5 Keys to Leading Sales During Uncertain Times
Updated: Jan 4
In 2020, the economy was rolling along until the pandemic brought the entire world to a halt. Demand quickly plummeted as people were quarantined at home and many workplaces rapidly transitioned to remote work. Now, as things seem to be returning to “normal”, many industries have seen their sales numbers recover.
I am no economist, but it seems that some of the recent problems - worker shortage, supply issues, etc.- just took longer to reveal themselves and the recent interest rate hikes are an attempt to correct things.
One of the many lessons we can learn from the last two years is that your business will face both good and bad times. You’ll celebrate record growth and stare down stunning losses. At the end of the day, week, month, or quarter…
Your job is to weather the storm and lead in uncertain times.
To help you build a resilient sales organization, I’ve outlined 5 keys areas where you need to be on solid ground. The concepts discussed below are covered in greater detail in prior blogs but the summaries here will allow you to critically assess if you are well positioned to succeed in uncertain times.
Do I have the Right People in Place?
Leadership – Are your leaders holding their direct reports accountable to their sales targets and the leading indicator activities that assure productivity is on course? Do they own the team’s success and work to find solutions? Make sure you have someone in place who knows how to get the most out of their people through coaching and development.
Sales Team – Are your salespeople hitting their goals consistently? Do they generate enough revenue and efficiently move prospects through your defined sales process? We all have bad streaks, but if your team is putting in the right activities, sales pipelines should reflect progress that gives you confidence the deals will follow. Sticking to the fundamentals of the sales process and continually working on deal positioning are essential. If your people aren’t doing that, then it’s time to assess if they are the right people on your team.
Platform for Success – Do you have your sales organization set up for optimum performance? For your team to succeed, roles and responsibilities need to be clearly outlined, target markets must be defined, your value proposition needs to enable your go-to market strategy, etc.
Learn how to assess your team by reading the full blog, “How Do I Know if I Have the Right Salespeople?”.
How Do I Drive the Right Sales Behavior?
Align with Company Objectives – Take the time to understand your business completely and define the direction you want to drive growth. This serves as a compass to guide your sales plan and ensures strategic growth.
Design The Right Sales Compensation Plan - Incentivize your salespeople to perform not only every quarter but each and every day. Make sure they know what they are being measured on and how they can meet expectations. Create a sales environment where they can excel!
Create Score Card Visibility – Using key sales activity data, create a dashboard that shines a spotlight on the dials and levers that control sales success. This visibility gives you and your team the actionable insight to course correct as needed to ensure goals are met.
You’ll find more helpful details in the full article, “How to Drive The Right Sales Behavior With Your Compensation Plan".
How Can I Build an Accountable Sales Culture?
Keep Stats and Track Performance – Make sure you identify the ‘right’ metrics. As a simple example, conversion metrics are MUCH more valuable than counting sales calls. Don’t bog your team down by making them do worthless data entry. Instead, capture the vital info that measures the health of your operations.
Own the Process – Your sales team needs to know that their success depends on their own actions. They must follow the steps you outline for them in a proven sales process and work to improve their results. They need to understand that their results are driven by the effort they put in.
Be the Coach – In order for any team to be effective, they need to be coached. Your sales leaders need to have consistent one-on-one meetings to ensure that both top performers and those who aren’t hitting their numbers are focusing on the fundamentals that lead to success.
Click here to brush up on sales accountability essentials.
How Should I Structure My Sales Team to Meet Growth Goals?
The Ideal Sales Structure – There is no one way to organize a sales team. Each industry has its own unique framework for success but there are a few key roles you must fill no matter what you sell.
Hunter vs. Farmer Selling Roles – There are two basic functions of a sales team: bring in new customers and retain/grow current accounts. You need the right people for these roles to succeed.
Proper Support for Sales Teams – Are your salespeople constantly being dragged away from sales activity to track down missing shipments or customer complaints? Structure your organization to ensure your salespeople spend their time generating revenue instead of performing administrative work better done by others.
To learn more about structuring your sales team, access the full article by clicking here.
How Long Does It Take to Fix a Sales Team?
It DOES take time - it is impossible to rewire sales performance overnight. As a Fractional Sales Leader, I take a methodical approach to effectively analyze the company and its sales team and then develop a plan of action to improve revenue generation.
Discovery & Assessment - the first step is identifying the moving parts of your organization and highlighting the large gaps and large successes your team is experiencing.
Design & Implement- In this stage, I design processes, tools, and systems to fit each business’s individual needs.
Adoption – This is where we see the fruits of our labors. At this point, we’ve gone through the stage of rewiring how your sales organization operates, implemented multiple processes, and are starting to see the revenue goals take off. This is an ongoing phase - you will continue to iterate and improve.
Read the full blog to learn more about my best practices 3-phase approach.
While you can’t control the environment you live in, you can decide what your response will be.
As a Fractional Sales Leader, I have helped companies when they were down and looking for answers. I’ve helped other companies that were growing so fast they struggled to scale effectively. The constant thing I have seen is that sticking to the fundamentals and holding your team accountable is the rock your team should be built upon.
If you’d like to discuss the improvement you’re looking for in your business, contact me at email@example.com.
I also invite you to follow me on LinkedIn to gain exposure to future article posts that will offer more valuable selling insights.
I am part of a national group of Senior Sales Leaders who collaborate to share insights like the examples shown in this article. We formed because of our shared passion to help business leaders exponentially grow their revenue.