This article was originally published in Contact Center Pipeline.
Incorporate training, inter-department communications, mobile, data focus, and compliance as part of the brand.
2022 has been a pivotal turning point in the age of sales, risk, and technology. Traditional business-to-business (B2B) selling strategies, through inside contact centers and mobile in the field, have been replaced by data-driven technology that helps sales leaders gain a deep understanding of their target markets.
However, massive changes to the sales process from rapid digitization have also created new levels of risk, and 70% of U.S.-based sales managers agree that managers’ capability to adapt to change is more important now than any time in the past five years.
Factors like bad data, poor training, and department silos can cause massive blind spots and other exposures that contribute to failed deals or instability.
As B2B sales teams implement new technology for better decision-making, adapting to new changes in the industry to manage risk should be a top priority.
Factors like bad data, poor training, and department silos can cause massive blind spots and other exposures that contribute to failed deals or instability. Not to mention that exposure to risk can also result in compliance mistakes or fraudulent influences, leading to fines.
But by managing risk silos across your organization and aligning strategy with data-driven practices, sales, and compliance, organizations can better avoid regulatory infractions and improve sales efficiency.
1. Put training at the forefront.
One of the biggest contributors to risk in the sales process can come from human error and poor training, resulting in lost sales and potential compliance breaches.
With 58% of companies experiencing higher voluntary sales turnover than ever before, training has also become a higher priority and a more challenging process for sales leaders.
To avoid opening up your company to any risks, it’s important to make training not only a priority for sales reps but make it the first step of your risk management strategy.
To properly train your sales staff through data-driven technology, one of the best ways to ensure risk avoidance is improving accuracy through real-time guided coaching.
The rapid digitization of the sales process has resulted in the need for faster onboarding. By coaching sales reps while they’re selling in real-time with suggestions and next steps, organizations can quickly improve sales training and performance.
Real-time coaching can also utilize accurate data insights to provide reps with the right guidance, helping to avoid human errors that could result in missed deals or compliance issues.
2. Align cross-functionally across departments.
Sales is not just one department — it’s a whole effort across the company.
One of the top challenges in sales includes the disconnect between sales managers and sales professionals: and these silos can accidentally make room for new risks and human error.
As examples, disjointed hand-offs between Marketing and Sales at the top of the funnel or miscommunications between Sales and Customer Success could become deal-breakers and expose the company to instability.
Data silos can form during these hand-offs, resulting in a lack of transparency across the customer journey.
To align these functions, not only is it important to improve communications between departments, but organizations also need to rely on data-driven strategies that make transferring, viewing, analyzing, and utilizing data easy for various teams.
A real-time sales platform, for example, can help facilitate the transfer of this data and the tracking of customer journeys — with transparency to marketing and customer teams. Technology tools like a real-time sales platform can also be used to present important data to needed teams in realtime.
3. Don’t forget about mobile.
Mobile device usage in sales has increased in recent years, notably as more companies began operating remotely in early 2020.
Mobile is a crucial tool for younger buyers, but both sellers and buyers of all generations are now using mobile phones as their primary means of communication.
Therefore, organizations must get mobile right. In fact, 60% of buyers said they’d stop doing business with a B2B vendor based solely on a mobile experience that’s difficult to use, thereby showcasing the value that mobile devices can play in the selling process.
At the same time, the use of mobile phones and associated wireless phone numbers have created new risks for organizations.
Despite phone calls being a primary vehicle for selling, contacting the users of mobile phones at the designated wireless numbers create a variety of risks that did not exist in the days when in-office (landline) desk phones were the primary points of contact.
Because many sales solutions aren’t compliant with mobile devices, this can be especially risky for sales reps and the organizations they work for when it comes to outbound prospecting.
For example, many of buyers’ mobile phone numbers have been circulated on prospect lists as viable B2B contacts.
A common misconception is that B2B calls and/or text messages do not need to comply with telemarketing regulations. But this is not entirely accurate.
To remain compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the use of any kind of automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to make or send sales and marketing solicitation calls or texts to a wireless number, B2B (as well as business to consumer) is illegal without prior express written consent.
