Learn how organizations and sales structures are changing and aligning strategy, people, behaviors, and goals to meet their targets in 2020 with Findley’s Tom Hurley and Dan Simovic.
Over the past few months, our clients have been talking about sales incentives. The pandemic has disrupted the marketplace, forcing organizations to rethink their business development strategies, revisit sales goals and incentives, and potentially restructure the sales organization. It is primetime to get serious about sales compensation planning and design. It’s about more than “best practices”. It’s about “best thinking” based upon changes in the market and how your organization can adapt to the sales function. The topics include:
Welcome to the new decade, where the conflation of social distancing, social justice, and social media influence is impacting the workplace in unprecedented ways. With generational changes in the workforce and the need to lead from a distance, no one knows how to optimally navigate this environment. It’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario: what leaders do or what they say is just as dangerous as what they don’t do or say.
New Management Realities
By all accounts, 2020 has been a turbulent year for everyone – at home and at work. Social distancing, a new concept, has transformed how we currently live and work. Social justice protests and calls for diversity and inclusion have driven a slew of potential changes to how we manage various issues in society, including in the workplace.
Change has been rapid and to this point ongoing, requiring constant vigilance for new expectations and requirements. Most companies strive to maintain communications and update their employees with new expectations for functions, policies, benefits, and behaviors. Beyond issuing revised standards, organizations count on management teams to be the primary conduit for implementing and supporting new approaches and mandates. It’s important that these new requests are not ignored or placed at the bottom of a manager’s long list of regular duties.
Keep an Eye on Trends
Based on our experience of working within multiple industries and organizational cultures, leaders are focusing on these emerging trends:
Social distancing practices, including the increase of working from home and reduced onsite work schedules, have company leadership and management “leading at a distance.” For many companies, this form of management has not been commonplace and leaders are trying to get up-to-speed on effective techniques.
Social distancing has also created customer and vendor distancing. This trend has limited personal access and direct sales have been drastically limited in 2020. While that may change somewhat in the future, the trend that has emerged involves more engagement via video conferences and telephone calls. Personal interaction with customers and vendors is declining significantly and may never return to previous levels.
Social justice and political battles have driven more tension between differing constituencies. A number of our clients have reached out to us to discuss how to address the issue of employees expressing their political views on social media. In other words, employees are expressing their freedom of speech publicly which in turn has created conflict with other colleagues with differing views. Therefore, tension is building within the work environment, where otherwise teamwork is being touted.
Diversity and inclusion are evolving to be among the most visible workplace issues today. Pay equity, approaches to recruiting, and increasing diversity are just some of the main topics of discussion for leadership. However, while many organizations have begun dialogues about these concerns, most have not developed a substantive strategy to address the issues.
Generational change within the workplace has carried over from the previous decade and while not as visible as other trends, the emerging generations are also influencing changes in policy, compensation, benefits and organizational values.
Strive for Unifying Solutions
As senior leaders attempt to engage in discussion and development of new strategies on these trends, they struggle with where to land on the various issues. With the goal of building a unified team with a common values structure, the challenge is to achieve some type of balance that satisfies a diverse and polarized workforce. The goal is to build a unified team with a common values structure.
Companies continue to communicate new policies, value statements, and compliance-based statements aimed at managing risk. Once communicated, the implementation and support for these revised standards fall directly on the shoulders of the supervisors and managers who are in the trenches daily. This is quite a challenging responsibility given the lack of training and exposure to such matters.
Adapt Management Training for Trends
Many, if not all, supervisors/managers have not been trained to handle the complexity of social distancing, leading at a distance, social justice, diversity/inclusion, pay equity, social media and generational differences. Today’s management teams may be experts at the technical aspects of their work, but are not yet equipped to effectively move forward through these emerging trends. For this reason, we strongly recommend devoting time and creating a uniform supervisory and management training framework that provides the necessary tools for handling current trends and issues.
Managers during the next few years will focus significantly more on complex issues than in prior decades. Senior leaders must devote time to calibrating and reinforcing the company’s core values, determine approaches to communications, risk management and policy to meet the evolving realities of today’s workplace. Building a new management foundation for this new decade is not a choice but an absolute necessity to foster an appropriate organizational culture.
For more information on adapting to new management realities in the workplace contact Dan Simovic in the form below.
How effective were you in selling your products and services? How effective are you now in selling your products and services? The answer has probably changed – because the market most certainly has changed, too.
It has taken years of strategic and tactical work to cultivate an effective sales organization with a customer base that values your products and services. In the span of a few months, the pandemic has done more than simply threaten the viability of your sales function. For many sales organizations, it has triggered a tsunami-like setback that demands your attention.
Social Distancing = Customer Distancing
Selling products and interfacing with customers looks completely different than it did this time last year. It will look different going forward. Similar to “social distancing,” we have “customer distancing,” mandating a movement to a more “virtual” commercial organization. This economic disruption has particularly impacted outside sales organizations. You can no longer grab lunch with a client, readily schedule a visit with decision-makers, or conduct presentations in front of key team members.
You can still sell, but your approach needs to evolve.
Seven Market Strategy Factors
Most organizations need to rethink the go-to-market pay strategy and commensurately align expectations to a wildly different set of market realities.
This assessment needs to incorporate seven key areas. They include:
1. Understanding how existing customers and prospects have been impacted by the rapid market changes
Although more organizations will find that their businesses have been impacted negatively, some are experiencing positive impacts. In some industry segments (protection equipment, disinfectants, pharmaceuticals), sales could even become easier, albeit more competitive. Not all of your customers (or prospects) will have been impacted in the same way.
You’ll need to consider the pandemic’s impacts on:
Availability of capital
Shipping and logistics
2. Identifying which customers use more than one product or service
You will need to adapt your sales strategy and approach to accommodate customers who are impacted positively in some areas of their business and negatively in others. One size will not fit all.
3. Rethinking the Customer Experience
Customer behavior patterns have changed. The decision-making and buying processes have transformed into a growing reliance on technology. Do you have digital content that provides the brand experience that you want your customers and prospects to have? Does it communicate the value of your products or services? Can you innovate your service delivery model to meet your clients’ needs – and stay competitive?
4. Determining how to personally engage customers in a meaningful way – at a distance
This is not an easy task for some outside salespeople who are not accustomed to a more impersonal and transactional sales process. Some are more accustomed to long-term relationship building and will be challenged by the new approach. It’s a lot easier to say “no” over the phone than it is in person. This will require establishing new processes and building new skills and competencies that will be necessary to be successful.
5. Re-examining what you’re measuring in your commercial function
Changing the selling approach necessitates a complete re-evaluation of the established measures within your commercial function. It’s time to revisit the old metrics and adapt the approach to managing performance in light of revised metrics.
6. Aligning the organizational structure to the new market realities
This inherently means adjusting all commercial roles, responsibilities, reporting relationships, and accountabilities to optimally support the customer and ultimately increase new client acquisition.
7. Adapting the sales incentive plan to align with new behaviors and expectations
This effort will focus on thoroughly linking sales behavior to incentives. How will you retain your top performers? Some organizations may not have done this prior to the pandemic; it’s an absolute necessity to evaluate it now.
Addressing these seven areas is the starting point for aligning your sales organization with the current situation. With the market shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the right time to adjust your approach. You can’t stop the wave, but you can do more than just ride it – you can get ahead of it.
Findley has structured an approach to facilitate a complimentary rapid assessment of your sales organization, and provide some deeper insight into the areas that you need to consider in refocusing your organization to succeed in today’s market realities. To learn more or to schedule a complimentary session to discuss your sales organization challenges, contact Dan Simovic with the form below.