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Create The Infrastructure To Accurately Predict Revenue, Take Control And Improve Results

Written by: Annemieke Hartman Jemmett, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Gartner says that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025.


Today is the perfect day to challenge some of your long-held beliefs about the effectiveness of Sales and Commercial Teams. The long-held belief that people buy people and sales people with the “gift of the gab” could do with extensive scrutiny especially as we are moving to a digital validation of your proposition.


I am sure you will agree that Sales and Commercial Teams are an expensive commodity in your business. We have convinced ourselves that we cannot do without them, and to some extent that is correct. Now is the time to understand in detail if our team is poised for success, now and in the future.


Often, I hear stakeholders share that Sales and Commercial Team results are disappointing in the main. Sales incomes are often predicted early and delivered late, pipeline development is slower than expected and in general the sales cycle is too long. Most leaders find it difficult to get real understanding of the quality of their pipeline and therefore their results predictability is poor and disappointing.


Many leaders spend time understanding if they are being told the real truth or a version that sounds close to the truth. Sales teams are keen to qualify opportunities “in”, so their pipelines are extensive – and the individual sales members look busy, rather than qualify “out” opportunities that are not yet ready to be converted. Qualifying “in” allows focus on conversion and delivery of results. Qualifying “out” will allow you to keep communicating through more effective channels, consider targeted campaigns or general information resources, until such time that the customer is ready to be converted – as this where you need to allocate your talent. If this sounds familiar then create the infrastructure to take back control, improve results and predict revenue with additional accuracy.


If we take the full cost profile into consideration, our Sales and Commercial Teams have very high associated costs. A summing up of their cost: salary, salary associated costs such as NI, bonuses, other incentives, benefits, car, phone, fuel, planes and trains, entertainment budgets and sometimes much, much more. Stakeholders are, unsurprisingly, keen to see a return on their investment.


In the traditional model, if we follow the Pareto Principle, these teams are roughly made up as follows: 20% of your team are the rock stars, they bring in the bulk of the results each year. 80% is average or unfortunately poor yet you have convinced yourself you cannot do without them.


The rock stars, 20%, for the moment we will leave to do exactly what they do now, consider giving them extra tools and ensure real engagement; just make sure they do not display DIVA type of behaviour or if they do, keep it in check and challenge them more – they will respond well if you reward appropriately. This also means dealing appropriately with underperformance in the team.


Improving results of the 80% we should explore further as they carry the bulk of the cost. The first responsibility for leaders, is to ensure that the team is provided with all the training and development they need to be the best they can be. Now let’s look at infrastructure.

Often leaders hang on to underperforming people in their teams and forget the justification that they do no harm; consider that you may be switching off your best performers by not addressing underperformance. Also, don’t make the fatal mistake to think they are not costing you as much as the top performers as you do not have to pay them any bonuses!


Not needing to pay them a bonus means only one thing – they are NOT giving you the expected returns; a double loss to the business. Also don’t think they are your talisman, they may have performed well in the business previously, the business may have evolved and moved beyond their capability or there is something else going on that you need to address. Work with them to get them back on track or if this is not presenting you with the results you require find a better fit inside or outside of the business; you will both be happier. Additionally, build the infrastructure to actively support all the team members and where there is a misalignment restructure with compassion. Restructure does not always men parting ways, realign and create an infrastructure for today; some of your 80% may fit very well in a new adjusted role.


The biggest challenge for leaders is predictability of revenues. There is a proven methodology that leaders can apply to deal with underperformance and maximisation of predictable results. In summary, communicate the goals and targets, invite discussion and feedback, analyse the team’s capability and action in line with findings, provide training and development create the infrastructure to effectively support the business.


My assumption, and findings based on experience, is that leaders hold on to the outdated model of “people buy people” as the main stay of their team dynamics. Taking a good look at communication methods of younger team members we cannot help but notice that they use the phone for texting [SMS] and not for talking to people. Gartner says that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025.


