Your sales process works. Don't you wish your reps followed it? Bite-size, situational coaching Actions delivered in-the-moment are the key to keeping your reps on your playbook.
When we meet with customers, too often we hear that their "sales process simply isn't working as they hoped". But when we dive in deeper—it's not the sales process design that's at fault—it's the implementation. Formal training, quarterly meetings and laminates are not actionable and dynamic enough for the challenges that today's sellers face.
As the B2B buyer's journey has evolved, moving from a linear journey to an ever-changing maze, the way we empower sales people (and coaches) must evolve as well. Next Best Actions are one of the most effective ways to keep reps on the playbook. Especially when they are personalized, process-aware and easy-to-act upon. In fact, Salesforce recently reported in their State of Sales report that "82% of reps that get Suggested Next Steps and 85% of those that get Alerts to Key Actions find them helpful." The problem is only one-third of reps actually get this coaching and in many cases, it's basic and not process-driven.
Here we breakdown some of the most frequently asked questions around Next Best Actions.
What exactly are Next Best Actions?
At a high level, Next Best Actions are exactly what they sound like—guidance around what steps a seller should take next or even steps a manager should take to coach their reps. For Sales Reps, Next Best Actions typically focus on how to close deals faster. They are created based on predictive analytics, data conditions or data “holes” and other relevant triggers including steps in a sales process.
Why is there suddenly so much discussion around Next Best Actions in B2B Sales?
Historically, most B2B sales technology has focused on workflow. These tools are used effectively by SDRs or sales reps that are on the phone, closing deals quickly and following sequential paths with little to no variation. In these situations, there is no need for sophisticated Next Best Actions because deals all follow the same few patterns.
However, when designing tools for account executives—those with high quotas, varying business cases, many players and where no two deals are quite the same—it became evident workflows didn’t suffice. While a workflow is like a paper map, Next Best Actions are like your GPS. They have a start and end, but understand all the routes and can immediately adapt and provide new guidance when a caution arises or a more efficient path appears.
What are the different types of Next Best Actions?
There are three different types of Next Best Actions. It’s important to understand the varied approaches and impact.
- Data Entry Next Best Actions: These are reminders to reps to provide missing CRM data. Everything from adding a contact or adding a meeting, to updating an out-of-date close date. Many times these Actions can be automated. Data Entry Next Best Actions save the reps time and also improve the quality of CRM data.
- Process-Aware Next Best Actions: These Actions understand all the Activities that have occured for a given account, what’s missing, and what should have happened according to a company’s sales process or sales methodology (think MEDDIC, Miller Heiman, custom). Actions can be very detailed. Some can be automated such as “Move Accounts that have stalled for X weeks back one stage,” while others will guide the rep to take the right action, such as “Engage subject matter expert Jane, using this email” or “Prompt manager if zero scheduled meetings for late stage deals in commit.” While Data Entry Actions are designed to save reps time, Process-Aware Actions can improve seller behavior and process adoption, increase engagement and boost pipeline velocity. They can also significantly reduce onboarding time for new reps.
- Machine-Learning Next Best Actions: These Actions use machine learning to understand what is working and what’s not. They examine historical deals, parse massive amounts of data and find commonalities and exceptions. They then apply the findings to current and future pipelines, so all sales reps can benefit. Examples include: “This champion is not acting like a ‘champion’” or “This account is over-invested” when the expense and effort to deal-size ratio exceeds a specific percent.
Who should consider Next Best Actions?
Next Best Actions are most effective in complex deal cycles. The more people, scenarios, cycles and data points involved, the more impactful Next Best Actions are.
Before you engage with a SaaS app vendor to activate Next Best Actions, consider:
- What kind of Next Best Actions are offered (Data Entry, Process Aware, Machine Learning)?
- How are the Next Best Actions developed? Are they out-of-the-box or custom?
- How many data sources are considered in creating the Next Best Actions?
- What is involved in setup and training?
- What is the benefit to sales managers?
- What is the benefit to sales reps?
- Can you create your own Next Best Actions? If so, how?
- Are any of the Next Best Actions automated?
To learn more about Next Best Actions visit: Olono Actions.
"While Data Entry Actions are designed to save reps time, Process-Aware Actions can improve seller behavior and process adoption, increase engagement and boost pipeline velocity."