“Now is a good time to ‘be human’ when talking with prospects,” said Julie Thomas
, CEO and president of ValueSelling Associates
. “Engage in active listening, employ empathy, ask informed questions and elevate conversations to a business level. By forging a human-to-human connection, you may learn how to provide value to the buyer when they rebound. Alternatively, you may be working with companies that are suddenly experiencing exponential growth and are in need of your product.”
That’s from an article that ValueSelling put out last week reporting that 69% of B2B salespeople said they do not have enough leads in their pipeline to meet quota. The study revealed that the three biggest obstacles that impact sales quota attainment are:
- having enough sales pipeline
- having the right sales process, and
- the salesperson’s ability to communicate value to the prospect or customer.
“Meeting and surpassing quota is all about selling behaviors,” said Thomas. “Our research demonstrates that salespeople who do not receive the proper training or coaching tend to underperform.”
Some key numbers:
- 19% - The percentage of sales people who report that they receive no product training
- 19% (again) – salespeople who get training less than once a year
- 23% - Salespeople who get training once a year
- 39% - Those who get training two or more times per year
There are some clear disconnects:
While 72% of sales leaders report they do teach reps how to communicate value, 62% of salespeople who are not on track to meet quota say they are not taught to communicate value. And while 58% of underperformers say they communicate value “very well” when speaking with customers and prospects, only 28% of sales leaders think their sales reps communicate value “very well” in those conversations.
Here are some ways to surmount these issues:
Get everyone together in the same (virtual) room. Try to bridge these disconnects. Where are the sales calls falling short? Where might more training help most?
Have more conversations with your customers. Pick up the phone. "How are you?" should still be the lead question. “Any vacation plans?” It's a great time to be human and lead with empathy and understanding. And then transition. "What do you need the most help with?" "What are your pain points?"
Share those conversations with colleagues. Anecdotal information from the conversations/emails your staff is having with your customers should be shared—by everyone.
Learn from your audience. Sales teams everywhere are dealing with cancelled or pivoted events. What are your subscribers saying? Will they buy into virtual events? Can webinars fill the gap?
Get back to your core products. Innovation is good but we also want to get back to what we do well. What go-to product do you have now that you can tune or adjust to solve your audience's current challenges?
Look at something new. Your events have gone away. But maybe that opens the door to more sponsored webinars, which may have a greater profit margin anyway. Get in information-gathering mode and find out what your audience needs.
Tailor information that is out there to your industry. What can we do now to positively impact the people we serve? The CDC is pushing out a ton of information right now. How can you take that information and tailor to your industry?
Explore your archives. It's a great time to dig into your files. What do you have that can be recycled and refreshed—maybe a white paper that focused on crisis communications or selling in a downturn.
Salespeople need a simple sales process they can follow easily, according to Thomas. While 70% of sales leaders report they have outlined a clear sales process for sales reps to follow, they are not confident that sales reps consistently (or ever) follow the process with prospects. And almost 90% of salespeople report they have no formal sales coaching program.