With fresh guidance to work from home affecting many, and with some forms of workplace-based social distancing expected to continue until 2022, many b2b sales teams will be continuing to operate remotely for some time to come.
This shift in working behaviour makes it harder for sellers to pin down the customer, presenting a huge challenge for sales organisations that put together particularly complex deals, that may be political in nature.
Here are our 5 tips for how sales leaders can pragmatically approach this challenge with their teams; equipping sellers to effectively manage and progress opportunities with the socially distanced customer.
A top down approach is key, but having a more remote sales team increases the tendency for managers to look too much at quantitative measures (how many new prospects have been identified, how many new opportunities have been added and/or how many proposals have been submitted). This inadvertently places a great deal of stress on sellers whose behaviour then reverts to the number of calls or meetings they generate or the number of opportunities assigned to their name in the pipeline, rather than focussing on the quality of client contact and the effectiveness of this activity.
In many cases, complex deals will need to be built and agreed without any physical contact. During sales calls/meetings, it is vital that sellers make the interaction count. Winning a sale is achieved through an accumulation of customer commitments and it is crucial to focus sellers’ attention on this meaningful pursuit. This means looking closely at what the customer physically does to progress things. Data on the commitments gained from the customer will provide vital information on key milestones that the customer has defined for progressing the sale.
Sellers must demonstrate authority and be equipped with well-directed action planning skills. Developing planning and qualification skills helps sellers focus their mind on the winnable. Deploying robust qualification procedures provides rich qualitative data on each individual opportunity, identifying the work needed to progress the deal. This prevents sellers going after the wrong opportunities and will increase available selling hours for the right ones. Robust qualification also identifies the areas of concern in the sale, flushing out objections likely to kill the deal early, helping sellers plan to overcome them.
Many sales training investments don’t live up to expectations because the training is mechanical or facts-based, leaving sellers struggling to apply it to real-life customer scenarios. Select blended eTraining solutions that offer a mixture of virtual classroom, workshop and online delivery, designed to focus on the building of skills instead of just knowledge transfer. This ensures long term behavioural change by aligning ‘theory’ and the linking of new thought processes into real work-based practices and procedures.
Robust sales processes must accurately track deal progression, collecting data on the true quality of opportunities. Processes that inspect qualitative data related to client contact during those valuable customer interactions and the effectiveness of this activity should be developed. This will provide the data sets needed to intervene accordingly as an effective coach – ultimately driving the right behaviours within the sales team. The forensic understanding of the pipeline, achieved through these richer datasets, results in more accurate forecasts leading to predictable sales performance.