The world of sales is evolving. Now more than ever before, conversion funnels are buyer-driven. By the time your customers reach out to your sales team, they’ve likely researched your brand -- and your competitors. It’s your sales team’s responsibility to guide these relationships forward, but sometimes these efforts fall flat because your sales reps are relying on outdated techniques that are likely to scare customers away.
According to one study from Harvard Business Review, most large B2B organizations are designed to achieve peak efficiency by limiting sales reps to an ‘optimal’ behavior. These processes are defined by authority, “close governance through formal rules,” and a highly competitive atmosphere. The study makes the argument that the ‘sales machine’ needs to be dismantled -- to give sales reps the creative freedom to bring stronger, more meaningful, and long-term focused customer relationships. And in some areas of that particular sales machine, I tend to agree. With that in mind, here are three practices that sales leaders should consider eradicating:
Over-Obsessing Over Short Term Goals
Buyer journeys are complex. Prospects need time and space to explore -- to make the most informed decision possible. But often, sales leaders are fixated on funnels -- to close as many deals as possible in a specified period of time.
They’ll prioritize the short term over the long-term and potentially miss out on ‘bigger deals’ because of this narrow perspective. And often, sales leaders don’t have a choice because they’re bound to aggressive quotas and bonus plans that are inherently set up to prioritize short-term over long-term gains.
If you’re running a sales team, it’s important to find a way to keep your sales reps prepped for the long term -- to have them focus on relationship-building initiatives such as blogging, presenting webinars, and content marketing, for instance.
Your sales reps have the potential to be key thought leaders and educators within your organization -- it’s important to position them as such.
Prioritizing Competition Over Collaboration
Companies that rank sales reps are inadvertently creating an extremely cutthroat atmosphere where everyone is ‘in it for themselves. In reality, there are a number of variables affecting sales numbers -- beyond just one individual’s performance. Sales territories, inbound leads, and referrals all influence how reps fare.
When everyone is competing against everyone else on the team, little collaboration happens. Knowledge and resources go to waste and operations become slightly chaotic -- and inefficient -- with redundant practices.
That’s why it’s so important to build sales teams on top of a strong collaborative foundation. Don’t link quotas to individual performance, alone -- make sure that team members have a strong incentive to work with one another.
Leaning With Status Quos
Over time, sales engines become predictable machines. A sales rep’s primary responsibility is to keep this machine steady -- and sometimes growing. Quotas are set to help reinforce this momentum.
What ends up happening; however, is that sales reps -- who are natural entrepreneurs -- end up with almost no room to voice and execute new ideas. Instead, they’re chasing aggressive sales quotas, which are designed to reinforce existing standards.
Sales leaders need to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation within their teams, and this process begins with structure -- beyond ad hoc ‘brainstorming’ meetings. Sales leaders should be given dedicated time -- and should be rewarded -- for taking risks and exploring new, intrapreneurial initiatives. At the front lines of your organization, they’re in a strong place to help your organization explore new terrain.
Make this perspective count.
Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below. What processes need to be eradicated? Which should be reinforced?