By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

COVID-19 has changed everything – including how sales happen and how buyers make purchases. 

The job of enterprise Sales Managers has become tougher during the pandemic. With travel restrictions and strict lockdown norms, they are unable to meet their prospects and customers in person. The rules of customer engagement and client interactions have gone through a phenomenal change. 

It is apparent that the skills and drive the sales teams will need in the future are fundamentally different.

Therefore, it will be the organizations’ responsibility to provide mentoring and coaching to their sales teams to help them navigate these tough times. Organizations will need to foster trust, honesty, drive, enthusiasm, empathy, creativity, and positivity in the team. 

Studies have shown that companies with dynamic sales coaching programs achieve 28% higher win rates. Effective sales coaching programs can improve sales reps’ performance by up to 20%. And firms that provide an optimal amount of coaching see an approximately 17% increase in their annual revenues. 

Undoubtedly, coaching and mentoring can help sales teams hit or exceed their quota and create a positive impact on business growth. 

Unlike sales training sessions, which happen periodically and are many a time standard for all sales team members, the one-size-fits-all approach does not work for mentoring and coaching. 

Since each sales rep has different skills, motivations, abilities, and qualities, it makes sense to make the coaching programs highly personalized. Only then can they be useful for the sales reps and help them succeed and reach their sales goals. 

Let’s look at the key characteristics of highly successful coaching and mentoring interactions – 

Highly Contextual

Many organizations spend a lot of time in sales enablement without thinking about incorporating context. Even if the content is good, without the context, it is of little use. To create value, for every situation, sales coaches need to understand the complete context from their sales reps such as buyer persona, use cases, priorities, sales stage, interest in product, competitive landscape, the experience of the sales pro of working in a similar situation, etc. Without such information, it is hard for the sales coaches to offer actionable insights and guidance. 

Power Skill Development 

In today’s uncertain world, power skills have become extremely important because salespeople today need to change their sales approach and tilt it more towards relationship development. These include skills such as empathy, emotional intelligence to understand what others are feeling and adapt accordingly, active listening, confidence, flexibility, optimism, and integrity. Obviously, the power skills cannot be attained in one day or through one training session. Sales coaching is an effective way to help sales reps develop new skills and help them meaningfully engage with the customers. Coaching programs that enable the development of power skills can create a more long-lasting impact. 

Continuous Motivation and Appreciation 

Unlike training, coaching and mentoring interactions are not about feeding chunks of information to the sales reps. The coaches should also provide them with the much-needed motivation to succeed. There should be an appreciation and motivation model in place while mentoring each member of the team, where they will be appreciated for every little progress they make and motivated to achieve larger goals. It needs to be an ongoing process to ensure maximum efficiency in closing big deals and developing a better relationship with the customers. 

Rapport Development with Team Members and Managers 

Sales happens through teamwork and is not an individual process. Every sales rep should have a good rapport with his/her fellow team members and managers to increase team efficiency and productivity. The coaches need to understand that each salesperson will have a different personality, management style, and coaching preferences. By considering every individual’s selling style, strengths, and weaknesses, coaches can define a unique strategy to help the team members foster transparency, increase collaboration, build mutual trust among team members, manage interpersonal differences, and pave the way for team success.

Also Read: Are You Coaching Your Sales Managers to be the Sales Leaders?

Consultative Approach to Selling 

Cold selling is a thing of the past.  90% of decision-makers “never” respond to cold calls!

Clearly, times have changed. The traditional ways of making the sales pitch and selling have undergone fundamental changes. While interacting with the sales teams, today’s informed, hyper-connected customers are looking for expert advice and solutions to their problems. They are looking for options to improve their business, finding answers to their questions, and seeking out advice before making the final decision. They are not interested in listening to “sales pitches”.

Sales coaching interactions need to help sales reps in doing a proper analysis, strategic planning and by defining personalized approaches to hold meaningful and relevant conversations with potential customers and earn their trust. 

Wrapping it up

The need for strategic leadership and coaching has never been more critical. 

But the age-old sales training and coaching methods can no longer be effective. Today, organizations need to leverage the power of AL and ML and take a more skills data-driven approach to sales coaching. 

NumlyEngage™ offers a skills data-driven model, leveraged by AI & ML, to help organizations kick start their sales coaching initiatives in a matter of a few days. It captures the many nuances of sales coaching to help sales teams sell fast and win big!

Get a demo today! 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

“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.

Planning smart

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. 

Read: Are You Coaching Your Sales Managers to be the Sales Leaders?

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

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. 

Tailored solutions 

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.

Don’t be stuck with the age-old sales training and coaching methods. Leverage the power of AL and ML and take a more skills data-driven approach to sales coaching. Want to know how? Get a demo

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

“Success is never owned. It is rented. And the rent is due every day”.  

