The main goal right now for many organizations, including Force Management, is to effectively lead through the turnaround while supporting customers, employees and communities in the best way possible. That’s why we wanted to share some of the insights in this recent article by McKinsey & Company on how marketing and sales leaders can shape the next normal.
The article explains why executive leaders should lead with empathy while navigating the now and moving into what's next. We couldn't agree more. Below are three major takeaways from the article.
1. Organizations need to tightly align with their buyers
Organizations must align cross-functionally with their buyers' current needs, which may mean a shift in your messaging.
Re-frame the value your offerings provide
The authors write, “Marketers should begin revisiting what the brand is and what it means to customers.” A buyer focus is the only way you will be able to sell in this environment. While brand is often deemed as "marketing's job", it is critical it is articulated effectively in the sales conversation, in a way that shows the value and differentiation of your solutions. From SDRs to your enterprise reps, are your salespeople fully equipped to align their sales conversations to your buyers’ changing needs?
The McKinsey article mentioned how customer value plays a critical role in revenue growth saying, “To be ready for demand when it picks up, CMSOs will need to zero-base their marketing and sales strategies and develop a clear view of what their customers value.” Reframing your buyer message for what’s happening right now is crucial to making your buying community aware of your offering’s capabilities and value. The authors write that a value-focused messaging framework should be high on your list of priorities, “Investing in value-selling capabilities as well as continuous reviews of sales incentives and pricing targets will be crucial to making sure companies are both relevant—and sensitive—to their customers.”
Is your team capable of articulating the value of your offerings in a way that allows them to gain buyer interest and sell at a premium? A sales organization with value-selling capabilities will be far more prepared to survive now and thrive in the future.
Nail down your customer’s shifted buying process
We know customer buying processes have shifted. “Past behaviors and habits won’t necessarily be what consumers and customers want when the crisis ends, so developing a clear perspective on which habits will stick, which won’t, and for which segments, will be crucial.”
Have you considered how your customer’s buying process may have evolved? New business requirements, budgets and workloads may have affected how your buying community typically purchases your products and solutions. This shift could likely stick long term. Therefore, re-establishing alignment between their shifted buying process and your sales process may be necessary to ensure pipelines continue to move forward.
2. Don’t Wait. Get Busy.
Sales leaders who find ways to create consistent sales performance this year, will be the ones who ensure both reps and front-line managers aren’t losing steam. As we lead into the new normal, the McKinsey authors mention, "CMSOs will need to think through new capabilities, processes, and ways of working." As you define what those shifts may look like for your organization, here’s how you can prepare:
Use virtual training options.
Waiting for in-person sessions will only keep your teams stagnant and delay results. Get started now by using the virtual options at your disposal to train your salespeople. With the right experienced facilitator, these sessions can help you make valuable progress towards your ultimate revenue goals.
Stop the discounting across your organization:
For many of our customers, the contracts they sign now will set the standard moving forward. Heavy discounts can cripple future margins. As Mckinsey's authors write, “Managing pricing in particular is crucial to avoiding discounting that destroys value.”
Focus your reps on articulating the value of your offerings so they can preserve price in every sales negotiation. Share these negotiation resources with your sales teams to ensure they can preserve necessary margins and keep their buyers focused on the outcomes you'll deliver.
Your front-line managers are critical to your success. Invest in them. You can also share these 8 resources they can use to coach their reps through the turnaround.
Make talent a competitive edge:
The authors state that executive leaders will "need the discipline to think ahead about their talent needs" because, "the next normal will clearly require a new set of skills and capabilities."
Talent is your only sustainable competitive advantage. Now more than ever you see the importance of having the right salespeople on board. As the new normal approaches, ensure you have effective talent criteria established:
- What does success look like in a role?
- Why have we hired the wrong people in the past?
- Why do we lose key talent to the competition?
- Why would someone want to work here?
- How do we hold people accountable for results?
3. Leaders should emphasize authenticity and empathy
What should executives and leaders be doing right now? The McKinsey article said it best, “First and foremost, leaders must lead with purpose by taking care of their people, their customers, and their communities.”
Sales leaders can make a meaningful impact in their organizations right now by leading with authenticity and empathy. Recently our Co-founder, John Kaplan shared insights, in this episode of The Audible-Ready Podcast, on how he’s doing this with current and past Force Management customers and employees.
One key takeaway — stay connected. Reach out to customers and employees, pick up the phone and ask them how they are doing both professionally, and personally.