The misconception that “people buy people’ is not wholly incorrect, to understand the dynamics we need deeper analysis. The essence of the transaction is based on the ability to build trust quickly. Those people that are successful at building trust find that people like to buy from them, they do one simple thing – they deliver on their promise.


Understanding that to deliver on your promise is at the core of the buying experience linked to the knowledge that the buyer is keen to research without interaction [there is much data available that support this statement]. Now is the time for leaders to hold their overall approach to the light and assess if they are building their customer interface to fall in line with supplier and buyer interface channels as outlined by Gartner. It is most likely they are not yet fully “on board” with the digital sales model. Time is running out fast.


Key, in today's competitive environment, is to build effective and cohesive communities; consider that these communities are more dominantly built through an online presence in addition to the traditional ways of finding customer engagement. With reference to building trust, also consider that in-person user-based recommendations are much more valuable than the now often mistrusted organisations that were previously seen as the “authorities”. A good example here is the role of the influencers in business today. These communities will actively drive buyers to you whilst tapping into the need for that buyer remote assessment of your product or services and ability for your organisation to deliver on your promises.


In working through the process of assessment of your team, without doubt, you will lose some of your team; be comfortable with this, it is expected and required to keep evolving for both business and individual.


Throughout this process, you will see a significant budget being freed up which you are able to repurpose to achieve greater return on investment. This [significant] budget you will be able to put to work to deliver more predictable results. Quality data, from insightful CRM systems, such as Hubspot and Salesforce two [2] CRM system examples, can now actively start to drive sales team engagement and will greatly outperform their previous results. As a leader working with your teams to introduce these insightful systems, you will find that it will work hard for you and delivers unrivalled results. Let’s explore in more detail how.


Implementing an insightful CRM system offers you the opportunity to understand prospect interaction. Create a digital flywheel to pro-actively interact with the community. Appoint a “Opportunity Controller” this pivotal role looks after identifying Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads and most importantly routes them through the organisation; to the team poised to convert. Not all of your restructured budget realignment will be spent on the creation of a digital infrastructure. Human contact is still key, so appoint “growth hackers’ with a hunter type instinct able to convert initial interest into opportunity without the heavy opportunity cost. If the opportunity cannot be converted quickly, it can be passed within the team to the person best placed to get the quickest results; don’t forget that the marketing team plays a critical support role here.


In addition to reducing the significant noise throughout the process, as a business, you are presented with a significant reduction in sales cycle times. An added bonus is that the team will start to take responsibility, due to its optimised structure, and engagement will improve. At the same time, in addition to optimised engagement, the leaders are offered detailed reporting supporting stakeholder information requirements – such as board papers, enhanced conversion results and overall new business predictability improvements are presented hourly if required.


The buyers in turn will be offered a process that perfectly fits within the “modern” validation assessment process, which does include digital channels. Offering the “people buy people” principles, based on a sound foundation led by building a solid infrastructure, generating trust throughout the organisation; making the organisation much more dependable throughout.


Offering this sustainable infrastructure to the business creates a true PUSH and PULL sales and commercial framework to the business which will transform your customer experience; offering improved predictable sales results. Knowledge is truly offering power. All you need to do is take the simple and effective steps to success.


Want to learn more from Annemieke? Connect with her on Linkedin and visit her website.


 

Annemieke Hartman Jemmett, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Annemieke Hartman Jemmett is a highly experienced and successful business leader focused on delivering measurable Return on Investment (ROI) in areas such as performance improvement, restructuring and turnaround, coaching and "upskilling" of teams, business development and diversification as well as full transformation. Presenting extensive cultural awareness having worked across diverse markets including Europe, USA, India, Russia and Australasia.


In addition to an active executive career, Annemieke also holds various non-executive positions covering diverse industries incl. leadership community, wellness and people development. Throughout her career, she has focused on working in purpose led organisations developing a strong values based culture, which aims on building trust with individuals, teams and customers alike maximising ROI.

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