Additionally, while most B2B calls are exempt from national Do Not Call (DNC) laws, not every state exempts these calls under state laws. Because of the myriad of laws, statutes, and regulations at both the federal and state levels, many outbound sales reps in the B2B space are leveraging compliance solutions to ensure they do not dial (or text) a phone number that violates the TCPA, DNC, or other sales and marketing solicitation regulations.
The issue of B2B calls is compounded with compliance surrounding call recordings — an important part of the B2B sales process that has different risk implications. Since mobile device usage is likely to increase, it’s very important for sales solutions to have a mobile compliance indication.
Many conversation intelligence solutions leverage technology that are integrated into desktop phones for outbound prospecting. But more progressive organizations are requiring a mobile app to be used by any sales rep conducting business via his/her mobile phone to ensure all compliance protocols are being adhered to.
As the popularity of mobile outbound increases in the B2B sales process, sales and compliance leaders should be on guard for the risks associated with mobile and educate themselves to ensure their platforms are compliant.
4. Refocus your data strategy.
Bad data can cost U.S. corporations as much as $3 trillion each year, showing that even when organizations are able to collect valuable data from the sales process, it doesn’t mean all of it is useful.
This bad data can create risks for customers, which can then be compounded by new technology usage and a lack of education among sales reps. Without clean data, your sales team members are at risk of providing incorrect quotes or information that violates data privacy laws. Many foreign markets in particular have strict—and tightening—data regulations.
Ensure your data is clean first by looking at your CRM application and stored data network. With an accurate and up-to-date CRM, your integrations that are funneling information into your customer records can work to provide sales reps with the correct information and insights, helping them to avoid any compliance mistakes.
Your CRM and sales platforms should also be relying on accurate, historical data. Although some data is readily available in the market right now, it’s not comparable with years or even decades of customer transcripts and call records that can provide not only records for sales reps, but suggestions for answers during live calls.
Your data should also open up levels of transparency — providing accurate insights that can be used across the sales pipeline. With clean, historical call data, organizations can better comply with regulations by ensuring accuracy and gathering information that is most useful for decision-making.
5. Make risk and compliance a part of your brand.
American phones received nearly 3.8 billion robocalls in February 2022, which is a decrease from late 2021 since compliance with the STIR/SHAKEN regulations.
Still, it’s clear that robocalls, caller ID scams, and other fraudulent practices are still present in the U.S., causing distrust among consumers. Not to mention that companies are equally concerned about avoiding practices which could result in Federal Trade Commission (FTC) violations or lawsuits — costly endeavors for those that make these mistakes.
…greater education is needed to align departments and ensure risks are avoided…
To ensure your company is not only avoiding risks that could result in compliance breaches but also creating trust with consumers, it’s important to make risk and compliance a part of your internal brand.
Compliance and risk assessment is not just the job of compliance leaders but should be included in the education and training of all employees, especially sales reps. That way, everyone can be prepared at the organization.
At the same time, the current landscape of fraudulent activity is also a result of the quick digitization of many of these companies.
While the move towards data-driven sales technology has transformed how reps operate, greater education is needed to align departments and ensure risks are avoided, allowing the focus to stay on sales optimization and ROI.
For example, the ability to record calls in real-time and utilize this data for sales decision-making has become a major focus of digitization — but if reps aren’t educated or your platform isn’t fully compliant, call recordings could result in some major compliance mistakes.
This education can also be embedded in the sales platform being used at the organization with tools like real-time guided coaching.
For example, guided coaching can help signal to the sales reps when risks are present or if any concerns pop up during the call — helping employees to pivot their strategy. This helps keep everyone on track and in compliance with the platform.
To remain efficient while avoiding risk in the sales process takes not only a sophisticated platform built with compliance in mind, but the right expertise, training, and education across the sales department and your partners.
While access to data is powerful, it also has the power to create more compliance headaches than needed, which is why having a robust risk management strategy can be a game-changer. To break down these risk silos, it’s crucial to create a data-driven strategy that both sales and compliance leaders can agree on — helping to both boost productivity and manage risk across the organization.