The pandemic just moved the entire cheese of your organization—and your sales performance management strategy. Now what?
Even multibillion-dollar companies have announced they are going permanently remote. And it’s a sure bet that CXOs around the world are sitting around the (remote or otherwise) table trying to figure out sales performance management in the new normal.
After all, they know the stakes are higher than ever. Savvy competitors are poised and ready to scoop up market share from companies that do not figure out—and act on—a new framework for sales operations success.
There is already a market share shift to companies successfully navigating the new corporate world. You’re either gaining ground or losing it.
A New Framework for Sales Performance Management
Over the past two years, the Clear iQ team has helped large B2B enterprises work through the sales operations challenges presented by the pandemic. As a result, we have identified a 5-step framework to help guide companies to sales performance success in this new world:
- Think Like Marketing—Build a Playbook
- Verify Your Ability to Deliver
- Deal with Real-Time Information
- Determine Customer Engagement Methods
- Implement and Evaluate
Step One: Think Like Marketing—Build a Playbook
The pandemic has created unprecedented problems from staffing to supply chains. Has your sales strategy evolved to fit the changing times? Have you considered what programs, products and promotions you need in front of your customers—at every point of the funnel? How do you start and how do you build?
Marketers think this way; salespeople typically do not. But what if you arm them with a playbook to engage customers over time? Your playbook outlines how each element of customer communication works together in the most holistic, effective way. It might describe a path like:
- First, have a preliminary conversation about e-commerce strategy
- Next, create a market development fund rollout
- Then, establish self-service on that fund
- Finally, uncover those virtual shelf projects that could really drive sales growth (And by the way, mention that we can help with that through their market development fund)
The right marketing playbook—a discussion schedule with the materials to back it up—makes your messaging much easier for your sales team to deliver.
Step Two: Verify Your Ability to Deliver
As we noted previously, stages one and two go hand-in-hand. For the first time ever, supply chain considerations must come at the beginning of your decision-making process.
Gone are the days of deciding on the message and assuming your supply chain can deliver. You might be able to commit to delivery today, but how do you monitor and ensure that you can deliver on an ongoing basis?
And the supply chain challenges are only getting worse, with issues outside your control. For example, raw materials may be unavailable. Or your products may be on a shipping container, but there may be no one to unload and deliver them.
Overpromising and underdelivering have been the death of many a promising company. Keep yours healthy by keeping an eye on the entire production cycle.
Step Three: Deal with Real-Time Information
These days, insights into your production cycle are easily available with the right digital solution. Today’s B2B customers are more tech-savvy than ever, and most don’t just prefer a sophisticated digital experience; they expect it. But it’s not just your customers—your entire team needs it, as well.
Your sales team is trying to meet their numbers. Marketing needs to introduce new products or get the word out on new promotions. And none of it happens without a well-informed operations team. How do you know they actually have the products and people to pick, pack, and ship?
The real-time data available in a digital solution will help set you up for success.
Have you embraced digital transformation from the manufacturer to the agent or distributor to the end user? How are you helping your supply chain partners with digital solutions?
Are you prepared for digital transformation? Read Clear iQ's 7 Pillars of Digital Readiness.
Step Four: Determine Customer Engagement Methods
When stopping by a customer’s storefront or taking them for a steak dinner no longer flies, what can you do to keep sales performance on track?
The change in how we reach customers compared to two years ago has been swift and dramatic. To the delight of some and the despair of others, we are all Zooming and joining virtual meetings like never before.
What can you do strategically and methodically to engage customers where they are today?
- Build something worth talking about. Stop having sales flip through PowerPoint slides. Your customers are multitasking and not paying attention. Have your sales team get out of their comfort zone and do something unique, useful, and memorable. We recently saw a rep get creative with a homemade video demonstrating how to install a new product. This rep is outperforming their peers.
- Stop focusing only on the top 10%. We see companies every day with varying levels of penetration within their distribution. Pay attention to the bottom 90% of your customers—after all, they may only be “small” to you because they’re also buying someone else’s product!
- Keep things short and frequent. According to this article in Forbes, you start losing your audience’s attention after ten minutes. Planning a regular schedule of brief engagements will help your message stick. Show up often enough that you’re top of mind when they’re ready to make a purchase.
- Wrap promotions and incentives around your unique strategy and marketing playbook. As always, a cohesive and comprehensive playbook helps your brand (and your sales team) seem stable, competent, and trustworthy. It also speaks to customers and prospects at every point of the funnel, and gives them exactly what they need, right when they need it.
Step Five: Implement and Evaluate
Once you have your marketing playbook in place and you’re sure you can deliver, set your benchmarks and evaluate results. What behaviors were adopted, and what was the effect on sales compared to non-adopters?
In our experience, there is a direct correlation between the salespeople who adopted the recommendations outlined above and an increased level of sales penetration.
Once you get comfortable rolling out this type of strategy, you can expand it to create multiple playbooks. Use them in different markets with several salespeople in each, baseline the performance from target customers, compare results, and lift in periodic business reviews.
More Efficient Sales Teams, More Engaged Consumers
The old sales and sales performance management methods just don’t work in today’s world. Luckily, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The right tools, including a custom playbook, make sure your B2B business isn’t just frantically trying to keep up with the competition—you’re leading it.
Ready to learn more? Clear iQ works with $500M+ companies to find and implement actionable solutions to their most critical challenges, including sales performance management. Let’s get started on yours.