How to Prepare Your B2B Sales Force for Success During the Offseason
Consider this metaphor for your B2B sales force. If you follow sports, you know that there are games played during the regular season and then there’s the offseason. Some athletes use the offseason to go back to their hometown, hangout with family and take it easy. Those athletes report to camp for the next season in less than optimal shape, resulting in an uphill climb to get in game shape for the new season.
Many athletes however, use the offseason to do strength training, stay healthy, and work on specific skills development to improve their game. They arrive at camp in great shape and even more skilled in an area of their game that needed improvement.
Let’s consider our current shelter-in-place order to be our sales team’s offseason. During this offseason, sales leaders are faced with two choices.
You can coast through the offseason with a mindset of just keeping your team intact to minimize hiring and onboarding when the economy shows signs of improving.
Or, you can use this offseason period to ensure your B2B sales force develops and practices certain skills that they need to improve to be ready for “game time” when the economy improves.Use this #sales “offseason” to ensure your team develops and practices the #skills they’ll need when the economy improves. #VirtualTraining #SalesTraining @KurtShaver Click To Tweet
As I speak with sales leaders, I’m encountering no middle ground. Sales leaders I speak with are in one end of the spectrum or the other, focused on “just getting through this period,” or investing in skills development to improve their team’s game readiness.
Consider the mindset of the head coach going into the offseason. The coach knows he can’t control what his players do in the offseason. He can give them an inspirational speech at the end of the season. He can load them up with videos and audio books and zoom calls to stay in touch. But, unlike the day-to-day grind which the coach totally controls during the regular season, he has little, if any control over his player’s skills development during the offseason.
Here’s how the sports metaphor plays out for a company that has a real “offseason” every year. A few years ago, I trained the USA’s largest supplier of portrait photography for K-12 school children. If you have kids, you’ve probably sent them a check. The company’s prospects and customers are school Principals, Superintendents, and Administrators. Guess what? They are hard to reach in the Summer when school is “offseason.”
After their sales team completed Selling with LinkedIn ® training in the Spring, participants told me that selling in the Fall was easier than ever because they had connected socially and maintained a steady schedule of content posts and engagement which strengthen relationships virtually.
As a sales leader, you have complete control over how your team spends their time during the Covid “offseason.”
That’s why I’m devoting the rest of this article for the sales leader who is eager to treat this offseason as an opportunity to improve their sales team’s skills. So, I will offer three ways sales leaders can invest in their team’s skills to improve during this offseason.#SalesLeaders, find out 3 ways you can improve the skills of your #sales team during the COVID-19 “offseason” with @KurtShaver. #VirtualTraining #SalesTraining Click To Tweet
Improve Your Rep’s Credibility on LinkedIn®
Now more than ever your buyer is online attending virtual conference calls, responding to email and engaging with peers and sales reps on LinkedIn®. A HubSpot report shows that people at brands are conducting online searches now more than this time one year ago.
Suppose your B2B sales force is actively engaging with your prospects on LinkedIn®. On the surface that’s a good thing. But, what does their profile look like? Does it have a banner image that is on-brand or is it a skull and crossbones? Yes, that’s a real example and the sales leader didn’t even know it. Does their LinkedIn profile explain who they help, how they help and list examples of customers served as social proof? Does everyone on your sales team even have your company listed as their current employer? It’s more common than you think to see a rep listing their previous employer as their current employer.
If any of these questions spark a concern for you, check out these examples of B2B sales reps who have been through our LinkedIn Profile Makeover Program for Teams and filling their pipeline during the current sales offseason.
Selling with LinkedIn®
This is a good time for your team to be using LinkedIn® to connect with former colleagues, expand their network, prospect to build their pipeline and form new relationships.
Do your reps have a library of pre-written scripts so they can send connection invitations, follow up messages and voice messages? Yes, you can send voice messages on LinkedIn®. Your buyers are out there and they’re engaging on LinkedIn® now more than ever.
Do your reps have a regular cadence on LinkedIn®? Do they know how to find, engage and connect with their prospects without coming across as pushy or salesy? Are they using a sales methodology that is proven to drive results?
Now more than ever, sales reps are engaging more often on LinkedIn®. I see poor examples of engagement everyday (I’m not exaggerating – everyday). Are your reps doing it right or are they wasting their efforts because they don’t have the modern selling skills to engage on LinkedIn® in a way that gets results?
If this topic hits home and you’re concerned about it, we’ve got three ways you can use this offseason to teach your sales team how to sell with LinkedIn®.Now more than ever, #SalesReps are engaging more often on @LinkedIn. Are your reps doing it right or do they lack the #DigitalSelling skills to succeed? Learn more with @KurtShaver Click To Tweet
Personalized Selling with Video
Marketers have figured out the power of video. It’s time for your B2B sales force to do the same. Posting a native video on LinkedIn® can generate more engagement than a text post. Your sellers can use video to reach their network in a more human way than text. Video sales messaging allows your current clients and prospects to get to know your reps more intimately which is an important factor in this “offseason” period.
The key for your sellers to be successful using video messaging is to learn how to do it effectively. There’s a lot more to it than pointing a smartphone at your face. Sellers need to learn the many use cases and learn best practices to avoid making mistakes that can have a negative effect rather than establishing rapport and trust. We offer a Selling with Video Virtual Bootcamp designed to teach your sales team how to implement a sales video messaging strategy that can make the difference between no response and the response your sales reps desire.
Let’s face it, the sales “offseason” we’re in is challenging. No one knows how long it will last, but it’s likely to last for a long while. If you’re a sales leader, how are you leading your B2B sales force through this offseason? I recommend you use this time to improve their skills. It will motivate them to maximize their potential both during this offseason and when the economy rebounds. They will be better positioned to fill their pipeline and win more deals. Click the image below to learn how.