LEVERAGE THESE TRENDS TO SUPPORT YOUR TEAM | COVID-19 in mind
As high performing salespeople, we understand the key to success is knowing our market, and its behaviours, so we can adapt and find opportunities to deliver greater revenue.
We have identified these key trends to adapt into your sales strategies and processes.
- Buyers are always evolving
- To sell without selling
- Shorter timelines
- Influence of the finance dept
- Quality content
- The beauty of the CRM
- Heart-centred sales
- LinkedIn is sales ‘gold’
- Staff training
BONUS TREND – Generation X
What’s need right now in this climate is the team knowing how to be in charge of their mindset.
They need to know what the solution they sell can do the client, so ensure you immerse your team in success stories.
They need to be able to stay strong so they can empathise and ‘lift” a client. Recognise if they are getting negative and so get into a positive state before getting on the phone.
They need to know how to be positive, how not to get involved in the client’s drama. How to be empathetic but now follow them down a negative vortex. How to be strong and be a leader.
A) Reframe: think fo what their grandfather would make of this – they had it much worse. At least we can see a middle and know there will be an end.
B) Anchor: How to get yourself in a positive state by thinking of how useful your solution is to a client, think of success stories.
C) Gratitude: We have to be grateful for and recognise that may and doing it much tougher.
- Buyers are always evolving
Buyers are doing a lot more research before they need to engage with a business online or in person before they make their purchase decision. They can go to review sites, speak to peers who have tried your solution, they can see what your business is sharing on Linkedin.
It means your sales message needs to be consistent and have absolute clarity. It needs to be clear how your solution will assist them and then make it easy for them to understand why they should buy and make it easy to buy from you.
Businesses that arm their team with soft skills across phone who support them with exceptional video conferencing skills will win the race compared to those who hide behind their computers emailing clients. Get that ‘video conference face time’ skill polished up. Practice in house.
- To sell without selling
We hear the terms ‘the honest sale’, ‘the authentic sale’, the consultative approach.
Like a ‘doctor’ makes a diagnosis and prescribes a treatment – as does the salesperson consult with the prospect, assess their situation thoroughly and offers the best solution for the prospect. They prescribe the aligned solution. The sales person has proven they are an authority – they are a trusted advisor.
When they provide a perfectly aligned solution, the time they have invested in asking the right questions and deeply understanding their client will pay off. The investment establishes trust.
The prospect believes the true intent of the salesperson is to help them solve their problem – not just sell them an ‘off the shelf’ solution. They become open to taking the advice given by an expert. There’s no need to push, persuade or use manipulative ‘dirty tactics’.
The salesperson is treating every conversation and every deal with a partnership mindset. Any lost deal is viewed as an opportunity to do better next time by the prospect. The most successful salespeople will be the ones who are present, have an genuine intention to be helpful and look beyond they paycheck.
The winners are the trusted advisors. Right now your team know how to be in front (video conferencing) or calling the right people so that you are paving the way for trust and leadership in your industry.
- Short timelines, quick turnarounds
That’s the nature of business today. Organisations focus on quarterly results and long term planning can take a ‘back seat’.
One of the impacts of this is that many more major decisions are made in much shorter timeframes. The buyer may have already spent some research and by the time they speak to the seller they are on the verge of making their decision.
The lead time for your sales team ‘to weave their magic’ is drastically reduced. How agile is your sales team?
Your team needs to be able to adapt and think quick on their feet. Here are some tips for success.
- Be first off the mark with a productive explorative meeting and then a powerful, alignment in your solution proposal
- Listen carefully and ‘read’ the client
- Assume who they are talking to is the decision maker. Assume also there are other key decision makers/influencers in the buying decision.
- Create alignment as soon as possible, clearly demonstrate the intention to help and establish trust. It’s clear they are the authority in this product/service
Right now there is a lot of work and not a lot of bookings (for some, for others its BAU), so be on the front foot with agility and creativity.
The key is to establish trust as fast as possible.
