Salespeople are an optimistic lot. We face rejection regularly and keep going with an unflagging belief that the next ‘yes’ is right around the corner. But to say things have been unpredictable the last couple of years is an understatement. Even Pollyanna could be forgiven for slipping into reactive survival mode.
As sales leaders, though, we don’t have that luxury. We’re on the hook to drive revenue no matter what comes at us. For me, that makes coaching even more critical.
Our job as sales leaders is to make sure our team knows we’re invested in helping them close every deal. Read on to find out where I focus my sales coaching to help my team thrive during times of economic uncertainty.
5 Ways to Tackle Sales Coaching Challenges
1. Leverage Partners to Build Pipeline
Building pipeline is my biggest concern right now. You can’t beat the partner ecosystem for a pipeline of high-quality leads. Even if your company doesn’t have official partners, you can still build alliances. Look for non-competitive organizations with a similar go-to-market motion or customer profile. To help each other scale sales with less effort, I coach reps in a few areas:
- Mapping: Ensure proper AE-to-AE mapping between our company and the partners.
- Positioning: Help your team articulate the value of the partnership. How do we complement each other, and what’s in it for the partner?
- Mentality: Make sure the team understands the importance of investing time with partners, truly understanding them, and being on the lookout for opportunities for them. Partners need to be treated like customers, and we need to focus on the ‘win-win.’
2. Clear the Way for High-Value Work
Time management is a focus no matter the climate. But in an uncertain economy, it’s even more crucial for reps to focus on activities that will generate revenue. My job as a sales coach is to use sales engagement data and call recordings to guide them and clear the way when needed.
I look at what we can eliminate internally to increase efficiencies externally and help reps refine their outbounding motions to get customers to the sale quicker. As a rep starts to grow early-stage pipeline and deals, I’m reviewing sales calls to:
- See if they’re on the right track (is the deal real?) and give them the benefit of my experience.
- Help the seller understand when to bring in additional resources like value engineering, sales engineering, or services to move the deal along.
3. Double Down on the Sales Qualification Framework
When purchasing conditions get tight, I guide the team to get hyper-focused on using MEDDPICC to shorten the sales cycle and increase productivity. The sales qualification framework you use may differ, but the principle is the same: how do your salespeople quickly and efficiently determine BANT?
There may be budget freezes or extra scrutiny that put deals on hold and present sales coaching challenges. But the more information you gain through the qualification process, the more likely your team will be to uncover a good reason the prospect should move forward sooner. My job as a coach is to help them find the path to the decision more quickly, and avoid pitfalls and mitigate risks along the way.
4. Go Beyond Activities
With so much uncertainty and change right now, I want first-hand insight into customer interactions. Activities are not telling me how customer pains are changing or what is keeping them up at night.
Call recordings alongside activity and outcome data offer a more holistic picture. Conversation Intelligence (CI) helps me see if we’re hitting our message head-on, speaking intelligently, asking thoughtful questions, and positioning our product as a solution to the business problem at hand. I block out time at various points during the week to review calls and focus on a different seller each time. I start with conversations surfaced by AI and then search transcripts for keywords that will offer insight into the impact of economic trends.
Now that CI has helped us identify a prospect’s macro business problem, the rep and I can get into the micro-elements and position Salesloft to help them solve it. I want to ensure they understand how invested I am in what the right messaging looks like and how I can help them refine it.
5. Adopt a Multi-Threaded Approach
Every day, we’re seeing big companies come out with layoff announcements. This type of thing can put a kink in the forward movement of opportunities – especially if we’ve only established one champion or coach at an account.
Once an opportunity has made it through the qualification framework, we get conversations going on multiple fronts – as quickly as possible. Whether directly with various people in the prospect organization, or mapping between the two orgs (i.e., CTO to CTO), the more discussions going on, the more we can understand their needs and how we can help them. This is also where we really lean on partners where applicable, and foster executive sponsorship across the business.
This can take some creative maneuvering and thinking, but it’s a sales coaching challenge I’m always up for. I coach the team on what questions to ask, recommendations to make, and offers to get deals across the finish line.
Stay Focused on Your Customers’ Success
In the end, coaching my sellers through an uncertain economy isn’t much different than other sales coaching challenges. The current macroeconomic state simply gives us all an opportunity to refine our processes, and really focus on what matters most – making our customers successful.
Ready to learn more? Download Use Data-Driven Sales Coaching to Shape Your Team’s Success.