We are happy to have Peter Ostrow of the Aberdeen Group join us today as our Guest Blogger. Peter is a recognized expert is Sales Effectiveness, so we hope you find his recent research both informative and actionable. To download the full research report, Click Here…
How much effort does it typically take for business-to-business (B2B) professionals to successfully schedule a meeting or call with one another? For most of us, the answer is likely “too much,” with a flurry of back-and-forth email messages, confusion about time zones, and crossed signals often serving, unfortunately, as the norm. Now, the technology enabler of online appointment scheduling is impacting how successful B2B sales teams are overcoming these inefficiencies.
From the perspective of pure analytical research, online appointment scheduling tools make a great deal of sense. Take a peek at the following sales effectiveness KPI results, which Aberdeen’s research has shown two reveals significant deltas between users and non-adopters of this technology:
The overall corporate benefits of better customer retention, larger average deal sizes, and shorter sales cycles are of particular relevance to contemporary sales teams looking for every possible edge that supports better results they can bring to their companies. The net-net here is all about the velocity of B2B sales efficiencies: everyone wants to sell more, sell faster and reach President’s Club ahead of everyone else. They want to spend time with prospects and customers focusing on the features, advantages and benefits of their solution – not chasing people down to book appointments. It can be said, moreover, that ping-pong is a nice addition to a physical office environment, but an unnecessary inconvenience when it comes to business communications. My research proves that online appointment scheduling tools improve the performance of sales teams in terms of:
Knowing the Customer: Online appointment scheduling users are 11% more likely than other firms (41% vs. 37%) to actively seek ways to better understand the behavior of their prospects and customers. Using the scheduling tool to get a feel for how soon – or not – a prospect is willing to meet, for example, can help classify an opportunity as more or less likely to close a deal within a certain selling period. This strategic action is also taken more often by Best-in-Class companies than under-performing firms by a 49% to 37% margin.
Automating the Process: Fifty-two percent (52%) of the Best-in-Class support a “guided selling methodology to help sales reps identify the optimal message and timing at each stage of the sales cycle,” compared with 45% of Laggard companies. The idea of guided selling represents a process that takes guesswork out of many sales situations, via a wizard-driven application or simply a left-to-right checklist designed to speed up the overall sales cycle. Indeed, the average sales cycle among Best-in-Class firms was shortened by 4.2% from year-to-year, while Industry Average and Laggard firms saw theirs lengthen by 1.3% and 3.0%, respectively. Online appointment setting is a natural fit for adding a simple but effective technology-supported stage to the seller’s process.
Improving Workflow for the “Last Mile” of Selling: My research details a number of practices that top-performing sales teams use to help close deals faster and more often, which are supported by technologies such as electronic signatures, configure/price/quote and sales contract management. The process of proposing, presenting, quoting and negotiating sales deals is less cumbersome when seller and buyer, using online appointment scheduling, can more easily access calendars and meet to hammer out contractual details.
Making Every Customer Interaction Count: It is safe to assume that B2B buyers are plenty busy, and are less inclined to buy from a high-maintenance seller who takes too many steps – and emails – simply to schedule their calls and meetings. Online appointment scheduling users are 58% more likely than other firms (19% vs. 12%) to marry their focus on sales cycle shortening with making the most out of a smaller number of interactions, neatly fitting their conversations into more easily-scheduled meetings.
In the end, let’s make sure we are all working smarter, if not also harder:
To download the full research report, Click Here…