No matter what you call it — “the new normal” or “the next normal”— the COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic shifts in the B2B sales landscape, and many organizations are struggling to adapt. While some teams have moved beyond the constant firefighting that marked the early days of the crisis, many organizations and the industries they sell to are still in the recovery phase and are focused on identifying the initiatives that will drive growth in the near future and long term.
Your frontline managers are a precious resource that if focused in the right direction can have a demonstrable lift in productivity, but where in the sales process and which managerial activities should they invest their precious time?
In this series, we’re sharing a complete sales coaching guide to help your teams sell through the pandemic and beyond, focusing on WHO sales managers focus coaching effort against, WHERE in the sales process they focus attention, and HOW they coach new behaviors that drive customer receptivity. Take some time to check out part one and two of this four-part series. Already caught up? Read on to learn WHERE frontline sales managers should focus their attention to increase sales performance.
WHERE Managers Spend Time Matters
From joint call partnering with new hires to joining seasoned reps on calls with executive decision makers, your sales managers may find their attention strained across many crucial and competing responsibilities. Definition around your sales management cadence may be helpful to determine the capacity of a sales manager against desired activities. Adopting this approach will help you set expectations with your managers around WHERE they are spending their time — ensuring that teams align on what interactions are most important and that they are balancing tasks like pipeline/forecast review, one-on-one coaching, and joint calls for maximum efficiency.
For instance, in examining the data from our partnership with an industry-leading cybersecurity company, we found a high correlation between coaching focused around joint call partnering and deal/opportunity reviews in CT Connect’s managerial maps and higher HML performance. Remember: Not all selling behaviors are equal. Now is the time to identify the specific selling behaviors that drive success and decide where these behaviors can be most effectively improved by targeted sales coaching.
Shifting Capacity to Early Stage Sales Interactions
Is your team buttoned up on early-stage qualification and solution alignment? With business priorities shifting as industries enter recovery at different rates, sellers must have a firm grasp on customer needs, customer-specific value, and the criteria that customers will use when weighing the value of your solution against competing solutions and other planned initiatives.
To influence opportunities before the verdict is already in, sales managers should dedicate more time to the top of the funnel. After all, nothing wastes more time than chasing deals that will never close or working the deals that will close regardless. Sales managers need to be selective in identifying new prospect meetings where they can influence the seller and/or the opportunity.
Who doesn’t need more pipeline? Improving effectiveness at earlier stages has a downstream effect that will make it that much easier for the team to hit it’s numbers.
Pipeline / Forecast Review
Often, sales teams simply do not have enough pipeline to make quota. In the current environment, it’s even more difficult as many businesses are in a completely different position than they were six months ago. Managers should focus on individual sellers’ understanding of pipeline mechanics. For example, how well does the seller profile early-stage deals and new pipeline creation? Do they understand the 3:1 ratio between pipeline volume and quota? Are reps’ prospecting efforts diligent enough to drive pipeline volume? Ultimately, it may be necessary to reinvent your sales pipeline in the short term, but it’s virtually impossible to do so if you do not fully understand where efforts are being misplaced.
When it comes to forecasting, it’s also a matter of alignment around key principles. Frontline managers need to check in with sellers to better understand how they reconcile the variance (+ or -) from the prior forecast, classify deals into Best Case and Commit, and leverage the current sales process and methodology to move deals forward.
How We Can Help
CT Connect creates a framework for sales leaders to guide where managers are spending their time.
- Set an adjustable coaching plan: Help managers see and make decisions about the trade-offs for where they spend coaching time.
- Get more out of every manager-to-seller interaction: From joint sales calls to deal reviews to QBRs, every time managers work with their sellers represents an opportunity to get better.
- Make proactive sales management achievable: Managers can plan ahead by prioritizing where and with whom their valuable time is best spent.
- Create a sales culture of continuous feedback and improvement: Move individual development profiles from a static, annual exercise to a living, breathing plan that contains actionable advice for commercial success.
By reevaluating where frontline sales managers spend their time, organizations can ensure management capacity is applied to the highest leverage stages in the sale. In turn, fully-activated frontline managers are able to coach reps toward improving the specific skills that move deals to close in the new B2B sales environment.