We’re so proud to be celebrating Women in Sales Month once again!
For each week in October, we have an amazing slate of women sales leaders who will be sharing their unique insights. From offering advice for sales managers new and more experienced to surveying the anticipated landscape of sales in the years ahead, when it comes to Improving Sales Performance, these ladies know how it's done.
Today, our guest is Lauren Cooley, Chief Revenue Officer at ExpertVoice. Lauren brings so many awesome points to the table, such as:
- How the pandemic challenged us and changed us for the better.
- Why you shouldn’t want a team of “you,” but, instead, a team of people who are authentically themselves.
- And, finally, how, even with the rate at which the world is changing, there’s still no substitute for spending time with your people.
3-5 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) To Watch
Lauren discusses the KPIs she focuses on in the sales department. She highlights the importance of tracking:
- Pacing: “I really want to understand where we are now versus what we did last year,” Lauren says. “What's changed? What will impact that?”
- Understanding the Velocity of Opportunities: “How long are opportunities staying in stages? Knowing that if we don't move that velocity and if something's been in that stage for a really long time, it's probably more of a wish than something that we can expect.”
- Activity Level: “Are we talking to enough customers? Are we in front of them enough? What are we doing to engage?
And Lauren points out the significance of clearly articulating the problems their customers are facing. She says, “Do we really know what problems we're solving for our customers, and are we clearly able to articulate what problem they have and how our solution can solve that problem?”
Balancing Technology and Human Know-How
Lauren fully acknowledges the positive impact of technological advancements in sales enablement and lead generation. She says, “Of course, AI and ChatGPT and all of these really cool things really can help save so much time. It’s unbelievable...we can collaborate and really get feedback from our teams to move faster.
“I think the pandemic forcing us to work asynchronously really challenged the tools and typical process that we were in for the better. I think we've gotten better at working and collaborating together.”
However, Lauren also stresses the continued importance of human interaction in the sales process. “I think we need to remember what hasn't changed as much as what has, and that face-to-face interaction, understanding client needs, leading with insights.
“We can do it better, we can do it more efficiently, but we still have to actually do it. And so that's an exciting opportunity for leaders today.
“We have the time to do what we didn't have the time to do when we were piecing together all of this data.”
Embracing Authentic Leadership
Lauren emphasizes the importance of authenticity in sales leadership. She encourages new sales managers to be true to themselves and not attempt to fit into a preconceived mold. “Being authentically who you are and not trying to play the role of a sales manager is so important.
“I remember my very first sales manager role. I was young and felt like it was a role that I needed to practice. And now, looking back at that, I just laugh.
Instead, she highlighted the significance of embracing one's unique leadership style while understanding that each member of the sales team is an individual with their own strengths and qualities.
“And watching new sales leaders start the process, the talent that you have, the experience that you have, that's why you're in the role. So, if you're not being true to yourself, then it's going to be a silly experience for your team because they know that that's not authentic.
“Have your own style and then know that your team is all made up of individuals that are each their own selves. So, you’re not going to coach and train them all to be you. You don't want a team of ‘you.’
“You want a team of phenomenal folks that are authentically them as well.”
Looking to the Future
Lauren discusses the continued evolution of sales technology, anticipating further advancements in AI and automation.
She believes that while these tools are beneficial, they should complement, not replace, the human touch in sales. “We've just scratched the surface when it comes to AI tools, and I love them. I use AI every day. I absolutely love and appreciate the time savings,” Lauren says.
“I think one of the biggest needs and challenges over the next three to five years is to make sure that we are adding that layer of authenticity into what is generated. Things have become easier. You can do so much with the click of a button.
In her estimation, the rise of AI tools makes it all the more important for sales professionals to focus on building authentic relationships, understanding client needs, and prioritizing face-to-face interactions. “You have to lean into the relationships, lean into the client needs, focus on all of those fundamentals.
“And my biggest worry is, when I look at brand new salespeople coming into this amazing profession, that they will see these tools as the way to operate.
“We have to ask ourselves, do these tools work for me? Do they match my style? Do they match the style of the customer? Am I in front of my customers physically enough? Or am I relying on cadences to accomplish the work that can be done?
“And the work can be done well enough using AI tools, but it can't be done perfectly and lead to the same results.”