Ten years ago, the adage that summed up corporate strategy was simple—grow or face extinction.
Today, that challenge is even more difficult—grow while cutting costs, competing in a digital world or face eroding margins, and eventually extinction.
While this may seem dramatic, the do-more-with-less era is a real situation that leaders face at every single conversation.
While it seems cliché to say change is the new normal, the fact is that changes outside and inside the company can create complexity that makes selling the value difficult. These forces of change and complexity might create barriers to sales productivity; however, that’s not the only challenge the CEO needs you to help overcome.
At the same time salespeople, people are trying to improve results. Within buyer organizations, individuals are also bombarded with change. It's like navigating the eye of a needle to land the company's value. Buyers are so impatient today that one false move sets the sales process back for months -- sometimes never to recover.
Forces within your organization and the buyers' organization come together in one of the most critical and overlooked areas in your company's value communication process—the sales conversation.
In terms of sales conversations salespeople need to have, what worked in the past will not work now - or in the future. Internal managers might want to lay lackluster performance at the feet of salespeople. However, the truth is, while improving sales skills may be critically important, the system around those salespeople is equally, if not more, important.
Sellers who work with executives need a message that resonates with those executives—one tailored to that executive's role and industry.
Salespeople need content that helps them reach out to other decision-makers. They do not need content that merely reinforces product features and helps them gain access to the procurement department.
And, salespeople need help from managers to learn and adapt their approach, not just tips and tricks for meeting monthly sales reporting requirements.
SALE CONVERSATIONS: THE MOST IMPORTANT MEDIUM FOR COMMUNICATING VALUE
In recent years, sales conversations have become increasingly challenging. While economic factors share part of the blame, other factors often block relevant sales conversations, including :
New products or solutions require the sales team to engage executives and their teams, all of whom have different views about the problem that needs to be solved.
Right-sizing or downsizing the sales team creates gaps in sales coverage, resulting in complex teaming environments and conflicting roles.
Buyer's expectations continue to evolve alongside the alternatives available to them, creating more sophisticated definitions of what is valuable to buyers.
The message salespeople need to deliver often changes depending on which buyer they are talking to and where they are in their decision-making process. The sheer volume of internal initiatives designed for sales has increased dramatically in recent years. Overlapping and conflicting territories, product groups, solution-sets, and more create confusion and often negatively impact sales teams.
A TOP-DOWN APPROACH TO COMMUNICATING VALUE AT EVERY TOUCH POINT
Overcoming the barriers to relevant sales conversations requires a strategic approach that supports salespeople with the right content, skills, and tools they need to appeal to the right buyers. Sales VPs and sales leaders can help their sales training and enablement teams:
Implement a forward-looking sales talent strategy. Clarify future-state requirements by using sales conversations as the design point. Start by analyzing where the organization is going and helping leaders understand the roles of people in getting there.
Create a set of standards for each key role. Once roles are clarified, help leaders create the “spec” for each role. Use input from the field and reach out to buyers to determine what they need from salespeople.
On-board new salespeople that meet defined criteria. Once roles are defined, build a reliable onboarding program to help customer-facing, revenue-generating employees understand the problems your company can solve for buyers. Help them achieve desired proficiency and put them on the path to reaching your defined future state.
Develop current employees to achieve those standards. Explore the gap between the current state and future state in each of your customer-facing employees. Identify the behavior shifts that need to happen in these roles, and work with your peers to align the content, skills, and tools necessary to change that behavior.
Create and manage a reinforcement strategy. Work with front-line managers to anchor new behaviors and move employees toward the future state. With this top-down strategic view in place, salespeople get what they need now, not what they needed 1 or 10 years ago.
About Growth Matters Growth Matters is an international business founded in 2011. This consulting and services organization focusses on the development and practice of sales management and sales enablement. Our team of world-renowned experts spans the globe enabling businesses to improve sales conversations through services and solutions aligned to sales strategy. Charlotte, NC (USA) is the headquarter of our Americas operation. With dedicated offices in South Africa (EMEA), and Sydney (APAC), we regularly facilitate senior-level workshops in 17+ cities in countries. For more information on equipping sales managers, and aligning to sales leadership, contact the Growth Matters team at http://www.growthmatters.today
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