As (what feels like) the 7th week of January comes to an end, 2021 is firmly in the rear view. Much like the year before, the B2B sales world has seen some major changes over the past 12 months; remote selling proved it is here to stay, organizations revamped, retrained, and realigned, and buyer behavior became more self-sufficient.
We hope you’ve had a chance to look back to reflect on – and learn from – the things your team accomplished and the challenges you faced, but now that days are officially getting longer, we think it's prime time to start looking ahead and planning next moves.
As a sales leader, you’re probably strategizing about how to tweak your organization based on last year’s metrics, wondering how you’re going to hit your revenue targets, and already worrying about this year’s goals. But while you’re plotting about how to optimize your operation, it’s important to look beyond the numbers.
Being a successful sales leader requires a committed, long-term approach that resonates throughout your organization. It involves deeper connections with both your employees and your customers. And if you want to lead your team to sales success, you’re going to need to think ahead.
To help you get the ball rolling, here are the top priorities for the savvy sales leader in 2022.
1. Give buyers what they want
Over the past few years, the tides have turned. Rather than combing through sales emails, screening cold calls, and waiting for a response from sales reps, buyers are taking research into their own hands. They’re tired of gated content and impersonal discovery questions and want to discover on their own. They’ve got better buying processes, larger peer networks and better access to product information, and their expectations are high.
So next time you’re thinking of playing cat and mouse with your audience, don’t. Think about what they want, and figure out how to give it to them. Try these:
Offer free, ungated resources that are easy to access and packed with helpful info. Then, use sales tracking software to figure out how visitors interact with your brand.
Provide insight and influence conversations in places where buyers read about your industry – forums, social media, blogs, etc.
Understand their business. Really understand it. Know their challenges, speak to their pain points, and be able to answer technical questions or at least provide materials that reflect an understanding of what they do.
2. Hire the right people
Easier said than done, right?
Of course, every sales leader wants people who are committed to their goals, knowledgeable about their offering, and compatible with their company culture. But in today’s hiring environment, you’d be lucky to get two out of three.
In 2021, hundreds of thousands of people switched jobs in search of positions and companies that better align with their lifestyles. And now they don’t plan on moving. The result is a giant mismatch between the supply of jobs and the demand for sales talent.
Hiring and onboarding the wrong person is both expensive and time consuming, so instead of rushing into it, try creating a more structured hiring plan. We're talking: recruiting software, compensation research, hyper-relevant interview questions, a consistent interview process, transparency, and accessible, digestible, onboarding materials.
In today’s highly competitive job market, the one-size-fits-all approach to hiring just won’t cut it. In order to attract and hire the right talent, you need to define – and communicate – your needs as an employer, understand what potential employees are looking for, and create a hiring process that gets people excited to learn more about your company and join your team.
3. Better talent management
As nice as it would be, your sales organization isn’t going to run itself just because you hired the right people. If you want to attract and retain top sales talent, you need to make sure ALL of your staff are happy where they are, or you risk them jumping ship for another company that will. The factors that motivate sales professionals vary from one person to another, but at the bare minimum, it’s essential that your team is satisfied with their roles, responsibilities, compensation, and trajectory. Try these:
Provide lots of training. Not just for new hires, but for existing reps (and managers), too. Start by ensuring they’re familiar with your sales playbook, company best practices, and so on. Then, give them the resources they need to learn new skills, try new applications, obtain certifications, and hone their existing abilities.
Managers are expected to achieve and report on targets, leaving most conversations between sales leaders and managers to revolve around sales metrics. Try making reporting info readily available, so that the time that would be spent discussing results could be spent on support and development to ensure long-term success.
Many sales reps have a desire to grow. But without a clear path towards new positions or projects, they might become stagnant. As a sales leader, it’s important to provide opportunities for development and growth, while mapping out the precise steps they need to take in order to move upwards.
4. Double down on remote
2021 was a huge year for remote work. We had a full years’ worth of experience proving that teams can and do work effectively even when they’re not in the office, so there’s no excuse for shying away from it. In fact, if you want to become an even better sales leader, we suggest you double down on going remote.
Before Zoom meetings were a thing, you needed to either a) call your prospect mid-meeting or b) tag along with them during outbound sales calls if you wanted to see how things were going or coach them along the way. But now that everyone can connect virtually, sales leaders can have a much larger impact with a much smaller commitment:
Use virtual meetings to refine your strategy and approach with reps. Things like one-on-ones, pre-call alignment, post-call debriefing, coaching, and territory plan reviews are much easier when you can schedule a 10-15 minute chat on a moment’s notice.
Looping in a sales leader or other exec can help move deals along faster. Rather than bouncing emails around, your sales team can just bring a sales leader, SME, or other stakeholder along with them when they meet the prospect to increase the chances of winning them over.
Expand your reach. Now that it’s become abundantly clear that remote selling works, tap into a much larger talent pool to connect with qualified reps and managers that would have otherwise been out of reach.
Being a successful sales leader is more than just hiring good sales reps and managers. It’s hiring the right people, supporting them, understanding your customers, and leveraging all of the tools at your disposal to create a sales environment that runs like a well-oiled machine. As the new year unfolds, focusing on these priorities can help you take your sales organization to the next level.