In the world of more complex b2b sales, where an investment in your product or service will actually require changes in the organization – I would argue that the fundamentals for success are still the same, despite the Internet and new technologies.
1. Qualify – focus on the right prospects and customers
One thing that is more apparent than ever before is that we all share a limited time to achieve our goals, to drive new and existing business.
In order to navigate the world of complex sales, sales leaders need to clarify what substitutes a perfect client, enable sales process in order to provide guidance and to replicate and reinforce successful behaviors. We must have a more detailed insight into our pipelines and deals to ensure that we’re not “winging it”. And to free up sales time by knowing when to timely walk away from opportunities that won’t close.
When every opportunity becomes a sales project, the people on the selling team need to spend their time wisely and effectively. Due to the fact that human beings are not as rational as we would like to believe, we fall pray for shortcomings like the “sunk cost syndrome”, causing sales people to cling to opportunities with a low chance of success. And the fear of rejection can cause us to avoid engaging key stakeholders, or not to stand firm about the value proposition when pricing negotiations are initiated. Qualifying out can be just as important as qualifying in to free up valuable sales time.
2. Introducing sales process and methodology requires discipline
“To navigate the world of complex sales, sales leaders need to clarify what substitutes client-fit, enable sales process to provide guidance and focus on coaching to encourage the right behaviors to ensure individual and company growth”
Creating a structured sales process and integrating proven sales methodology is the foundation for successful sales operations. Nothing new. Nothing fancy. Still difficult. When done right, it allows sales people to prioritize and keep momentum to win more business. It makes it quicker to get new sales hires productive. It provides sales managers a platform for effective coaching and leadership with valuable sales insights.
3. Sales managers should coach their sales people 50% of their time
According to Objective Management Group’s data from evaluating more than 100,000 sales managers, just 18% are capable of the effective part of the equation and even fewer are willing to invest 50% of their time on coaching. Done right, coaching can increase revenue with 19% (source: CEB) and in complex sales, where you need to invest a substantial amount of sales efforts and resources in order to win customers trust and business, time must be dedicated to this task.
Parting comment: focus on your sales managers
One big challenge is how to get these routines into daily operations; to turn theory into practice and make the rubber hit the road without it being perceived as micro-management. My claim is that increasing the skills and tools for the frontline sales managers can create the most leverage. Help them make the sales strategy come to life, coach more effectively and ensure a healthy pipeline and see your revenue and profits increase!
Please let us know what you have learned throughout the years. What has worked for you? What can be improved?