No doubt you’ve heard ad nauseum there is a pandemic going on, and in most sales organizations (except video conferencing providers and big online retailers), sales teams are struggling to adapt to the “new normal”.  Also, you’ve probably heard that now is the time to act (you’re hearing this especially from strategy consultants), that you need to be agile and most important, never let a good crisis go to waste!  You’ve now have probably seen these messages hundreds of times and if you are like us you are tired of hearing it!

Apologies for the cynicism. There is no lack of advice for what leaders should do in this crisis but for many businesses, advice from Academic business publications and high-end strategy consulting firms is impractical, unless you are a very large firm with a lot of cash and human capital resources.  In our opinion, there is a lot of dysfunctional advice for leaders who are struggling with just getting back the business they’ve lost. Many sales leaders right now are more in the mindset of “how am I going to fix my business and keep my job,” versus “how do I become agile and re-invent my sales team.”  There is value in this advice, but it may not be exactly what is being promoted by industry thought leaders.

As a participant in the sales technology and enablement community, we’ve noticed that the most popular message promoted by community thought leaders is about having more intelligent customer conversations and improving sales content. We agree that good conversations are important to any salesperson’s ultimate success: in fact, they always have been.  However, in our view, this is not the starting point for most managers.  In a time of crisis, fundamental sales management issues that are otherwise hidden by a good economy are exposed. What we are seeing in our interactions with managers is that they are not a point where conversations matter as much as more fundamental issues.

What is the right question to ask?

The most important question sales leaders should consider asking is, “can my team execute, and what should I do to ensure they can recover our business and our pipeline?“  The question isn’t whether reps have good conversations, but fundamentally what do we expect of our sales human capital from an operational perspective to stay in business? Pipelines have evaporated. Companies primarily focused on existing customers must change sales models and retool to focus on new business.  Suddenly, much more is expected of the small number of outstanding salespeople who make up the large percentage of most sales team’s revenue. In other words, understanding basic blocking and tackling, how your sales process works and what activities are necessary to drive business for each salesperson should be the fundamental starting point for most managers.

So, the initiative is to improve basic sales and selling performance, and to do that (before you can have the right conversation), you first have to figure out what you expect of your team and how you intend to manage them. Why is this a challenge? Because in a good economy, manager focus has been on what business to close and how to hit quarterly numbers instead of how to manage salespeople’s actual performance. In other words, predicting the best possible forecast, focusing on deal closing and having better conversations does not inform you about what your salespeople must do to make their number!

We see this misdirection every day. Sales managers of course, are all good salespeople and their inclination is to sell their way out of the crisis. Part of this is because no one suggested that setting up a sales performance plan by creating sales performance goals and doing better skills assessment based on their sales process is a more fundamental method of figuring out how and if they can meet business objectives.

Instant Answers

Now more than ever, managers just need a simple way of getting grounded in what they need to do to recover their current revenue and get back to achieving a good return on human capital. That is the real definition of “new normal”. However, there is no ability in CRM to set goals for the activities salespeople must perform to hit their revised revenue numbers, and there is no way to better evaluate and plan to improve skills. Even if this data existed, sales managers have been so focused on pipelines that it would take too much time and effort to adequately address in CRM. There is no time to fix this – the problem needs to be solved immediately!

Here is our message to sales managers: If you want to instantly see how your team is performing and what it’s going to take to get to your specific (albeit now revised) revenue goals, we have a solution that can do that for you. It’s called Funnelocity®, and it runs as an app on your Salesforce CRM platform.

How Does it Work?

Here’s how Funnelocity® addresses your sales performance issues. The app first creates a baseline analysis of what your team is doing from a sales metric perspective. You’ll immediately see the patterns of performance for each team member to know how they have done historically to meet (or not meet) their revenue objectives.  You’ll be familiar with the metrics because they are probably already reported in some dashboard you already use, but you’ll find this is better organized and there’s no time wasted figuring out what to do with the information. The app then identifies the most statistically significant activities and skills your team should focus on to meet your revenue objectives and predicts how each seller is likely to perform going forward. But that’s only a start.

For you to go forward you need to set goals based on how you expect team members to hit your revised revenue plan. Activities are going to change based on updated revenue goals your team is now tasked to make. The application will automatically set those goals and build a sales performance plan for each salesperson to hit them, either incrementally or at quota. You can see in real-time how team members are performing against those goals so you can make better decisions about what they need to be doing to improve.

What about those sales conversations? Yes, skill assessment is critical to making good decisions about where you need to help your reps by providing insights about how to improve key skills. By the way, those decisions might not be about better sales conversations, because when you have identified an inventory of key skills applicable to your sales process, you can determine using the app which skills are most relevant to closing business and generating more revenue.

None of this is found in Salesforce today, but in a matter of a few weeks, you could have all this information instantly organized and at your fingertips. Performance management was not an imperative in the days when you could build a pipeline and make your number based on your current team. Now you must make decisions about who to keep, who to improve or who to cut. Performance needs to be more closely monitored than ever before with a workforce that is no longer sitting in your office or traveling to customer sites to make sales calls. You must have a better plan of attack, and we believe that Funnelocity® can help managers do this – quickly!

Focus first on the fundamentals by putting your plan in place using a tool like Funnelocity®. The explicit purpose of our application is to help sales managers improve (or in the current scenario, retain) the right performers using the right activities and skills to get the job done. And, by the way, yes, you should always have good sales conversations with your prospects and customers!

To have a discussion about the impact of COVID on your sales team’s performance and to discuss how to set up a Sales Performance Plan for your sales team, please go to our website, visit us on the Salesforce AppExchange, or contact us via email at [email protected].