Sales leaders often express that their sales teams need to close more business. While these leaders may be frustrated with low win rates, this rarely has to do with how their sales people approach “closing,” but more importantly how their sales people approach “selling.” You’ve probably heard the sales cliché “ABCs of Selling: Always Be Closing” (made famous in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” and, irreverently, on “Saturday Night Live.”) You can imagine the hard-hitting sales rep arriving on the scene with his sales pitch to pound the customer into submission to close the deal (another cliché!). While sales professionals should strive to close business, the problem with this approach is that it is all about the salesperson’s objective and not about the customer’s needs and priorities.
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted B2B sales teams, but what happens next? As we begin to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, is the significant move to virtual selling going to accelerate? Or will things revert back to the pre-pandemic “normal” of primarily in-person selling? A good place to start is to understand where customers are going to work.
The typical in-person Sales Kickoff (SKO) looked very different this year – and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, sales managers have come to realize that the re-envisioned virtual SKO has advantages, especially when it comes to measuring outcomes and reinforcing the themes they want to carry forward throughout the year. Yes, traditional SKOs were great for team building and networking opportunities. Companies spent millions getting sales reps together, and wining and dining them to conduct annual trainings. Then they sent their reps back to work. But how did we know if any of it made a difference? Did we change behaviors?
One universal challenge of managing a remote sales team can be summed up with the simple question, “What do my sales reps do all day?” Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and most sales reps are working from home, it’s even harder to answer that question. Let’s say I’m managing a remote team of five or six sales reps; how do I know if they are engaged and productive?
It’s harder than ever to reach senior executives. The usual protections provided by gatekeepers are still there—but now it’s compounded by extra physical distance and other distractions. In this environment, sales reps need to ensure they are perceived as being relevant and bringing fresh insights to the valuable meeting once they get it. They need to speak senior executives’ language and be clear about their objective. The payoff is engaging in more strategic relationships, developing longer-term relationships, insulating themselves from the competition, and closing more large deals. Here are four simple steps – also known as the RAMP method – that can help you sell higher in the organization.
Sales professionals frequently talk about “selling value,” but few know how to focus the conversation on issues that impact value for the buyer. That’s unfortunate because the best way to offset pricing pressure is by identifying, quantifying, and presenting value. Selling value begins with a deep understanding of your customer’s business and how your solution positively impacts it. This can be hard work, but it’s worth it. The creativity and effort you put into analyzing your customer’s business prepare you for the next step: quantifying the tangible and intangible benefits your solution will bring.