- The might of the Millennials
Born 1981-1996, they have considerable buying power. They understand media and how it works and demonstrate certain behaviours as consumers.
They are the first generation born into a world where accessibility and immediacy are the norm and a basic expectation.
- They expect instant gratification. No need to wait for food – there’s Uber Eats
- They are native technology users. As salespeople they type directly into a CRM system as opposed to note pads,
- Change and evolution of products, concepts and ideas is the norm.
- They don’t have the baggage of ‘this won’t work, I tried this once’.
- They rely on product reviews .
- picking up the phone to speak with someone
- building relationships over the phone
- knowing there’s a time and place for mobile use
- not looking at their apple watch during meetings
- keeping off their phone
What they need at work:
- progression plans
- to be heard
- flexible hours
- help them be ‘on show’ through video conferencing
- The influence of the finance department
In many businesses one of the key decision makers is the Financial Director – they are making sure budgets are adhered to, there is a clear ROI and value for money. They are one of many influencers in a B2B sale. There may also be the HR Director, the company trainer.
What does this mean for your sales team and also with COVID-19 that means even more ‘high risk’
- Understand if they aren’t selling directly to the Finance Director they need to know their pain points and address them in the proposal.
- Be highly skilled to get a meeting with these influencers or – at the very least – ask enough of the right questions to understand what is important to them and address this in the proposal.
- Be highly adaptable to different needs from the array of decision makers in the business.
- Know how to sell to one person while equipping that person to be able to ‘sell it on’ through the business.
- Ensure you use ‘safe’ words – ‘robust, safe solution’ usually lands better than ‘new, trial, try’.
If the person you are speaking to is ‘armed’ to have the conversation with you – assume they are the decision maker. You can also find out who else is weighing in on the decision. The opportunity with the first person you speak with is your ally! They are weighing up whether they will ‘pass you up the chain’.
Arm them with the compelling reason to buy that makes it very easy for them to sell it through the business. I call this the ‘pull through’.
- Quality content for sales engagement
Does your content align with each step of the buyer journey?
Does it address their pain points at each stage in various formats?
There is content created to generate leads vs content to convert leads into customers.
For sales success, the team needs access to the right content to support conversations in establishing trust and thought leadership.
Salespeople are at the ‘coalface’. They know the FAQs and the language prospects use. Sales teams need to collaborate with the content creation teams – to ensure they have the tools to evolve the sales conversation as they lead the prospect to conversion.
Later buyer journey content includes detailed brochures, video, webinars, case studies, Linkedin articles and posts.
It’s critical to produce high quality, thought leadership content to educate your prospect about why your solution is the best available.
What type of thought leadership content do you have for your sales team or those responsible for selling?
- The beauty of the CRM
Systems and technology stacks have been buzzwords for a while. Each year sees improvements in their simplicity, ease of use and efficiencies.
Leaders of sales teams are overjoyed at the data available and the transparency these tools provide. Despite this, there is still a reluctance in some salespeople to use them.
Salespeople need to embrace new systems – particularly their CRM.
When a customer is the most valuable asset of a business, a CRM helps your business grow. The CRM is only as powerful as the information it is ‘given’. Everyone – including sales – needs to be committed to entering accurate, timely and useful information.
A CRM empowers the salesperson with the most up to date information on a prospect or client at their fingertips.
When sales success is still dependent on one key thing – communication – having the right insights in the CRM is a true competitive advantage.
Those salespeople who are still ‘dragging the chain’ and not embracing their CRM and the opportunities it provides will be one step behind those that do.
- Doing good at the heart of what we do
Our businesses and our sales teams need to evolve their skills so it is clear they are operating with a clear intention to help and care about customers, suppliers, employees, the community AND the planet. Think of it as ‘heart-centred’ sales.
Making profits and doing good at a micro and macro level can go hand in hand.
If you have company values around responsibility and accountability – do you have a Mission Statement to reflect this?
Ensure the team understands how this value should influence how they operate with colleagues in your business and outside the business.
