When I talk about the summer season with sales pros, it usually conjures images of a more relaxed environment. Prospects are taking time off and deals move slower as everyone gets outside for a break.
But as today’s marketplace reels from the pandemic, summer as we know it is on pause. That means sales teams need to reassess how they’re doing business and prepare for major adjustments for this summer – and the rest of 2020. It’ll require a return to the basics, where teams will refine sales skills and rebuild pipeline to find predictable revenue growth in these unusual times.
As I’ve worked with my team at 6sense to sort through our next steps, I’ve leaned into three key areas to get everyone aligned and moving our sales engine forward:
Define a Structure (and Really Stick to It This Time)
One of the leading indicators of success for all BDRs and AEs comes from the ability to be as efficient as humanly possible. The age-old aphorism, “Time is money,” truly stands firm and defines various levels of successes and failures for BDR’s and AE’s.
How can I be as efficient as humanly possible? Start with time blocks. Whether you’re an AE that needs to map out various org charts or a BDR that plans on sending a certain amount of videos, blocking off specific times within a given day to complete certain tasks will make you rather efficient. When you do this, you’ll find yourself getting into a rhythm and ultimately working a lot faster than executing the same task at various portions of the day.
💡 Pro Tip: Turning off messaging apps like Slack and email notifications will help you stay focused.
So here’s a potential scenario: you’ve created a structure for yourself. This structure helped you be extremely efficient the first day you try it, but when you try to do it again the next day, you get hammered with meetings and requests and ultimately lose faith in the structure. Don’t panic – this is completely normal. If you have the discipline to stick to the same structure day in and day out without deviation, hats off to you, because that’s quite the achievement. Most people struggle with this level of consistency.
To combat this, block off your calendar at the beginning of each day as unique circumstances arise.
As many are working remotely, some are finding it increasingly difficult to stay focused. Managers need to encourage their teams to set realistic goals around blocking off working periods – even when it’s difficult. Having this structure will help their teams work increasingly more efficient and refine skills through repetitive actions.
Another structure worth implementing is making sure that teams review any new prospect engagement or activities on social media, like LinkedIn. With the pandemic upending plans and priorities, your sales team can get an idea of prospects’ workload, current priorities, and even job losses. That’ll help you hyper-personalize prospecting cadences and approach issues with sensitivity.
Analyze Your Data Closely
When this year began, seasoned teams probably expected the slower summer they’re accustomed to. Prospects on vacation can change “office” hours and deal velocity — and those assumptions can be deeply ingrained in your team.
However, in 2020, determining whether or not that will happen this year is very much up in the air. The reality is that most teams can’t confidently predict if their prospects will leave for PTO at the rates that we typically see in the summer.
But while you can’t predict how people will react to changing circumstances, we always want to control what we can control – and that means taking a closer look at our processes and our metrics. As this summer progresses be very prepared to analyze the data around all aspects of your outbound motions. Have my open/click rates decreased? Is my team generating more or fewer meetings than this time last year? Am I getting an uptick an OOO responses? Is my messaging still providing tangible value to my prospects? Whenever we don’t know what to expect, we must always analyze what’s working, not working, and why. Empowering ourselves with this data can/will help you march in the right direction towards success.
One thing to consider, staying on top of the particular region in which your prospects live/work is something that should be top of mind. Depending on social distancing orders for particular regions, some prospects will either elect to take a vacation during the summer or possibly postpone until October or November in anticipation of changed social distancing orders. If that happens, your team should be ready to adjust their deal timelines and react accordingly.
Commit to Collaboration and Coaching
Even though many of us are working remotely, that doesn’t mean we can skip out on helping our team refine their sales skills. In fact, with everyone separated, collaboration is even more important to direct our sales efforts.
I do daily (virtual) stand-ups with my team. Having those ten-minute conversations allows people to share what they’re doing, what’s working and what’s not — and then come together to solve problems. If you’re not doing these kinds of meetings, I suggest starting with holding stand-ups at least twice a week.
These stand-ups are like those little conversations that happen so much in the office, where we chat for a few minutes after a call and collaborate toward solutions. Stand-ups can replicate these impromptu meetings and encourage reps to collaborate with each other to boost everyone’s performances.
💡 Pro Tip: Since managers aren’t walking the floor and listening to sales calls, commit to reviewing your dashboards like those of Chorus.ai. You can track metrics like how often your reps connect with prospects or how often they’re leaving voicemails. Then, when you have your weekly one-on-ones with reps, you can use that data to help them improve in specific areas.
When you’re unsure of what to do, just remember to stick to your basics, monitor your metrics, and do lots of testing. Your sales teams will face uncertainty for months to come, but you can create a solid structure that will help you build pipeline and close deals during this strange summer and beyond.
As Sr. Director of Sales Development at 6sense, Ernest Owusu leverages his passion for helping others succeed as well as his insights from the field to foster a winning team. With previous experience as an NFL athlete, Ernest thrives in team environments full of high collaboration and healthy competition. Outside of the office, you’ll find him tackling the industry’s diversity problem by mentoring and empowering under-represented people so they can confidently grow their careers.