Summer is a historically challenging time for sales professionals. In the northern hemisphere, the combination of longer days and enticing weather means that prospects are more likely to plan vacations than schedule sales meetings. Now, we find ourselves facing these typical challenges alongside a tumultuous business-to-business (B2B) landscape and an unpredictable economy. As sales leaders, now is the time to renew focus on process, discipline and consistency to inspire the motivation that will carry your team toward recovery.
We know that it’s difficult for teams to maintain selling motivation in the face of rejection and economic downturns, but some salespeople manage to move deals forward in the most challenging arenas. Successful teams are supported by consistent sales processes and a strong coaching culture.
How can you instill the resiliency your team needs to continue prospecting and closing deals as summer approaches, with both familiar and unprecedented challenges? Here are the answers to the three most common questions salespeople have regarding selling motivation:
1. How Do I Maximize Selling Time?
It’s common for salespeople to lament the amount of time they spend on non-selling tasks. Research supports this complaint, showing that the majority of sales reps’ time is spent on administrative tasks, and only 37.67% of their time is spent actually selling. Fortunately, you can create the conditions necessary for reps to spend more time chasing winnable opportunities by starting with strategies designed to drive discipline.
Encourage your salespeople to begin with goal-setting to create a master time allocation. To do so, sales reps should identify the three categories that best describe their workflows. From there, it’s a matter of putting daily activities into these categories and plotting out time on their calendars to support these tasks. The key here is to build a workflow that aligns short-term goals with long-term goals.
Consider telling your salespeople to color-code their calendars according to the categories they’ve set for themselves. For instance, if they’re using red to denote administrative tasks, it is easy for them to quickly assess their calendar on a weekly basis and rearrange time blocks when they’re out of balance.
Of course, distractions, disruptions and fire drills will be unavoidable. Rather than cancelling the block of time that they interrupt, salespeople should trade it with other categories on their calendars to stay in balance and make sure that their work is continuously and consistently aligned to their goals.
Ultimately, workflows are only half the battle. Nothing wastes time like chasing unwinnable opportunities, which is why it’s vital to coach your team on the importance of continually qualifying prospects throughout the sales cycle.
2. What’s the Best Way to Learn from Missed Opportunities?
The best salespeople have developed the insights to assess their own performance, but they are often too close to an event to gain perspective. Data shows a cause-and-effect relationship between deliberately and methodically developing sales teams and achieving revenue goals. To put your entire team on the path to quota attainment, every sales-related role must receive individualized coaching.
When beginning a coaching program, consider the differences between managing and coaching. Managing is typically focused on achieving a goal and then looking back to measure progress. On the other hand, coaching is about looking to the future and optimizing performance by providing perspective, guidance and discipline.
For sales coaching to be effective, a bond of trust and respect is imperative. Start by connecting with your team members in the same manner with which you’d build trust and rapport with prospects. From there, strive to observe and assess: What are an individual’s strengths and weaknesses? Do patterns emerge that indicate opportunities for improvement?
Remember to vary your approach to use both tactical and strategic coaching. Tactical coaching centers around observation and immediate feedback, such as reviewing a sales call. Strategic coaching focuses on the long term and developing specific skill sets, with a mutually-understood and agreed-upon plan.
In the end, effective coaching is a skill set that sales managers must continually refine. Research showed that 42% of companies that have implemented a sales coaching program for five or more years practice ongoing coaching.
3. How Do I Develop Better Prospecting Routines?
It begins with discipline and consistency. Companies that are process-oriented in their sales approach have an advantage over their competitors, particularly in remote work settings. Prospecting efforts are no different; they must take place within a consistent framework and be guided by a strategically choreographed approach. To fill the funnel with qualified prospects, sales reps should spend an average of two hours per day or 10 hours per week on proactive prospecting within a defined framework.
Sales leaders can foster the resilience needed to maintain strong prospecting efforts and motivate teams during a crisis by leading from the front. By picking up the phone and making the cold calls that your team members dread, you’ll hear the real-time information necessary to maintain agility, and you’ll model the discipline and perseverance that are key to effective prospecting.
As critical as phone calls are, however, they must be paired with a multichannel approach. It’s vital that salespeople schedule non-negotiable blocks of time for emails and social media interactions — and strive to be seen as a value-added interruption. This means developing the discipline to do the research and the business acumen to identify potential customers’ critical business challenges. This way, they can determine how your organization can add value and develop messages that resonate with potential buyers.
Because we don’t know when we’ll emerge from this pandemic, we must work with our teams to build the fundamental skills that will carry them to recovery and beyond. By instilling and modeling a sales approach that focuses on consistency and discipline, you’ll help your team maximize selling time, maintain motivation and drive results.