Are you a small business owner struggling to manage the sales team…?
How to Manage a Sales Team With or Without a Crisis (Part I)
Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling®
I have been wondering about the challenges small business owners face when they manage a sales team. I set out to interview some business owners to see what they had to say. Between the time I came up with this idea and actually executed it, COVID19 arrived on the scene. That made me curious to find out whether the challenges faced by business owners in managing a sales team has shifted due to the virus. They had so many interesting observations that I had to create two articles! This is Part I…
President and Chief Performance Officer
Brian’s sales team consists of 2 salespeople. He described them both as hunters. Brian said that his #1 challenge in managing a sales team is, “Can they deliver the message and are they passionate about it?”
He went on to say, “Our hiring process is rigorous, so they have the skill, but what do they say? The space we’re in is very new to people. It’s also highly intangible. We are selling our know-how, smarts, methods, frameworks, consulting and services that are not necessarily productized. A lot of sales people struggle with that.”
Brian went on to say that his company tries to figure out how to help people work differently and to simplify business processes. That’s hard for sales people to articulate and there’s often a messaging gap, around the business case for working differently and/or the business case for simplifying. His sales people need to be able to connect the dots in the customer’s organization.
When I asked Brian if his #1 challenge had changed post-coronavirus he said, “Now we are getting meetings, but when we have those meetings, we are struggling to get everyone in the prospect company on the same page. So, the #1 challenge now is, once we have the meeting, how do we continue the momentum? There are usually 8-12 people involved in making the decision and it’s difficult to get people to want to fix the problem and agree on the solution. This is worse now with COVID19.
Relocation Insurance Group, LLC
Gadi’s sales team consists of 2 Sales Admins, 2 producers and a Director of Sales and Business Development who manages the 2 Sales Admins and the 2 producers and who also does business development. Gadi is also involved in sales.
Gadi said that his #1 challenge in managing a sales team is technology. He said that they are still doing some things manually and that cuts down on their efficiency and productivity. The challenge is to upgrade and update the technology they use in order to be more productive. Interestingly, the company has always worked remotely and so they were not affected, the way many other companies have been, by having to make a major shift in how they work.
I asked Gadi what he sees as his #2 challenge in managing a sales team. His answer, “Bringing more leads and accounts into the pipeline. Bringing in more business.” He said that for his business, “The challenge moving forward, if this crisis continues, will be bringing in business.”
Mustard Seed Financial & Insurance
Ron’s sales team consists of 10 insurance producers. They are all 1099, independent, commission-only, contractors whose focus is to go out and find new business. Once an account is closed, there is a customer service team that manages that account. This allows the producers to continue to sell and find new business.
Ron said that his #1 challenge in managing a sales team is to have visibility into the early stages of the sales funnel, pre-quote and pre-negotiation. His blind spot is having a strong indication, at the highest level, how the early stage sales funnel looks. He does not have an easy way to know if the sales funnel is shrinking or if it is expanding. It is difficult to have a measure of what the producers are doing in terms of meetings scheduled and/or in-depth conversations with prospects. Ron said that It’s easier to understand what the funnel looks like once producers get into the quoting process because then there is a good paper trail. Ron says that the current pandemic has not had an impact on this challenge.
In thinking about what has changed since the current crisis began, Ron said, “Momentum and the learning that happens when the team can come together face-to-face.” He went on to say that, “When you have traditionally been a sales organization that operates under a brick and mortar roof and now, you’re operating remotely, your level of engagement is not as great. There’s less discussion of successes and failures, what’s working and what’s not working. It’s not the same as when everyone was sitting around a conference table together.
Mindrover Technology LLC
In the past, Ken had a sales team but right now, he is the sales team. Ken says that his biggest challenge has been, “Finding the right person in the company to talk to. It’s a matter of getting your message to the right person.”
Ken also experiences a conflict between outbound marketing and inbound marketing and determining which one is the better approach. Ken is trying to do both at the same time. For outbound he’s working on a mix of cold calling, cold emailing and text messaging. For the inbound piece he is implementing a content marketing strategy in order to be seen as a subject matter expert by the prospects he’d like to meet.
When I asked Ken, what has changed for him since this crisis started, he said, “Now everyone is shut down and the message isn’t getting out. I’m having to rely on inbound marketing; people coming to me looking for technologies or strategies to work remotely. I was lucky, however, because I had just put up a landing page on my web site about strategies and products for working remotely and how my company can help. I did this one week before the quarantine hit.”
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