We are halfway through 2021. Do you feel confident in your sales strategies to finish the year strong? Sales changed during COVID and those changes are continuing even after many businesses and industries have opened up again. Sales leaders and salespeople need some new skills and strategies to stay at the top of their game and meet buyer’s preferences.
So, if you aren’t confident in your current sales activities, now is the perfect time to stop, reassess and focus on the following for the second half of the year.
The hybrid/ blended sales model is here to stay and growing in popularity.
The hybrid sales model is a blend of virtual and in-person selling techniques. Traditional outside sales teams had to quickly pivot and learn to interact with their buyers virtually due to the pandemic and the need for social distancing. What was unexpected though, was that both buyers and sellers realized some unexpected benefits of virtual selling and buying.
Buyers are benefiting from the ease in scheduling virtual meetings, shorter duration meetings, and a greater number of buying influences participating in virtual meetings – resulting in both productivity gains and better decisions. Sellers are realizing similar benefits in the form of – productivity gains, reduced selling costs and in many cases, shorter sales cycles.
So, depending on the buyer, your sales team will need to be effective with a hybrid or blended sales model that meets the buyers needs. Part of the journey may be virtual and part may be in-person. Or, the sale will need to be 100% virtual or 100% in person. Being proficient in all sales models and skills will be important for your sales team members going forward.
Questions Sales Leaders Need to Ask – Are the members of my sales team willing and able to sell efficiently and effectively going forward? And, have I given them all the tools to do so? If not, what can I do to improve their chances of success?
Update your sales processes to mirror the buyer journey.
In today’s internet environment, your customers have the power to control their own buyers’ journey. They conduct research, read reviews, watch videos, educate themselves on alternative solutions, and read comparison articles all before ever talking to one of your sales people. In fact, it is estimated that most buyers are 70-80% through the buyer’s journey before they ever talk to someone from your sales team.
This means a few things. First, you need to start the selling process online. Have you updated your website? Do you have content for every stage of the buyer’s journey available on your site, your blog, or social sites? If they can’t find you when they do a search for a solution, you may never be considered.
Second, the Internet is jam packed with information. It’s hard to get noticed with all of the clutter. The only way to stand out and attract the attention of your ideal target customer, is if your messaging is simple, relevant, and memorable. Your prospects need to feel like you understand their needs and can solve their problems.
It will be important to make updates to meet their needs.
Questions Sales Leaders Need to Ask – Do we know all the steps that our buyers take in making an informed purchasing decision? Do our sales processes support that buyer journey or are there any unnecessary or missing steps in the sales process?
Review the health of your sales funnel.
The sales funnel or pipeline is a very important tool for sales managers. A sales funnel provides a bottoms-up view for use by the company to forecast future sales, align costs with expected revenues, and accurately predict cash flow. There needs to be opportunities throughout the entire funnel to be able to forecast revenue and make strategic decisions.
A healthy sales funnel delivers on the following.
- Full of high-quality opportunities
- Aligned with your company’s strategic growth goals
- Addresses customer’s key needs and delivers the right message at the right time
- Prospects respond positively and predictably to opportunities because you have accurate information about their needs.
A review of the sales funnel helps focus the sales team on the most effective revenue producing activities and helping qualify the opportunities with the most potential to close.
With great sales funnel management, sales reps are more productive and companies can scale their sales process, forecast their sales and revenue, and hit their goals.
Questions Sales Leaders Need to Ask – How healthy is our sales funnel? Is the top or bottom of the funnel disproportionately heavy or are there plenty of opportunities throughout the funnel to successfully meet our sales goals? Does our sales funnel and sales forecast support our business strategy? Are there any gaps in the funnel that need to be addressed strategically?
Review and revise your sales team’s “target” and “minimum acceptable” performance metrics (activities and results).
Halfway through the year, it’s a good idea to review your sales team’s target goals and performance metrics. Has the environment changed and goals need to be adjusted? If the targets are too high, given post-pandemic challenges like supply shortages, shipping delays, etc., they can be de-motivating to your sales people.
Reviewing your performance metrics ensure that your business is using its sales resources efficiently to drive selling costs down and revenues up. This is how to determine future success before it is too late and the year is over.
So, a mid-year review is also a good opportunity to review successes, share best practices with the whole team, get commitments to new actions, and help move the business forward.
Questions Sales Leaders Need to Ask – Do our sales targets and performance metrics accurately reflect the post-pandemic sales environment? Are we halfway to our annual sales goals? What adjustments need to be made? How are we tracking successes and failures and what takeaways can we gain from them?
Evaluate your sales team’s ability to meet or exceed expectations going forward.
It’s important to step back regularly and conduct sales staff audits to ensure your team is performing at a high level that meets or exceeds your expectations. This review should not be seen as punishment by your team so much as sales enablement. It’s a chance to step back, get help or reinforce activities so the sales rep and company succeeds.
It’s helpful for sales managers to have a written sales team member planning and assessment evaluation. This document should include the following:
- Role mandate, based on business objectives and priorities
- Key accountabilities and accomplishments
- Performance objectives and accomplishments
- Personal effectiveness delivering results and working collaboratively
- Development objectives to improve skills and knowledge
- Overall summary of contributions
- Performance rating (exceptional, successful, and below expectations)
If you find that any of your people are performing below expectations, create a Performance Improvement Plan to help correct any performance discrepancies. Address these issues now, before the year ends and it’s too late.
Questions Sales Leaders Need to Ask – Do I have the right people, in the right seats to make our sales number? What training and support do we need to provide them, as a team and individually? Do my new hires need more attention and coaching than our seasoned sales professionals? Do I need to make any personnel changes?
Need help with a mid-year review? Want a fresh set of eyes to audit your team’s performance and evaluate your strategies to end the year strong? I’ve been very successful at enabling companies to generate more consistent sales. So, give me a call at 630.649.4943 for a free, no obligation 45-minute consultation.