Sales Executive Corner

The Role of the Sales Leader Is Changing: Are You Ready?

Cari Murray's Avatar

Cari Murray

Senior Manager of Content Marketing

Revenue leaders feel like the ground is constantly shifting under their feet. The pace of change is rapid. Many of us are questioning what we (and our teams) need to do differently to succeed.

Outreach’s global innovation evangelist Mary Shea discussed this very topic in a recent webinar with her former colleague and special guest Seth Marrs, principal analyst at Forrester Research. They got real about the big picture challenges every sales leader faces, as well as tangible steps for how you can solve them today.

For all the insights from two industry experts who live at the forefront of the market, listen to our latest webinar.

The digital disruption of sales is accelerating. Are you keeping pace?

Watch the Webinar

Revenue Innovators Must Evolve Their Sales Skills

The world is moving quickly, and the way buyers want to buy has evolved. So too has the role of the top revenue officer. Mary shared surprising insights about the skills CROs believe they need for today’s fast-paced, digital world. Those attributes are strong financial skills, the ability to deliver efficient, predictable growth, and strong forecasting skills.

We typically think leaders need attributes like strong people skills, good negotiation skills, and the ability to effectuate change. In fact, that’s what Mary heard when she asked her LinkedIn network. Those skills are still important. The difference is — they are now table stakes.

During the webinar, Seth uncovered why operational attributes are rising to the top:

“Companies these days want a steady flow of sales. They're holding their chief revenue officers accountable for delivering at that level, which puts a lot more pressure on these skills... If you look at the background of most CROs, they probably have very few roles where they were able to hone those three skills.”

It’s a sort of “gotcha” moment for revenue leaders. They know how to work within their organization and have moved up through the ranks. Yet, once they get to that level, they’re held accountable for skills they haven’t had the opportunity to develop.

CROs know their role is evolving. Ultimately though, organizations must help them execute against changing requirements and develop stronger financial and forecasting skills.

The Hybrid World of Buying and Selling

It’s no secret that we live in a hybrid world. Today, more than 50 percent of all customer interactions are digital. While some sales reps will eventually get back to meeting buyers in person, buyers are more distributed now that ever. Inevitably, some of all of those interactions will happen over Zoom calls and emails. 

“Folks, you must brush up on your digital skills,” Mary said. “You will meet in person. It's going to be great, but it's going to continue to be a hyper-hybrid world — and don't expect anything less.”

The changes don’t end there. They extend to what buyers expect from their relationship with a seller. “Buyers want a B2C experience,” Seth said. “They want reps to walk in knowing exactly what they need and be able to talk to them where they are. And you will not be able to do that based only on your interactions with them.” 

Mary further elaborated that sales reps can’t deliver on buyer expectations unless they understand the entire customer journey: 

“The right data is a capture of the action and activity data that happens across the sales cycle — and is going to be so important in providing visibility. So, what type of content is being consumed? What type of channels are folks interacting with? What’s the sentiment of the email? How are buying and selling groups interacting on their mutual action plan?”

To set reps up for success, revenue leaders must aggregate buying signals and give them to reps.

“You need to have a way to aggregate and understand so when you walk in you know exactly where to start,” Seth explained. “You're providing a very targeted set of information to buyers that they may not have told you they wanted, but you've been able to glean from all the different interactions that have happened around that purchase.”

All Revenue Team Members Need to Get Value from Their Tools

Mary and Seth confirmed what we’re all feeling — the velocity of change is like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. It’s a volatile and uncertain environment. It’s also an exciting period where the culmination of change across roles, relationships, and technology is coming together for massive shifts in the B2B buying and selling environment.

Because of this, revenue teams must commit to deriving value from their insights.

“We're in a completely different world,” Mary said. “We're in a world where data and insights can help you deliver that B2C experience.”

Break past an overabundance of tools that solve different problems and only give revenue teams individual insights, rather than one complete picture with very clear buyer insights.

“Get that single pane of glass for the rep in a way that they can start learning and understanding and getting value from their tools,” Seth said.

Want to hear all the insights on building better buying and selling experiences in today’s sales world? Listen to the lively discussion about what an Engagement and Intelligence platform can do for your revenue team. Then check out Mary Shea's latest research: Outreach Marries Engagement & Intelligence to Transform Its Category