The future of sales is changing, but why are sales changing? Sales are no longer done over the phone, you do not call in your orders, you rather order them through an E-Commerce site just like a B2C Consumer. This change in sales approach is now changing sales forever. We will no longer be working with sales forecast; we have reached the next level: Sales prediction
But was is the difference between sales forecast and Prediction? The sales forecast is mainly based on experience, previous sales and market expectations. Sales Prediction is the power of machine learning/AI used with Big data from internal and external sources.
This change is good for your sales team, it means new type of salespeople and it means better sales predicts which lead to more accurate bonus payouts. It leads to better moral and culture within your company. The fear of failure decreases and the success rate increases.
Ambition is a driver of business, but it does not mean that your ambition is a reality. Ambition should be based on true prediction and not guess or the will of management.
With the rise of prediction, you should start asking yourself some key question like: What is our new KPIs? Do the KPIs match the business needs? What is the right period for review of KPIs?
- How to setup predicts and targets?
Your approach now is properly a Top-down right? But in a world driven but data and ever-changing consumer behavior, who should set your targets? And does it make sense to still use forecasts?
The most successful and innovative companies in world are no longer driven by experience but by a machine learning approach where the machine gets big data from many sources like forecast, Market data, historical data and not forgetting other external and internal sources, like experience and data from clients. By using this approach, the B2B sale has changed forever and is pushing the limits for what a sales person is today.
Your first step should be looking at a predictions platform to help you achieve the next level of sales.
Other elements that could push your sales targets would be to adapt a gamification approach. Gamification is already a small part of sales today, it could be sales compensation like 5% of sales goes to marketing for every purchase over xxx euros. You can build on that and make it more complex by making already digital campaigns ready if their hit a sales mark and so on. It will push you beyond predictions and forecast.
- Looking to Review? But when?
The question of review is an interesting one, because some managers look at the numbers every day. But what is the cost of that? A focus on every day movement will make you lose the big picture and make act on the small picture. It will also increase your cost, due to resource reviews take. On the other hand, just letting them run without looking you are missing out of sales opportunities or the market changes in a way you are not ready for. So how to find the right time?
Machine learning is the key to maximize your resources and better targeting. By using machine learning you can start to predict the chance of churn from your clients. But use an algorithm approach, you can start to identify the churners with you client base. This will allow you to set a key focus on creating a new sale and targeting model. This will again allow you to create a better bonus model for your sales, based on what brings value to your business model. I usually work with two sets of salespeople with two different bonus structures. I have a Sales team who’s bonus is based on profit and then I have recovery team who’s bonus is based on lowering the churn rate. It generates better results and allows your teams to focus on key parts of the sales funnel.
- From thought to action
It is not easy to start this process, but you can get a lot of help to find. Do not think you can do it all but by yourself. It is going to change your process and how your current sales organization is working.
Steps you should take:
- Start by making an IT overview to identify your current level of tech stack
- Next looking at your current sales team, can it make the change? Or is new blood needed?
- Find a strategic partner to start your journey for the startup period.
- Evaluate whether you should develop in-house or keep your strategic partner
- Never stop investing in the project, it is an ongoing process
And remember budget to fail! it is a learning process and some part of the project will fail or take you new ways.
Anders Holmberg Lange is the Co-Founder of Entername, a company with the core belief that strategy should be simple, understandable and evolving. Designing 360 digital campaigns and leading selected clients from digital transformation to digital excellence in Marketing, business and sales.
Anders has been working with major global brands the last 15 years, taking them from digital transformation to digital strategy to digital excellence and delivering double digits growth rates across the board. He worked in industries like fashion, banking, entertainment and for leisure companies. No matter there were fortune 500 companies or startups, Anders was always building around a gamification approach creating win-win strategies.