5 Actions For Sales Recovery
Obviously, COVID-19 knocked the s#!+ out of many companies, which means painful sales declines and damaged morale. With several years of the bull market and bustling buyers opening their wallets companies became accustomed to revenue growth and expansion. Then suddenly came the punch below the belt taking companies to their knees. Face-to-face selling changed, the tradeshow industry changed, and working in offices changed, along with the way people view personal interactions. According to the plethora of survey results online talking about business conditions, there is a common thread; companies are scrambling with frantic survival mindsets to combat declines. They are trying to deal with market scenarios never before encountered while juggling revamping their business structure for how employees and the target market works remotely. Does this sound familiar to you? Spoiler alert, most companies are not doing well, but they claim to be. Company’s morale is taking a painful beating simultaneously with sales declines, and the so-called smart decision making by business leaders. On the brighter side, there are actions to bounce back better than most. There is a methodology to help too, Renaissance Methodology. I am just going to focus on 5 Actions For Sales Recovery here though while referencing this methodology as needed since these actions come from it.
Focus on these 5 actions I explain below to stabilize sales, then to gain market share, and boost morale. Get control of the shakeup and be the driver instead of being run over. Here is the catch though; sales and marketing managers alone cannot lead this shakeup. No offense to you managers out there, as I am just stating you need organizational support to be wildly successful. Owners and CEOs must empower sales and marketing managers with autonomy and support from other departments (IT, HR, Recruiting, Finance, and Executives) to work together to make these 5 actions happen. Also, top leaders have to roll up their sleeves and stop working remotely or being absent from the action. Plus, leaders should encourage face-to-face interactions as a priority. Yes, you read correctly. The fear of the pandemic and fear to appear insensitive or to be putting employees in danger if allowing face-to-face meetings and working in the offices need to be harnessed. When the market will meet then go meet them, but if you have to sell virtually then be next generation at it. Waiting on big pharma and politicians to say it’s okay to personally engage each other and the market is good advice for falling behind and waiting on a fairytale to manifest. Take charge and be a leader! Sure, that’s tough since leadership means keeping people safe but deal with the fact that getting back to business, as usual, will come down to just getting back together and breaking the fear. Like George Washington Addair (Post Civil War real-estate developer) said, “Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” This controversial advice on breaking fear needed to be stated. Do with it as you will, and I hope the fear of ridicule doesn’t prevent you from making this controversial topic a priority.
5 Actions to Drive Sales and Boost Morale
Assign a project manager to each of these. Ideally, you will use Renaissance Methodology to implement and use the champion structure along with the Theory of Accelerance. Have all the project managers work together also. Be sure leadership and managers are intertwined with them along the way to help empower the process. It will take about 100 days to get iteration one complete with these 5 actions. Then you can build upon them.
First: Balance business development expectations. Odds are you needed to reset expectations when things were going better before the pandemic. Now, you must reset and balance business development expectations or continue to demoralize your marketing and sales team while taking other department’s morale down too. Be realistic, yet optimistic, and set people up to win. Openly seek balance by allowing others to help reset expectations. I suggest you use the Theory of Accelerance to map out your marketing and sales team’s mission-critical activities. It’s not just about sales quotas, as this is a big mistake to focus only on these results. Get your dry erase board and identify 8 to 12 mission-critical activities each person and team has to perform to be successful to bring dollar results. Use both individual and team metrics to inspire and psychologically motivate people. Decide what the metrics are for each mission-critical activity and measure them daily. You may bring down the expectations of revenue growth for the time being and then scale it up as you roll out the new system. Lead generation quotas can probably stay where the same or even be raised because buyers can still talk to you, and welcome relationship building now. Many different surveys speculate the amount of time each industry requires to bounce back, but these are merely guesses. I would be very surprised if any of these forecasts for each industry’s recovery rate is even close to accurate. Just focus on making achievable goals to get momentum and small victories from the marketing and sales teams. Focus on contact made with buyers, lead generation from the contact, quality of sales messaging delivered, conversion of meetings to follow up meetings, conversion to proposals, and then you can start with win-loss analysis and move forward from there. Keep it simple, empower people to help, and focus on the mission-critical activities to guide the way to the right balance of expectations.
Second: Over-communicate internally! Set up the Renaissance Methodology communication system. Now is the time to over-communicate with employees to build trust, reduce fear, keep them informed, empower them to help, and raise the bar for wowing customers, streamlining the business, and growing. Employees want to be involved, but businesses unwittingly stifle them. I highly advise the ultimate leader in your business become highly visible and side-by-side the marketing and sales managers in front of staff on a weekly or at least a biweekly basis. Do this in-person or using video messaging and personalized co-authored emails to the staff. Also, having the ultimate leader and other leaders in the organization get to the frontline with staff frequently is the epitome of leading by example. This boosts morale and starts helping build the right mindsets, and processes in your culture to emerge an even stronger company. In Renaissance Methodology the word renaissance is an acronym defining the process of how to transmogrify your business and build your custom revenue engine. The C in Renaissance stands for communication, and it’s the glue that holds the system together. If you are building a stronger system you need it to gel together. Now is the time to restructure your communication system from top to bottom and bottom to top. When I say bottom I don’t mean it stops with your frontline employees because effective communication rolls out into your marketplace, which includes prospects and customers. You have to set up what I have built and termed as the vertical-regimented-three-way-communication system. You need to nominate champions amongst staff to help make this happen. These champions are not existing managers and supervisors. They are highly influencing key performers in the departments. It is essential you get everyone to communicate about the new re-engineered plan for how the company will conduct business and grow in the future. Then use the champions nominated from every level mixed with the managers to intertwine departmental meetings together to break silos between departments and get people working as one team. Communication makes or breaks your new system to identify more buyers, meets them, wows them, and closes more deals.
