7 Lessons for Leading Sales Orgs in a Recovering Market

For many sales organizations, it’s been a challenging few months. As Scott Barker, Sales Hacker’s Head of Partnerships, put it in our recent webinar, “Mastering the Transition to Digital Selling”:

There aren’t very many jobs where you’re put in an environment where you almost feel guilty for doing your job.

This was a common sentiment among many sales professionals when COVID-19 first struck.

Sales Solutions is the division of LinkedIn that sells our Sales Navigator product, and we spend a lot of time interacting with sales leaders. We’ve seen on a daily basis that salespeople, by embracing the tenets of virtual selling, have been able to connect with their customers in a meaningful way — even with face-to-face meetings unlikely, travel curtailed, and in-person conferences postponed.

Here are seven key lessons we’ve learned from witnessing the most effectives sales organizations get back on track in these difficult times.

7 Lessons Learned from Successful Sales Organizations

Lesson 1: Digital transformation is accelerated

Digital transformation was in motion long before COVID-19 arrived on the scene. Salespeople have been using sales technology to connect with buyers for years.

But this current scenario, where face-to-face meetings are rare, forces sales professionals to embrace virtual selling tools more than ever before. For instance, our State of Sales report found that 77% of sales professionals are holding more video meetings.

It’s unclear when face-to-face meetings will return. I’ve spoken with customers who have no plans to allow vendors and salespeople on site for at least a year — even after they reopen their offices and factory floors.

The bottom line: Becoming comfortable with building relationships in a virtual environment is going to be essential for sales professionals for the foreseeable future.

Lesson 2: The capacity to lead through change is more important than ever

In LinkedIn’s recently released State of Sales report, 70% of sales managers in the United States said the ability to lead through change is more important than it was five years ago.

Note that we asked that question before COVID-19 arrived in the U.S.

My guess is that sales managers would say leading through change is an even more important skill right now.

Lesson 3: Understanding the buyer’s point of view is central to deliver value

In this environment, sales professionals need to deeply understand their customers, so they can deliver value rather than worry about revenue and bookings.

That said, not every buyer is in dire straits.

At LinkedIn, we’ve found that while some companies remain in distress, others are beginning to explore buying again. And then there are additional businesses that are in growth mode during the current environment.

For the companies that COVID-19 has hit hard, this may not be the time to be engaging commercial conversations. We are advising our sales teams to focus on how they can help potential buyers right now, and not worry about generating revenue.

And for the companies that are thriving, we are finding it is acceptable to reach out and sell to them right now.

As always, sales professionals must do their research to make sure they are delivering the right kind of value to these growing businesses.

Lesson 4: When you are having sales conversations, make sure it’s directed at the CFO

In most companies, the appetite for conversations that aren’t valuable is very low. Return on investment, the faster the better, has always been an element of purchasing decisions, but it’s truer than ever in the current climate.

For our outreach to potential buyers, our litmus test is, “Would this presentation pass muster with the CFO?”

The value story must be front and center in the language of the presentation.

While C-level executives are scrutinizing more deals on the buyer side, they are also more active on the seller side.

In fact, our sales teams are asking me and my executive team to participate in more conversations with buyers. Businesses are requiring that their purchases be integral to strategy, and so we’re seeing many high-level conversations with our potential customers.

Lesson 5: Data is only becoming more crucial in the sales process

A commitment to using data to analyze your marketplace is going to be table stakes — if it’s not already.

Tools such as Gong and Chorus enable sales leaders to analyze recorded sales conversations in the aggregate. This kind of data can pinpoint, for instance, whether some companies are becoming more likely to spend and how your salespeople can effectively address buyer objections.

Data is also very effective in assessing what accounts, industries, and geographies are relatively healthy financially.

By identifying the buyers most likely to make purchases in the current environment, sales teams can be more efficient in focusing their time on the deals most likely to close.

Source - Read More at: www.saleshacker.com