Top Nine Insights for Building a Winning Sales Team Today

By Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and CEO, Selling Power
Graph drawn on paper depicting sales growth over a period of time.

Selling Power co-hosted the virtual Sales 3.0 Conference on July 14-15, 2021. Focused on building a high-performance sales organization, the event featured a number of industry experts and sales VPs who shared their insights on sales strategy, coaching, hiring, sales enablement, hybrid work, and creating sales growth.

Here are the top nine takeaways from the conference that you can use to build a winning sales team and increase sales in a post-pandemic economy.

Virtual is the new normal for sellers and buyers

While face-to-face meetings used to be the bread and butter for sales reps looking to close deals, the COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the ways buyers and sellers interact. Jimmy Gagnon, the director of sales at Vidyard, shared a recent study with surprising results. Of sales managers, 76% reported that the shift to digital selling had created a more effective sales organization; in addition, 80% of B2B buyers prefer remote sales interactions over a more traditional approach. This means investing in digital selling is critical for sustained sales success.

You can’t reach home if you can’t get on first

Channeling her inner Billy Beane, Lauren Bailey from Factor 8 preached that, when it comes to B2B sales, getting on first base – that is, just making contact with your prospect – is the most important first step. And creating a sale means you need to invest significant time in the early stages of the cycle.

Only 30% of the time will you reach a prospect on your first call attempt; by the sixth attempt, however, you have a 90% chance. Unfortunately, over 95% of reps give up on a prospect before that point – effectively losing a sale simply due to a lack of trying.

Sales microcoaching gives your reps what they are missing from 1:1 meetings

Companies that effectively coach their reps see significant improvements in their reps’ subsequent performance. However, most sales managers spend their 1:1 meetings with reps only focusing on the sales reps’ performance. When managers instead focus on coaching reps’ motivation and skill set, sales performance increases 15%.

According to C. Lee Smith CEO of SalesFuel, more 1:1 meetings is not the answer to getting the most out of your reps. Instead, embracing sales microcoaching – short bursts of sales coaching, personalized to the individual’s specific needs – can supplement the training lost in 1:1 meetings. Microcoaching allows a sales manager to fill in the time between 1:1 meetings and prevents a loss of growth between these sessions.

Outbound prospecting is the key to take control of a B2B market

Chris Beall, CEO of ConnectAndSell, shared insight on the importance of incorporating outbound prospecting into your sales strategy. Beall says, “You have to talk and sell to the people you want to talk and sell to.” If you want to be successful, you cannot rely solely on the people who come to you.

Further, using only digital outbound prospecting (email, social media, etc.) puts you at a market disadvantage to those using phone prospecting. Embracing outbound phone prospecting allows your reps to reach a sales outcome in a shorter amount of time because they are speaking directly to prospects and receiving feedback immediately, which leads to a much more efficient sales cycle.

Building a high-performance sales culture starts at the hiring process

To create a high-performance sales organization, you have to develop a culture that matches your goals. At the Sales 3.0 Conference, Judy Bucholz from Pegasystems discussed how creating a sales culture starts with the hiring process.

When hiring for your organization, you have to look for individuals who are hungry, humble, and smart. Smart employees will be able to accurately read people and effectively work within a team. Hungry employees are driven and show an impeccable work ethic. Humble employees listen first and show an understanding of how to approach people. Looking for these attributes in your new hires creates an unparalleled level of immediate success and will require less attention and training in the future.

Sales skill development needs to be agile

Success in our post-pandemic world comes down to being agile in approaching sales – including how we train and coach our sales reps. Frequent follow-up and interventions are imperative to fully develop the skills we need in our reps.

Asking our reps questions during these training sessions can also lead to better results. Richard Barkey, CEO of Imparta, shared a psychological principle called the “question-behavior effect,” showing us that people tend to change their behavior based on what you ask them rather than what you tell them.

Let AI help with intuition

Erik Charles from Xactly spoke about how sales managers can rely too much on intuition. While gut feeling is still an important part of sales, it is incomplete without data. The resulting intuition bias threat creates a cycle where sales managers rely too heavily on what has happened in the past, instead of focusing on what will happen in the future. Incorporating AI in your sales process can help supplement your intuition by providing better data to shape your decision making. This includes automating your pipeline review, assessing risk alerts, and creating more predictable forecasts that lead to better results.

Legal and sales alignment helps foster customer relationships

Far too often there is a distinct separation between an organization’s legal and sales teams. In their session at the Sales 3.0 Conference, executives from DocuSign discussed the importance of collaboration between sales and legal teams. When the sales and legal departments are working closely, they can help pre-negotiate contracts – creating less contentious negotiations with clients. This process can also speed up the sales process so there is less back-and-forth with clients over asks in their contracts.

Creativity is crucial to creating resilience during turbulent times

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the sports and entertainment industry to a screeching halt. Games were cancelled, seasons were delayed, and ticket sellers were at an impasse of what to do.

That harsh reality, however, did not stop Brian Norman (vice president, ticket sales and service, New Jersey Devils) or Ben Cobleigh (vice president, ticket sales and service, Philadelphia 76ers) from trying to find a win. Their creative approach allowed their sales teams to maintain success during a turbulent year. Most astonishingly, they were able to keep their whole sales team on payroll by developing creative solutions to lock in season ticket deposits for the following season. The 76ers focused on creating value for their season ticket holders by embracing virtual fan experiences that made customers feel like they were a part of the game from their living room.

By adopting creative decision making, Ben and Brian were able to sustain success throughout the pandemic.

Save the date for the next virtual Sales 3.0 Conference. Sign up here to get updates.