Death of the B2B Sales Rep?

By Warren Shiver

Have you bought a car in the last 18 months? If you want to take a trip down memory lane, walk into a car dealership and buy or lease a new car -- that is, if you can find one given today's supply chain-driven shortages. If the TV series “Mad Men” has taken us back to the world of 1960’s Madison Avenue and three martini lunches, buying a car today from a traditional dealership harkens back to the era of Willy Loman.

Many companies are on their way to radically changing the way they sell. Tesla has pioneered a new direct-to-consumer model that utilizes showrooms where customers place orders online (partly due to state dealer franchise laws). Auto manufacturers are exploring ways to increase direct-to-consumer connections through vehicle automation (again, like Tesla) and smarter online car configurators. Auto dealers are also increasingly focused on modernizing marketing and sales capabilities and maintaining relevance with a new generation of buyers who’ve never seen a “stick shift.”

How has B2B buying and selling changed?

While we are not suggesting the “Death of the Salesman”, as predicted in this Forrester podcast from 2017, we are seeing consequential shifts in buying (and therefore selling) at an industry level and amongst our clients.  These shifts challenge sales leaders to rethink the structure, skills, and support their sales organizations need.

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Your Post-Pandemic Sales Reset: Top 3 Recommendations

By Hope Eyre

A long-time client who’s on his fourth company since we started working with him called me last week. He’s a VP who joined his current firm during the pandemic, so he’s never actually met the sales force that reports to him.

Are you a leader whose sales organization needs to adjust to post-pandemic market conditions or changing company priorities?  Continue reading for our top three recommendations on getting started.

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How Sales Operations Leaders Can Drive Impact in 90 Days

By Erica Abt

Over the last few years, we’ve received an increasing number of questions about how to structure and/or optimize sales operations and enablement roles, while also observing an increase in the decision influence and authority of these roles. As such, we recently embarked on a project to document what success looks like for Sales Ops leaders, including how they can effectively drive impact in their first 90 days on the job. The culmination of this project is an eBook, "A Sales Operations Leader's First 90 Days", which includes a supporting set of frameworks and tools to help Sales Ops leaders establish quick wins and longer term strategy.

Through our project, we interviewed numerous sales operations, enablement, and effectiveness leaders from a variety of industries and sizes of companies in the US and UK. We collected a significant amount of feedback across strategic, organizational, process, technology, and skills-related considerations.

Read more for a high-level overview of our eBook, including a summary of the recommendations and tools we've developed. Each tool links to a download of our eBook and toolkit.

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Is Now the Right Time to Restructure Your Sales Team?

By Joni Santos

Many, if not most, of you will read the title of this blog and think to yourself, “No way! My team is in survival mode. I do not have the time or energy to dedicate to a restructuring right now.”

True, we are living in unprecedented times, and yes, the current environment has left many businesses struggling to make ends meet while their customers’ buying behaviors have drastically changed, slowed to a crawl, and in many cases, stopped altogether. So, how can this possibly be a good time, let alone the right time, to restructure your sales team?

I would argue that it’s likely the perfect time.

Let me explain.

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Seven Hard Truths About Selling Value

By Rachel Cavallo

Everyone wants to sell their offerings for more, but sales teams are continually torn between the corporate message “we need to sell value; what we offer is worth more than what we're getting” versus the customer message “we can’t spend that” or "your competitor's price was better."

Here’s the reality. Value selling is hard. It’s very doable, and quite frankly, it's the right thing to do, unless you want to erode margins to the point of zero profitability. But to do it right, you’ve got to face seven hard truths head on.

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The 60-Day Sales Discovery Challenge in 5 Simple Steps

By Rachel Cavallo

I spend a lot of time interviewing sales leaders to diagnose their sales challenges. The number one theme I hear? Their teams don’t know enough about their customers. They don’t ask the right questions, don’t ask enough questions, and don’t apply what they learn to sell more.

Typically, my question back to them is, “So what are you doing about it?” I’m a firm believer that teams will rise to the expectations of their leaders, but those expectations need to be clear, succinct, and consistently applied and measured.

I also know that it takes 30 to 60 days of consistent focus to change behavior (the behavior of the sales professional AND the leader). Widespread, long-term change is daunting, though, so, here is my challenge to you… Take a 60-Day Sales Discovery Challenge with your team.

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Do You Run a Sales Team or Just a Group of People Who Report to You?

By Rachel Cavallo

Whenever I work with a group of salespeople, I notice one prevailing theme.  They love to interact with each other and share ideas.  When we give salespeople an activity that involves sharing their experiences and asking for feedback from their peers, the level of engagement and enthusiasm skyrockets... especially when teams are dispersed and are working remotely and virtually. To build on that, most surveys that we receive post sales training show that the sellers want more opportunities to share with and learn from their peers.

If sellers love collaboration and learning from each other, shouldn't sales leaders be running their teams to foster these dynamics?

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Are You an “Operational” Sales Leader?

By Masami Middleton

As sales consultants, we often say that great sales leaders demonstrate three things consistently: 1) They are great sellers, 2) They are great coaches, and 3) They are great operators.

Sadly, top sellers promoted to sales managers do not magically demonstrate all three. This is why we see and talk regularly about the “Peter Principle” in sales, where sales leaders "rise to their level of incompetence".

Of these three traits, which do you think is most lacking?  Most would probably debate between traits #2 and #3.  Let’s look at it from the manager’s point of view:

  • Great Seller: “I am a great seller, that’s why I got promoted - duh.”
  • Great Coach: “I have good relationships with my team; I can teach them how to be successful.” (Red flag – what made you successful does not necessarily make everyone successful.)
  • Great Operator: “What do you mean by ‘operator’?” (Red flag - Not many are thinking about how to run a winning sales team.)

We have written a lot about issue #2, on sales coaching.

In this blog, we focus on trait #3, on successfully operating a sales team. (Which by default improves your sales coaching impact).

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Top 10 Account Planning Mistakes to Avoid

By Masami Middleton

In B2B sales, driving revenue from existing accounts is far easier than landing net new customers. With so much opportunity available, why do mature sales organizations still “wing it” with their Account Planning process?

According to CEB/Gartner research, only 28% of sales leaders believe their account management channels meet their cross-selling and account growth targets. Thoughtful, intentional account plans provide real strategic insight and actionable game plans for account teams to meet growth targets. For sales managers, account plans provide an excellent foundation for consistent coaching conversations, insight into forecasts, and an overall way of staying engaged with customer activity.

Account Planning is the process of determining the best way to grow and add value to existing accounts. While many organizations engage in both Account Planning and Territory Planning (systematically determining how to optimize impact over a portfolio of accounts), the purpose of this post is to explore the deep dive Account Planning process to dissect one account at a time.

If your team is currently digging into Account Planning (or about to), here are 10 common mistakes to avoid.

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4 Lessons After 6 Months and 100+ Hours of Virtual Sales Training

By Erica Abt

Like many of you, our Symmetrics Group team spent the majority of 2020 getting smarter about the functionality of tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WebEx, so that we can more effectively work with our clients in the virtual world.

On the various platforms we studied things like: How to manage chat questions and live chat conversations, launch polling questions, build surveys, and manage virtual break-out rooms for group exercises. Our objective was learning how to best imitate an effective in-person training experience.

Though our team has worked virtually for years, we still faced a learning curve to make sure the virtual training experience felt easy and seamless to participants.

After several months of delivering 100+ hours of only virtual training and workshops to clients across a variety of industries, our Symmetrics Group team regrouped to reflect on what we had learned and where we had opportunities to improve. We arrived at four key lessons.

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