Read any sales leader job description and you’re sure to find that one of the key responsibilities for the role is “identifying market opportunities or new trends for prospective and current customers,” or some variation thereof. Afterall, the sales leader and his team of sales professionals have the benefit of talking to prospective and current customers on a daily basis. And, if they consistently ask the right questions and are tuned to listen for keywords about how their stakeholders will be using the solution or what objections they have, sales leaders can become incredibly dialed into the market and can make necessary adjustments to the sales process on the fly.
One of the biggest challenges that sales teams face is learning to balance agility with process. Sales leaders certainly need to enforce processes and methodologies so that all team members are consistently on the same page, using the same messaging, and recording the same details from their prospect conversations. However, sales teams that sell into enterprises have to also make constant adjustments in order to remain relevant and dialed into the challenges that their market is facing.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how sales leaders can equip their team members to listen to keywords and accelerate growth by making small adjustments to the sales process.
Listen for Keywords and Phrases
Sales teams have an incredible advantage to others across the organization. Rather than have to rely on reactive reports, articles, and podcasts to learn about market trends, they can simply ask their prospective customers and stakeholders for insights. And when learnings are multiplied across an entire enterprise sales team, tens if not hundreds of conversations each week can reveal major shifts and opportunities that sales leaders can use to their company’s benefit.
In order for a sales team to be tuned into market trends, however, the team must work together to hone in on certain keywords or phrases that they are hearing, as well as ask similar questions across the board in order to obtain unfiltered responses. For instance, sales leaders can work with their team members to ask discovery questions that may reveal new trends or solution value propositions:
- How do you plan to use this solution internally?
- What is the most important driver for you, and why?
- How do you foresee using this solution next year?
- What is the biggest internal obstacle you’ll need to overcome?
- What other departments do you think could benefit?
While these questions should be adjusted based on the respective company and solution, the goal is to solicit feedback and to gain perspectives about current challenges, opportunities, and inventive uses.
Work With Marketing to Separate Fact From Fiction
While sales is on the frontline and benefits from having direct 1:1 conversations, the marketing team should be involved to help separate what’s noise from what truly matters. Additionally, marketing can also expertly craft new messaging based on new findings or proposed new audience segments so that the entire company is aligned at all levels.
This step may not seem critical to some, but it’s absolutely necessary to ensure the entire company is marching to the same beat. If a sales team adopts new messaging or tests out new value props without the marketing team’s involvement, not only will the company look disjointed, but it’s the quickest way to isolate the sales team and create internal enemies. When using prospect and customer conversations as a catalyst for change, the key is to collaborate cross-functionally and ensure sales and marketing are always in lockstep before any major changes are adopted.
Test New Messaging in “Sales Lab” Setting
We’ve referred to the concept of a “Sales Lab” (a term coined by our customer, Valimail) in a few of our previous articles as this type of environment allows for testing and tweaking on a small scale before rolling out for wide adoption across the team. In this step, sales leaders should select a small segment of the sales team to try out the new messaging, ask new questions, and essentially introduce the concept to the market—albeit in a very controlled setting. For instance, if one of the key new trends identified affects retailers, identify a few retail-focused sales professionals or SMEs and have them poke holes in the new messaging to identify what resonates, and more importantly, what doesn’t.
During this step, the team—along with marketing’s involvement—should also determine whether or not to proceed with the messaging or change at all. The beauty of testing out new concepts in a sales lab environment is that many ideas can be tested without the harm of rolling out to the larger team before realizing the issue.
Roll Out Process Changes Across Team
Once those in the sales lab have tested the new messaging and the sales leader and marketing executives have agreed to move forward and fold the changes into the sales process, the changes can be rolled out to the broader team.
With the help of a real-time guided selling platform, this process can be seamless, rather than chaotic or disjointed when only a few sales professionals actually adopt the “mandatory” changes. With a real-time guided selling platform in place, sales professionals are already accessing the same messaging, discovery questions, customer success stories and other assets from the platform and are using the same methodology in every conversation. So when new messaging is introduced or a change is rolled out to the entire team to accommodate new market trends, sales leaders can rest assured that each team member will be following the same script so their team can focus on what they do best: build relationships and close deals.
Monitor Success and Continue Iterating
There’s no such thing as a perfect sales process. Once one piece of the puzzle has been solved, there are always many other areas to address, new trends to monitor, and new audience niches to fold into the sales process. Once a change has been adopted, it becomes important to monitor its success over time, and continue to iterate on what’s working and what’s not.
Previously, it’s been difficult for sales leaders to measure with confidence which messaging points resonate, which discovery questions need to be asked, and which objections are deal breakers. But thanks to agile sales and a platform to support this new type of methodology, sales leaders and marketing executives alike can monitor results and business cases in real-time, and make adjustments proactively to always stay up-to-date with key market trends.
Ready to Learn More?
For more information on best practices of great sales leaders, check out the Costello resources below. If you’d like to see Costello in action, request a personalized demo of our real-time sales playbook software.