Healthcare and technology sales leaders are focused on one thing: how do they get their teams back to selling?
But before you send your team to the streets, you must consider…
Historical Sales Data is Irrelevant. Sales planning and forecasting has to be based on measurable insights from the past few weeks. Many of your outstanding opportunities aren’t viable because the prospect is no longer “in the market” for your offering.
Evaluate Customer Sentiment. You may be ready to go back to the market with your offering, however your customers may not be prepared or physically may not want you showing up to their place of business. They may not be ready for your offering because they have other pressing issues in their business. Many of your customers may have gone out of business or, even pivoted their business as a result of COVID-19. So the problem that you used to solve for them, may not be the problem they currently have. With this said, all the deals that are in your pipeline need to be audited for validity based on this reality. You must dig in deep here. Generally, sellers are poor forecasters and aren’t “believable” despite their best intentions.
Recognizing that your historical date is no good is the first step to getting back to selling. Reassessing and starting from scratch is the new normal for forecasting.
Reassess Job Fit. The second thing that you must do in preparing for a sales team “redeployment” is to reassess job fit. It’s a tough conversation for most sales leaders. My clients are recognizing that they can sell (quite well, actually) in a virtual environment. Offerings that they once thought could only be sold in person, with highly relational sellers, can now be sold over a video conference from anywhere in the world.
Now that they know this truth, the type of seller that used to rely heavily on personal relationships and being in front of customers, golfing and going to dinners, has changed. This social element doesn’t exist in virtual selling. You must rethink the behaviors and the competencies that are needed for sales teams in this new “normal”. They’re finding that they have to rewrite job descriptions and restructure their sales team to virtual versus in-person. Good salespeople will be an unavoidable casualty of the shift in selling. You must be prepared to teach old dogs new tricks, or have difficult conversations about a salesperson’s fit in the organization.
Same Targets, Less Budget. Before getting back to selling, sales leaders are also recognizing that they have to hit the same sales goal on a reduced expense budget. You may not have the real dollars you had previously. You’re having to reduce the number of salespeople that you have, to hit the same number with less people. You’re finding that it is far better to have fewer people well-equipped with technology than it is to have more people.
The best way to achieve this is to create specialization. Many sales leaders are being forced to move their sales team from generalist–that were responsible for prospecting, creating new customers and selling all of the portfolio within the customer base–to now thinking about how (with my reduced staff), do I have some salespeople focus on just the top of the funnel, creating new accounts and getting them to do a certain stage in the sales process. They’re thinking: How do we have certain people specialize in closing deals? How do we have a separate person focus on customer success? If there’s a silver lining, it’s that you might not need salespeople in expensive cities like New York, San Francisco or Chicago. If you can sell your offering virtually, then you can create more budget by “locating” your team in more favorable geographies.
Want Help? How do you maximize these opportunities so that you can quickly and safely get back to selling? You must embrace the required deep work of rethinking job descriptions, realigning personal characteristics of the team with the day-to-day activities of the job, and then ultimately redesigning compensation to match the real budget constraints. Make sure that the selling activity you’re getting from your people matches the new business goals, and that your sales team is wired to sell virtually.
I’ve found that the Predictive Index is the best tool for sales leaders to ensure they have the right seller for the role. If you’re hiring new people or curious how your existing team will perform in a totally, or primarily, virtual environment, then I’d be happy to show you the tool. Send me an email and we can schedule a time to chat.
P.S. Since most of my clients are redesigning their compensation plans to better align with today’s realities, I’m publishing a long-form PDF titled The Sales Leader’s Guide To Compensation. It should be ready in a few weeks. Some of the compensation material will be in May’s Required Reading.