By Andy Champion, VP and General Manager, EMEA at Highspot
Your sales reps have a lot on their mind these days: how can they achieve quota in the face of a potential recession? How will budgetary constraints impact the accounts they’re working? And how can they avoid losing to the biggest competitor of all: Status Quo?
As leaders, our job is not only to simply assuage these fears but to proactively help our teams overcome the very real challenges behind them. And whilst some teams may be quietly waiting and hoping for a return to normal, smart leaders have already pivoted to empower their teams to prospect in today’s reality.
Confidence in sales comes from knowing that you have worked hard to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours to be at your best in those precious few moments with customers and prospective customers. One-time practice sessions are an attractive ‘quick fix’ but typically fail to provide long-term results, and with research showing that 46% of sales professionals believe training should be continual rather than a one-time event. In contrast, Sales leaders who invest in creating a culture of coaching, supported and accelerated by technology, increased average deal size, sales activity, win rates, and new leads by 25%-40% (RAIN Group).
So how can this be done?
Dedication is key
In the current business climate, sales teams are challenged more than ever to win deals, manage their time, engage with buyers, and meet targets. A common reaction to this increased pressure is to double down on training, to add yet more new content and perhaps even to ask sellers to ‘just work harder’ and increase individual activity levels.
Whilst this is a natural reaction, it rarely works in the mid-to-long term because it does nothing to change the behaviours, skills and knowledge of salespeople. In many ways it’s a little like asking sellers to dig a 2m hole with a teaspoon. Most will probably get there eventually, but it’s going to take way longer and be much harder than it should be and even after the hole is dug, the fundamental issues will simply reappear a quarter or two later.
Sales plays are a powerful tool that help sales leaders arm their sales people with the knowledge, skills and behaviours so that they understand what to know, say, show and do in a given selling scenario. And by creating opportunities within the working week for learning and deliberate practice of these optimal selling behaviours through activities such as scheduled role plays, behavioural changes are driven at scale and with consistency (replacing our teaspoon with a mechanical digger which can be adapted to dig holes of all dimensions).
Accelerate team performance with data insights
‘Sales’ is part art and part science. The part that is art, can be improved through deliberate practice. As for science, the rise of revenue technologies and the data associated with them has transformed the way sales teams think and feel in recent years. And whilst intuition may be in the driver’s seat, sales data has demonstrably taken the wheel.
In many cases, technology now allows this data to be captured and surfaced in a way that allows leaders to be precise with their intervention. Doing this successfully at scale requires the use of AI-powered analytics – I know of few sales leaders that can listen to hundreds or even tens of sales calls. Fueled by sales data, AI removes subjective commentary and replaces it with empirical evidence-based insight that can be used to improve sales plays and hence future sales engagements.
Data can also highlight how and where your team functions most effectively and where they would most benefit from additional resources, training or support. A data-driven sales team will save time, energy, and money — and within a climate where growth at all costs has been displaced by the absolute need for efficient growth, holding on to outdated and inefficient approaches is no longer an option.
The secret to success is sales enablement
A sales enablement strategy’s fundamental purpose is to provide salespeople with the content, tools and coaching needed to effectively engage customers throughout the buying process.
Sales Enablement is a relatively new functional area for many businesses in Europe. The weight of evidence from North America as to the benefits of a well-executed strategy suggests that it should be an integral approach to businesses seeking to grow revenue, increase sales productivity and improve customer experience. Put another way, it’s a cheat code that will drive efficient revenue growth, aid retention for salespeople and create a differentiated buying experience that keeps customers coming back for more. If you buy into the concept of ‘if you give people a recipe, they’ve a much higher likelihood of baking a great loaf of bread’, then the first question to ask is where to go to build your sales recipe. Analyse top sales performers to understand what they’re doing, what they’re saying, how they are winning customers and crushing the competition.
Research from Techvalidate has shown that when companies commit to this approach using sales plays, they experience a 19% increase in the amount of sales personnel reaching quota, and a 24% reduction in ramp times for new reps*. For many organisations, this translates into millions of dollars, pounds, or Euros. Sales plays scale easily and are a highly efficient tool that activates every seller in a way that one-off training simply cannot.
Create a winning sales environment
Driving efficient growth is front of mind for all business leaders, and in sales that means getting greater productivity from every one of our sales people. AI-driven sales enablement platforms, backed by a strong cultural commitment to coaching, are vital for sales leaders who are seeking to equip, train and coach their reps to succeed. And with 72% of sales and marketing personnel agreeing that implementing a sales enablement is something their company should consider in the near future, there’s never better time to start than now.