In the sales blog, – How should I develop and reward sales talent?, we reviewed why adapting our appraisal, development and reward systems is required to support us improve current performance and groom talent for the future and retain the right sales talent.
Developing sales teams’ selling skills and behaviour is often an afterthought because all focus is given to achieving the short-term quota plan. I discuss this further in the sales guide – 7 Sales Performance Management risks, and how to avoid them, Risk No. 7 – Not driving value growth and sustainable profits.
In this sales blog, we look at five steps you can take today to implement a balanced approach to developing our sales teams to achieve longer-term value growth. And, continue to keep them accountable for achieving their short-term quota plans.
Five steps you can take today
Taking a more balanced approach to developing our sales teams is a marked divergence from traditional appraisal and reward systems that equated performance with individuals’ inherent capabilities and generally ignoring their potential to grow.
Applying five foundational values, we have presented our rationale why you must introduce a more agile approach to managing the sales pipelines and helping buyers better manage their buying struggles.
Creativity and agility are central to succeeding through a crisis, such as the current COVID-19 health crisis. Being agile and supporting your teams adapt is the bedrock to achieving future success.
In sales, the challenge is how to balance accountability, achieving quota targets with development ensuring your business remains competitive into the future.
Here are five steps you can take today that will support you with achieving this balance:
1. Take small manageable steps
Maintain accountability for salespeople achieving their quota targets, while investing in developing their skills to strengthen their sales pipelines. Consider using online sales tools and enablement, allowing them to continue working on their sales pipeline without taking them out of their sales environment. The Sales Pipeline Development Platform is one option to consider.
Relying on salespeople to learn on the job is no longer enough to guarantee success. Sales enablement and development needs to integrate with your existing systems, supporting more significant levels of action and reflection. We discuss this further in the sales blog – How to do I leverage EdTech to reinvent my sales enablement?
2. Invest in sales prospecting tools
Invest in sales tools that are focused on strengthening the sales pipeline, that support sales managers better manage and have more meaningful, regular conversations supporting their salespeople develop close plans to achieve quota targets.
If a salesperson or manager has a better understanding and can provide a clear explanation of why a deal is lost, or a forecasted deal is slipping, you will strengthen your sales pipeline. The Sales Pipeline Development Platform includes the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard that helps provides these insights and understanding.
3. Have more regular, meaningful conversations
Use the data provided by your sales prospecting tools supporting and guiding conversations to help salespeople deliver a more compelling business case for buyers to act now.
The data tracked using the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard will help sales managers and salespeople, during their regular conversations, to be more objective and less emotional. Your focus will move from being inward-focused to outward helping buyers that value what you have to offer, have the money to pay you, to manage their own buying struggles better.
Stepping into your sales leads’ situation and taking the time to understand better their struggles and how you can help them will earn you more trust.
With trust, you can deliver value. And with value, you are better positioning yourself and the business to be more competitive closing a value-based sale when forecast.
We discuss this further in the sales blog – Help buyers make better purchase decisions.
4. What is measured is managed
Implement lead measures using the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard related to conversations had with each sales lead and contact. The Sales Pipeline Development Platform integrates with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, sales pipeline and sales forecasting processes.
Remember, most sales pipelines and forecasts do not tell the truth. You need to integrate and report on lead measures from conversations had with the sales lead contacts, within your existing reporting. Doing so will give you the time to challenge and strengthen your sales pipeline and sales forecast.
Lead measures help support your managers to guide better and coach salespeople’s behaviour. To have the meaningful conversations required to develop their sales lead close plans and strengthen their sales pipeline to be more consistent in achieving quota targets.
Earning trust with your sales lead contacts and buyers is central to discovering insights that ensure your lead measures are accurate. As more business adapts to virtual sales engagements, we need to support our salespeople also to change. We discuss this further in the sales blog – Are you adapting sales discipline to be competitive virtual selling?
5. Focus on improving your regular deal reviews
If your sales pipeline is the beating heart of your business. Your sales forecast the health of your business. Your deal reviews are the regular health check within your company.
If we are to become stronger, we must have regular health check-ups that make sure our actions and behaviour keep us healthy to fight off competition and remain fighting fit.
As a business, you need to focus on improving how well your managers and salespeople prepare for and handle deal reviews. Do this well, and your business will become more competitive, leading to a more robust sales pipeline.
Focusing on your deal reviews will lead to more collaborative conversations, ongoing coaching and mentoring supporting your salespeople to be consistent performers and develop the behaviour also required to promote your business value-growth.
These conversations will naturally support developing and strengthening sales pipelines and sales forecast accuracy. It is why we developed the Sales Pipeline Development Platform.
Once your salespeople are delivering more accurate sales forecasts, your managers’ roll-up sales forecasts will also be more accurate.
The trigger to unleash your secret weapon – your silver bullet, is focusing on and working ground up from the deal review. Do this, and you will create the space to increase your average deal size, be more consistent building a value-based sale and strengthen and grow your sales pipeline.
We provide guidance how to better structure asking searching questions to better support and guide buyers on how to manage their buying struggles better in the sales blog – Why do sales teams struggle to manage a value-based sales?
The deal review can transform your appraisal, development and reward processes
It is the deal review where you must give more focus within your appraisal, development and reward processes. It is here you can guide the behaviour needed in the business to achieve your longer-term value-growth objectives.
It is also the place where ‘the rubber hits the road’, facilitating good debate, coaching, mentoring and shared guidance between salespeople and managers through regular conversations.
Sales leaders, senior sales and HR managers should consider the regular deal review to integrate and transform your ongoing appraisal, development and reward programs.
Consider implementing appropriate tools, such as those included in the Sales Pipeline Development Platform, to maintain a balanced focused on accountability and development and having the leading indicators provided from tools such as the Sales Pipeline Development Platform.
The focus should be on supporting and investing in skills development and coaching during your regular business health checks. Delivering sales enablement and coaching while salespeople work on their own sales leads, fosters more significant action and reflection.
Deal reviews are the ideal time within salespeople’s work regimes for their managers to support them develop their close plans. Ignoring coaching and mentoring salespeople will foster unwanted sales behaviours.
Sales prospecting tools such as the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard that is included with the Sales Pipeline Development Platform, integrates with your existing systems and processes. These tools support salespeople and managers strengthen their sales pipelines and foster the required behaviour to achieve longer-term business value growth.
We discuss this further in the sales blog – How can I be successful in a digital first sales environment?
Pulling it all together
Step back from the temptation to throw out your existing systems and processes. Focus instead on overhauling and evolving your appraisal, development and reward processes to supporting salespeople and managers have regular conversations to adapt to the new world of sales.
There is also no need to replace your compensation plans. If you are going to change sales behaviour, you need to change your approach.
Focus on how to integrate lead measures tracked within sales tools provided by the Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard that includes with the Sales Pipeline Development Platform, into your compensation plans.
These leading indicators will also support you transform your Sales Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) into a process that will improve sales performance rather than increase sales attrition.
You will also guide and coach inconsistent sales performers to become consistent sales performers. Top sales performers can also grow into ambassadors leading by example.
You will transform your sales processes and systems supporting your sales managers and their teams to act and reflect on their sales engagements required to strengthen their sales pipelines.
When winners have the data that shows they are losing, they will figure out a way to win.