A lot of interesting and provocative thought leadership always comes out of a downturn like the one we’re all currently navigating. One article recently recommended by several colleagues is from HBR, 4 Things Sales Organizations Must Do to Adapt to the Crisis. The article shares some important ideas about what is happening in today’s Sales environment.
Aside from the observations that everything is going to change because of this crisis (probably permanently), and that the situation will eventually improve, it’s important to think about what will change and what sales leaders should consider going forward. One idea in the article is that that digital selling, a phenomenon that has been rapidly emerging for the past few years, will now be the new norm for personal selling and sales management. The article points out that the necessity of doing business using virtual communications and collaboration is accelerating the learning curve for salespeople, customers, and entire sales organizations.
Managing to the New Normal
We’d like to share some ideas about sales management in a digital selling environment and strategies and tactics leaders should consider in a post-crisis sales world. Of course, there is good news and bad news. The good news, which represents a silver lining, is the opportunity for sales managers to virtually assess and coach salespeople. One key challenge, which is often expressed, is that sales managers simply don’t have the opportunity or time to physically participate in a lot of sales meetings.
In the new selling environment, sales managers can just log into a virtual conference to participate or even just observe seller communications and interactions. Managers no longer need to deal with the distraction of significant travel, the time commitments of commuting to customer sites and subsequently conducting in-person coaching or debriefing.
In our view, the second most important responsibility that sales managers have (after making their numbers) is to assess, support and coach their team members to help them improve their sales skills and performance. Being able to frequently observe a salesperson’s communication and interaction with their customers provides a great opportunity to more closely evaluate their skills. That is an absolute necessity, especially sellers may need guidance, as we recover from the current downturn.
It will also be necessary to consider how skills assessments are being handled and how technology could support sales managers to productively train and coach each salesperson to improve their skills. The volume of information and the need to record assessment information more frequently in the new environment with more online meetings may be challenging for many organizations.
What are the New Challenges?
If this all sounds like a potential for improvement, it probably is. So, what is the bad news? It’s important to consider that salespeople have numerous interactions with both prospects and established customers, even more if, as the HBR article suggests, companies accelerate their hiring of more inside salespeople and customer success managers. While there will be more opportunities for participation in virtual interaction, sales managers will need to make strategic decisions about which interactions, and what amount of time and effort can be allocated to observe and participate in various sales activities such as prospecting, introductory sales calls, demos, proposal presentations, contract negotiations and closing activities, among others.
The downside of the new normal is that “looking over a seller’s shoulder” is not the same when you can’t physically observe them in an office or customer site versus Working from Home (WFH). Also, as a manager, you, your peers, and your management team are also WFH, and so are the customers.
Additionally, some fundamental cultural aspects of sales management don’t change even when communicating virtually. The top priority is still to make your number. If that’s true, finding opportunities, managing the pipeline and developing sales forecasts are not going to magically go away. If anything, in the new environment of post-crisis recovery, there will be even more pressure to perform due to the need to make up for lost revenue and replace customers who were not able to survive. Previously booked business may simply evaporate from the pipeline.
Given these challenges, it’s imperative to consider what information is necessary to guide you in rapidly understanding and diagnosing what sales team members are doing, and to identify where time and effort needs to be spent to improve skills or remediate issues. In other words, pipeline assessment is not enough.
Sales Performance Management
Where can managers go to get this information? Believe it or not, it’s sitting right in front of them, buried in their Salesforce CRM application. We have created the category, Sales Performance Management to describe how an application captures and measures a salesperson’s revenue results, activities and skills in CRM. Funnelocity® is a Salesforce-based Sales Performance Management solution that measures the relationship between revenue results, activities, metrics, skills and behaviors. Funnelocity® plugs directly into Salesforce and co-exists with pipeline management tools.
How exactly is this done, and what makes this of value to sales managers?
- Based on revenue performance and by drilling down into the salesperson’s activities, Sales Managers can use Funnelocity® to determine what caused a salesperson to achieve their revenue results.
- If a salesperson’s revenue is not on par with top performers, Funnelocity® provides insights about where a salesperson may not be executing.
- Funnelocity® provides sales managers the ability to capture and easily rate a salesperson’s skills and behaviors. Managers can use Funnelocity® to assess what skills a salesperson either exhibits or lacks when it comes to executing the sales process.
Funnelocity® takes advantage of the latest technology in Salesforce to automate the process and provide managers with everything they need to assess performance with minimal effort and time investment. The application includes the ability to easily capture and evaluate selling skills and behavior while automatically capturing key activity metrics. Managers use Funnelocity® to assess and score salespeople based on over 40 important skills and behaviors. In addition, the application has been designed so managers can effortlessly input additional skills and behaviors unique to each business. It’s easy for managers to evaluate and update ratings both for new hires and tenured reps.
The key value to sales managers is that combining activities and skill measurement into a single integrated application in Salesforce creates a compelling opportunity to measure, manage and coach salespeople, by taking advantage of the new normal of digital selling. Funnelocity® provides the means for sales managers to focus on key issues that are preventing salespeople from appropriately executing the sales process. It can be installed and implemented in a matter of days, verses traditional solutions for evaluating sales performance which might take weeks or even months to complete. Given the new environment that businesses are currently operating in and may be operating in for quite a while, the imperative is clear.
Today, it’s critical to refocus your management efforts and take advantage of this silver lining to better coach and manage your team. If you would like to know more about how Sales Performance Management can help your team leverage digital selling techniques to improve sales performance, please schedule a demo with us.