Sales took a major hit last year in the wake of Covid-19 and all of the associated lockdowns. Millions of consumers reduced discretionary spending just to make it through the pandemic, as they were furloughed or lost jobs. Businesses had to reduce operations or shutter entirely to comply with emergency safety regulations.
Now, with the advent of effective vaccines, 2021 is showing a lot of potential for a rebound. While maintaining appropriate levels of caution, here are eight things you can do to help your sales team maximize its success this year:
1. Set Attainable, Measurable Goals
Your sales team is much more likely to remain focused when it has clearly defined goals. Without an agreed-upon destination, your team is far more susceptible to mission drift or scope creep. To be effective, goals need to be reasonable and measurable. Vague, intangible goals do little to push your team forward.
“Increase sales” is a great goal for your small business, but it lacks teeth. “Increase sales by 15% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year” is both unambiguous and measurable. If you can’t apply a number to your goal, start over.
Sales goals, in particular, can capture and keep the attention of employees when there is some form of incentive attached. Incentives don’t always need to be monetary, either. If the money isn’t there yet for meaningful bonuses, consider awarding extra vacation days or a prime parking spot.
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2. Keep Learning
Even the world’s best sales reps can stand to learn a new trick or two. Nowadays, sales tactics are constantly evolving as companies blend traditional sales techniques with online selling. Salespeople also need to modify their approach as consumer trends fluctuate or the target audience changes. The need to adapt and evolve has never been greater.
There are any number of low-cost, online sales programs available to sharpen sales skills. If the cost of classes for everyone is too high in terms of “lost” staff time and fees, you could consider holding your sales seminars in-house.
Going this route offers the additional benefit of allowing you to customize the curriculum to better suit your organization. An in-house seminar offers an opportunity for your team to hear from local business leaders who can share their insights on sales trends and tactics.
3. Eliminate Speculation With Hard Data
End the guesswork as to what’s working (and what isn’t) by looking at the data. Sales figures charted over time will be much more effective when it comes to pursuing a post-pandemic sales strategy.
Be warned that reliable data takes time to collect; the sooner you start, the better. Here are just a few examples of numbers your company can begin tracking:
- Number of leads generated
- Conversion rate of leads to sales
- Percentage of revenue from new/existing customers
- Revenue growth overall
- Average amount of sale
- Cost of closing a sale
These metrics and more can be used to monitor progress and make calculated adjustments. If you see a retargeting strategy is providing great results, you can shift emphasis away from less effective efforts. If sales numbers drop, it’s time to abandon the associated strategy.
4. Look for Opportunities to Automate
There are probably a few aspects of your sales funnel that could be automated. Eliminating menial tasks associated with sales allows your team to focus on closing deals and provides a boost to morale. Automation also works even when your team is off the clock, laying the groundwork for them to hit the ground running upon their return.
For example, customer relationship management software automatically records customer data and the details of an engagement. To prep for future calls and meetings, sales reps can pull a customer profile and get all the information they need with just a few clicks. CRM software can pull together leads generated by the company website, social media feeds, and other sources, making it easier for reps to find and engage with new clients.
5. Empathize With Customers
Authentic connection with clients and customers has always been a vital part of sales success, but it will be even more important in 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic upset a lot of apple carts and continues to cause problems for just about everyone. People are likely to be more hesitant to make financial commitments as they recover. The successful sales team will incorporate this reality into their approach by demonstrating empathy.
In 2021, it will be critical that sales reps make a concerted effort to put themselves into the shoes of the people they are trying to pitch. This requires active listening instead of silently rehearsing what they plan to say whenever the prospect stops talking. Your salespeople will need to respond to actual concerns with personalized answers instead of chirping back a scripted sales pitch.
6. Break Down Barriers to Success
Seek out and tear down any barriers preventing your sales team from moving forward. Has the pandemic caused a lack of confidence or reluctance to approach customers? Are there any distractions that could be eliminated?
It will be best to assume that there have been at least a few hard-to-detect shifts since the pandemic began. Every team member has probably acquired at least one unique barrier to success.
Take time to sit down (or Zoom meet) with your employees one-on-one. Discuss their strengths and weaknesses and strategize together how you might use the one to overcome the other.
7. Celebrate the Wins
Team morale helps boost sales in addition to office spirit. Encourage your team to stay motivated by celebrating big and small wins. Friendly competition can also be a good thing — as long as it stays friendly.
Go ahead and start some low-stakes sales competitions to keep your sales team energized. Just make it clear that seeking to win by undercutting other employees will not be tolerated.
8. Connect Outside of the Work Environment
Spearhead greater connection among employees by organizing team activities away from the office. Take the team for an afternoon on the slopes or organize a gaming tournament on a Friday afternoon. Whatever you choose, the point is to get your people together in an environment that is not associated with work.
Keep in mind that many are still dealing with the stressors of Covid-19. After-hours activities are fine as long as you do not convey an expectation that attendance is mandatory. Offer up something safe and fun, but be sensitive to everyone’s varying level of comfort.
Are you ready to see your team run on all cylinders? Embrace these tips, and you’ll see your efforts reflected in their performance. If you take the right steps, 2021 could be your best sales year yet.