Even in normal market conditions, it can be a challenge to keep your sales channels up to date with your evolving offering and go-to-market tactics. When markets are disturbed by unforeseen global events, the challenge grows to new proportions.
In a stable market situation, life in your sale front line is constantly under change. You need to ensure your channels are up to speed with:
- New product launches, new service offerings, new ways to bundle and price, new regulations to adhere to.
- New strategic, operative and financial targets and expectations.
- “Stop margin leakage on product line A.”
- “Increase renewals of service B.”
- “Decrease time spent on customer segment C.
- “Double the sales of accessories.”
- “Promote overstocked items where possible.”
On top of that, your sales force needs to put attention on all the details which make or break a great customer experience. Making sure your call center agents, indoor sales people, hunters on the field, remote sales offices, distributors and resellers are all on top of the game is not an easy task.
If the operating environment is suddenly shocked as it has been in the recent weeks, you get additional concerns.
How do you quickly onboard new people or reassign staff to new tasks within sales and make them fully trained and proficient in a short period of time? How do you enforce rapid changes in sales tactics, delivery promises and communication?
There are a couple of ways you can go about driving change:
- Educate and instruct – and follow-up, nag and repeat when you don’t get the expected behavior
- Implement metrics – and assume that the saying ”you get what you measure” will do its magic, especially as sales people tend to be heavily compensated based on KPIs
- Automate the intended behavior within software tools – and put your effort on adoption
Personally I see most power in method number three. Some examples of what it can mean in practice:
- Instead of telling sales people to be careful about margins on certain product categories, give them tools which steer pricing decisions accordingly.
- Instead of telling sales people to include service contracts and accessories in quotations, give them tools which does it automatically.
- Instead of delivering extensive training on complex products, give sales people tools which have the product knowledge built in.
- Instead of relying on the instincts of senior sales heroes to find the right price level for contracts and quotations, give everyone pricing optimization tools democratizing the knowledge and craftsmanship typically accumulated in the brains of few.
- Instead of struggling to enforce the use of the latest updated contract and quote templates, automate document generation completely.
The list can go on, but you get the drift: focus on having tools in place for automating desired or expected behavior while reducing the need of extensive training, instructing and chasing with carrots and sticks. Once you have the tools in place for supporting your sales processes in this manner, you have means of rather quickly rolling out changes and keeping your wide network of sales up to date. Not just in moments on turmoil, but in normal operations mode as well – which still makes up the majority of our business life.
In upcoming blogs, we will address the issues of how to drive adoption and how to ensure agility of your sales systems.