Lewie Miller, CEO, Qvidian
We’re nearly three months into 2015. Have your New Year’s resolutions begun to fade? Are your best intentions falling by the wayside? If so, you’re not alone. It doesn’t take too long for the gyms to empty out and healthy eating “cheat” days to become more and more frequent. However, while personal goals may be slipping a bit, it is important to stay true to your professional resolutions. It may seem like a chore now and be so easy to fall back into your old routines, but staying committed to your resolution of finding innovative solutions to support your sales team will help you meet end of year financial goals and eliminate some of that the end of year quota rush agita.
As CEO of a sales execution company, I am keenly aware of what organizations must do in order to increase revenue and bottom line results. It’s simple actually. The key lies in behavioral changes. Just think–while technology has advanced considerably over the past several years to help simplify and streamline the sales process, there remains a substantial amount of room for improvement when it comes to the way the resources are leveraged for optimal outcomes.
Many leaders aren’t aware that half of their sales representatives repeatedly miss quota, meanwhile, their top performers are overachieving to make up the difference. This number is far too high considering the resources available today. Personally, I am bewildered that sales leaders accept this degree of underperformance. By setting and following through with sales resolutions, they’re able to hold themselves accountable recognizing that the system is broken and they must take responsibility in order to enact change. In 2015, if companies want to succeed it is imperative that they stay committed to revolutionizing selling and follow through until they’ve made a lasting change.
Conquering the battle to win the war
When you were developing this year’s New Year’s resolutions, you likely began with a reflection of where you currently stood and an understanding of where you want to be and a plan for how to get there. As we look at sales, we know f53% percent of B2B customers select vendors – and remain loyal to them – based on their sales experience. And according to McKinsey, 70 percent of purchases are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Because the sales experience is weighted more heavily in a purchase decision than price and features, the sales team must understand that its role is to provide a meaningful and memorable sales experience for buyers. Forrester’s Kate Leggett said it best: “In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are – customers do.”
It’s easy for a company to believe that it is being customer-centric although it is not. And when faced with the actual concept of transforming its sales force, the undertaking can seem daunting. A general rule when building a New Year’s resolution list is to be realistic and make smaller, yet impactful, changes that, if executed properly, will collectively make a larger difference by December 31. This holds true in the professional world as well. Whether you are getting a late start on your resolutions or simply need some inspiration to continue what you’ve started, here are a few small but important rules that have made an impact for me professionally, followed by a corresponding resolution to maintain through the rest of the year.
Rule 1: Don’t just know your buyer, know their business. While this seems relatively obvious, there is a difference between understanding your customer and their own goals and understanding their business and how your solution aligns to them.
Resolution: Help customers understand your solution through the lens of their business and their goals and how they align. Encourage your sales teams to envision each sale as not just a case study but with an impact assessment and communicate the potential results to their prospects.
Rule 2: Don’t confuse efforts with results. Sales people show up for their job every day and put forth effort. It is the result of those efforts that is far more meaningful. It’s your responsibility to help sales teams stay focused and relevant in sales situations in order to positively impact results.
Resolution: Leverage the latest technology advancements in guided selling platforms to update your selling processes and help streamline sales efforts across entire teams. You will then be in a better position to provide teams with a greater degree of accountability and ritual to which they can benchmark themselves and understand what they need to do and remain on track to meet their quotas.
Rule 3: Inspect what you expect. Sales people are generally driven by process, quotas and other metrics that have proven to work. If you have no way to observe what they are doing, however, you are unlikely to achieve expected results.
Resolution: Understand where your sales team stands at all times. Do not solely check-in with them throughout the quarter to make sure they are on track, but do a deeper analysis across entire teams to identify trends, patterns, and best practices that can be shared and leveraged in real-time. A mid-quarter check-in can reveal pain points and help steer efforts back into place, however, identifying potential problems before they become actual problems is far more powerful for the end game.
Rule 4: People support what they help create. It is important for organizations to involve the sales team in initiatives that impact their day. If they get input from the sales team and design business strategies with them in mind, they are more likely to use it.
Resolution: Leverage your sales force to improve your solution, processes and sales technologies. Your salespeople understand the competitive market and likely have a great deal of insights into the features that would help win a deal in a competitive marketplace. In addition to improving your solution based on customer need, you’ll also be able to grow morale by creating an environment where their voices are heard and their input drives not just what you sell, but also how you sell it.
A revolution consists of several small yet impactful battles, and it’s our job as CEOs to continue the momentum. It’s not someone else’s problem – we have to be the ones to do something different. The sooner we make it a priority to understand that it’s about the buyer and little improvements that can be made daily, the better we will be. Now’s the time to reflect on our resolutions, make sure we stick to our goals and bring about the change that the industry so desperately needs.
About the Author
Lewie Miller is the CEO of Qvidian, a business software that helps marketing and sales people streamline their processes and provide consistency across their lines of business. Qvidian has determined that the sales industry needs a revolution, it’s broken and it’s time that the shift moves from “enablement” to “execution.”