What kind of B2B Sales Leader will you reveal yourself to be? According to a CSO Insights Sales Talent Study, only 16% of sales leaders believe they have the talent they need to succeed in the future.
Yet, when asked what changes they were making to their sales hiring profiles, the vast majority of sales leaders replied; “no changes”. The study findings also suggested that sales leaders were focused on the wrong criteria when developing sales talent. Sales leaders are focusing on gut feelings over data-driven insights that can predict higher win rates and more consistent quota attainment. Wonder why only 57% of all B2B sales reps attain quota?
One of my favorite leadership quotes of all time is: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” –Sun Tzu
Now is the time to ask yourself as a B2B Sales Leader: What is your strategy? How are you going to lead your sales team through these unchartered waters caused by Covid-19? And make no mistake about it, “lead” is absolutely the operative term. I see this as a binary option. Either you step up right now and lead like you never have before. Or you will fail and fail miserably.
I talk to B2B sales leaders every day. I’ve been a B2B technology sales leader myself for many years and have spent the past 13 years as a management consultant providing strategy guidance to B2B technology sales leaders. Or as one of my favorite customer told me over the weekend, “I just figured out that you’re actually a B2B sales alchemist. As they say on the Farmers Insurance tv commercial, “I’ve seen a thing or two.”
The questions that I’ve been posing to sales leaders are: Have you thought about the impact this pandemic will have on your sales motion and customer’s buying journey long term?” Is this a short term impact or has “business as usual” been permanently altered? What if work from home (WFH) is the normal, not the exception? Only 5-10% of United States companies supported a WFH model prior to Covid -19. And that was not a permanent WFH policy, rather a periodic WFH policy.
What is the likelihood that sales cycles will take longer? What are the odds that companies stop spending money on “non-essential” technology in the short term? What if customers stop renewing their SaaS subscriptions to conserve cash on “non-essential” technology? What are the chances that the definition bar for “essential” technology is raised?
It’s easy to see why many sales leaders are stuck in a bunker mentality mode. Freeze all new sales hiring. Let’s just hunker down and muscle our way through this together. Let’s not panic…but I’m really showing panic by my actions as a sales leader.
I’m imploring those real and strategic sales leaders to recognize that this is precisely the time to retool, invest in and upgrade your sales team. I submit to you that this represents a once in a business career opportunity for sales leaders. There are some great B2B sales reps that are going to be laid off in the masses due to no fault of their own. Think about the industries that have been hit the hardest by this pandemic: Travel and Tourism, Airlines, Restaurants, Hotels, Retail, etc. Sadly, many B2B technology companies that sell into these industries will go out of business or at a minimum, be forced to lay off their sales team to preserve cash.
They may be forced to lay off their top sales reps who are excellent sales reps that would not be available or on the open market if not for this crisis. Remember the B2B sales stats that I regaled you with at the start of this blog post? Only 16% of sales leaders believe they have the talent to succeed, yet they don’t do anything to address that. Only 57% of B2B sales reps are attaining quota. Why continue to accept that?
Great B2B sales leaders will rise to this enormous challenge and prove themselves to be the type of sales leader that top performing sales reps want to work with. A Players want to work with and for A Players. That adage will never be more true than right now. I repeat that now is precisely the time to:Retool, invest in and upgrade your sales team.