Job boards scream for hunters. Organizations still look for individuals with that special “Rolodex”. None of it seems to do any good at boosting sales. Why? Because it has all gone digital, powered by the cloud.

“Frustrating, that’s all I can say! We brought Jake on almost a year ago and we got nada in new sales. And don’t get me started on Sally. Wasn’t she the one supposed to have the “golden Rolodex” of contacts? Why can’t we gain any momentum in sales? It doesn’t seem to matter whether we bring them in raw and sheep-dip them in every kind of training or bring them in seasoned, nothing seems to work. Aren’t there any good hunters out there anymore?”

Sound familiar? If it’s any comfort you are in good company. Your Chief Sales Officer (CSO) has got bad news. CSO Insights most recent survey showed that we are down to only 57.1% of sales staff making quota. Imagine that – barely half your sales people make quota. The consequences are brutal: only 82.7% of the 500 CSO’s interviewed made their revenue plan. Nonetheless, 92% of the firms have gone on to raise their revenue target for the next year. Not surprisingly, in an earlier study, only 14% of the CSO’s were very confident they could make the plan.

There are lots of consultants eager to take your money and provide a path to ease your pain. Unfortunately, it won’t do any good until you recognize how you are getting beaten-up digitally and embrace the new process, people, and organization to adopt this new way. The cloud-based tools and technologies have changed the whole buying process in dramatic ways. The customer has gained enormous capabilities in the selling relationship. Buyers now dictate the sales process.

A good part of the buyer’s journey does not involve the sales person. Seems counter intuitive doesn’t it? Here is some research on buyers from Hubspot, an inbound marketing company. When learning about a product or service 62% of buyers use a search engine, 48% visit the seller’s web site and 37% read emails or newsletters from the seller. It’s only when they are “ready” to buy that they reach out to a sales contact and then 58% of them want to talk about price on the first sales call.

Deep in your gut, you know this. 57% of sales execs feel that customers are less dependent upon them. Sending out hunters without a completely supporting set of marketing and sales systems is just a waste of time and money. Then why do we keep doing it and missing quota and revenue plan? This is what a digital disruption feels like. The old way just looses its efficacy but adopting the new way requires a digital transformation. And let’s be candid: that is hard.

You have to change out people – that’s never pleasant. New ways of doing things like reaching the customer and generating leads need to be adopted. Ugh! That means new processes and new tools plus new training and ways of measuring. Organizationally, marketing now needs to be a full-blown partner in the sales cycle and carry responsibility for making the revenue plan.

Change is hard but surprisingly, due to the cloud, it’s not that expensive. The marketing and sales tools that make it happen are relatively cheap and cost effective because they all reside in the cloud and you can pretty much buy them by the drink or by the user count.

There are lots of new pieces to this new digital sales world. First, the buyer has got to find you and you have to show them you can meet their needs. That means things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), lead nurturing, content creation, websites, landing pages, and more. Then you have got to qualify the leads so that your sales force is truly productive. You’re talking about marketing automation talking to a Customer Relations Management (CRM) system. If this is new to you, get some help.

Transforming people, process and organization in selling are going to require leadership and change management. But, at least the tools are cheap. And, what choice do you really have? Unless of course, you want to be “The Last of the Mohicans”.

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