Yesterday's Sales Incentive Program is not Good Enough!
We've all heard the stats. According to Forrester Research, today’s buyer is 74 percent done with their journey when they begin talking to a salesperson. That means today’s buyer may be about two-thirds of the way to making a decision before they ever reach out to your organization. So tell me – has your sales incentive program kept pace with the market changes?
So, what to do?
The key is to adapt your sales incentive program, sales processes, and sales cycle to align with the support needed along the buyer's journey. Unless you sell a commodity product, you shouldn’t treat the sale like a transaction. Instead, treat it like an act of long-term relationship-building. How? Salespeople should focus on educating buyers; providing them with relevant, timely information; and helping them identify the right solutions. The days of simply pitching products are over. This article is specifically focused on the pre-sales incentives, but if you are interested, let me know and I’d be happy to get you some information on the other phases.
You can’t just tell your salespeople to adapt and expect it to magically happen.
It all starts with education – which must be integrated into your sales incentive program. After all, for salespeople to be more successful in today’s business environment, it is imperative that they understand the buyer’s journey, the impact that has on the sales cycle, and how they can adjust the selling process accordingly.
2. Meet buyers where they are: incent the right behaviors at the right time
The buyer’s journey covers awareness, consideration, and decision. As salespeople engage with buyers, there are four phases: enablement, pre-sales, sales, and post-sales. These are the phases during which salespeople must engage in some critical behaviors that may currently be foreign to them. Educate your sales team on the product they are selling AND the process your company uses to sell the product. Then, incorporate this activity into your sales incentive program. Reward salespeople who engage in and successfully complete the training programs within pre-determined timeframes, and you’ll see significantly more salespeople actively participating.
Leaders and managers should reward salespeople on the spot, whenever they engage in the appropriate new behaviors
3. The Solution
Salespeople need to understand what information buyers want when they’re deciding to pursue new solutions – and they must provide that information proactively before buyers even come to them. In other words: Salespeople should push content that helps buyers identify their problems and the solutions that might help them overcome those problems. You may have a marketing team dedicated to creating this content, but salespeople will be a critical component in getting that content in front of the right people at the right time. Your organization will identify the information buyers need and the actions buyers take when looking for this information, and your salespeople can respond accordingly.
4. Vendor Selection
In much the same way that salespeople should help buyers identify their pain points and the types of solutions that might relieve those pain points, salespeople should also be supporting buyers as they begin researching vendors. One behavior that can be incented here is the facilitation of research. That is, salespeople aiding buyers in their research on prospective vendors. As mentioned earlier, it is unlikely that buyers will be engaging with salespeople directly at this point. So, the best way salespeople can aid buyers in the vendor selection process is to make readily available the kinds of content that buyers need. Consider incenting salespeople to share analyst reports, case studies, and testimonials with their social networks and through blog posts whenever possible.
Another behavior that should be included in a sales incentive program is the capture of sales-generated leads.
Salespeople should be actively creating brands for themselves so that people will see them as authorities in their spaces.
Remember that adapting your sales process to the journey of today’s buyers requires that you and your organization rethink how and when to apply behavioral incentives. Let us know what you are doing to rethink and reimagine your sales incentive programs.
Want more information? Check out Five Keys To Running A Successful Sales Incentive Program.
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