When dealing with severe levels of change, it’s natural to reign in and hyper-focus on the activity we feel is most essential to surviving and thriving in that environment. In sales, that core activity would include things like the need to continue identifying quality prospects, connecting with decision makers, and discovering their needs and desired business results.
Activity is important, but a knee jerk reaction to keep approaching those activities the way you always have will not be effective when business cycles are at their most volatile.
Challenging and Changing Times Reveal Our Weaknesses
In sales, our weaknesses are often hidden by a strong economy. In times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to continue sales training to improve your effectiveness in the sales process. Times of crisis change the rules of the game. Identifying quality prospects, connecting with decision makers, and discovering what they really need from you requires a greatly improved approach for many salespeople.
Expansion is the default mode for the U.S. economy, and while the average business cycle is about 5 ½ years, the most recent expansion was 11 years, which means many sellers have not sold during any serious contraction in the economy. Even those who did, have had 11 years of selling in a more favorable economy. While continued activity is critical, serious change in the environment requires an equally serious change in the way you approach selling.
The new insights that sales training brings is just as important for newer sellers as it is for veterans. Sales training helps you become conscious of current best practices. Some of those practices, you may be doing to some degree, but with training you learn to do them even more effectively.
Practices Where Sales Training Makes a Difference
What makes a good prospect has changed, and it will continue to change, at an unprecedented pace for a while. Our Sales Accelerator process uses a target business profile to determine the best prospects to target, and in its simplest form is evaluating:
- Dollar Potential
- Access to decision makers and influencers
- Fit (several types of fit)
Fit that addresses the changes in their business and the trouble mode they may be in right now is critical. You may use another tool, but it’s important that new sellers and veterans understand how to quickly identify the best places to target their efforts in an environment of high change.
Valid Business Reason (VBR)
It’s important to have clarity about why you’re trying to connect with a prospect, or even an existing client. Sales training helps polish your VBR to be most effective. Our recommendations include a framework that:
- Leads with a compelling insight
- Shows Empathy: I can understand and relate to your problem
- Demonstrates Expertise: I’ve solved problems similar to the ones you are having
- And offers your problem-solving skills: I can develop a solution to your problem
Your reason for contacting a client or prospect is rarely under more scrutiny than during times of volatility. Improve your valid business reason to address the current environment.
Needs Analysis Model
Better qualifying and VBRs are just two of the ways sales training can help improve your efforts to connect. Once you have the meeting, it will be most effective if you follow a plan. Our model has four key steps we refer to as the 4As.
- Assessment: What are the desired business results?
- Assignment: Summarize all the desired results and agree on one to focus on.
- Analysis: What is the problem to solve?
- Agreement: What are the best ways to measure success?
Getting all four steps right in a challenging business climate will set you and the client up for success. Sales training and review will keep you focused on gathering many desired results, agreeing to focus on one, doing a deeper dive into understanding that one, and, most importantly, agreeing how you will measure success.
Don’t Stop Training!
It's essential to keep activity levels high during challenging times, and that activity should include training. Your clients need your help more than ever, and to help them, you need to keep sharpening your skills and reviewing the basics that make you most effective.