As a sales leader, you’ve undoubtedly pushed through tough times before. In the last 20 years alone, you’ve battled the economic headwinds of the Dot-com bubble, the repercussions of 9/11, the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the prolonged downturn that followed.
While there’s no denying that the current situation is completely unique, your experience of selling during previous crises, and keeping your sales team motivated during difficult conditions, will stand you in good stead.
However, one of the main challenges currently facing you and your fellow sales leaders is the inability to physically coach and mentor your team – many of whom will undoubtedly require a whole new level of support.
In this blog, we discuss techniques to ensure your team stay motivated, productive and engaged during lockdown.
Understandably there’s a long build-up to a sale – prospecting and qualifying leads involves a lot of time spent on emails, phone calls, and presentations before you finalise the sale. So it’s perhaps no surprise that on average, salespeople spend just 10% of their time actively selling.
However, research has also revealed that salespeople perceive active selling as taking up 20% of their time!
Now, this isn’t necessarily your team being dishonest, it’s just a human trait to overestimate how much time we spend on different activities (which also means that your colleague hasn’t spent as much time doing press-ups and crunches during lockdown as they say they have!).
Therefore, it’s integral to sales efficiency that your team keeps an accurate, real-time record of their activity (emails sent, time spent on calls, virtual meetings and presentations) through a customer relationship management system, such as Salesforce.
As you’d segment your sales prospects, you need to segment your team members to ensure they receive the coaching that’s going to have the greatest effect on them as individuals.
Is it their mindset or skillset that they need help with?
For example – if one of your team is spending a lot of time on calls but not converting, then it could be they are focussing on the wrong types of leads or finding it more difficult to close “virtually” than they would face to face.
A team member that’s spending less time on prospecting and qualifying activities due to commitments such as homeschooling, may require a different coaching approach.
It can be tempting to focus purely on members of your team whose performance is sub-par. However, it’s imperative that you also spend time with your top performers.
This is for two reasons – firstly, we are still in relatively new territory. Just because a salesperson has consistently knocked it out of the park in face to face scenarios doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll instantly adapt to a virtual selling environment – particularly at a time when even those with the strongest mindset have plenty of distractions to contend with.
Secondly, the online environment makes it a lot easier for you and other team members to learn why your top performers are so effective.
Alan Morton, joint managing director for SBR, says: “It’s amazing what people will learn through observation and in the current remote working environment. Arguably it’s never been easier for people to jump on to each other’s meetings, observe calls, and learn from one another.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to actually shadow in order to see exactly why star players are outperforming other team members.
“Why are they effective, why is their conversion rate hot, how are they organising their day in order to drive high activity levels? Because from doing that, we’re then able to capture best practices which we can then roll out across the team.”
We drum it into our teams that they shouldn’t leap straight into a sales pitch. However, this is often a mistake you can make when coaching.
Rather than diving straight in with your feedback ask them:
1/ “How did you think that call/VC went?”
2/ “If you were to do that call again, what would you do differently?”
Often your colleague will know what their weaknesses are. You therefore don’t need to highlight them, just give suggestions on how they can improve.
Conversely, they may even be too hard on themselves.
However, the most important thing is to clarify exactly where improvements need to be made. Then you can assess whether you need to provide additional training or whether the onus is on the team member to make changes to the way they are currently working.
We are all having to adjust to a new way of living and working but by taking the above steps you can ensure your sales team remain focussed, engaged and productive.
To find out how we can help your teams refine their sales process, to maximise the pipeline and conversions during this difficult time please get in touch and keep an eye out for future webinars.
If you’d like to know more about coaching for sales performance, you can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0) 207 653 3740
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