Make Your Sales Opportunities Run Like Self Driving Cars

Digital Advisor|Digital Administrator|Customer Interaction Management|Knowledge Work as a Service

Sales productivity is the number one challenge for 65% of B2B organizations (The Bridge Group). The good news is that sales productivity can soar by shifting to a modern digital sales process that lets each opportunity drive itself instead of using human labor to capture, qualify, route and advise on a solution. By letting digital advisors and digital administrators take over these steps you can eliminate the 50-70% of administrative work performed by sales reps today.

It is no secret that the telephone is an ever decreasing part of the sales process:

  • Outbound calls are decreasingly effective. In 2007, it took an average of 3.68 call attempts to reach someone. Today it takes an average of 8 attempts. (source: TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group)
  • Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment (source: Leap Job)

Given the rapid transition away from phone sales companies must build a modern digital B2B sales process that can quickly adapt to change.

We have outlined the four pillars of a modern and digital B2B sales process


STEP 1 (START):  Start all interactions with Digital because it’s what your customers want

Decades ago companies implemented Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVRS) that required prospects to answer a few questions over the phone before they got access to a human being.  With the advent of digital, customer interaction can now begin on the web.  Customers should ALWAYS be qualified with a digital advisor (interactive web page or chat) BEFORE being routed to a sales rep or valuable technical resource.  Too often we find customer interaction is still being started over the phone.

What’s critical to keep in mind is that DIGITAL is what a B2B buyer prefers:

  • 94 percent of all B2B buyers surveyed said they perform their own research online at least once during the process of making a purchase. (Accenture)
  • 60 of buyers it surveyed preferred to make purchases independently instead of dealing with a salesperson. (Forrester)
  • 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.” (SiriusDecisions)
  • 27% of the US population is Millennials (the largest generation in the US) who don’t want to talk on the phone.  This portion of the population spending power is expected to rise significantly in the next 10-20 years. (Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report)

What does this have to do with GPS and Self-Driving Cars?  Think of Uber – riders do not want to call for a taxi; they want to use a digital application.  Similarly you need to recognize that your buyers want to use a digital application without having to talk to someone wherever possible. This is especially true for Millennials who comprise a large and growing percentage of the B2B buyers in the market.

Impact to Sales:  If you make a buyer call to begin the buying journey you are already starting off on the wrong foot.  You may be losing more business than you know if you are perceived to be “difficult to do business with” by offering outdated phone and email interactions.

STEP 2 (QUALIFY):  Acknowledge that using reps for qualification of customer requirements is a waste of time for everyone

In today’s digital economy customer interactions should be self-qualifying.  Expecting the prospect to be on the phone and answer questions is naïve.  Worse yet is that the sales talent today is OVERWHELMED.  No sales rep can learn or remember all of the qualifying questions for hundreds or thousands of vendors with tens and hundreds of thousands of products.  Customers should answer qualifying questions using a digital web based form BEFORE they are routed to a human resource. 

Only 13% of customers believe a sales person understands their needs (Forrester Research’s Buyer Insight study)

If it’s true that only 13% of customers believe a sales person understands their needs (Forrester Research’s Buyer Insight study) then it is best to empower your customers.  Let customers input their requirements themselves.  Ideally they will be able to continue to self-serve and purchase over the web. 

According to SAP, 52% of B2B buyers said that the biggest risk of getting a purchase wrong is wasting company money and 23% said that losing internal credibility is their top concern.

Buyers are worried about the risk of purchasing not only the wrong products but also buying the sub-optimal solution.  As a result, they are doing more research on their own up front and are intentionally avoiding contact with a sales rep.   This is why prospects are harder to get in touch with by phone.

What does this have to do with GPS and Self-Driving Cars?  Think of using your GPS - it asks you where you want to go and a few other preferences (toll roads, highways, etc).  Then it does the work for you by  determining the best solution.  Why would you have customer requirements gathered by a sales rep when it can be easily captured using digital customer interaction management?

Impact to Sales:  Replacing human phone based qualification with digital self qualification can dramatically increase sales productivity.  Every rep must have digital advisors working on their team to take the burden of qualification away from them.

