6 Best Practices from Sales Leaders to Plan a Successful Year

After nearly a year of remote selling, you've learned a lot, but you might also need some reassurance that you’re doing everything you can to connect and build relationships with prospects.. As we transition into a new year, it's an excellent time (and a requirement for most sales teams) to take a breather, reflect, and map out a plan of action.

We recently brought together sales executives from Confluent, Salesforce and Docusign to discuss  the future of sales,how to capitalize on emerging opportunities, and how to overcome digital fatigue internally and with your customers and prospects.

Watch the replay: Keep the World Selling and Buying

Best practices for B2B sales teams in 2021

Here are our top 6 takeaways from a conversation with revenue ops and sales leaders from leading SaaS companies:

1. Show empathy

We've all faced challenges in the past year, both in our careers and personal lives. Showing empathy toward your team and your customers is crucial to winning and maintaining their loyalty. Here are some ideas from our panel to convey empathy:

  • Make check-ins a little deeper. It can be easy to say “How are you?” as a cursory greeting, but these days it’s essential to slow down and clarify that you mean it as a genuine question.
  • Don’t be afraid to be real. Unforeseen events (like a global pandemic) are an opportunity to show the human side of your organization. Don’t hesitate to speak to your team and customers about their lives. Doing business as usual doesn’t help us in these times that are not usual.

2. Reevaluate customer needs

Right now, leaders need to understand how to support their employees and customers in the current environment. To get on the same page with your team and customers, take a two-pronged approach:

  • Phase one - stabilize the situation: Considering the effects of a pandemic, many outside sales reps have suddenly become inside reps, and marketers who drove people to retail stores, restaurants or movie theatres must rethink how they present their products and services. Think about how professionals have had to change the way they do their jobs. For example, for your sales reps to reach customers from anywhere, they likely need to have access to new technologies.
  • Phase two - return to growth: Ask sellers to think of ways you can help them achieve their goals. Coming from an unselfish place allows you to put your own agenda aside and assist sellers in winning. Maybe you’ll walk away from these conversations with new product roadmap initiatives or shift your priorities as a company to focus on activities that will move the needle. You can reorganize or alter processes to be more responsive to your customers and team members.

3. Reevaluate your sales processes

Now is a great time to rethink all the things you ask your team to do. For example - how could you simplify things that salespeople hate like data entry, maybe you're too focused on productivity metrics that burn your team out, or your team might be optimizing on metrics that are driving the wrong behavior.

Re-evaluating and pivoting isn't a sign of failure; it's an indication of agility in an age where transformation needs to happen in days, not months. Assess your current processes and decide what’s necessary and what’s not. For example, does it make sense to run forecast and pipeline meetings the same way you did before the pandemic?

4. Switch up your communications

Virtual meeting fatigue is real after months of remote work. If you or your team are experiencing digital meeting exhaustion, try different ways of communicating. Instead of a Zoom call or a Slack message, consider phone calls to your team members to give their eyes a break.

It’s also important to take control of your own meeting schedule. Be mindful about how many meetings you plan, your level of involvement during meetings, and meeting effectiveness. Be flexible. Ask yourself, do I need to attend all of these meetings? Does everyone have to be in this meeting?

5. Prioritize self-care

To eliminate the stigma of taking breaks, remove the stereotype that needing rest or needing to deal with family issues are signs of weakness. As our personal and professional lives intertwine, we all face challenges at home that affect our work schedule. The more honest you are about work-life balance issues, the more likely you will be understood and respected by others.

Keep in mind: it’s not enough to talk about these things, leaders need to model and promote proper self-care for their employees. Sending out frequent, short communications with suggestions for creating more balance is a great way to promote healthy habits to employees and inspire them to adopt those habits too. Leaders need to make sure that employees are taking care of themselves to avoid issues related to digital fatigue and less-than-ideal work-life balance.

6. Invest in sales enablement and technology

The new ways of buying and selling will require different investments. It may be necessary to invest in sales technologies that enhance remote sales processes or train the team on new ways to sell.

When evaluating your current sales technology, ask yourself: 

  • Where is there overlap with existing tools and systems? 
  • How can we simplify for the end users (sales reps and managers)?
  • How will this solution enable sellers to more effectively sell remotely?

AI and automation have disrupted the sales industry like never before. As leaders, we need to invest in sales technology tools that make selling easier. For example, technology can be especially useful in preparing for customer meetings. Salespeople should gather important customer information from multiple areas of the organization to be as prepared as possible during the meetings. This is how you can deliver value to your prospects in sales meetings.

You also may need to invest more in supporting departments that didn’t need extra staff or resources before the pandemic forced a move to remote selling. For example, many sales organizations are now investing resources in their account teams to improve customer service.

Setting B2B sales teams up for success

Despite uncertain business conditions and new business challenges, there are so many ways to help sellers to thrive in 2021. View the full Keep the World Buying and Selling Part 2 virtual event on-demand to hear from our panel of successful sales leaders about the lessons they’ve learned, challenges they’re anticipating in the coming year, and how they are evolving their organizational plans in response.

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