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April 21, 2021
By Charlie Tomeo
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on our industry and sales leadership. Business-to-business sellers in IT will continue to evolve their methods and strategies this year in the face of pandemic-related challenges. According to Forrester, 40% of business-to-business (B2B) sales reps plan to modify their tactics to adapt to remote selling activities, and 58% of B2B sales leaders plan to make deeper investments in tools with artificial intelligence and automation.
Sales organizations are shifting their strategies, investments and approaches to manage new challenges. When building your process, here are three areas to focus on if you want your team to be set up for success in the current climate: create clear goals, understand your market and define a straightforward compensation plan.
As a sales leader, doing your homework to build a customized plan with measurable goals and objectives in place is No. 1 on my list. The strategy needs to determine the outcome you’re seeking as an organization. Ask yourself, how will the plan increase revenue and reduce churn?
Communicating the product road map and the company’s key business objectives also creates a blueprint for sales success. If the sales team understands where the company is going with its products, managed services and solutions, the sales rep will demonstrate to clients that you’ve got a plan for continuous improvement.
Given the rapid pace of change in the modern business landscape, your sales organization needs to continually develop new knowledge and new skills to enable your organization to compete effectively. Especially during the disruption of a pandemic, look at what other successful organizations are doing well and take that back to your organization.
To be an influential innovator, you need to understand your market. Understanding your market, clients, and competitors will ultimately make or break your success as a sales organization. You can do this through industry research, surveys and leveraging your vendor partner relationships.
Step one would be to evaluate your current client base. Establish what makes up your most ideal client. Ask yourself about the company’s sustainability, payment structure, the business sector, and whether or not your company values align. Through the client evaluation process, decide what is essential to your team and segment them based on your criteria.
Step two, determine your target market. Crafting a well-defined target market is crucial to the businesses’ foundation to build a sales strategy successfully. Those who are targeting anyone interested in their services are ultimately setting themselves up for failure and limiting the opportunity to own a niche. Failing to know your ideal client is often where many businesses go wrong. If you seek to acquire new clients affordably and efficiently, defining a specific market that fits your criteria will enable you to create targeting messaging to help you more successfully close the deal.
In the phase of understanding your market, it also makes sense to check out your competition. What clients are they targeting? Figure out what market niche they are missing and go after it.
Building a strategy to reach your ideal client is the final step in the process of understanding your market. Once you have determined your ideal client and niche market, figure out their goals and what matters most to them. Identify their fears and how they make their buying decisions. What problems can you solve for your ideal client? Think about how you can structure your sales organization, positioning and messaging to meet the client’s needs best.
Now that the sales team has clear goals and objectives, they understand your ideal client and have a plan to …
… reach the target market, so defining a compensation plan is the final component to building a successful sales organization. The company’s key business objectives will set the tone because the sales organization cannot create its key performance indicators without it.
I see a lot of companies go wrong when they have different compensation plans for each sales rep. Avoid this at all costs because it can lead to confusion. Businesses that have set up simple compensation plans will be the front-runners. When building a compensation plan for your sales organization, ask yourself:
What is the appropriate amount of compensation?
How does it factor overtime?
What are the benefits and incentives you will provide?
Once you’ve determined how you want to proceed with the compensation plan, document it and communicate it to the team. The goals will empower the sales organization to own it and achieve more.
Finally, as a sales leader, always leave room for feedback and new ways of doing things. It is a journey, and as we’ve seen with the pandemic, organizations might be required to shift often. Building a sales organization can be easy with the right tools and guidance. Don’t go it alone. Lean on your communities– in the IT channel and through your vendor partnerships. Tap into the partner programs and take advantage of the sales training they are offering.
Charles Tomeo is chief revenue officer for Axcient, where he leads the development, strategy and execution of sales for the cloud backup and data protection product portfolios. Previous positions included vice president of worldwide channel sales at Carbonite and vice president of worldwide business sales at Webroot. He was awarded the Channel Partners Circle of Excellence in 2018 for his leadership, vision and innovation in the channel. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @Axcient on Twitter.
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