The world of B2B sales has never experienced the rate of change that is occurring today due to COVID-19. Since the pandemic interrupted business as usual earlier in the year, companies immediately sent their work forces home, and for the first time ever, the vast majority of businesses are now operating remotely. We are all aware of this but sales organizations and their supporting functional groups like sales enablement, finance, marketing, etc., began using communication tools like Zoom, email, texts, social media, and other collaboration solutions in an effort to not lose the momentum they had gained since the first of the year. These frequent, yet disjointed efforts to communicate resulted in sales organizations actually taking their eye off the ball and the new sales transformation initiatives that were in place during Q1 that were intended to improve the effectiveness of the sales organization began experiencing poor adoption rates as sellers reverted to their old way of selling.
Four Pillars to Implementing Sales Transformation Initiatives
Studies have shown that the most effective approach to implementing new sales transformation initiatives into the sales organization consists of four pillars.
- Pillar I – Communication and Messaging
- Pillar II – Engagement
- Pillar III – Adoption
- Pillar IV – Best Practice
Pillar I – Communication and Messaging
To remain competitive, companies need to continually evolve. New sales transformation initiatives are essential to help companies adjust to new market dynamics and opportunities. Effective communication and messaging are critical in implementing new strategic initiatives. When there is alignment in communications, revenue has been shown to increase in double digits. In a more decentralized environment, the question becomes how can we increase communications effectiveness and what is the optimal number of times to communicate and message to an audience to elicit a response. This is known as “effective frequency.” Marketing’s Rule of 7 states that people need to “hear” the message at least 7 times before taking some type of action. However, a frequency beyond 7 has cumulative benefits; the point of diminishing returns doesn’t occur for a good period of time. Microsoft conducted a study where they found the effective frequency to be upwards of 20. While 20 may seem excessive, the first several communications are “heard” as background noise. It’s not until the 9th or 10th time that the recipient becomes aware of the message. And It’s not until a few more interactions that the person engages or responds to the communication. The effective frequency depends on the type and level of engagement. E.g., text, email, LinkedIn, webinar.
Pillar II – Engagement
Engagement is where the sales organization begins to practice and use the new sales transformation initiative in their day-to-day workflows. A good example of this is sales training. Attending sales training programs, whether in person or virtually, is the communication and messaging piece. It usually one and done. Research has shown that only 30% of information demonstrated during training is retained. However, this number increases to 75% when sellers return to the office and practice the new ideas communicated during their training. This number can be further increased when sales managers reinforce training concepts through coaching and mentoring. After a period of time, the benefits and results of the new selling approach becomes apparent to a majority of the sales organization. This is when the company enters the adoption phase. Most teams have not been able to measure these engagement and adoption touchpoints until now.
Pillar III – Adoption
To continue with the sales training analogy, adoption is when the sales organization has embraced the new approach to a new initiative and the likelihood of sellers and sales managers reverting back to their old way of selling becomes slimmer as time goes on and the benefits and results continue to improve.
Pillar IV – Best Practices
The last pillar is the final stage in successfully implementing a new sales transformation initiative(s). This is where the new initiative becomes “how we do business.” Again, to continue with the sales training example, everyone in the sales organization, whether they are a seasoned veteran, a new seller, or an experienced seller that is new to the organization knows that this is the selling approach used and this is what you do to be successful in your role as a salesperson and/or sales manager. Additionally, when sellers model top-tier performers, the entire organization benefits financially.
Implementing Successful Sales Transformation Initiatives
Sales transformation initiatives vary from company to company and depend entirely on the strategic goals the company is committed to attaining over a certain period of time. It may be that several initiatives must be implemented in order to achieve a long-term strategic goal. For example, onboarding new sellers to be effective with a new initiative in days, not months takes a coordinated effort.
When it comes to effectively implementing new sales transformation initiatives, the Gig Economy Group (GEG), founded by Dave Toole, is a sales transformation company that delivers results through their Adaptive Sales as a Service platform. Their expertise in sales transformation is unparalleled on a global basis and GEG’s supporting software ensures strategic initiatives are effectively implemented using the four pillars as a framework.
For more information, contact Dave Toole, CEO of The Gig Economy Group.