Sales reps are on the front lines of any business disruptions, whether that's a supply chain disruption, an economic downturn, or an industry shakeup. Their experiences can be the bellwether for how a company, industry, or entire economy is doing.
If you’re a sales leader and you’ve found that even your best sales reps are not hitting their numbers, it’s easy to be discouraged and uncertain about what to do next.
However, this is a time to live in the solution, rather than focus on limitations and shortfalls. We can’t solve for all of the disruptions thrown in our path, but we can control how we react — and this is a time when leadership needs to set the tone for how an entire company responds.
Sales performance: Start by asking the right questions
Whenever you're evaluating the performance of your sales team, you need to start by looking at the big picture:You have to put these numbers in context.
First off, are your sales team’s numbers down consistently across the board?
Are there some reps who are finding more success than others?
Are certain products or services over- or under-performing?
Have there been any changes in your customer demographics?
Then, consider broader pipeline issues. Are leads down? Form fills? Inquiries? Or is it just close rates?
Next, look at the broader industry. Speak to friends and colleagues at other companies in your field. Are they experiencing similar struggles?
The more you can learn to contextualize the data, the better you can understand what the actual problem is.
Then, you can determine the best path forward.
Focus on the solution
Once you contextualize what's going on, you can begin to move forward. This requires a mindset shift: How can I see these challenges as opportunities rather than a string of costly disappointments and defeats?
For your sales reps to be successful, they need the tools to do their job well — and this is more true today than ever.
When sales reps learn something new, whether that’s a new tool or a new technique, I find that they get reenergized to do their work better. If a rep suddenly learns about 1:1 video, say, or ChatGPT they immediately want to put it to use to better connect with prospects, but they need some help to do it well.
Now is a time when we are asking our sales teams to quickly adapt to a new normal, in some cases changing how they’ve done things for years or decades.
This adaptation must be assisted with training.
If you just assume your team can be successful with 1:1 video because they all know the basics of a platform, you’re not giving them what they need. Sure, familiarity is crucial, but it’s really just table stakes at this point.
Is your sales process optimized for these consumers, or are they all funneled into the same experience, regardless of their buying preferences?
Your marketing team must produce content that builds trust and educates your buyers
The right content can enable sales to move more quickly. In the digital; world, customers do tons of research before they speak to a salesperson. Content that answers customer questions will forge a relationship and build trust, making the salesperson's job easier.
If you’re not sure what content should be covered, start by asking your sales team what questions they get asked over and over.
Too often, we see salespeople who spend the bulk of any given sales call talking about how great their solution is. They charge through a lengthy pitch deck highlighting dozens of features — all while the prospect sits there, forced to drink from a fire hose.
Studies show that the most successful sales reps spend the majority of their time in meetings listening.
This means asking questions, prompting self-discovery, and building a relationship.
Use an AI tool like Gong or Chorus.ai to analyze call recordings to see if your team is spending too much time pitching. If so, devote some meeting time to practicing the skills of questioning and listening.
It can be demoralizing to see deal after deal fall through. This can cause even the most seasoned and successful salespeople to doubt themselves and lose hope.
But it is important to first understand the context. Many businesses are struggling as the economy fluctuates and uncertainty looms.
Take this as an opportunity to modernize, streamline, and improve your sales process. This means educating your buyers in the way they want to learn and selling to them the way they want to buy. It also means equipping your sales reps with the training and tools they need to serve your modern buyer
The most successful sales teams demonstrate the same key characteristics and tendencies, regardless of their industry.
They see opportunity where others just see an impediment
They focus on learning
They celebrate agility
They promote a culture of collegiality and support
You can do these same things with your team.
With the right culture, the right sales process, and the right training, your sales reps can get back to their winning ways.
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