In today’s business landscape, countless organizations are grappling with a decline in sales. Instead of succumbing to defeat, astute sales leaders will perceive this as an opportunity to hone their skills and explore innovative avenues to close more deals even in trying times.
During a downturn, professionals across all industries have the chance to shape a brighter future for themselves. Rather than reverting to outdated strategies, exceptional sales managers and professionals challenge themselves with introspective questions: “How can I surpass my best-performing year? How are the dynamics of the buying process evolving, and am I adapting accordingly? What must I learn to elevate my success to new heights?”
These pivotal questions also shed light on the crucial role played by sales leaders in propelling their teams forward. The most accomplished leaders never settle for complacency. Recognizing that their potential lies within their grasp, they inspire their teams to unlock their collective brilliance. Although this may seem daunting, XINNIX research reveals that approximately 76% of individuals within organizations have the capacity for deeper engagement. With the right strategies, leaders can empower their teams to deliver their best performance. Here are some proven approaches:
Pick the Right Manager
Handpick the ideal manager: It is often assumed that exceptional salespeople automatically possess the skills to lead. However, the reality is that sales prowess and leadership abilities don’t necessarily align. This becomes particularly apparent during challenging times. Sales professionals will closely observe their leaders, seeking cues about their own future. The most astute leaders, recognizing this, will be transparent, honest, accessible, optimistic and empathetic. Additional training can ensure all individuals in leadership positions find ways to bring out their “people skills”—which are foundational to driving their teams forward.
Turn the Lights On
Validate the “stars” at the helm: It is imperative that sales leaders themselves consistently shine. A thorough analysis of their teams’ past performance may reveal unclear plans, goals, strategies, and key performance indicators (KPIs), as well as inadequate communication regarding expectations and even an acceptance of a subpar team mindset. In demanding markets, it is prudent to replace underperforming managers with individuals who consistently expect the best from everyone, while publicly acknowledging everyone’s positive impact.
Personalize to Win
Identify tailored development opportunities: Recognize that different team members require personalized development in their respective roles. While managers may need to refine their planning or risk management skills, frontline salespeople may benefit from guidance in contact management, building referral relationships, or enhancing client communications. Match each manager’s needs to the right training program to ensure individualized growth and development, which is imperative during difficult times.
Train the Middle
Prioritize impactful training sequences: Leaders can strategically allocate training resources by concentrating on mid-performers first, with a promise to refresh the skills of top performers at the earliest opportunity. Driving the 76% we mentioned earlier can greatly impact the engagement of the whole which ultimately elevates performance overall.
Establish clear expectations, incentives, and support: Clearly communicate the criteria for rewards and incentives within the organization. Sales teams should have access to reliable data and resources to aid their efforts. Clear any obstacles that can lead to miscommunication and confusion!
Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate!
Focus on short-term goals and metrics: Celebrating every milestone helps individuals recognize the impact they are already making, fueling their motivation to persevere and driving engagement.
Meet with Success
Foster communication that works as frequent meetings should be held with team members to document progress, acknowledge achievements, and address any barriers to success. Explore opportunities to streamline processes and automate tasks through technology and ensure meetings are being productively held.
Follow the Leader
Lead by example: Leaders must actively learn, embody and consistently reinforce the new skills they expect their teams to master. Holding team members accountable for completing assignments between training sessions where they can practice new skills fosters inspiration. For instance, at one company, after undergoing XINNIX training, 17 managers scheduled 30 new recruiting appointments within a 15-minute period, setting an unprecedented benchmark and example for the rest of the leaders and team members.
Embrace innovation: Instead of relying on outdated sales training partners, leaders should be open to fresh approaches that align with the current needs of the organization. While it may be tempting to stick with familiar partners, there could be valid reasons why they haven’t been utilized for some time. Perhaps their services have become stale, and a new perspective is warranted to invigorate the sales force.
Cultivate a culture of enjoyment: Fun should be emphasized throughout the sales journey. Opportunities for gamification, contests, and awards can be leveraged not only in person but also through social media and online platforms. Injecting an element of excitement and enjoyment into the sales process can boost team morale and motivation.
Sales is an iterative process of action and reaction. The path forward may present both smooth, linear progress and unexpected turns that require agile pivoting. When faced with a downturn that leaves teams lagging, it becomes imperative for everyone to embrace new strategies and have unwavering faith in their potential. Sales leaders who encourage training in these fresh approaches stand to elevate their teams to unparalleled levels of success.
By carefully selecting effective leaders, fostering development opportunities, implementing impactful training, setting clear expectations, and nurturing a culture of continuous improvement, sales organizations can overcome challenges and achieve remarkable results even in the toughest of times. The key lies in recognizing that the power to make the impossible possible resides within the collective dedication, resilience and growth mindset of the sales team and its leaders.