As you think about what expectations to set to help your sales force succeed in the new era of selling we find ourselves in, consider if you are valuing “motion” or “movement.”
“Motion” is a term that we use to describe all of the sales activities that occur in getting people together, having conversations, and exchanging information within a given sales stage. Whether it takes one call or five calls, one meeting or five meetings, one document or twenty documents, it doesn’t matter. All of that is motion inside a system, but is the motion helping move the sale forward?
“Movement” is a term we use to denote completion of one stage and progression to the next. In a stage-gate process, this means that all the items in one stage have been completed, so the gate opens to the next stage. Movement along a sales process indicates that you are approaching either a close or the elimination of a prospect.
How to Take Action:
When it comes to measuring performance, spend less time worrying about the number of motions being made, and more time focusing on progressing forward through “movement.” To encourage movement over motion, consider giving a value of “one” to every movement from one stage to the next in the sales process. That’s right. Whether your sales reps close a deal, move a deal off of the dashboard because they lost it, or add a deal to the dashboard, it doesn’t matter. Each one of these progressions has a value of one.
What salespeople need to bring to the table in this modern era of sales is significantly different from what they needed to bring in the past. In the past, success was driven by hard work, forging lots of relationships, and having numerous prospects in the pipeline, but that is no longer sufficient.
Below are three tactics sellers need to master to win in this new era of selling.
1) Secure an Executive Sponsor
Having an executive sponsor means you have secured the right level of oversight and motivation to see a successful execution of the buying process. It doesn’t guarantee that you will win, but it does increase the chances that you will be able to move the prospect further down the buying process. So what is an executive sponsor? An executive sponsor is someone within the prospect company who has the authority to make the purchase decision, has the ability to pull together the necessary people to participate in the sales process, and has a problem you can solve.
2) Get the Right People at the Table
If you’re going to be effective in the world of large account sales, then you have to become comfortable with larger numbers—not just the larger economic scale of a deal, but also the larger number of people involved. If you do not bring all of the necessary people to the table from both sides, somewhere in the selling process, a stakeholder from the prospect company not at the table will pull the handbrake.
Last week I shared how sales management has changed. Today I am sharing the top three skills sales managers need to succeed in this new era of sales.
The “State of Sales Productivity 2015” study by Docurated found that only one-third of a sales rep’s day is actually spent selling, while 31% of their time is spent searching for or creating content, and 20% is spent on reporting, administrative and CRM-related tasks. Nowadays, 44% of B2B organizations do not verify if the business is valid before passing it to sales, and 50% of leads come from outside the standard process, according to a study by IKO System. This all adds up to a lot of wasted time and effort for both sellers and sales managers.
While companies may have been able to get away with wasting time in the past, companies that want to make it in this new fast-paced era of sales will have to have a laser focus on the activities that drive results. There is no room for dawdling. What’s the solution? Better sales management.
Below are three sales management skills necessary for thriving in the new era of sales.
1) Selecting targets.
There’s an adage that salespeople talk to whomever will talk to them. In the new world of selling, your responsibility is to make certain they are talking to the decision makers who can approve large opportunities that will come to fruition in the near future. Working with sales leadership, you must establish a filter that helps to define the most likely candidates for higher-opportunity sales efforts.
I’ve called it–the era of selling we have been operating in is dead, but what does that mean for sales managers? If sales has changed that means that sales management must also change if you want to thrive in this new era of sales.
For instance, geography is rarely a barrier to sales in today’s environment. Sales are processed through computers, facilitated through rapid delivery, and financed through mechanisms that occur with the swipe of a credit card.
The barriers to product information have fallen as well. Global access to information and technology allows buyers to assess differences between products on their own. It is also estimated that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of purchase transactions without talking to a human.
So what does this mean for sales managers? The companies excelling in today’s environment understand three critical ways that sales management has changed. The question is, do you?
1) Higher-Level Sales Require More Efficiency
Higher-level sales now require a greater level of efficiency. Why? Because shifts in the businesses-to-business (B2B) buying process require more resources to hunt opportunities than in the past. You may need a larger team because it often takes more time and cycles to meet with all the people on your clients’ teams. You’ll also need more time and resources to gather additional insight and information to shape your offering to your prospect. All this means you must be more efficient and targeted than in the past. If you let your salespeople run amok, calling on whomever they choose, you will get a lower yield because there is little selectivity and no focus on efficiency.
You’ve heard it over and over again as CEO—delegate, delegate, delegate! Learning how to delegate is crucial for every CEO, yet research shows that one of the top areas board directors say CEOs still need to work on is “sharing leadership/delegation skills.”
With all of this focus on delegation, is there such a thing as over-delegation? You are, after all, CEO—NOT Chief Delegation Officer. So while it is important to delegate some things, not everything should be delegated.
Below are 5 areas of your business that are your responsibility to always monitor closely:
1) Quality Standards
As CEO of your company, as soon as you stop paying attention to the quality of your products and services, so will the rest of your employees. While you can delegate quality control to employees, you cannot delegate setting the quality standard. That comes from the top and should be protected by the top. The quality of your product or service will only be as high as the bar you set as CEO. No one has sharper eyes, ears, and intuitive knowledge of what quality means for your company than you.
2) Financial Health
Having your accounting and reporting tasks performed by trained CFOs and accountants is necessary, but what is not necessary is to yield all decisions about your company’s future and supporting tactical initiatives to your financial team. While your financial team is your right hand, you are exclusively responsible for telling that right hand which tasks to focus on accomplishing to maintain the financial health of your business.
