To ramp up sales performance and strengthen your sales pipeline, you have to develop your salespeople’s confidence; inspire them to be more proactive; improve their ability to build trust and rapport in an increasingly digital world; and equip them to engage in buyer-centric, results-driven conversations.
The sales business went through rough waters (to put it mildly) in 2020, but now it’s time to get your sales plan ready and your team geared up to ride the coming wave.
With the economy strengthening and experts predicting a dramatic upturn in spending over the next 12 to 24 months, what can you do to optimize sales effectiveness and fortify your sales pipeline?
We recently caught up with Integrity Solutions’ Chief Sales Officer, Bruce Wedderburn, in our latest podcast to get his insights on where the opportunities lie in this new environment and what sales leaders need to address to ensure their salespeople are prepared to capitalize on them.
As Bruce pointed out, “businesses are sitting on a pile of cash” today after pulling back dramatically on spending last year. Now that the pandemic is beginning to wind down, just like consumers who are anxious to get back out there, businesses are loosening up the purse strings and releasing budgets. Business investment has gotten off to a strong start in 2021, and experts expect that trend to continue.
For leaders who saw sales performance fall off a cliff in the second quarter of 2020, all of this is welcome news. But now there’s something else to be worried about: FOMO — the fear of missing out on this coming wave because their sales teams aren’t ready for it.
3 Critical Steps to Optimize Sales Effectiveness as the Economy Rebounds
Here’s why it’s so important to get your sales plan and strategy firmed up now: If you don’t, you won’t be able to achieve the market share and margin growth that’s going to be available in the next 12 to 24 months. It’s not enough that the impetus to spend is there. To ramp up sales performance and strengthen your sales pipeline, you have to improve your salespeople’s confidence and ability to be more proactive and drive conversations toward results.
We asked Bruce for the top three things he believes sales leaders need to do right now to address these gaps and alleviate the FOMO. Here’s what he said:
Be Ready for Virtual Sales Performance:
As Bruce explains, this is a territory coverage play. Because of the explosion of virtual selling and the level of comfort both sellers and buyers now have, one sales rep can have many more meetings in a day than they used to have. The sales efficiency and effectiveness gains can be huge.
The biggest challenge of virtual selling is distraction. We all know how strong the pull to multitask can be. For your salespeople, this means they’re now not just leading a sales call; they’re managing a customer experience. There are probably a dozen things or more that need to be planned well, from technology, sound and lighting to navigating team handoffs to sharing documents to asking questions and understanding Behavior Styles. If your salespeople aren’t “virtual ready” across all of them, it can derail the entire meeting — and put the deal at risk.
It’s also important to recognize that virtual is here to stay. Many customers now prefer it, which means even if your salespeople are willing to travel, the number of virtual meetings they’ll be conducting will continue to increase.
Move your sales approach off the immediate need.
Especially now that budgets are being released and there are more customers looking to buy, salespeople need to step back and have broader, deeper conversations exploring what the customer is trying to achieve. Otherwise they risk losing the full sales business that’s available to them.
Bruce put it this way: “Don’t take what could be a large opportunity and turn it into a small client by just responding to the need that’s right in front of you.”
This isn’t just about asking a whole bunch of questions, though. Salespeople need to have the mindset and skills to engage in diagnostic conversations that the customer will get value from.
Differentiate your sales approach through the human experience.
The digitization of sales is inevitable. It won’t be long before all purchases will be automated and you won’t need to talk to a salesperson. If you’re in the sales business, this sounds like bad news. But it’s also a tremendous opportunity for salespeople to rise to the occasion and lift their game.
If there’s one of thing that the pandemic reinforced, it’s the need for human connection, empathy, understanding and reassurance. The opportunity is there for salespeople to become trusted consultants by solving a customer’s business problems, by listening and asking insightful questions and sharing insights.
Over the next two years, your sales plan needs to focus on how your team will build trust and rapport in an increasingly digital world and what they need to do to become intimately familiar with the buyer’s goals, problems and pain points. With more and more products now viewed as a commodity, differentiation won’t come from how well a salesperson describes your offerings. It will from how effectively they can deliver on the human experience throughout the buying journey.
The #1 Driver of Sales Performance
Bruce emphasizes one more critical component of a sales plan to capitalize on the coming wave: the role of self-belief, attitude, achievement drive and purpose in sales performance.
When we ask sales leaders what contributes to their top performers’ success, they consistently tell us that at least 75% (if not more) is the intangibles — who they are, their attitude, their confidence, their drive to succeed. Product knowledge and selling skills, by comparison, are much less predictive of sales success.
And yet…few of them say they’re providing much training — if any — on these key sales success drivers.
We’re at a pivotal moment right now, and there’s too much at stake. We have to address the whole person by developing the skills, mindset and attitudes as well as the product knowledge, techniques and tools. This will require expanding salespeople’s belief boundaries and identifying potential inner roadblocks that could be holding them back from achieving their true sales performance potential. If you’re not doing that, then you’re jeopardizing your ability to capitalize on the coming wave.
As Bruce says, right now’s a great time to be in sales, so DOMO: Don’t miss out! Make sure your people and your organization are ready to reap the benefits of this rebounding economy.
Be sure to listen to the full podcast, Sales Performance in Boom Times: Are You Ready?
Chief Sales Officer
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