Three strategies for sales leaders in the ‘new normal’

If you’re a sales leader, you are tasked with striking a delicate balance—particularly during the current business climate. Your job is not to sell for the members of your team, but it is to help shape the business development strategies that make the most sense for your business and for the salespeople who report to you. Here are three particularly effective business growth ideas you may want to implement with your team:

1. Land and expand. Most of the time we’re landing new business, but not really focusing on our expansion opportunities. Whether we are talking about net new conversations with other organizations within a parent company, or about different departments within a single organization that we are selling to now, there are opportunities waiting for us.

As leaders, we already know that salespeople can get a little too comfortable with the products and services they know best and the people they already have relationships with. The result is that most salespeople focus on a relatively narrow set of offerings and have great relationships with individuals… but not with the overall organization. When you move into an “expand” mindset, you change that approach.

If you can inspire your team to focus on both landing and expanding, you accomplish two objectives. First, you leverage the positive feelings that the current customer has so that they walk you into other opportunities within the organization’s network. Second, you create discussions about additional products and services that can benefit the person you’re currently selling to.

2. Behavior plan. A behavior plan is an agreed-upon sequence of activities and behaviors, that someone on your sales team can do every day, and every week, in order to be successful. For instance, a behavior plan might be based on a certain number of LinkedIn referral letters per day, a certain number of voice-to-voice conversations per day, a certain number of live or virtual networking events per month, and so on. Notice that the behavior plan, or “cookbook,” focuses on the activities, not on revenue outcomes or closed sales.

Helping people set up, and follow, the right “cookbook” is one of the simple, high-impact things that you can do right away to create positive change. We all have our business and revenue goals, but what we as sales leaders sometimes don’t do is to turn those goals into a clear set of behaviors that are required from a given salesperson, every single day. In order for the seller—and the company—to be successful, those behaviors must happen consistently. A personalized cookbook also makes your job as a sales leader much easier because, at the end of the day, there’s a very simple question for the salesperson to answer: Did you do the activities? When the salesperson’s answer is consistently “yes” you now have a behavioral pattern to analyze together. It will help you coach, and train, the salesperson and eventually, it will deliver consistent revenue performance that supports both the salesperson’s personal goals and your organizational goals.

3. KARE. The KARE account planning tool groups both prospective and current accounts, into four logical, meaningful profiles: keep, attain, recapture and expand. If you were to categorize your existing portfolio against these four very different objectives, your team could perhaps invest its time and energy more intelligently. Many teams, however, tend to gravitate toward just one or two of these four categories because the leaders don’t step back and look at the bigger picture.

KARE is all about clarifying that bigger picture by prioritizing those four objectives. If you have a well-rounded approach, with a clear sales cycle and a clear behavioral plan attached to every one of those categories, then each category will get the appropriate level of attention based on the goals of the company. KARE helps both the organization and the salesperson achieve at the highest possible level.

Implement these three simple, powerful business development strategies, execute them consistently and you’ll set your team and yourself up for greater success over the long haul. ♦

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 protected].

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