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UK SMEs Need to Adapt for the Future of Sales

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According to HubSpot’s UK Future of Sales Report, the UK’s small businesses will need to adjust to the hybrid working and selling reality and embrace innovative technology to stay competitive. We sat down with Ed Barret, Vice President of Sales at HubSpot, to discuss the report. 

Hybrid working seems to be at the forefront of many minds as industries return to work. With a significant percentage (38%) of working adults stating they have had more freedom to build their work around their home lives and personal needs, we can understand why many professionals would like hybrid working to remain a viable option when lockdown is lifted. However, HubSpot have found that just 46% of businesses have made the suitable changes to enable successful remote working, despite many companies showing that they are eager to take advantage of the remote or distant talent market and diversify their staff. 

“With better remote working tools, businesses can attract a broader pool of employees, offer better workplace flexibility, and ensure they are ready for any future events.” 

So, how could hybrid working revolutionise the future of sales? If a company is no longer restricted by location when hiring, then they have the ability the build a remote sales team in the different regions of the UK, who are able to visit potential customers and clients in their area, expanding the company’s prospective client base. This could mean reduced travel costs for the company but is also an opportunity for companies to break into new markets. Over half of UK businesses consider selling into new industries and gaining new clients their top priority in 2021, according to the research.

One of the key pieces of technology businesses should be taking advantage of, especially if they are converting to a hybrid system with a remote sales team, is a CRM. A Customer Management System helps a business manage potential sales leads, store customer information, and track customer interactions. Historically, CRM applications were built as one-point solutions, like email automation or to manage marketing campaigns. A lot of companies then have their data split across multiple platforms or stored in different spreadsheets and trying to stitch together that information is difficult, time-consuming, and often inaccurate. HubSpot is a cloud-based solution that allows marketing, sales and customer service teams to see a single profile of each customer that holds all of their relevant data, from a single login, reducing the need to constantly cross-reference and making sales much more efficient. 

“Leveraging a CRM helps businesses automate their process, shows how to improve engagement with prospective customers and saves customers’ time because they get a quicker, better service from the team.” 

The report finds that companies not only need to consider the technology they are using to support remote sales, but they also need to build a sales team that reflects the dynamics of their customers and properly support staff members that are working in sales. The research revealed that in UK sales teams, the average ratio between male and female identifying staff was 62% men and 38% women. Before the pandemic, women were 16% less likely to be offered a financial bonus and since the pandemic began, the percentage of women who have been offered financial bonuses had dropped from 41% to 33%, compared to an only 1% drop for men. The statistics are incredibly worrying, especially considering how a sales team needs to reflect the same diversity as the current and future UK market in order for a company to appeal and connect with a variety of clients. If a business does fail to diversify their staff, they not only risk missing out on potential sales, they may also become less attractive to prospective candidates, particularly younger applicants who very seriously consider company values and workplace cultures before committing to a job role. 

“If there is a process and a system that recognises and promotes people based on objective data, facts, and assessments then you will reward people the same way, irrespective of gender or race. There needs to be a transparent, objective, and un-biased way staff are offered incentives or given rewards for good results.” 

Not only does hybrid working have the potential to help a company break into the new sales markets they are aiming for or establish a presence in a new area of the UK, but they can also help close the gender gap we can see is still very prevalent in the workplace. Offering parents, particularly working mothers, flexibility around when and how they work gives staff the opportunity to apply for more demanding positions, promotes better mental health, gives disabled employees the option to work in an environment that is more comfortable and accessible for them, and overall, builds a work-life balance that often produces better results for the business as people work in a way that is more effective and efficient for them as individuals. 

 

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