Perhaps no other department in today’s enterprise has to live this quote like the 

 sales department. With the key responsibility of getting the money rolling and driving the business, the sales team has to revise, revamp, and relook at their sales strategies to remain agile in the face of constant change. 

But growing a high-powered sales team today is a challenging exercise for most organizations. With the age-old sales formulas dying out and the consumer becoming more enabled and empowered than ever before, the sales teams are feeling the pressure to up their game. 

Today, the customer is 57% into the purchasing decision before they even engage with a sales team. This shows that the time of the proverbial ‘sales pitch’ is over. What the customer is looking for when they engage with your sales team is knowledge, and an access to a trustworthy expert who can confirm their buying decision by logically clarifying their doubts while giving them the best possible buying experience. The focus of the customer is now on ‘value’ more than on ‘pitches’. 

Thus, building a strong sales team to grow a business is the smartest thing to do. It is also one of the hardest things to do. 

Here are a few things that organizations can do to grow high-powered and strong sales teams.

Talent matters – make sure to get the right fit 

The desire to build a strong sales team is great, but are you relying solely on your gut feeling to drive the hiring process? Organizations leveraging the proverbial gut feel to make hiring decisions often falter in their intention because of a few reasons. A gut feeling cannot be quantified and, hence, it is not scalable so, as a process, this fails. Secondly, not everyone might have the same feeling. So how will you make a hiring decision if the collective instinct does not comply? 

Since sales is both a collaborative and an individual job role, it demands a certain kind of hire – one who can work with a team but can also contribute independently. Drawing up a list of criteria that can correlate with the success in the sales role then serves to be a much more quantifiable and scalable process. This makes sure that the salesperson the organization hires is the closest fit to these characteristics that are correlated to sales success. 

Elements such as prior success rates, coachability, intelligence, work ethics, drive, and motivation can fit into this list and can make sure that each individual is the right fit for your organization. 

Power skills lead the way

Selling is no longer all about cold calls and emails. And it has gone beyond slick smooth-talking. Today a successful salesperson is one who can capably amalgamate product knowledge with a high plethora of power skills to crack a deal.

When building a sales team, it is essential to look for people with power skills. Skills such as communication, teamwork, empathy, positivity, trust, and honesty are essential to developing in all salespeople to grow a strong sales team. 

Equally important is a high EQ (emotional quotient), the instinctive capability to feel and understand a customer pain point and give the best possible solution for it. This job also needs people to be highly driven and adaptable, creative, and great collaborators so that complex problems can be solved easily. This approach of being solution-driven helps to solve customer challenges and problems with confidence and ease and, consequently, drives up the revenue.  

Motivation matters 

“Success lies in walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

Sales is a challenging job role. For every success, there is a herculean amount of effort. The assault on patience is relentless. Failure is a very real possibility until the final sign on the dotted line. Dejection and disappointments are an integral part of the life of any salesperson. But what makes a successful sales team stand out is how motivated is the team through this journey of highs and lows. 

To build a strong sales team, organizations have to ensure that their salespeople never lose focus and can constantly stay self-motivated. This comes from becoming more self-aware, knowing their strengths and weaknesses, and what they need to do to grow in their roles. Giving them access to behavioral skills analysis tests or 16 personality factor assessments is a good way to give them clarity on their improvement areas, appreciate the skills they have, and help them excel in their job roles. 

Deep product knowledge 

Having clear, precise, in-depth, and detailed product knowledge is essential for every sales team. Having clarity around product differentiations, updated product knowledge, and a clear idea of how the product can solve different challenges in the context of the customer are essential skills to have. 

For developing a strong sales team, organizations have to work in a focused manner to increase and improve the knowledge repository of all their salespeople. Having an online information repository to enable self-service, detailed product onboarding plans, and regular training and development sessions on product information, contribute to the success of this process. 

Provide strategic leadership and coaching 

One of the most important pieces in the jigsaw of a powerful sales team is that of strategic leadership and coaching. While individual ambition is essential for closing a sale, the focus of the sales team has to be for the business to grow. It also involves having highly focused sales managers who not only keep an eye on the sales figures but also on the developmental health of their sales team. 

Identifying the high-potential salespeople, charting out their career path, and helping them connect with the right mentors all contribute to developing strong salespeople who go on to first fill the sales pipeline and then consequently fill the leadership pipeline. 

Mentoring and coaching play a big role in developing strong sales teams. This is primarily because 

  • Sales success not only depends on knowing the product but involves the use of certain power skills to map implied and explicit needs of the potential client. 
  • It involves determining how business needs will evolve and grow. 
  • It is about becoming more intuitive towards identifying needs and possible avenues for sales. 

All these traits and many others are the trademarks of great salespeople. They  are essentially power skills – skills that take time to develop as they need constant reaffirming. So, what are you doing to help your salespeople become your sales superstars? 

