2022 will be a pivotal year for most organizations, and especially for sales leaders. Think about what’s going on in the marketplace. There are more jobs than applicants in every field, including sales, which means everybody is pursuing the same top performers. So how do you energize your team, hold on to your best people, and set the stage for a superb year? Here are four best practices we are currently sharing with our clients as they transition into 2022.
1. Engage. What have you done today to make sure each member of your team is fully engaged? You can start by asking people for their opinions and feedback. Get them to weigh in on things that impact them. Do whatever it takes to make your workplace, whether it’s remote or face-to-face, a more collaborative environment. Bear in mind, too, that long-term engagement means setting up individualized training plans. Push each person just a little on new things they can learn and master over time. Consider that there are two main reasons people leave an organization: either they don’t like their manager, or they don’t feel like they’ve learned everything that they can learn to be successful in their role. Make sure neither applies to any member of your team. You really can compete with a competitor’s outrageous salaries and comp programs … if you offer a competitive compensation package and if you support your people by making sure they are working in a true learning environment. That’s going to be good for you, good for them, and great for their income picture (and yours).
2. Create behavioral plans. Setting up abehavioral plan means reverse-engineering the financial goal so that you and the rep each have a clear picture of what they need to be doing from a behavior and activity perspective every single day to turn the goal into reality. As I speak with CROs across a wide range of industries, I hear many of them saying that they’re looking for similar things this year. One of the most common issues sounds like this: “My team can land, but they can’t seem to expand.” Often, this is because team members are not moving beyond their comfort zone: landing familiar offerings is what they know for sure they can do well and want to keep on doing. Expanding, not so much. One of the things you can do in the coming year is make sure that the individualized behavioral plan, the plan for which salespeople are accountable on a daily and weekly basis, takes them out of their comfort zone by focusing on the right activities. Yes, they may want to do behaviors that are appropriate to developing new opportunities for their favorite product or service … but there should also be behaviors built into the plan that are focused specifically on developing expansion opportunities. For example: selling similar products and services to other groups within an organization, or selling to affiliated organizations. You may also want to ensure there is a clear behavioral plan for selling new products and services within the existing client base. Remember: it is roughly five times easier and more cost-effective to sell additional products and services to an existing customer than it is to sell to a new customer for the first time!
3. Role play. Most sales managers do not role play, which is a huge mistake. We believe role play should be part of every sales team’s culture. Set the stage by role playing on a regular basis how to respond to all the top issues your sales team faces in today’s world. Let’s face it: there has been a unique situational shift in the marketplace. The team’s standard responses and talk tracks may be out of date. Make sure you and your team are role playing through all the relevant obstacles and questions they’re hearing, based on the buyer journey that has emerged since the pandemic changed everything. Here at Sandler, our team has role-play sessions three times each week. This energizes the group and gives them the confidence and the conviction that, no matter what our prospect says, they will have a response that makes sense and engages the buyer to open up. When you make role play part of the sales team’s culture, you will find that the results go through the roof. People will be clamoring for more. And after about 90 days of consistent role playing, they will start to remind you whenever you forget to schedule a role play session!
4. Communicate the why. Here, I’m talking not just about evangelizing about the so-called “big why” – your organization’s mission – but also about the “little why.” Yes. People need to know why they are showing up for work every day, and they need to understand the guiding purpose of the organization. But communication should not stop there. In today’s environment, there’s no shortage of sudden changes, no shortage of new products, projects, and services, no shortage of new ways of doing business. When you ask the members of your team to adjust to one of these changes, explain the rationale behind that change. Explain the why and how of what you’re asking them to do. Explain how what you want fits into the organization’s overall goal. If you tell people only what to do, you’re minimizing their expertise, and that mistake will have a major negative impact. You hired your team because they’re good at what they do. Set them up for success by providing some background. Tell them the “why” behind the “what” you’re asking for.
To learn more, read this blog post on how to instill a growth mindset across your sales team.