The skills that your salespeople need are evolving almost as quickly as the technology you sell. Your success relies on helping them to keep their skills up-to-date and relevant.
Your buyers will be around 70 percent of the way through your sales cycle before they engage with someone from your sales team, so it’s more important than ever that your staff know your product, market and buyers. On top of this, they need to be equipped to drive prospects to make the IT purchases that you want them to. Potential buyers should feel that they have a good understanding of the landscape and what’s on offer, as well as crystal-clear reasons to buy from you rather than your competitors.
Sales and budget conditions have changed drastically in recent years – data shows that your target decision makers are now more senior and typically in groups of three. This gives your sales force the challenge of managing multiple stakeholders.
Just like everyone, sales people like what they’re comfortable with. They like to sell the products they know best to people they’re familiar with, using tools they’ve succeeded with before. If you need to adapt your offerings or target market to survive, you need to prepare your sales force for this and make sure they’re ready to join you on your journey towards growth.
Ian Hunter, Editor at Comms Business Magazine, told us: “Marketing needs to generate warm conversations for your sales people to progress, and that means you need to have a joined-up marketing strategy”
Here are some ideas to help you make sure your sales people are future-proofed.
It’s ideal to provide bespoke, specific skills development for each aspect of the sales cycle – training that’s explicitly based on your prospects and market. This could be on prospecting, qualification, value creation, stakeholder management, proposal development and negotiating the close.
Stakeholder management training should help sales people to understand the complexities of managing multiple stakeholders across a range of clients. When coaching a salesforce to negotiate the close of the sale, this should be based on value rather than price.
Even if sales teams have been with you for a long time, they’ll need refreshing regularly, and the best way to reinforce skills and introduce new ways of working is by being interactive. In a consultative, interactive selling workshop you can create a picture of a new buyer environment and role-play multiple stakeholder relationships. If you want to make sure your salespeople can operate successfully in a variety of sales environments with multiple senior stakeholders, the best thing to do is to try them – in a safe, stress-free environment.
To help you make sure you’re meeting the individual needs of each team member, individual evaluation, objective setting, coaching and mentoring will be required. This is time intensive and will be needed more by certain individuals than others.
By giving individual support, you can make sure your sales people have a clear format to follow for consultative selling. They will have the knowledge, tools and confidence to upsell, cross-sell and initiate partnership working with other vendors.
Bart Delgado, Managing Director of Akixi Ltd said: “The world has shifted from a capex model of large and infrequent capital purchases to an opex model of smaller, ongoing subscriptions. So why aren’t suppliers keeping step?”
Once you’re confident that your sales force is up-to-speed, you can begin to change your offer to meet evolving customer demands. You can introduce new target markets or solutions to your portfolio and be confident that your salespeople are ready to sell.
If you need some support to develop your sales teams, Larato can help.