NumlyEngage™ offers a skills data-driven model, leveraged by AI & ML, to help organizations kick start their sales coaching initiatives in a matter of a few days. It captures the many nuances of sales coaching to help sales teams sell fast and win big! Get a demo today

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Have you ever known of an elite athlete who rose to excellence without the help of a coach? 

An athlete is only on top of his/her game with a good coach by their side. This coach is the mentor-figure who identifies the strengths to be worked on to make them stronger and the weaknesses to be converted into strengths.

This rule applies to organizational setups as well.

Sales is a critical department for any organization. As the market dynamics keep changing, it becomes the responsibility of the sales teams to maintain client conversions and keep the client pipeline full. But can you have a successful sales team without an equally effective sales leadership? No.

Why do sales managers need to become sales leaders?

Sales managers are the ones who have to find avenues to maximize the productivity and performance of their teams. While the sale incentives do aid the process, the onus of transforming good salespeople to great ones rests with the sales managers. Since sales performance has a direct impact on the organizational bottom line, it is the responsibility of organizations to help sales managers grow into sales leaders; leaders who support the organization’s vision and help set its future direction. 

What organizations must do to develop sales leaders from their sales managers

 

Create an environment of continuous development

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“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” – John F Kennedy

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To create leaders of tomorrow, organizations have to create an environment that fosters learning and development for their sales managers. Learning and development here extend beyond the textual learning mechanisms and the academic part of learning. 

When grooming managers to become sales leaders, organizations have to focus on creating programs that are personalized and keep in mind the individual’s areas of improvement. A one-size-fits-all program will hardly help in developing visionary sales leaders.

Organizations need to employ measurable metrics (such as behavioral skills analysis, personality assessment tests, etc.) to determine the learning gaps and coaching needs of sales managers and then pair the right mentor with the mentee. Proactive two-way feedback, measurable progress, and privacy help in creating an environment of continuous learning and self-improvement. This helps in the effective development of leadership qualities in sales managers.

Inspire passion and commitment

 

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“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire” – Ferdinand Foch

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Incentive programs have so far been the ‘go-to’ strategy to keep sales teams motivated to get more business. However, these incentives are not enough when you want your managers to become leaders. 

For this to happen, organizations have to capably identify high performing and high-value managers. They then have to capably stoke enough fire in them to do more and reach greater heights.

But identifying high-value managers is just one piece of the puzzle. Organizations need to pair these managers with the right coaches and mentors who can help these managers strengthen their own potential, help them realize how far they can go, and fire up the passion and commitment that they will need to excel in leadership roles.

Develop and communicate a sales vision

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“All good thoughts and ideas mean nothing without action” – Mahatma Gandhi

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Without clarity, there is only chaos. To inspire people to work towards a common goal, it becomes imperative to communicate those goals and the vision with clarity. 

The starting point for organizations looking at converting their sales managers to sales leaders is by developing a clear sales vision. It is this vision that directs all initiatives, methodologies, and processes. 

This vision has to be communicated clearly to the sales managers and should become a part of their vocabulary and then consequently of their teams. Clear communication of this vision inspires the team and helps in firing up strategies that enable the expected outcomes.

Differentiate between Leadership and Management

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“Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things” – Peter Drucker

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A good manager will make sure the job is done. A leader will find the the right way to go about it. Leaders give direction. They are the trailblazers who lead teams and organizations to success. In the journey of developing leaders, organizations have to help their managers identify, understand, and internalize this difference. 

It becomes essential to help managers learn that while their teams might be climbing the ladder of success, it is important to ensure that the ladder is leaning against the right wall. By helping their managers understand this difference, organizations can develop sales leaders who then build high-performing sales teams.

Provide an experience-sharing forum for sales managers

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“Knowledge is power. Knowledge shared is power multiplied” – Robert Boyce

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Knowledge is a valuable commodity for organizations. It is also a transferrable commodity, one that can be shared easily. Sharing knowledge, learning, and expertise helps organizations create a lasting legacy…one that not only helps existing employees but also becomes a valuable knowledge repository for new ones.

This is a valuable piece of information for organizations on the journey to develop leaders. To achieve this, organizations should provide a forum where sales managers can ask questions, share learnings and best practices amongst themselves, and grow together.

In conclusion 

Organizations have a plethora of employees working for them. There are self-motivated ones. There are the rock-stars. There are the hard workers. But, to become the future leaders of the organization, these employees need direction and coaching. Given the dynamic landscape that sales managers operate in and the impact that they have on the organization’s bottom line, it only makes sense to coach them for success and help them become leaders of tomorrow.

Let’s connect to discuss how NumlyEngage™ can help you grow the next generation of business and sales leaders. 

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