Clients should be able to see how the business is remaining accountable to these values. Your sales team need to be able to articulate this value and at a relevant time, share it with clients.
Given COVID-19 can your team give something away? Time? Free advice? Be a partner now to stand by your client.
- Continuous training for sales success
In 2010 training looked like this:
- Day 1: here’s your desk, here’s your phone, here’s the phone book get on with it and start calling
For high performing teams, NOW it looks like this:
- interactive online staff training
- product training
- CRM training
- regular sales and customer service training to they keep evolving and enhancing their skills
- On video conferencing and calls all day – ‘face time’ (albeit via a computer) is the new way to connect.
We know that up-skilling employees is key. Right now, more than ever, your team needs to be ahead of the curve, accountable, proactive, motivated and driven. You want them to be upskilled and polished in their day to day interactions with colleagues and clients. To ensure this your business needs to set them up for success. They need to have the right mindset. Where they are sold on their solution and bullet proof so that they are not caught up in media hype and the clients misfortunes. This is essential right now – get them mindset training ASAP. Daily give them a pep talk to remind them about what your solution does for the client.
This starts from right from the induction throughout their career in your company.
The team leader must understand the latest approaches to managing sales teams. They need to ensure the team understands how a sale happens, understanding buyers are always evolving and how technology and content are influencing the buyer journey.
It’s key to engage external sales training experts for their skills in identifying gaps, their objective overview and because they specialise in contemporary sales methodologies. You want to choose companies that have experienced sales people doing the training compared to companies that use facilitators to deliver content and they’ve never been a salesperson.
It’s key the leadership team supports and prioritises sales training. It sends the right message to the team and helps them commit to their own training. The sales team leaders need to be in the training too so they are aligned with what their team is learning.
Regular sales and leadership training ensures you are building high performance, masterful salespeople and guarantees your business growth.
Leaders right now need to know how to ensure their team are bullet proof in their offering. As a leader in these times they are positive, creative, agile and proactive and that will cascade to the team.
- LinkedIn is sales ‘gold’
There are 675 million members globally on Linkedin – it is ‘the’ channel for business content. High performance salespeople understand they have to be where the buyer is.
Salespeople can build their personal brands, demonstrate their thought leadership build their own following.
What do they know their customers need to know? How can they help them?
Team leaders need to ensure the sales team have access to the best content their company has to share. Sharing the latest case studies, videos or blogs is perfect content to educate followers and lead them further through the buyer journey.
It’s not hard for even the most reluctant salesperson to be involved on Linkedin. In fact – if they aren’t on there – the team leader needs to understand why and help them overcome any barriers. It’s key for salespeople to regularly post their company’s content, make comments and ‘like’ relevant content.
It shows they are actively engaged in their industry. It makes it easier to build trust with prospects and clients. InMail and Linkedin messages are key for salespeople to extend their reach.
BONUS TREND – Generation X
Born 1965-1980 – they are 38-53 years old and will have had understood and lived in a household that experienced ‘doing without’ or waiting until the money was saved up. They are used to working longer in jobs and slowly working their way up the ladder.
In fact, many may have not even considered a ladder and just wanted to get in and do a good job. Rewards are something they believed they would earn over time. They don’t expect to be director without earning their stripes.
Gen X strengths:
- building trust
- being reliable
- doing what they said they were going to do
- eye contact.
Gen X challenges
- technology isn’t native so for some and adapting to new systems can be frustrating- so help them if they need help on how to set up video conferencing
- The transition from ‘face to face’ to video conferencing will be harder for some
- should they not be fast at typing, they can be slower to fill in CRMS and doing proposals
- if they have worked for a long time in one place they have legacy issues. ‘We tried that; it didn’t work then, it won’t work now’.
Some business owners may be left behind by not adapting to current trends – instead they complain about the market being harder. This suggests they aren’t evolving and adapting their business to what clients need. Some Gen X leaders are not looking at contemporary approaches to managing sales teams and how a sale happens in 2020.