“Sales is an easy job. Managing a sales team is a piece of cake”, said no one ever.
Sales is a stressful job. What makes it even more complex is the fact that the sales process is going through a dramatic change. In the age where the focus rests heavily on ‘customer experience’, the proverbial sales pitch is losing its value. Sales wins are becoming so heavily intertwined with customer satisfaction as it has become the primary measure of sales success.
Along with this, we are amid a global shake-up. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely disrupted the enterprise. As lockdowns across the globe slowly ease off and economic activity restarts gradually, sales leaders have to ramp up their sales strategies and adjust them to meet the dynamics of the new world of work.
With markets becoming more dynamic and challenging and competitiveness increasing at breakneck speed, organizations will now have to look at creating high-performing sales teams…teams that are programmed to sell fast and win big. But how do organizations go about building such teams?
How can you sell fast?
A tough sales culture is one that pushes the team to sell fast. But this culture often becomes toxic as most salespeople are unclear about ‘how’ to sell fast. Here are a few points that teams should focus on to increase their capacity to sell fast.
Sales teams are obsessed with capacity planning. In plain speak, capacity planning roughly translates to matching the supply to the demand. In sales, it is used to quantify individual sales performance, developing sales goals based on production capacity (i.e., the bookings) made by the sales representatives and then increasing this capacity via sales enablement or hiring.
This is where the problem starts. With a capacity planning focus, the sales team often hits the gas too early and ends up either with more salespeople than needed or increasing their sales goals before the market is ready. They are also often unable to expand sales capacity to meet demand.
Instead, sales leaders should have their sales teams focus on understanding their target audience and the market first. With robust targeting and segmentation in place, sales teams get more clarity on who to sell to, how to sell, where to sell, and how much can be sold. This makes for correct projections and faster sales closures.
Quality over quantity
Sales is changing. Even some time back, a typical day in the life of a salesperson would involve a plethora of cold calls and meetings. Some of these translated into sales. Most didn’t. Today, things are different. The days of the cold calls and walk-in meetings are far behind us.
While we are not writing off the above, salespeople have to ensure that they focus on creating high-quality touches to make sure that they generate viable sales leads. This becomes even more essential as customers today are becoming immune to traditional advertising and marketing strategies as they conduct more individual research. To sell fast, salespeople also need to qualify a lead as “sales-ready”. Qualifying a lead as ‘sales-ready’ needs a lot of customer information, which can take a multitude of ‘touches’. As such, this team needs to ensure that the quality of these ‘touches’ is high to accelerate the prospecting and lead generation process.
Along with this, salespeople need to learn the subtle nuances of inbound and outbound prospecting to make sure that your team can provide value to the prospect immediately.
Improve customer management skills
“It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and seconds to lose it” – Closing a sale is one thing. Ensuring you have a customer for life is something else.
Today many new business models ensure recurring revenue. However, for that, the salespeople must make sure that their customer management skills are also on point. For this, sales teams have to improve their customer management skills by ensuring that their CRM sales data management is accurate, opportunity pipeline management is mapped, and CSAT scores are complete.
Clearly defined sales processes
Companies that have a well-defined sales process are 33% more likely to become high-performers. The win rates of organizations with well-defined sales processes exceeds 50%. But almost half of all sales teams have no playbook in place. They do not have a clear set of processes that act as a guide and anchor.
To develop sales teams that can sell fast, organizations need to look closely at the sales systems they have in place. They also need to gauge the quality of their sales processes such as lead status qualification and SDR sales dev rep benchmarking to help the sales representatives better manage their sales pipelines. Sales leaders have to pay close attention to ensure that their sales process communication is also effective so that their teams can optimally utilize their time.
Know your customer
Know your customer – Not only when and after you contact them, but before that. To make a fast sale, sales teams need to increase their knowledge about the customer. Salespeople need to conduct elaborate pre-contact research to gain a clear idea of the customer or enterprise’s business, the pain points they are experiencing, how the product/solution fits in to alleviate their explicit needs, and their implied needs.
What it takes to win big
Winning big does not translate to closing a big sale. It is about when you make that big sale and keep a customer for life. It is only when you can retain customers that organizations can accelerate profitable growth. It is also a lot less expensive to keep an existing customer than to acquire one. For sales leaders, this means creating a high-powered sales team that ensures that every customer becomes a long-haul partner. This can be achieved by focusing on:
Relationship management is now critical, especially as we are moving deeper into the subscription economy. For this, it is important to have clear post-sales strategies as well. It also involves being empathetic to the customer problems, being proactive in solving post-sales issues, providing support, and identifying opportunities to cross-sell and upsell.
Employ a consultative selling approach
Having a great product cannot ensure big wins. However, when the sales team learns to assess customer problems and pain points with great clarity and understand the customer’s business completely, they can help the customer understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ the product/service will help their business. In the age of hyper-personalization, the process of sales has to become consultative, something that helps customers and solves their problem. Sales now is about the customer. It is not about what the organization has to sell.
The days of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach are well behind us. In the age when everything is personalized and customized, sales pitches have to be leaning towards providing tailored solutions. Context is everything for the customer. So, evaluating how the product/solution fits into the customer’s context and how it can be tailored to their personalised needs is the need of the hour for salespeople.
Day-long sales programs and training might help salespeople get an idea of how sales has changed or give them more in-depth product information. But high-performing sales teams need power skills such as strategic and critical thinking, empathy to understand customer pain points, perseverance, and intuitiveness to assess problems that are implied and explicit. They also need consultative selling skills and skills to develop strong relationships.
Since these skills are behavioral, these need to be nurtured and developed over a period of time. Sales leaders have to tweak their learning and development and sales training initiatives and incorporate an element of coaching and mentoring. Connecting each member with the right mentor will help them develop their team’s power skills, and a superstar sales team will be an organic consequence of this action.
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