The situation in 2022 led to many companies leaving the market. That, in fact, gave the ones that stayed an opportunity for growth and development, which should not be missed. A sales department in a company is directly responsible for generating profits, so it is more important than ever to train your sales teams and help them adapt to the modern realities. Which tactics could help sales teams increase profitability and meet their sales plans in 2023?
Trend No.1 Being able to adapt to instability periods
In times of instability, stress is a major factor that quickly changes consumer behavior. During crises, people tend to prioritize necessities, cut spending and build up savings. In these conditions, it would be unproductive to rely on warm calls or hot leads, where an inbound call comes in or a new customer shows interest in your product. The situation requires a careful fostering of your existing customer base. The following methods can be used to ensure sales in the new circumstances:
• Audit your sales reps, possibly using the Mystery Shopper technique.
• Adapt their customer dialogue scripts, make up-to-date adjustments to the way they handle sales objections.
• Upgrade your sales team’s planning and analytics system. To improve speed and convenience, train your staff in using technical systems such as Trello, Asana, CRM systems, etc. Automating a sales professional’s daily routine will cut the time spent working with each customer and help achieve results faster.
• Focus on the existing customer base. Encourage your regulars’ loyalty by offering interesting promotions. Call everyone who used your products or services earlier or showed interest but hesitated to buy: now is the time to remind them of your product and offer good deals. Your customer base is a strategically important tool, whatever your company’s size or industry, and one of your main business assets. To manage sales effectively, it is especially important today to have a clearly structured, up-to-date customer base.
A case from personal experience: using all the techniques described above, we managed to increase the Aesthetic Cosmetology Clinic’s revenue by 50%: with a budget of RUR 30K ($425) for traffic to attract new leads, we made RUR 3.7 mio ($52.4K) in October 2022, up from RUR 2.2 mio ($31.2K) in September 2022.
Trend No.2 Soft-skills development
Sales involve continuous communication with different individuals, each of them having their own personality traits, mood, opinions, challenges and anxieties. A competent sales manager is not merely one who has an extensive client base and plenty of professional competencies. A scope of skills that may not be instantly seen can play an essential role in attracting and keeping clients. Flexibility, empathy, self-organization, unconventional thinking – these qualities definitely allow a person to produce more impressive results. Communication with potential customers essentially requires abilities to connect and get in tune with them, prevent conflict situations, comply with requests, find solutions to problems, successfully consummate the deal, and build long-term partnerships.
Soft-skills are non-technical skills associated with personal qualities. They do not relate to the specifics of the job – yet they can be crucial in certain areas such as communications and sales. To a greater extent, these attribute are inherent but they can be developed, boosted and improved through trainings, exercises and practical efforts.
Trend No.3 Gamification
Game mechanics, contests, quizzes, missions, recognition boards, scores and available indicators – every sales manager should now utilize such scope of ideas. The gamification method makes use of our inherent desire for healthy competition. Motivation for achievements, reinforced by a feeling of reward (even an intangible one), is a major powerful tool for team development. Striving for being rewarded for the right actions or high performance triggers dopamine release, which results in enjoying the game, with even routine tasks encouraging us to take action and compete with others. Also, new generations of millennials and zoomers are accustomed to playing competitive video games aiming for scores, rewards and ratings, so this learning format proves quite organic.
Trend No.4 Continuous team learning
Sales managers training is one of the major ways to invest in developing and boosting a company’s financial performance. There are also certain corporate training trends relevant to the current conditions.
• Less theory, more practice
Instead of excessive talking about the benefits of certain scripts, the rules for handling objections and the eight touchpoints technique, you can immediately suggest putting these skills to work. Customer testing provides an immediate and visible effect that motivates people to study further and apply knowledge to practice. Therefore, the 95% practice to 5% theory rule provides the maximum result. For instance, recently a sales manager and I introduced three phrases in a regular sales script, which he immediately used for customer phone calls. This resulted in the average check increasing by 50%, with additional net profit of RUR 1.2 mio ($17.1K).
• Bite-sized learning
Bite-sized learning has been a major corporate learning trend for several years now. The strategy engages learners through presenting small information chunks that range in duration from 5-8 minutes and are focused on tightly defined topics or objectives. This approach helps to easily digest and memorize the material, which then can be quickly represented and applied. For instance, a lecture, instead of presenting 150 different sales techniques, focuses on five ones that can be instantly used in dialogues with customers.
With employees working in an overall multitasking role, this proves to be the most efficient way of receiving new information as regards the time and budget spent. Employees normally learn through videos and can independently choose convenient time.
The ability to present oneself in a proper and adequate way and highlight your advantages for consumers is almost as important as the ability to sell. This skill can and should be learned as well. The art of addressing different audiences along with impressive stories about achievements and profit earned for the company as well as being involved in live broadcasts, webinars and conferences – this all makes a personal manager brand more impressive and convincing, and leads to greater customer trust.
The sales department work should always be adjusted to the current developments in the market and the economy. This year’s major trends advisable to follow include unconventional sale methods, focus on an existing customer base, development of soft-skills in employees, and gamification of the sales department for greater motivation and performance growth, as well as continuous training through advanced methods.
By Anna Kuznetsova, sales training expert and founder of the Kuznitsa Prodazh (Sales Forge) project