Why Sales Effectiveness Is Key To ‘Trusted Partner’ Status

December 28, 2014 Russ Chadinha

When it comes to B2B sales effectiveness, the underlying goal is to move from being a commodity supplier to a trusted partner, as there’s a big upside in terms of reaching your sales target.

Companies acting as an approved supplier are hitting their plans about 86 percent of time, according to a study by Accenture. But those that move from a supplier to trusted partner status are hitting their plans 93 percent of the time.

That increase of seven percentage points translates into a significant business impact, and getting to that point depends on your sales effectiveness. Here are five ways to improve your effectiveness by standardizing and automating your lead tracking, quoting and order management:

1) Increasing data accuracy: When you’re using sales effectiveness tools like CRM or CPQ (configure, price, quote), it’s important to remember the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” The insights you produce are only as good as the data that’s going in. Many organizations set up a CRM system and expect it to produce great insights. But unless you get into the nitty-gritty details of controlling the data entry, that’s not going to happen. One sales rep might type in “Street” while another types in “St.” or “St,” resulting in duplicate entries in your data. Before you’re able to automate your processes, you need to ensure the data is usable.

2) Putting structure and process in place for account hierarchies: When you’re dealing with larger enterprise accounts, there are typically multiple companies that fall under the “parent” account. Usually, the rep that owns the parent account also owns the “child” accounts. But how do you enable this approach efficiently if you don’t have a consistent and sustainable way to set-up and maintain those relationships between the accounts? Putting structure and process in place to control account assignments and hierarchies will ultimately improve your lead tracking, quoting and order management processes.

3) Defining a qualified lead: To use automated lead tracking, your organization needs to share a common definition for what constitutes a qualified lead. Many organizations never clarify this term, which has a negative impact on collaboration between marketing and sales. Once these departments understand and agree on what a “qualified lead” means, automation is a great way to get richer opportunities and deliver them to the sales team.

4) Increasing efficiency with quoting products and services: Quoting is a good example of how standardization with sales effectiveness tools increases productivity. Sales reps at companies that use CPQ tools are able to produce 20 to 21 quotes per month on average, while reps without CPQ average 14 quotes per month, according to research from the Aberdeen Group.

5) Automating order management: If your sales team is producing inaccurate quotes, that often leads to inaccurate orders and spending an inordinate amount of time trying to correct errors in the product and the price. If the order management organization has to scrutinize each order and send many back to the sales organization for corrections, the time and expense quickly start adding up. And if inaccurate orders get submitted to the supply chain and the manufacturing environment, the cost of those errors increases.

When you standardize your data and use CPQ to automate the quoting process, however, your sales team provides accurate quotes. As a result, your order management organization is now able to automate its order review and submission process. By getting the underlying data quality right, you enable the sales organization to be accurate as well as productive, which in turn helps the back-end organization also become highly effective.

In the end, these five steps amount to a better customer experience. For example, if you’re effective with your data, quoting process and ordering automation, that allows your company to be extremely precise with delivery information (such as promising next-day delivery), which could result in an amazing customer experience. All of these improvements help you make that important move from an approved supplier to a trusted partner.

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