Let's not be fluffy about it; business has not been easy lately. The current landscape is tough to navigate as we make our way out of a world health crisis and dive straight into a destabilised economy fuelled by many other uncertainties affecting the market.
So much has changed over the last two years: How we work, how we interact with one another, and, of course, how we sell our goods and services.
While some organisations have discovered new opportunities and made significant gains, others have been left on a serious back foot and are still trying to claw their way back to some sort of equilibrium –– travel and tourism industry, we feel you.
On average, sales dropped 27% from October 2020 to January 2021, with small businesses getting the most brutal hit. According to a recent survey, UK businesses can expect sales growth to go from -7% in 2022Q1 to -4% in 2022Q2, with limited improvement in 2023 and beyond.
So, is it surprising that even your best sales reps are struggling to hit their targets? Hardly. However, the more important question is, what are you going to do about it?
Of course, it's difficult to maintain a high level of optimism, especially after all the recent hard knocks, but that may be the key differentiator between the businesses that come out of this slump and those that don't –– proactive optimism, that is. By that, we mean focussing on the solution and understanding what your sales team needs to upskill, retool and bounce back.
Your poorly performing sales team may be impacted by a combination of factors, so it's important to drive down to the root cause and then map out the road to recovery. Start by zooming out and then narrowing down to any particular problems. Here are the questions to ask:
By asking these questions, you can direct your efforts where there will be most impactful. Of course, you can't control the macro environment, but you can take steps to counteract or respond to certain challenges in a way that will be beneficial to your business. To address the problems within your realm of control, start by reviewing the current climate inside your organisation…
If sales have been slow, there's probably a growing sense of foreboding amongst your team. When confidence is low, and energy levels are down, you have to make it a priority to boost morale and give your sales team the encouragement they need to reposition themselves in this new, post-pandemic world.
In their attempts to hit targets over the past two years, it's highly likely that they're suffering from outreach fatigue, and this is really an indicator that a mindset shift is necessary.
Forbes advises that it's now time to ask, "How can I serve them?" not "What can I sell them?". Some retraining and mentoring may be required to give your sales team the tools and skills they need to reinvent their sales approach and meet the changing needs of their customers.
Lastly, don’t forget to give your people some recognition. When you see them taking initiative, putting the effort to adopt your new strategies into their processes or going the extra mile to close a deal, be sure to give them the appreciation they deserve. Reinforcing positive behaviour is a critical element in directing your team out of the current sales rut.
It's likely that the last two years have culminated in a rather ambiguous sales strategy. If you've been in firefighting mode recently, your plans and strategies may have morphed into something else, and everyone is trying to cope in a way that makes sense to them. This translates to a lack of direction and unity amongst your sales team, contributing to low morale.
Here's another critical strategy-related question: "What's happened to your buyer persona?" Perhaps the profile of your ideal buyer has changed, and it's time to review and reshape what this person may look like. This will then need to be effectively communicated to your sales team to ensure they have a clear picture of who they are targeting.
If your strategy hasn't evolved to address the pain points of your new (or updated) buyer persona, this may be the reason why you're seeing an influx of low quality leads coming into your sales pipeline.
Everything we've discussed so far will affect your sales process and create unwanted friction. When these problems are compounded by a lack of training and inefficient tools, you have a huge sales problem on your hands.
A successful seller in this new post-pandemic environment is a resourceful expert on the products and services they sell and the topics around them. Customers want to speak to knowledgeable individuals who can break down complicated information and present it in a manner that helps them understand the benefits of the purchase.
Does your sales team have the right technology to communicate and connect with your audiences? Let's not forget that many of your customers are now online (if they weren't already). Your sales team needs the tools and know-how to be digitally savvy. Their sales process has to be powered by automation so that they don't miss any opportunities in our new, always-on world.
Up-to-date training and support are essential if you're lagging behind in technology and marketing best practices. And, of course, you must address any leadership issues that are causing discord among sales team members on these matters.
If you've gotten this far in our article, the key takeaway is that now is not the time to panic. In fact, you've been presented with a revolutionising opportunity to take what's working well and optimise it while also plugging in any knowledge or resource gaps in your sales team to give them some genuine advantages in the new and future landscape.
Now is the time to ask the right questions of your sales team and offer them the much-needed support and tools to reinvigorate the sales process and align your company with modern best practices.
It's essential to invest in education and help your people work smarter, better and faster instead of trying to assign blame or continue down the beaten path that's not yielding any results for you.
If you feel inspired to bring your team out of their sales slump, we'd like to invite you to our exclusive Sales Enablement Service.
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