“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” Wise words from the late business philosopher Jim Rohn. But what if you could do both? What if you could make selling easier and make your sales teams better at it as a result? It’s a topic close to my heart, and thanks to advances in both technology and sales strategies, it’s now a reality for a growing number of organisations.  In fact, making selling easier is…well, easy. Let me break it down for you in six steps.

First, make gaining insight into your pipeline a priority. Which would you rather do? Rely on your sales person to assign a percentage on whether or not a deal will close? Or have a sales system that can monitor opportunities in real time, compare them against similar successful deals to improve win rates, share best practices across teams and industries, and use predictive analytics to help your sales people identify and engage with key influencers?

Second, make sure your accounts and territories are properly optimised. Ask yourself this. Are you able to evaluate various territories, markets, and accounts to know where the biggest potential is? Can you analyse past wins to understand where you’ve had the most success before? And can you get the facts that will help you optimise how you align your salespeople with accounts? If the answer is no, and you’re relying on gut feel, you’re making things harder for yourself.

Third, know, know, know! As in know your customers, what they need and what problems they are facing.  Too often sales people are focused on what they want or are being asked to sell rather than listening and understanding what their customers are trying to achieve and what problems they are trying to solve. Only knowing half the story is embarrassing at best, and dangerous at worst.  By equipping your sales people with a 360-degree view of all the interactions a customer has with your company, as well as information about the company and its employees – including latest news, financials, company history, and social information –. you can make better decisions, offer more tailored products and services, and, as a result, build more meaningful and trusted relationships.Fourth, empower your sales people with processes and information that are accessible – from anywhere. That means the ability to provide real time answers on delivery information, respond to product questions immediately, and even create a quote or process an order while the customer is still sitting in front of you.  It will not only elevate service levels to buyers, but streamline productivity, collaboration, pipeline and KPIs for your sales team.

Fifth, give your sales people access to the support they need. We all know the value of effective collaboration. But tapping into expertise can be difficult across time zones, geographies, departments and formats.  That’s why it’s important to make it simple to find and add internal expertise to your sales team. Support can take many forms, such as virtual deal rooms, for example, where you can share content, best practices, and sales strategies, keeping everyone updated in real time, wherever they are.

Finally, mind the gap – as in the business gap. Time and again, we all hear stories of sales teams losing major deals because the customer stayed with the status quo. It’s surprisingly common. And it’s usually because the sales person has failed to demonstrate why keeping the existing processes and tools will not meet future requirements. In other words, they haven’t shown that making a wrong decision or doing nothing has significant adverse consequences for the buyer’s business. So my final point is to make sure you nail your business case. Make it solid, illustrate the cost of doing nothing, and make it compelling by pulling together the necessary history, data and insight required.

In the process of implementing these six steps, sales teams will not only find it easier to sell, but they’ll also become better salespeople by benefiting from the right tools, technology and support at their fingertips.

I’ve only briefly touched on a few highlights in this blog, but a much more detailed view is available by downloading the webinar recording at www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHONi-IxTpI

Kevin Kimber is Managing Director for Cloud at SAP UKI