Inspiring sales teams through change.

Top sales leaders share the techniques that keep their teams motivated and focused on the opportunities

December 10, 2020

LinkedIn Sales Solutions Blog 2020 Inspiring Sales

After a year in which compassionate leadership has risen to the top of the sales agenda, we asked leaders from three major UK businesses about the techniques they’ve learned. How has the art of inspiring a sales team changed? What type of support do reps need now? And will the challenges of the last year translate into opportunities in 2021?

The customer panel session that resulted was one of the highlights of LinkedIn’s Sales Leaders Summit last month – a straight-talking discussion with contributions from Vodafone Business UK’s Director, Anne Sheehan, Veolia’s UK Regional and Local Sales Director, Simon Futcher, and Oracle EMEA’s VP Demand Generation, Declan Kenny.

Here are some of the key ideas that emerged. They’re based on our panelists’ practical experience of what works for maintaining morale and building pipeline in a digital selling landscape. And they are principles that will apply just as strongly to 2021 as they have to 2020:

 

Remember that you’re supporting customers through a change too

It’s important to remember that digital buying journeys and the disappearance of face-to-face meetings represent a sudden change for your customers as well as your sales team. Some will need reassurance and guidance on how the process can work.

“The initiative for a more digital buying process doesn’t always come from customers, so we need to be aware of their challenges and sympathetic in our approach. Certain industries have always required a hands-on, physical approach in terms of the way they want to engage. We have to help them see the value that can be delivered by a more virtual engagement process.”

Simon Futcher
UK Regional and Local Sales Director, Veolia
  

Getting the details right builds momentum and confidence

Amid the disruption of the last year, it’s important to listen carefully to the experience of different team members – and respond quickly to new needs, however incidental they may seem.

We’re running pulse surveys every three to four weeks, asking our sellers, commercial teams and marketing teams, “what are you scared about? What do you need?” We’ve had requests for everything from better webcams to virtual cameras. It’s all about giving tools to the sales teams, showing that there’s no need to be afraid and life can go on, that it’s really possible to connect to customers virtually. These types of things help to create momentum, and with any sales team, momentum builds confidence.

Anne Sheehan
Director, Vodafone Business UK

 

Recognise the opportunities in a changing buying process

The make-up of buying committees is changing, with senior stakeholders getting more directly involved. This creates opportunity for those sales organisations ready to take it.

The decision-making unit in the enterprise accounts that we work with has become smaller and more senior. We’re talking to CEOs, CFOs and CTOs and they want real dialogue. There’s a great opportunity for sales reps who can do the research, craft custom messages and reach out directly to C-level executives, which you can do using tools like Sales Navigator. Then you have the opportunity for high-value discovery calls where senior people on the customer side can give you clarity on the problem they’re trying to solve. If you match them with senior people on your side, you’re able to give an idea of a potential solution. We’ve witnessed discovery calls lasting an hour or more because we’ve got senior people on the line having good discussions.

Declan Kenny
VP Demand Generation, Oracle EMEA

 

Digital selling can’t be done by the sales team alone

Building a digital selling organisation doesn’t just involve motivating and incentivising the sales team. Rapidly changing buyer journeys require a multi-functional support network.

Marketing is really good at capturing the digital signals that are coming from everywhere at the moment – and marketing operations can help build the processes that get the flow of data into your demand generation teams.

Declan Kenny
VP Demand Generation, Oracle EMEA

 

Our website is now the front door. It’s where buyers come to inform themselves. I’ve spent a lot of time with the Marketing Operations team understanding how to nurture those prospects who aren’t talking to us face-to-face but are exploring in a completely different way.

Anne Sheehan
Director, Vodafone Business UK

 

Lead from the front with a sense of purpose

Helping your organisation navigate radical change isn’t just a case of issuing instructions. It’s never been more important for sales leaders to model the actions they want their teams to take – from demonstrating curiosity about new technology and new ways of selling, to living and breathing optimism and a sense of purpose.

I’m looking forward to evolving the key learnings and the skills that we’ve developed – skills that we didn’t even know that we had or that we needed. That’s what’s exciting to me about next year.

Simon Futcher
UK Regional and Local Sales Director, Veolia

 

The world is changing. It’s never going back to the way it was – and it’s time for the sales profession to evolve. You’ve got to be curious: testing, learning and experimenting. And as a sales leader, you have to lead from the front on this. A sense of purpose and pride has never been more important. It helps to motivate the team when you can remind one another of how you’re helping to keep the world going.

Anne Sheehan
Director, Vodafone Business UK

 

Hungry for more insights from leaders navigating the future of sales? You’ll find lots to explore in the LinkedIn Sales Library, where we’ve collected our latest research, opinion pieces and on-demand panel discussions.

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