Being responsible for the commercial drive of a business and carrying the sales numbers has never been more critical than over the last 90 days. It has been a period of having to not only adapt (and adapt fast) to the new ways of selling but also adapting to a period of leading your client-facing team remotely to ensure they remain focussed and visible to your clients both directly and indirectly through your various “Routes to Market”.
You may well be carrying one of the new glamorous titles on your calling card – be it Chief Revenue Officer or Chief Commercial Officer, but your prime objectives remain the same: fill up the business with new contracts and orders, whilst hanging onto as much of the contracted revenue and profit as you can.
I’ve have been very fortunate to work with some truly outstanding sales leaders with all the various titles, in different parts of the world and across multiple industries. As a former leader responsible for the sales function I have to admire the way some of my fellow sales leaders have led their teams over the last few months and the amazing level of adaptation I have seen.
It is clear that in order to be one of these adaptable sales leaders of the future – you must ask yourselves these three key questions:
1. What have you learned about the way your teams have adapted?
Those sales leaders that are metric-driven and rely on hard facts and data have helped their teams the most over this period of change and adaptation to “Selling from Home” SFH.
Those leaders start every conversation from a point of fact, and by doing so they are in a much better position to be able to help develop and coach their teams to adapt to new ways of working.
You may well be communicating more than ever with your teams and in doing so thinking you’re being more visible as their sales leader, but we have to ensure the communication we are giving is effective and provides support to help teams remain focussed and productive.
Recently, I have seen some great sales leaders focus more on the ‘input’ numbers than usual; the prime activity measure being meetings, calls and proposals, knowing that actual orders which are subsequently received are the true quantitative measure of this activity.
Look at your numbers for the last 90 days, focus on the volume of meetings your team have had, including outbound calls. Compare these activity levels with actual outcomes achieved, and to the previous 90 days.
- Have your sales team been more or less visible to their clients through their personal levels of activity?
- Have you seen a difference in actual performance?
- This will give you a good indication of their level of adaption so far and is also a great place to start a fact-based coaching session.
- Review your teams ‘sell from home’ routine in much more detail – help them design an individual schedule that works for them, whilst ensuring objectives are met. Recognise that each of your team will be managing different circumstances.
- Analyse your sales team’s last 90 days performance through the lens of:
- Average order value
- Carefully prepare for your next video one-2-one meeting based on a hard facts and what the data is telling you.
2. What about your own level of adaptation?
As well as thinking about your team’s movement towards whatever the new normal way of selling is, what have you learnt about yourself over the last 90 days?
If we could turn back the clock to the start of the restrictions and look at the way we operate, what would you do differently?
Those leaders who reacted to the restrictions with confidence, providing clear effective communication of their expectations to their team, are now in the best possible position as we head into the next phase of restrictions being lifted.
A lot of clients we have seen improved levels through lockdown – in most case, but not all we have seen improved levels of productivity and engagement with clients, and a better work-life balance, whilst continuing to deliver significant sales performance. Have you seen improved levels during lockdown?
Now as we continue into the next few months, we still need to provide support and guidance to our teams, leading by example as we all continue to evolve and adapt to remain effective sale leaders regardless of the grand titles on our calling cards and email signatures.
- Ask your team to review how you have supported them over the period of lockdown, you could use any one of the survey platforms to give you great insight into “What life has been like” working for you over the last 90 days. As ever receive feedback in a positive and grateful way.
- Share with your team your view of what positive behaviours and outcomes you have seen from clients and partners with an air of “OPTIMISM”
- It’s your role to maintain the improved ways of working and look for ways to build them into the DNA and overarching standards of your team as we move into the future.
3. How have you handled the usual closing and kick-off events?
Whilst the usual pressure of the end-of-month, quarter and year-end remain the same – if not attracting more focus than ever, our role also remains the same. How do we take the time to reflect and celebrate what has been achieved, whilst setting the agenda for the teams going forward and future sales events?
How about turning those events into well thought out and considered virtual events? Have we used technology to allow leaders to reach an even broader community of participants from across the business and support functions in a more effective way?
Whilst we can’t fully replace the experience of being physically together, we can create a similar experience of the events from the past. Consider the aspects of face to face events you feel have the most impact on your sales teams and future performance, then recreate these in a virtual world.
It may be a small event to mark the start of the next selling period or a very well executed global sales kick-off event as I was part of recently. The event covered 4000 participants over multiple days, with an even higher level of measurable engagement than in previous years. As a physical event without days of lost productivity due to travelling and recovering from the event.
IDEAS TO CONSIDER:
- Take time at the start of your next team video meeting to recognise and celebrate key achievements made during this period of restrictive selling due to travel bans. A great way to set the mood for the team call.
- Plan your next significant all sales event and turn it into a virtual “Sales Kick-Off” with all the usual activities but delivered in a virtual way. Get creative of how you can leverage the technology available to support your event.
- Like most events’ the personal interaction and networking with colleagues are key elements of any meeting, so create more time for these activities in your agenda, have some fun and get your team involved in planning and ideas.
Take one of my clients as an example, they are responsible for the new business profit within a global organisation and would be the first to admit being a bit ‘old school’ in their style of leadership and more accustomed to seeing and observing their team work with clients in a face to face environment. However, once the initial show of the restricted travel and working from home had subsided I have seen him significantly adapt his style and become a more effective sales leader, through positively embracing technology, a change of leadership style, clear and concise communication with outcome-based measurable objectives set leading to delivery of new sales ahead of expectations over last 90 days.
Having never used video for internal or external meetings, he is now a total convert and is seen as a promoter both within his own business and the wider market.