For the past two months, I’ve talked with close to 100 different sales leaders or sellers. They all have different versions of the same problem. No one’s talking about the problem or what to do. Most leaders don’t even know they have a problem.
I recently launched a book, Revenue Harvest: A Sales Leader’s Almanac For Planning The Perfect Year, and as a bonus for people who purchased the book, I offered a free one hour group coaching call. I’ve done seven of these calls with 4–5 people in each coaching session.
Somehow (I’m surprised but maybe I shouldn’t be) my coaching business has grown during the pandemic, and I’m regularly on the phone with about 10 sales leaders each week.
People that used to work with me when I was actively leading sales teams have called to discuss their personal / company’s situation.
Here’s the problem all sales leaders and sellers have that no one’s talking about.
It’s a best practice to scorecard or create a success profile for every role in the sales organization. If you don’t currently do this, you should (send me an email and I’ll send you some templates and guidance). Most sales leaders are clear about the behaviors, characteristics and competencies required for success in each role on the team. They use the scorecard (and other tactics) to screen and disqualify candidates during the hiring process so that they ensure they hire the best person for the role.
But every selling job has changed. Even if what you’re selling and how you sell is the same, from where you sell and the environment in which you sell are different. So no seller or sales leader is “the ideal candidate” for the role they now have.
- B2B outside sellers are now exclusively selling via teleconference
- Inside sellers who have grown accustomed to a rowdy office sell from their bedroom
- Sales leaders accustomed to traveling from Monday-Thursday haven’t seen the airport in weeks
Sales teams are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
In some instances leaders are tasked with “carrying on”, trying to hit revenue goals with a team of sellers that aren’t qualified for the job. So much has changed about how the job is now done, that the new responsibilities and successful behaviors are vastly different from those associated with the job they were hired to perform.
In other instances, the company has decided to pivot their offering(s) or add completely new offerings. This further exasperated the problem for sales leaders because now they are not only selling with an unqualified sales team, but also an improperly trained sales team.
Many sellers now loathe their job, but can’t afford to say anything. Most sales leaders don’t even know they now have a talent problem.
So what now?
I don’t know if a silver bullet exists. However, I think sales leaders should spend some time rethinking and reevaluating the scorecard for the various roles on the team. Chances are we won’t “return to normal.” In fact, I think the “new normal” won’t be that normal for many companies.
- Many companies will learn that selling over Zoom is possible, and will rethink how selling looks
- Many sellers will be more productive working from home, and revolt when it’s time to return to their cubicle
- Some sales leaders who once thrived on the variety and the endorphins of traveling the country on the company’s dime, will be disappointed to learn they no longer have a posh travel and expense budget
Basically every sales organization will need to reestablish their roles, processes and the talent they require to succeed. My advice is to spend more time observing what can be used in the “new normal” vs. hoping things quickly return to normal.
Nigel Green helps investors, executives, and sales leaders of quickly-growing companies create predictable sales growth. He serves on the Board of Advisors for Relode, Workit Health, CaredFor and Affirm Health. For B2B companies investing in sales growth, he’s your guide for strategic initiatives. As an executive, Nigel has more than 15 years of experience leading sales and marketing for Fortune 500 companies, mid-market companies, and start-ups. He is the author of Revenue Harvest: A Sales Leader’s Almanac for Planning the Perfect Year. His insights have been featured in Business Insider, Thrive Global and Inc. Magazine.