Business growth often comes from internal changes. While these changes are positive and aid in business development, internal teams can sometimes struggle to adapt to new strategies after years of the same processes.
As a sales leader, you know how important it is for your sales teams to be ready and adapt to change as it comes. This is especially important since sales performance is often a critical factor in determining how businesses can grow since revenue gives them the means to expand.
Because of this, understanding how to lead your team through periods of transformation and equip them with the tools they need to succeed is crucial. In this post, we’ll hear from HubSpot experts on their best practices for leading sales teams through periods of change, often called sales transformation, that will help you and your team contribute to overall business success.
What is sales transformation?
Sales transformation is the process of building on or updating the sales operations of a business. This change is inspired by an overall company desire to achieve specific goals or objectives that are significantly impacted by the sales process, like increasing revenue.
A sales team's transformation strategy is led and created by a sales manager. They work with salespeople to ensure they have the information and tools they need to succeed and execute a successful sales transformation that meets intended end goals.
You can think of it like this: your business may have an overall goal of closing more deals and acquiring more customers per-quarter than before. This is the end goal that would require you to transform your sales process. As a sales leader, you’d work with your sales teams to revamp their current operations and give them the means to meet these overall goals. In this scenario, the transformation aspect is how your sales processes will change increase customer acquisition.
How To Transform Your Sales Process, According to HubSpotters
Given that sales managers lead sales transformations, we’ve asked HubSpot sales leaders to give their best practices for executing a successful sales transformation strategy that you can use to guide your team through periods of change.
Sell The Need For Change
As a sales leader, you’ve likely been informed by your superiors of company objectives that are requiring the need for a sales transformation.
While it may be more apparent to you and higher-level executives why these new objectives require a different sales approach, your salespeople may not have the same level of understanding. If your sales process has been relatively consistent for years, salespeople are also probably confident in their current process and may be hesitant to adapt to a new, unfamiliar strategy.
Given this, David Weinhaus, Partner Sales Enablement Manager, says, “The biggest opportunity for sales transformation is the opportunity to sell the need for change before selling the solution.” While this can certainly be applied to selling product changes to individual customers, it works for salespeople as well. In practice, this means that a best practice for sales leaders is to first sell the reasons why changing your sales strategy is necessary before outlining the solutions and practices that will contribute to meeting desired outcomes.
Consider first taking the time to explain to salespeople why things need to change to meet business goals before beginning to outline how they’ll meet these goals. It gives the context necessary to understand why their day-to-day processes are changing and adapting. You’re guiding them through the process and making sure they understand instead of throwing them towards a strategy that they aren’t yet able to understand.
Identify Areas For Change
Deanna Povec, Senior Channel Account Manager, says “Looking at data and reports to understand gaps in my own sales process helps me understand what needs to change.” She says that, once she identifies an area of opportunity, she likes to map out a plan to close the gap.
This means that a sales transformation process should include identifying gaps in your current sales process that are preventing teams from already meeting these goals or introducing new strategies that will make it possible to meet them.
In brief, transforming your sales process shouldn’t mean overhaul your entire process and start from zero. Instead, the change should happen within your existing strategies by identifying current barriers to success.
Say your team has consistently been having trouble selling a higher tiered software option, and your bosses have let you know that they want to increase sales for this tier. You’ll want to take a deep dive into sales data and current processes to understand why this tier has low sales. Maybe your salespeople don’t fully understand the differences between the product tiers, so they don’t know who to sell it to, or maybe they’re lacking the tools they need to be consistent in following up with leads and keeping them engaged enough to follow through with purchases. Either way, you’ve worked to identify key areas in your current sales process that need to be transformed to meet the overall company goal of selling more higher-tiered service software.
Outline Your Process With OKRs
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a goal-setting strategy that sales leaders use to help salespeople understand what they need to do to achieve certain results and contribute to meeting the overall collective goal of your transformation process.
Objectives are broken down into smaller measurable goals called key results, making it easier for salespeople to implement changes over time (especially if they are entirely new processes). So, if your end goal is to decrease the length of your standard sales cycle, that is your overall objective. Your key results can be measurable milestones, like reducing the cycle by x amount of days per quarter until the end of year (EOY) goal is met.
By creating this plan, you’ll uncover factors that may impact your sales strategy and your sales teams successes in meeting all of their goals. When you make these discoveries, you can devise strategies to incorporate these changes into your overall plan to ensure that sales people have the resources and knowledge they need to succeed throughout all levels of the process.
Align Sales and Marketing Teams
Dan Tyre, Partner Sales Enablement Manager, says that sales transformation success comes from aligning sales and marketing teams. Although sales transformation is focused on sales teams and their change strategies, other stakeholders can impact their success.
You can think of it like this: say that your sales transformation end goal is for your employees to become experts at selling your business’ marketing software when it launches and obtain 100 new users in the first six months.
This means that your transformation process needs to help salespeople gain mastery of the information they need to sell the new product. So, they’ll work with the marketing team to understand how they are going to be advertising the product so they can coordinate on the language they’ll use to sell to customers. If leads are hearing one thing from marketing and a different story from sales, these deals may fall through because customers are confused.
While marketing is one of the most influential teams that will affect the sales process, there are also other groups within your org that you may want your sales team to work with during your transformation process. Continuing with the previous example, maybe they’re going to work with the product team that created the software to learn about how the product works and its benefits to new and existing customers.
In sum, without understanding all aspects of the updated tool, your salespeople may use the wrong selling points when communicating with customers. This impacts their ability to close deals and causes them to fall short on the end goal: having them be experts at positioning the new tool’s benefits to close deals with 100 new leads in the first six months.
Track Progress Over Time
As with all sales processes, monitoring the success of your sales transformation goals over time gives you insight into what is working and helps you identify problem areas before falling short on overall goals.
If company executives have said that they’re hoping to raise revenue by 7% by EOY, this likely can’t happen all at once. If you’ve outlined OKRs, you’ve probably found that there are different steps you and your sales team will need to take to meet these goals. Tracking progress over time gives insight into how your overall team is adapting to the new changes, and you can update or change processes as necessary.
Tracking progress over time also makes it easier to highlight early successes to motivate your team. Sales transformations can be complicated for salespeople, as there may be significant differences to their day-to-day tasks. Seeing that their work has been successful can empower them to continue working with the new strategy.
To track progress, consider using sales software, like HubSpot Sales Hub. You can use this tool to generate reports to track performance based on the OKRs you’ve set and how your employees perform. For example, if you decide with employees that they’ll close five more deals per month to increase company revenue by 7% EOY, you can use the Closed amount metric to track the number of deals closed by each team member each month, as displayed in the image below.
Measuring Your Success
Successful sales transformation requires sales leaders to step up and devise a strategy that will help their entire team contribute to overall business success.
Whether it’s increasing business revenue or growing your customer base, taking the time to inform your employees on the need for change, devising strategic plans, and giving them the tools they need to succeed will help you transform your sales process into a strategy that helps your business meet their desired growth metrics.
Originally published Dec 14, 2020 7:30:00 AM, updated December 14 2020