All Change: How to Help Salespeople Succeed in 2021

What new skills do salespeople need? What additional training might help?

Field sales teams are facing the biggest adjustment. Managers will need to review how their now ‘caged’ field salespeople are coping, not just from a cost and performance perspective, but also to monitor their wellbeing. Many salespeople, highly skilled in face-to-face meetings, are now working at a desk (often isolated) and for many, the reason why they are in their job is because they didn’t plan to be desk-based. These salespeople may need new skills and greater internal communication to adapt to a desk-based role and still be effective, as well as tools to help them manage.

It is clear that the way everyone does business has changed. We are not going back to the way it was and the profile of a sales team has probably changed for the long-term, with most meetings taking place over video MS Teams meetings, increased interaction through chat and email, and daily communications being led by voice. Understanding how each member of the team is coping and any changes in behaviour are more important than ever to manage effectively.  And perhaps even more critical to the business is reviewing the structure of the team to check that in this new world, every individual has a clear understanding of objectives, the effect of the current challenging economic climate and how the business is evolving to overcome them.

The bottom line is that everyone has to change – from senior management to the most recent employees, at both a business and personal level. Every business should remember though, that these changes affect the whole supply chain, throughout the channel, right down to end customers who also need to change and adapt.

How can managers help their team succeed?

In 2021, there will be a need and thirst for managers to look after staff wellbeing and customer experience, whilst retaining a keen eye on internal productivity. Business performance will remain critical to business success, especially where businesses have been weakened financially during 2020. However, following the recent immense rate of change, we now need to ensure that everyone is OK – employees and customers alike. Managers will need to ensure that their staff do not get burnt out and unwell. Wellbeing and customer success are now being prioritised in a business as highly as productivity.

Managers need to consider collaborative goal setting and find new ways to assess performance using reliable analytics. This may require a new set of KPIs to deliver on staff productivity and wellbeing alongside valuable insights into how a business can adapt and grow. For this to be successful, managers need to be able to clearly demonstrate the relationship between individual and team KPIs and overall business priorities. This transparency, objectivity and understanding are fundamental to getting teams on board and comfortable with change.