LevelEleven’s resident experts take a look ahead at the Sales Performance Management space
Continuing our efforts to help you prepare for 2021 as this year comes to a close, we’ve been reflecting on the past year and what it could mean for the future.
We sat down with some of our resident experts in the sales performance management space who have been on the front lines with customers and prospects. After discussing the changes we’ve all seen in the market over the past year and their implications, we’ve come up with predictions and trends we expect to see in 2021.
Transparency & Visibility Not Optional
One of the biggest trends we’ve seen in the last year is the emergence of a more complicated buying process. We’re seeing facets of every part of the business having an interest in the sales pipeline. Even roles that weren’t formerly in Salesforce much at all are now in it daily looking at pipeline and performance. From now on, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone wants to know what’s going on, not just sales.
While employees are demanding transparency from their employers, leadership is also demanding more visibility into the teams under them. Maybe it used to be all about the end result, but now there’s a need for clarity on both sides. Leaders will need to gain visibility without micromanaging, and reps will need to have clarity into what is expected of them to be successful.
Technology is the way to solve this problem: solutions like our Executive Scorecard and Performance Scorecard provide visibility into your team’s activities and performance while also showing team members exactly where they stand and what they need to do to meet their goals.
Proactive, Not Reactive
Through no fault of their own, most teams were purely focused on reacting to 2020 and the new challenges it kept bringing. No one really had a chance to be proactive, but now that the new year is upon us and things seem to be looking up, a proactive approach is crucial. The companies who thrive in the post-pandemic world will be the ones who took the time to plan out an efficient, powerful strategy for the future.
Rather than doing things the way they’ve always been done, the victors will be constantly seeking a better way. Look at 2020 as a learning opportunity that likely exposed any holes in your processes, and improve them for 2021. Proactively approaching the coming changes sets teams up for success over those who simply react once the changes happen.
Death to the BHAG
2020 threw us for a loop and taught us about realistic expectations when it comes to our sales goals. Overwhelmingly, we see sales leaders set goals that are too ambitious, leaving their teams disengaged because they feel their leader is out of touch and expecting the impossible. Nowhere was that more evident than in 2020.
Instead, effective leaders will need to focus on realistic (but challenging) expectations for the world we’re in today. The best leaders will use KPI tracking that allows them to analyze historic trends to inform the goals they are setting for the future. This ensures the goals are realistic, specific, and team members will understand exactly what they need to do to achieve them.
Remember, goals are not a “wishlist” of unwieldy fantasies, they are the key to understanding whether you’re on the right track. Sales leaders need to ensure their goals are realistically possible to attain, while still being a challenge. Big Hairy Audacious Goals will no longer be the trend, after this year showed us all that impossible goals don’t motivate employees – they disengage and discourage them.
2021 will be all about strategy. People weren’t just sitting around during the pandemic when they had downtime, they were planning. They had a year to sit back and think about, “what are we gonna do next?” Your competitors have had an entire year to prepare for the next phase when things pick up again, so don’t be left behind.
In order to find success, teams will need to create their own strategies based on the idea of getting the most out of the least amount of time. Rather than making calls just to make calls and fill time hoping to get a lead, be intentional about who you are reaching out to. The more targeted your efforts, the more relevant your pitch will be to the next prospect you talk to.
Consistency is Crucial
2020 was so uncertain, all we want in 2021 is a bit of consistency. This will be the key to true success in the future: can your organization or team sustain positive performance? It’s all about being consistent in reaching goals and driving the behaviors that lead to success. Rather than a temporary spike in performance, teams need to execute on the behaviors that matter.
The true measure of success is being able to consistently meet goals and continue to take the actions that led to meeting those goals, whether things are going well or going poorly. Goal tracking can help leaders measure performance and ascertain whether their team has achieved consistency. If not, coaching can be a good way to improve performance.
A Consultative Approach
It’s no longer enough to use a canned demo for every prospect – buyers want to hear about what is relevant to them specifically. In a sense, you want to customize the demo for the prospect in a way that promotes conversation. This is where a short discovery session comes in handy, as it allows you to really dig deep into what the problems are that they are trying to solve. This consultative approach to the sales process helps build stronger relationships with future customers that lead to customer loyalty.
As far as lead generation activities, don’t just make calls to make calls; make strategic calls to the correct contacts. Research the contacts beforehand to identify any sort of ‘in’ you may have. Are they connected to one of your contacts or your colleagues? Have you worked with their company before? Anything that functions as social proof will help build trust in the relationship and get your foot in the door during a time when everyone is competing for a smaller slice of the pie.
In both instances, the question every sales rep should be asking themselves is “how does our solution actually connect to solving one of their problems?” If you consult with them and listen to their pain points, you’ll have a better chance of finding the answer.
Those who focus on strategy, consistency, and behavior will be successful in 2021. The success must be repeatable to sustain growth, so continuing to set realistic goals that lead to the outcome you want is essential.
Think of it this way, for many companies, everyone has used this past year to plan their strategy for success the minute things open back up again. They’ve had a full year to plan ahead for 2021. They’re ready, are you?