Whether your company is large or small, whether you have experienced serious disruptions in your business or managed to avoid them, it’s likely that the last year-and-a-half has taken a lot out of you and your team. Either way, one of the big questions we are hearing from clients these days is this: We think we’ve begun to turn the corner … so how do we sustain our organization’s sales momentum the second half of the year?
Here’s a short answer: Make sure each of the people in your sales and sales management team gets the training, reinforcement and resources they need. The best current estimates, according to the Sandler Research Center, are that 43% of sales managers do not receive effective training before assuming the job. What’s more, some 32% of sales managers report that the training they do receive on an ongoing basis is ineffective.
Numbers like these are unacceptable in normal times, but they are downright dangerous if there are major shifts in the markets we serve and concerns about the overall strength of the economy. As leaders, we need to provide the people who head up our sales teams with the support they deserve. This means assessing them to figure out their competencies, their skill gaps and their ideal learning path; it means giving them all the training, all the tools, all of the coaching and all the personally customized support they require; and it means confirming that they are willing, and able, to do the job we have hired them to do.
Additionally, we’d like to suggest that you take the time to address three powerful questions, the answers for which can help your managers and sellers ensure that they maintain momentum as you continue to emerge from these challenging times.
How healthy are your pipelines and what can you do to make them healthier?
Many marketing teams are under increasing pressure to create bigger streams of sales-ready leads. They are discovering they now need to develop a much stronger prospecting muscle and execute dramatically more relationship-creation behaviors within their sales teams. This performance gap might have emerged after a long period of time when prospecting processes were minimal, or dormant, and might have gone unnoticed while viable online leads were still plentiful.
Has your organization turned the corner on remote selling?
Virtual and digital selling are here to stay. However, many salespeople are not equipped to succeed in this new environment. Without the right training, reinforcement and tools, they are finding that access, and engagement, with buyers is more challenging. If there are skill gaps in this area, you are at a competitive disadvantage.
What are you and your managers doing to help protect key customer relationships?
Your key customers are seeing more of your competitors these days … and your competitors, in the present environment, are willing to give up some margin to secure their business. Key contact relationships need to be nurtured, and secured, and C-level-to-C-level contact is one of the best ways to secure them. You personally need to be close to your most precious accounts, and it should be a top priority to work with your sales and management team and take part in regular business-review meetings with your most important contacts.
Today, there is a lot of money and a lot of attention being spent on sales enablement: technology that gets sales forces ready to be successful. Companies, however, should focus on sales manager and seller enablement first. Otherwise, sales enablement is a wasted investment.
Jim Marshall is owner, and president, of Sandler Training of Tampa Bay, which provides sales, corporate and management training to high-achieving companies and individuals. Contact him at 813.287.1500 or email@example.com.