STEP 3 (ROUTE):  Realize that a modern salesforce is not one size fits all - match the best resource(s) to each opportunity

After digital qualification, digital routing insures that a prospect can either:

  • “transact” – Fully build out a solution and convert to order on the web or
  • “transfer” – Create a request that is routed to the optimal resource according to the company’s business rules

If the prospect is routed to a human resource it is critical that the company prioritizes where to apply limited resources to get the “most bang for the buck”.  B2B Sales is a collaborative team effort where a single opportunity may have to be routed to many different resources.  Think of Data Center solutions where a combination of server, storage, networking, software and service specialists must all be involved.

If a buyer can’t complete the purchase themselves (eg transact) then a modern digital customer interaction system will employ a digital administrator to automatically route the prospect requirements (eg transfer) to the best subject matter expert(s) available based on their responses and your business rules.  This eliminates the need to have the sales rep engaged in routing the opportunity – saving valuable sales time.  In addition, think of the time you have saved the experts on your team – they don’t have to ask the same questions over and over again!  You can double the productivity of your subject matter experts with 1) customer interaction management where digital advisors enables self-qualification and 2) digital administrators that enable the opportunity to be self-routing.  What’s more it will never forget to ask critical questions.

What does this have to do with GPS and Self-Driving Cars?  GPS systems determine the optimal route based on a DYNAMIC environment (accidents, police, weather).  It is shocking that everyone takes for granted automated routing of drivers with GPS but automated routing of transactions to team resources is still rare in many companies.  And yet it is a more finite problem.  Instead of using sales reps as glorified routing engines make sure each opportunity is self-qualified, self-routed and self-driving.  It delivers itself to the appropriate subject matter expert or system depending upon your business rules. 

Digital administrators can route opportunities inside and outside your company making your company a truly borderless enterprise where you can leverage resources internal and external to your company on demand.  

39% are using industry platforms to integrate data and applications with digital business partners and collaborate, while 35% are experimenting with industry platform. — Accenture

Impact to Sales:  Companies can recapture significant selling time by allowing a Digital Administrator to route prospects to subject matter experts instead of using sales people as routing engines.  What’s more Digital Administrators are better than humans – they can optimize the routing just like my GPS always seems to find a different and better driving route than I could have found on my own!  Think of the money companies have needlessly wasted by applying its most valuable resources to the low complexity tasks and the sales lost by applying less qualified resources to more complex solutions.

Good News:  The good news a rules based opportunity qualification and routing system can be built in just a matter of weeks using a Knowledge Work as a Service Platform!  Old fashioned email, phone calls, silos inside and outside the company are replaced with a digital process that knows no borders.

STEP 4 (MEASURE):  Digital processes can make sure each sale is profitable

A modern sales process weaves a fabric of Digital Threads from Sales through Delivery.  Profitability soars when Digital Labor takes over the rules based repetitive sales work for your team - bringing you closer to customers and freeing up your best people to do high value work.  What’s uniquely different about a digital sales process is that each digital thread gives you the visibility and control necessary to manage each customer engagement profitably while gaining agility.  Profiling each transaction by type and measuring response times with accuracy allows setting SLA’s. 

What does this have to do with GPS and Self-Driving Cars?  Sales is a race.  The first one to deliver a complete response to the customer usually wins. 

Impact to Sales:  Identifying and removing the delays that accumulate with manual effort in the middle of your selling motion will give you profitable sales growth, agility and unlimited scale. 


A Knowledge Work as a Service (KWaaS) Platform helps you work smarter by optimizing the profitability of every sale:

  • Sales opportunities that begin as digital provide a superior customer experience
  • A sale that is qualified using a digital advisor for Customer Interaction Management is more profitable than one that is manually qualified
  • A sale that is routed using a digital administrator is more profitable than one that is manually routed by a sales rep
  • Sales processes governed by digital analysts make you more agile by removing delays and can anticipate and act on change.

First movers will gain a strategic advantage over their competitors who fail to build knowledge based digital channels with their buyers and internal processes. 

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