In 2020, we saw numerous companies freeze hiring, and many even reduced headcount. And now in 2021, there’s still much trepidation for going back to “business as usual.” There may not be much excitement to add sales headcount either. So, the age-old question exists. How can I get my current sales team to sell more?
There are two tried and true ways to sell more:
- Work harder – “If they only would prospect more, hunt harder, in short, work more, then maybe there would be more business closing and more revenue.” It’s another age-old question, if they were able to do those things previously why aren’t they doing them now?
- This leads to another question, maybe not so age-old: If we, as leaders, are not holding them accountable to this increased activity and the right behaviors, why is that?
- And still another question: Do they even know what to do to be effective prospecting?
- I have noticed over and over again that sellers too frequently are allowed to become account managers and they are not held responsible to continuously generate new business with new clients via prospecting. Lo and behold, there is surprise when something like 2020 happens and the accounts that were historically growing put the brakes on. Management notices that revenues are not growing, and gets frustrated that there isn’t enough prospecting going on.
- Well, guess what? Our “top” producers haven’t been exercising their prospecting muscle in a while. They are out of prospecting shape and may need some practice, some guidance, some help. And they may also be sticking their head in the sand with regard to their need to go find new clients. Managers can influence this behavior, but they also need to help these sellers regain their skill at prospecting.
- Work smarter – This would imply that the team has not figured out where to prioritize their time. Well, they probably haven’t. With all the turmoil going on in the marketplace, the stress related to COVID, and the inconvenience of home schooling while working, they might not be that capable of thinking, prioritizing and focusing that clearly.
- Managers can help in this regard too. Be clear about what makes a great client. Utilize sales team meetings to truly articulate with the team, the elements that make a company the right fit and more likely to become a client. Then make certain that everyone on the team has a focused targeted list of the type of prospects to go after.
- If the budget allows, provide lists of actual targeted prospects and devise a comprehensive plan around focused prospecting. Sure, your marketing can do the shotgun approach of spray and pray. But salespeople would be better served to focus on fewer more targeted prospects with which they will have a higher likelihood of success than hundreds of targets.
- They should wrap themselves around these targeted prospects like a blanket until they disqualify them. And as prospects are disqualified or won, move new targets onto the list. As the leader, just be sure to inquire as to their progress and help them plan their focus, their strategy, and their messaging.
One More Way
There is one unexpected way to increase sales growth: Get paid the full value for the excellence you provide.
Here’s how that works. Start with a sound pricing strategy.
Rather than a cost-plus mentality, maybe start by truly understanding the value that your product or service provides to the client. Or better yet, what is the cost to the client if they choose another option, or no option at all, and it goes poorly? How will the decision-makers be impacted?
A pricing strategy is more than just telling everyone what the list price is and allowing a certain level of discounting. To ensure that the sales team can put your sound pricing strategy into practice be certain to beef up sellers’ ability to discuss money and negotiate. With 60% of sellers not comfortable discussing money it is likely that even if you have diligence around your pricing structure, a majority of your sales team won’t be able to expertly execute. Meaning they will want to discount out of fear of losing the opportunity.
They will not be able to fully sell the value that your company delivers. Rather they will resort to pricing as the basis for a decision, and they will diminish the value your service provides.
This means they will have positioned themselves as just another vendor or peddler. They will have reduced the conversation down to product as opposed to the impact on the business and they will not be very valuable to the client.
All Three Ways
As a sales team leader, it is critical to focus on all three avenues to get the existing sales team to sell more, and the most efficient way is to hold firm on pricing, to actually get paid for the value delivered.
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