“Extinction is what happens when the shared history of what works takes us past the point where we need to adapt.”
A University of California, Berkeley, study found that animals and plants don’t just disappear because of bad luck in a static and unchanging environment. Most cases of extinction are the result of a changing environment combined with a lack of adaptation to the new environment. This is true in the animal kingdom, as well as in the world of sales.
Many businesses are at risk of going extinct because the world of selling is no longer as it was. The era of selling we have been operating in has changed and continues to change, and the businesses that fail to adapt to this new environment will no longer be viable.
According to the McKinsey Quarterly, nearly 50 percent of all B2B purchases will be made on digital platforms by the end of 2015. In addition, B2B customers now on average regularly use six different interaction channels throughout the decision journey. This is a far cry from the days of linear sales transactions that took place between a buyer and a seller. Does your sales strategy fit into this new buying process or is your business at risk of being on its way out?
Below are three signs you are (way, way, way) past the point of where you need to adapt to survive in life after the death of selling as we once knew it.
1) You think salespeople close business.
The Death of Selling
I regret to inform you that selling has passed away. The exact time of death is not known, but was long anticipated. Selling fought a long, hard battle against the changing B2B buying process, but ultimately lost the fight. Without adaptation, selling was unable to survive in the new era of sales. Selling will be greatly missed by old-school sales leaders and traditional sales reps who rely solely on hard work, charisma, and a bloated database of personal contacts. However, what gives us hope is the prospect of life after the death of selling.
Life After the Death of Selling
The era of selling we have been operating in is dead. Shifts in the B2B buying process have transformed selling as we know it. We must change the way we sell when buyers change the way they buy, which means we also must change the way we lead.
Below are three tips to help you lead your company in life after the death of selling as we know it.
- Become a Fortuneteller
Now, more than ever, one of your weightiest responsibilities as CEO is anticipating the future. In this new fast-paced sales era, not adapting to a quickly changing market means extinction. Your new job as executive leader is to become a fortuneteller so you can lead your company to adapt. You must figure out what the customer will need not today, but tomorrow, and (most importantly) the day after that.
- Become a Builder
If you want to survive in this new era of sales, it is critical to build a framework for your entire organization to make decisions, including the sales team.
I get the privilege of speaking with thousands of CEOs about their businesses, their plans to grow and their challenges. The conversation often turns to the question,
“Do I have the right people in sales to really grow?”
From my perspective, it’s a false choice question. If the answer is yes, then the CEO has concluded that sales growth is just about people. If the answer is no, then the CEO will be stuck replacing sales people with institutional knowledge, market and customer contacts and a lot of unrecoverable investment on the company’s part.
Hiring is a risky and murky business at best and then there is the inevitable performance delay called “onboarding.”
Let me offer a different set of questions:
- Can your sales people learn?
- Will your sales people change?
- Do your sales people know that they are “at risk” in your view of the future?
The CEOs who ask about their people, know the truth, “what got you here won’t get you there”. They have just mentally replaced the “what” for “who” in that analysis.
But, experience tells me that changing the “what,” the company’s process, message and delivery, is more important than changing the “who.”
Recently, I met with Bill Caskey, a friend and colleague in sales performance development, caskeyone.com. We were talking about what makes for remarkable sales performers. The right balance of mindset and mechanics was our conclusion. One without the other creates an unsustainable performance recipe. I later added one more ingredient:
Here is What it Looks Like:
- Mindset sets the frame for what is possible for yourself and your team. It is not a false bravado or an artificial “rah-rah” speech. This is the lens through which remarkable performers view the world. It is abundance-based and confidence comes from the concrete and accurate view of people, process and the marketplace.
- Mechanics include all of the baseline skills necessary to connect, build trust, diagnose, advise and present solutions to prospects. In the modern sales world this requires successfully expanding the participants in the process on both sides of the buying process.
- Magic is the least tangible, but still necessary component of discerning between several choices what is the best and most productive choice to make in a variety of leadership, management and selling circumstances.
My upcoming program for senior sales leadership is called, “The 3 Ms” based on the ideas of mindset, mechanics and magic. I built it because often the least invested in position is the one of sales leadership, yet it has the highest leverage for performance. If you are interested in learning about it or the upcoming start of our next Academy sessions, click here to provide us your information and we will get right back with you.
I met with a master of the relationship pitch recently. He is an artist. I’ll hit some highlights of what he did:
- Researched me and everyone on my team in advance of the meeting
- Dug deep on our website and the internet regarding our company
- Followed up his initial phone call with a detailed and specific email summarizing the phone call and the agenda for the next steps
When we met, he was friendly, charming, confident and engaging. This should have worked. We should have connected, built trust and we should have bought from him. In fact, he made friends, we did connect and all of us trust him- we just did not buy. Why? He was not relevant to our business, only to us as people.
This sales person came from the perspective that trust is the highest importance in building a sales relationship and being liked is a part of that. The current world wants those things along with relevance and value. That’s where he missed.
Here’s what he should have done in addition to connecting to the people:
- Determine what the problem is that we need to have solved. He did not know and he never asked.
- Research the competitors to our business and the threats that we face so as to position his offering in alignment with what we are trying to overcome.
- Offer us a clear picture of why his offering would fix our unique problem.
It is going to be hard to tell this sales person no, he is a real charmer and I like him.