If sellers want to rebound from COVID-19, they must find ways to change. But the need for sales organizations to change is nothing new; it’s just more urgent now.
Even before the pandemic arose, we lived in a world where buyers are generally better at buying than sellers are at selling. Because sellers don’t consistently deliver value to their buyers, there’s a significant “value gap” that creates even more distance between buyers and sellers:
- 77% of buyers don’t view sellers as a resource when seeking advice
- 70% of buyers wait until after they’ve chosen a solution before engaging a seller
- 60% of buyers view sellers as interchangeable
In The Way to Create Value, a recent eBook we created in partnership with LinkedIn, we suggested three ways that sales leaders can create the structure, culture and systems to start building high-performing sales teams that deliver more value for buyers.
1. Define a Sales Methodology
In our 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study, sales leaders said an ineffective sales methodology or process was the second-most debilitating hurdle to sales success, finishing behind only inefficient internal operations. And when sales organizations struggle to train their sellers on their sales methodology, the results can be devastating: organizations that described their sales methodology training as ineffective won only a third of their forecasted deals.
A sales methodology is a framework that explains how your sellers should approach each phase of the sales process. It sets forth the principles and best practices that guide sellers’ actions throughout each stage of the buying journey, from preparing for a sales call with a new buyer through to upselling an existing customer. As the eBook explains, your organization’s sales methodology should include elements such as these:
- Proven strategies for successfully navigating a changing business environment
- Tools to effectively evaluate sales opportunities, situations and challenges
- A common language for discussing the steps required at each stage of the sales process
- The identification of best practices that increase the likelihood of success
- The replication of top performers throughout the sales organization
- Effective ways to coach salespeople through the sales process in a scalable approach
In short, a sales methodology is the glue that connects your sales processes to your customers’ needs. It helps organizations identify their ideal customers, strengthen their sales funnels and shorten their sales cycles.
2. Commit to Reinforcement
One-and-done training isn’t enough to teach your sellers your sales methodology. As our LinkedIn study notes, sellers who attend traditional curriculum-based training forget more than 80% of what they learn within 90 days. Ongoing training that refreshes learning, accompanied by consistent sales coaching, is critical to reinforcing your sales methodology.
Less than a quarter of sales organizations in our 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study reported that sales coaching was an organizational strength. However, organizations that have a adopted a dynamic coaching process that is formally defined, adopted, taught, reinforced and tied to seller enablement activities had win rates 32% higher than those with informal sales coaching processes.
It’s important for organizations to define what sales coaching is and isn’t. Coaching isn’t just strategizing on an account or interacting with a seller; it’s a more formal activity that addresses leads and opportunities, skills and behaviors, the sales funnel, accounts and sales territories.
3. Layer Sales Technology
The average sales organization uses 10 sales technology tools and plans to invest in four more over the next year. But organizations often invest in sales technology for the wrong reasons and don’t implement it correctly, which means that many sales organizations are underutilizing their tech stack.
Organizations that choose the right technology and reinforce its usage consistently outperform the competition. The keys to success are integrating technology and ensuring sellers and sales managers use the data.
Only a quarter of sales organizations have integrated their sales technology with their existing tools and processes, according to our 2nd Annual Sales Operations and Technology Report; those that have tightly integrated sales technology report higher quota attainment and win rates than those that don’t.
To further encourage tech usage, organizations need to make the data in these systems actionable. Less than half of sales teams report widespread usage of CRMs, although most organizations have CRMs. To improve CRM adoption, organizations should add a sales analytics platform like Scout, which uses CRM data to predict the actions that sellers should take to advance deals through the sales funnel and close them. Most importantly, Scout reinforces the sales methodology throughout a seller’s day-to-day selling activities.
Manage Today While Planning for Tomorrow
Sales organizations have their hands full managing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But the crisis will eventually resolve, so sales organizations should also take steps now to strengthen their sales methodology, coaching processes and tech stack to position themselves for the recovery
For more strategies on building the structure, culture and systems that will lead to future success, download The Way to Create Value eBook.