If you are as old as me you might remember Cameron Crowe’s 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, depicting the life a sport agent operating in a high pressure sales environment in LA. As part of their effort to get themselves into an invincible sales mindset, they use the famous words, ‘Show me the money,’ repeatedly. If you have ever worked in a high pressure sales environment yourself, you might remember other techniques used to get the team selling: a pint at lunch, take away pizzas and league tables are some of my memories.
Think what you like of these techniques, most high pressure sales environments belong to the past and were much more popular in the 80s and 90s. That does not mean that holding up a sales job has become easier but many companies have changed their approach. This is mainly due to the fact that the way businesses like to purchase has changed in the past 30 years. A few key changes to mention are:
- The internet allows people to shop around and research more easily. Most buyers prefer to get the information they need, download product features or run a software trial before they speak to your sales team.
- Centralised budgets, tendering and outsourcing of procurement to professional consultancies, has become commonplace to help quality and cost management.
- Many senior people hold very busy jobs and have less time to spare. They are therefore less likely to agree to meetings that do not carry clear value to their organisation.
To adjust to this, many companies have adopted a consultative approach which aims to understand and solve clients’ problems and add value to the organisation. Some of the new lead generation approaches taken up by companies include inbound marketing tactics such as:
- Providing useful information through articles, blogs and e-books
- Creating digital funnels based on users’ needs
- Offering free webinars and workshops to develop interest
It is apparent that nowadays, many companies aspire to developing a helpful and knowledgeable reputation as opposed to hard-nosed sales tactics and lengthy contracts. This is all very well; I am a big fan of consultative selling and we use many of the above techniques ourselves. But what happens when the economy downturns and new sales are harder to come by? In my experience, some companies will pile pressure on their sales team to get in the revenue in any way they can. We may also see more sales professionals lose their job due to a lack of sales.
If you are a business owner or a senior manager looking at this situation and feeling unsure of the best next step, I would recommend that you stick to your guns and keep going with your plan and approach. That does not mean that you do not make any changes or respond to feedback but essentially, try to avoid making decisions out of panic and fear. Here are a few things to consider:
- If prospects are not making a decision, there is a reason for it. Rather than getting frustrated with your sales people or ditching them, try to get to the bottom of it and see how you can adapt your approach to support this.
- Jumping from one product to the other, or stopping and starting lead generation campaigns will only set you back. Marketing communication needs time to take hold, out bound lead generation needs a build up to be successful so be patient.
- Silver bullets are for Westerns. To get the best value out of your sales and marketing, you should listen to the feedback from the market, make small changes and make the most out of every lead you uncover.
- Having a clear sales process which is adopted across the team is essential to ensure that you keep up quality and conversion. Take our conversion test here to see how good your current process is and make changes if you need to.
In summary, remember that patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude whilst waiting. At YBDT we can help you build a pipeline and then ensure you convert a higher percentage of it. Click here for more information.