater chance of engaging with the client.

Administration and reporting.   A statistic highlighted at the Citrix Kick off 2022 by Salesforce (Salesforce State of Sales Handbook) showed that 64% of a sales executive time is taken up by administration. In fact, the single biggest draw back to the hybrid working environment is management trust that work is being done. 

Streamlining the reporting process is of paramount importance. Intelligent workspace technology, Daas (desktop as a service) using cloud-based technology and secure accessibility go a long way to reduce the time sales team spend on administration. In addition, any new applications or changes in the process can result in user resistance, thus training is necessary to get users to adopt the new methodologies. The next point is the reporting itself. 

Does the reporting take into consideration the value a sales executive brings to the organization or is the reporting based purely numbers? Does the reporting include value added activities such as maintaining good client relationships, possible problem solving for existing clients, upscaling existing clients or more importantly keeping existing clients? 

The mechanisms of management control may need to be relooked at in the hybrid work environment. In addition, the employment trend for 2022 is an expected increase of freelance, contractual, outsourcing and commissioned based employment contracts, particularly by highly skill employees. 

This will increase the need for more flexible management involvement, greatly reduced administrative activities required by the sales executives and micromanagement practices will scare away skilled people.   

 The new power couple – People and Tech  

Technology can be a great asset in the sales process if used correctly. Employing Cloud Based technologies, combined with Daas (virtual desktops) enabling the accessibility to SaaS and legacy applications, will allow for the streamlining of the sales processes, freeing up the sales team’s time to focus on closing the deal. However, when implementing new technologies, it is of utmost importance that the sales and marketing teams are full trained. In the Hybrid working environment combining technology and getting user onboarding has proven to generate high levels of performance and more importantly employee wellbeing.