If you’re like a lot of companies, you’re likely considering evolving your sales process in the wake of the changes over the past year. This is never an easy decision. Whether you’re downsizing or restructuring the team, the disruption created by change can create issues with your sales culture, affect revenue, and worst of all, negatively impact customers. Often it requires a crisis, like the pandemic to make these types of changes.
When we go through the types of changes we’ve seen over the past few months, it provides a new perspective for all of us. According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, “We’ve seen two years of digital transformation in two months.” The need to evolve has become evident. Sales leaders are open to change and are energized to try new approaches. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions including:
- How have buyer expectations changed?
- Is the sales process moving to digital channels?
- How will this impact commission structures?
A recent article from HBR outlines four specific aspects of the sales process that should be addressed sooner rather than later.
Rethink the Process
B2B buyer expectations have been changing for years. They are consumers just like you and have the same experiences with Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and other SaaS offerings. The digital buying journey is different and there has been pushback from B2B sellers for a few reasons. Digital puts more control in the buyer’s court. B2B sellers have resisted giving up the control over the journey. Additionally, sales leaders were hesitant to adopt digital practices for the fear of affecting customer relationships. And finally, implementing a new, and for the team an unknown, process would create delays.
When considering when in-person selling makes the most sense look at the situation. It may not be necessary when the buying process is straightforward, when customers are comfortable with the digital process, or when decision makers already understand what they are purchasing. It may require in-person support when the customer is unsure or not clear on their needs, when the circumstance requires a collaborative approach, or when there are a significant number of people involved in the decision.
Resize or Restructure
If the move to a digital buying journey puts more of the control and process in the buyer’s hands, it’s likely that there will need to be an assessment of the current sales force. Downsizing or restructuring are likely, and this effect will be more prominent in industries hit hard by the pandemic. The news is not all bleak, in growing industries, like cloud computing, there will likely be a need for increasing the sales force.
Change the Success Profile
With a digital journey, the sales success profile will need to evolve. This may be difficult if the current team doesn’t align with the new requirements. For example, moving from relationship-based selling skills to empathetic, value-based selling approach. Another consideration is embracing team-oriented sales people and emphasizing adaptability.
Finally, incentives will need to evolve to match the new digital buyer’s journey. The article notes four changes to consider. The first is to match pay with the work performed and value added. This may mean moving incentives to inside sales people. The second is changing the pay mix. For example, raising the base salary and lowering incentives or tying incentives to team-based goals. The third is rethinking the plan type to ensure incentives reward meeting and exceeding sales goals in industries with high carryover sales. And lastly, align metrics with strategy. For example, adjust incentives of sales of products with higher margins.
If now is the time for evolving your sales process, let us know how we can help. From hiring new sales leadership to minimizing the impact on culture, our executive search team has helped organizations transform their sales process while recruiting top sales professionals.