Third: Reward and recognize to inspire and motivate. Face it, reward and recognition is the only reason people come to work, but it is mainly for reward… money. Anyone saying otherwise is delusional or fibbing. Realigning the commission, bonuses, salary, and all incentives for marketing and selling is critical right now. Also, now is the time to step up your game on recognition, the non-compensated rewards such as verbal praise, small tokens of appreciation, ceremonies, and plaques. What I didn’t mention when I was talking about communication in the second action is communication is the number one problem employees point out inside businesses. While working with thousands of people around the world to deploy Renaissance Methodology 98% of the time they say something like, “Communication is busted here.” The next thing they typically say is, “The reward and recognition structure is out of whack.” Simultaneously work on solutions for great reward and recognition and awesome communications so the staff’s happiness level along with the desire to, “Want to be there,” will skyrocket. Pull together leadership along with HR, IT, and your talent acquisition crew combined with managers and champions to figure out just what “Being great” is all about so the plan fits your organization. There is no canned approach or solution in a box. Don’t be fooled by people selling such. It takes work and time to get it great, and then it is a constant effort to maintain great. Start now and capture benefits of boosting morale just by employees seeing the company cares and plans to not only fix things but also allow them to help make the solutions. Avoid the make the mistake of thinking leadership or managers alone can solve this. Set up a new reward and recognition system that over communicates, sincerely and genuinely recognizes people much more frequently, and provides rewards at a more appropriate scale even if it’s smaller amounts, but provided more frequently for accomplishments along the way to bigger milestones. Do this and the staff’s loyalty factor will grow. Get this momentum going and sales growth will take off.
Fourth: Rewire skills enhancement programs. Training for all the categories of business developers is often overlooked. Usually, companies take their best sellers and tell other people to be more like them. That is similar to how sibling resentment is created when parents tell one child to be more like their brother or sister. Often companies will train by saying, “Go work today with Tom or Tammy, the best salespeople here, and learn from them.” Well, Tom and Tammy usually don’t appreciate having to make their internal competition better. Now, they’re probably not going to tell you this or admit it to many others. However, it is true because the best sellers around the world have told me they resent extra work to make others greater when they usually get nothing out of it. Besides, even if they get something why the hell do they want to give away their best secrets so they can jeopardize remaining being viewed as the best internally? Sellers are competitive. Take this approach instead; it takes a village to raise a child, as they say, and it takes a company with a great training program to raise a great employee. Focus on making your training system thoughtful and robust. Set up expectations of what you want to get out of training and then reverse engineer the program. Leadership needs to be involved in training development and dedicate a lot more time and resources for people to train. Maintain ample time for new hires to come on board and train for a few weeks before being pushed into the deep end with a sink or swim mentality. Take care of the existing staff by devoting ample time for regular training on repeatable schedules from here on out. It’s easy to say, “Our people are number one and we invest in them,” but you have to enforce time to invest in them and not only put your money where your mouth but invest leadership and management time too.
Fifth: Enable technology and creativity to work together. Align technology rather it’s existing, new, or a combination of both to support innovative ideas and wow selling experiences. Raise the standard of creativity for interacting with the market so that buyers feel special and your business is seen as unique. Little things can make you unique. Be creative and experimental to figure out what little things set you apart. Study your technology and decide if changes need to be made. Ask your staff and listen. Brainstorm ideas to wow the market and find how to automate some of these ideas. Enhance technology protocols, and technology’s abilities to allow wow-sales techniques that roll with the punches of the new environment of more virtual selling. Streamline technology redundancies that are wasteful and frustrate employees and customers. Make protocols for seller’s debriefing notes in your CRM to help use personal information learned about buyers useful in subsequent meetings to build stronger relationships. Deploy more automation to support follow up contact with the market, and do it in a way that comes across personal versus automated (It is very possible). When selling virtually use the opportunity to group sell by bringing in management, sales support, customer service specialist, and executives to wow buyers too. Train your staff on how to use whiteboards in virtual meetings, and use breakout rooms too. Take a free Zoom training for instance. Have your sellers look awesome and professional on camera. Enough of this casual dress code; just because people are at home doesn’t mean being lazy with dressing professionally is the right thing to do. Make video backgrounds professional by being cognizant and designing it in your home (Or choosing a virtual background offered from the video service). If you do a video call in your bedroom and have your bed in the background then stop because it is unprofessional. Shockingly I have seen many do this, including a professor from an Ivy League university. Be professional and creative. Send more gifts to the people you are trying to open doors to and close deals with. Since travel costs are down there is some room in the budget. Send coffee to suggest coffee meetings done virtually, and do the same with wine, breakfast, lunch, etc., you name it. Use food and errand delivery services. Send your company swag in advance to people you virtually meet. Get creative on meeting themes. Allow marketing to use their wits to design and deploy out of the box tactics. Sponsor industry virtual thought leadership meetings. Create customer roundtable virtual meetings to get insights and help them gain ideas too from interacting with each other. Have fun and make it fun for the market! The point is that you have to step-up your virtual sales and marketing game and technology will empower you.
Take these actions seriously and monumental transformation occurs. Take control of the market shakeup with proactive actions. Brave leadership engaged with staff and the market transforms organizations into something more powerful. As an old Zen proverb says, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”