How to Become Agile in Sales: Leverage Partner Networks and Social Media for Success

Article excerpt

The sales landscape has shifted. With the advent of social media, buyers are more research-centric than ever before. According to the Marketing Leadership Council, customers today typically first come into contact with sales reps after 60 percent of their B2B purchase decisions have been completed. This indicates that the buyer-seller relationship has not only reversed, but that smart companies will develop plans of action to meet customers where they are--on the Internet and social media sites. In Selling Through Someone Else: How to Use Agile Sales Networks and Partners to Sell More, Robert Wollan, Naveen Jain, and Michael Heald, executives with Accenture Management Consulting, tackle the transformational effect global channel partners, connected customers, and technology have on the sales process. Jain gave Associate Editor Kelly Liyakasa some tips about how organizations can become agile sellers.

CRM: What inspired you to address the changing face of sales models?

Jain: We found commonalities among the challenges many of our clients across various industries are facing. If you look at communications, high-tech, or industrial goods, many of the companies are selling in a much more complex environment, where they are selling through a much wider network of what we call "selling through someone else." It could be influencers, intermediaries, channel partners, or even customers.

CRM: What did you find is a major hurdle to reaching true agility in the sales organization?

Jain: The challenge we find is that it's not that people don't understand they need to be agile. [Many] are operating in a very siloed environment. You could look at marketing, for instance, and look at people in their channel development organization, and they're all building their own sales sheets. The problem is, none of these talk to each other or connect in an end-to-end framework. Companies [need to say] "Hey, we need to engage, empower, and to close," and think about how these three things tie together. That is the biggest challenge, and companies' [traditional] operating models sometimes get in the way. …