Here’s Where Sales Leaders Should Focus in 2020, According to Experts

January 21, 2020

Here’s Where Sales Leaders Should Focus in 2020, According to Experts

Being a leader is exciting but exhausting. Teams constantly look to their leaders for direction, motivation, and inspiration. It all comes with the territory, and most wouldn’t have it any other way, but at times, leaders themselves could use a cue to follow. 

Luckily, no one is going it alone. As a sales leader, you can tap into the advice and insight of top thinkers in the field, especially your peers who are facing similar challenges, hurdles, and opportunities.

With 2020 getting underway, it’s important to dictate priorities and chart your course for the year ahead. To provide you with some valuable outside perspective, we asked five B2B sales leaders we respect about where they’d advise others to set their sights in the coming months. 

Their answers spanned a number of focal points, from coaching to productivity to data and beyond.

Where B2B Sales Leaders Recommend Focusing in 2020

Mike Kunkle

VP, Sales Enablement Services, SPARXiQ

In 2020, I hope to see senior sales leaders lean into sales effectiveness analytics and do less “reacting.” I still see way too much sales management by “faster, harder, longer, louder” and a preponderance of bright shiny objects, flavor of the month thinking, and executive overreactions to the last thing that went wrong. To be fair, I have seen a lot of positive movement in the right direction, in some verticals, but like most things, it’s a bell curve or a Power Law distribution, with an insightful few leading the pack. 

My mantra for 2020 will continue to be geeky and data-driven, with a plan to help sales leaders diagnose first, then prescribe. Whether they’re hiring, training, implementing a new sales process or methodology, or just looking to get more reps hitting quota – we have to reduce guessing and increase data-driven approaches to performance improvement.

“My mantra for 2020 will continue to be geeky and data-driven, with a plan to help sales leaders diagnose first, then prescribe.”

Barb Giamanco

CEO, Social Centered Selling

Focus on creating QUALITY sales messaging that will engage target buyers. Buyers have set the bar high for salespeople. LinkedIn's 3rd annual State of Sales reported that 51% of decision makers rank trust as the top factor they desire in a salesperson and the proliferation of sales spam DOES NOT instill trust! Eighty-eight percent of those decision makers also said that they want to work with trusted advisors NOT people who pitch product features. Your message matters. Seek outside help to write sales messages that focus on what buyers want not what you want to sell.

“Your message matters. Seek outside help to write sales messages that focus on what buyers want not what you want to sell.”

Ian Moyse

EMEA Sales Director, Natterbox

2020 needs to be a time of refresh. A time to accept change and to make it. The buyer has already changed and yet many sales engagement processes are stuck in the old cold call numbers game. Too many times I get asked, “How do we increase the call out volumes to 100 an agent a day?” 

Why? Because it’s been calculated that the 100 is needed to get 10 connections, to hence get three solid discussions to create one lead! 

My ask is always: is it the activity you want or an increase in resulting leads? If you could create three leads with 70 calls for example is this not better? This requires changes in approach, rather than simply pushing to do more of the same. The world has changed; the same old methods are less effective and create more effort to stand still. Get off the pedestal and shake things up, find dial changes that will deliver a greater required outcome in 2020 and onwards.

“The world has changed; the same old methods are less effective and create more effort to stand still.”

Alice Heiman

Founder & Chief Sales Officer, Alice Heiman, LLC

The one thing all sales leaders should be doing in 2020 is developing themselves to improve their leadership. This starts with making more time to do true coaching. 

You will develop faster as a leader and your team will develop faster if you devote more time to coaching. Commit to increasing the amount of time you spend coaching. In my opinion the goal is to spend 80% of your time coaching your team members to improve themselves as salespeople and to close more deals. That means reading, taking training, learning from other sales leaders and finding a coach or mentor for yourself. Like they say: every time you get on an airplane, put your oxygen mask on first. 

It’s hard to develop others; expect improvement or hold others accountable unless you are modeling the behavior. Consider doing a 360-review to get the information you need to build your development plan. I recommend the LPI, which is the model used in Deb Calvert’s book, “Stop Selling and Start Leading”. Don’t make it a monumental task. Start by writing down the things you want to improve to become a better leader, prioritize them, figure out a way to do each and a date to do it by. 

“Commit to increasing the amount of time you spend coaching. In my opinion the goal is to spend 80% of your time coaching your team members to improve themselves as salespeople and to close more deals.”

Mike Schultz

President, RAIN Group

Increase your sales team’s productivity. The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research recently studied responses from 2,377 sellers and non-sellers to find out which work habits and hacks drive productivity. The data revealed that The Extremely Productive (The XP) do certain things differently than The Rest. One of the biggest differences is how The XP spend their time. 

We think of TIME in four levels: Treasured (time you cherish), Investment (time that generates outsized returns), Mandatory (time you feel you must spend), and Empty (time you waste). The XP spend, on average, 46% more hours per day on high-return, value-add activities (Investment time) than The Rest and 21% less time on Mandatory and Empty activities than The Rest. 

Work with your team and examine how they’re spending their time so that they increase Investment, minimize Mandatory, and eliminate Empty. Have your team focus on their Greatest Impact Activity (GIA) first thing each day. Your GIA is the one activity that, should you do it consistently, will get you the greatest return on your time investment. There’s a lot of potential to increase Investment time which will ultimately impact your results in 2020 and beyond.

“Work with your team and examine how they’re spending their time so that they increase Investment, minimize Mandatory, and eliminate Empty.”

Follow the Leaders in 2020

No matter which goals you’re pursuing this year, the advice from these proven performers can help you get there. Slow down, embrace data, massage your messaging, question habitual methods, commit to coaching, and maximize returns on your time investment.

Big things await in 2020. Here’s to leading the way. 

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