Today’s business-to-business (B2B) sales organizations are selling to increasingly sophisticated customers who are more informed than ever. The B2B buying journey has changed significantly, but customers still need help making the right buying decisions. That’s why we’re seeing a growing number of businesses incorporate new speciality sales roles to meet the needs of B2B customers at every stage of the sales cycle.
In this blog, we’ll explore how to best build speciality roles in a sales team to help your customers make the right buying decisions, while also supporting customer renewals and upselling customers to increase the value of every engagement.
How B2B Selling Has Changed
Not long ago, one sales representative was responsible for managing the relationship with his or her customer from end to end. This included prospecting, lead nurturing, and closing new contracts. However, as the B2B customer journey has changed, B2B selling has become much more of a team effort.
What’s behind the shift? Because today’s customers are so well informed—thanks to easy access to reviews, articles, whitepapers and other digital resources—they are less interested in being “sold to” in the traditional sense. In fact, today, B2B buyers spend only about 17 percent of their time meeting with potential suppliers and only 5-6 percent of their time meeting with one specific sales rep, according to research from Gartner.
Instead, B2B buyers are challenged to make sense of all the information they have at their disposal and to make the right buying decision. That’s why the B2B sales process has become less about selling and more about Customer Success. But ensuring Customer Success requires a greater degree of specialization in your sales force.
The B2B buying process now requires that various sales specialists participate at multiple points in the sales process, providing relevant information, facilitating decision-making, offering support, and identifying solutions that address customers’ immediate needs. Each individual contributes to the team, working closely with the other members to guide the customer to a successful outcome.
Types of Specialty Roles
Let’s explore the most common specialty roles in a sales team, as well as their key responsibilities:
Digital marketing representative
A digital marketing rep handles the first step in lead qualification, which is online marketing for your products or services. This team member works to raise brand awareness and generate online interest, all toward the goal of creating qualified sales leads. The digital marketing rep does this by leveraging tools such as:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Web analytics
High-tech field representative
As the digital marketing rep generates leads, the field representative begins interacting with them to sell products and services. Although these reps were traditionally out in the field, as the name suggests, today most of their customer interaction takes place via email and telephone. Their goal is to help customers make the right buying decision by getting to know their pain points and consulting with them on the products or services that would meet their needs. Today’s field reps typically specialize in one or a few specific industries so they can develop a deep understanding of the market’s challenges and opportunities.
If your company sells complex technology or scientific products or services, your team may need a dedicated sales engineer with a technical background. Sales engineers aren’t the same as sales reps. The former have a deep understanding of the technological or scientific principles behind the company’s products or services, which helps them better understand each customer’s specific challenges and offer solutions to address them.
Sales engineers usually support the sales rep by providing more in-depth information and consultative services for customers. This might involve preparing technical presentations that demonstrate how the product works, consulting with customers on their challenges, and recommending additional products or services that promote Customer Success.
Customer Success manager
Customer Success managers are focused on proactive efforts to ensure each buyer successfully engages with the product or service. This contrasts with traditional customer service roles, which are much more reactive.
The Customer Success manager’s main goal is to cultivate customer relationships, working closely with customers to promote retention, increase brand loyalty, and encourage upselling and cross-selling. They work to understand customer pain points and provide proactive support to help ensure Customer Success.
Internal channel account manager
For companies that utilize distributors, value-added resellers, and retailers, an internal channel account manager acts as the liaison between the company and these third-party sales organizations. The manager works to build and manage the sales channel, while also handling pricing policies, contracts, and service agreements.
Sales manager/sales executive
As the team leader, the sales manager or sales executive oversees the sales process from end to end. This role involves coaching and motivating the sales team, participating in key sales calls, promoting the use of sales technology, developing strategies for success, and advocating for sales with the management team.
Building Your Team
Incorporating speciality roles in a sales team can position your company for ongoing success. However, it’s important to remember that today’s B2B sales process has a variety of moving parts. Any weakness in the value chain could negatively impact the customer experience and, in the end, cost your business.
This is why a growing number of companies are outsourcing sales support for both direct sales and channel teams. Outsourced sales support can create value in many ways, including:
- Increasing sales volume
- Scaling sales operations
- Enabling market agility
- Providing market specialization
- Delivering detailed analytics
In today’s dynamic B2B sales landscape, success requires a team effort, with specialists who are dedicated to supporting the customer at every step. Many of these speciality roles require very specific skill sets, which makes outsourcing a practical and cost-effective strategy for building a powerful, well-rounded team.