When it comes to sales, a tiny misstep can mean the difference between closing a multi-millions of dollars in sales each year or experiencing a decline in sales that impacts the company and culture. With the ever-evolving landscape of today’s corporate infrastructure, even seasoned sales teams can miss the mark on sales initiatives that impact the team as a whole and each individual contributor’s role. As I look at some of the work we have done with companies over the last few years, I have identified the top five mistakes we see corporate sales teams often make, the impacts of these missteps, and actionable resolutions to overcome them.
1. Failure to Adapt to Modern Buying Processes
In late 2020, my team and I worked with a HVAC company that was seeing a decline in sales because they were relying heavily on cold calling as its primary method of securing leads, neglecting the power of online and social selling. Upon performing a sales audit, this was one of our first recommendations to get their sales trending up and exceeding previous targets. According to a study by LinkedIn, 76% of buyers are ready to have a conversation on social media. If your sales process doesn’t leverage modern platforms, you’re missing out on a significant chunk of potential business. By training some of their sales teams to become “social sellers,” they were able to see an immediate increase in sales from those they were connecting with online. The biggest recommendation we made to the HVAC company was to embrace digital transformation. By setting them up to invest in training their team on leveraging social selling, using CRM tools, and familiarizing themselves with digital platforms where potential clients spend their time, they uncover a new way to sell that produced less stress and overwhelm for their sales team. Social selling is something that every company needs to understand, embrace and leverage to continue to exceed their sales goals and objectives.
2. Not Truly Understanding the Customer’s Needs
This probably sounds counterintuitive, but the truth is we have worked with tons of companies that felt fuzzy on the details of their customers’ needs. For example, we worked with a software firm that’s process flow included pitching its full suite of features to a potential client, emphasizing its state-of-the-art analytics capabilities. The pitch deck was overwhelming, filled with tons of jargon and completely demonstrated that the company could care less about the customer’s needs even though they had the customer complete a lengthy intake for prior to the sales meeting. Because the client’s primary need was an intuitive user interface for its non-tech-savvy employees, the firm couldn’t recover and close the deal. My team and I were brought in after that failed sales attempt to audit their sales process and we knew immediately what the impact of the problem was. Harvard Business Review reported that only 23% of B2B salespeople are seen as effective by their buyers when it comes to providing relevant solutions to the buyers’ needs. We knew that we would have to update their sales approach, retrain their team, and eliminate generate pitch decks. As a result, we helped the company shift from a product-centric approach to a client-centric one. By showing them how to adjust their sales approach to one that includes active listening during client interactions, asking probing questions, and then tailoring the pitch to directly address the potential client’s pain points, they saw a lift in their closed sales that added an additional 20% in new revenue to their bottom line.
3. Neglecting Continuous Training and Development
Last year, I was brought into a company that hadn’t updated its sales training program in over a decade. The result? Its sales team uses outdated methods and struggled to connect with a new generation of decision-makers. It’s important to understand that the sales landscape is dynamic. In a survey by CSO Insights, organizations with continuous sales training had a 50% higher net sales per employee. And when we leverage our strategic infusion of money mindset coaching with sales training the results are even higher. By helping our client to proactively dedicate resources for ongoing professional development, we watched not only their salespeople become more confident and poised in sales conversations but their results skyrocketed. We instituted a plan for their ongoing development that included regular workshops with our team, attending industry conferences, or even simple weekly knowledge-sharing sessions among team members.
4. Overemphasis on Individual Performance Over Team Collaboration
We’ve all heard the adage that TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More, right? My company was called in to perform a sales audit on a company who never heard of such a thing! Upon starting the audit, we realized very quickly what the problem was. The sales reps were fiercely competitive with each other to close deals, leading to a lack of knowledge sharing and occasional clashes over territories and leads. As you might imagine, this causes pandemonium! An overly competitive environment can stifle the sharing of valuable insights and strategies. A study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that companies that promoted collaborative working were five times as likely to be high-performing. High on our list of recommendations following the audit was inviting our client to foster a culture of collaboration. As they began to implement team-based targets and rewards, hold regular team brainstorming sessions, and emphasize the idea that when the team succeeds, everyone benefits, their results continued to increase and more importantly their culture shifted for the better.
5. Failing to Harness the Power of Data and Analytics
Earlier this year, we were invited to consult with a company that relies on the gut feelings and instincts of its salespeople, rather than data-driven insights, to determine potential leads and sales strategies. Our experience tells us that there is a strategic balance of the two that make the most successful companies exceed their sales goals quarter over quarter. According to McKinsey, companies that incorporate data-driven decision-making are 19 times more likely to be profitable than those who don’t. By helping our client to revamp their sales process and training strategy to integrate data analytics into their sales processes. Use tools and software that provide insights into market trends, customer behavior, and sales performance. Train your team on how to interpret this data and integrate it into their strategies.
The world of corporate sales is undeniably complex, but understanding and rectifying common mistakes can make a world of difference. By keeping an eye on these pitfalls and being proactive in resolving them, sales teams can not only improve their results but also foster a more positive, collaborative, and forward-thinking sales culture. We’ve watched even companies who sell billions of dollars each year benefit from our training and consulting to experience refinement and growth. If you are a sales leader, focus on embracing change, and you’ll be well on your way to sales success. Want to get a second opinion on your sales process? Looking for a dynamic sales trainer and keynote speaker for your next sales team meeting? Book Darnyelle today at www.drdarnyelle.com