Sales teams are an important part of any business, but their role has never been more visible — and more crucial — than in the past year. As companies struggled first to stabilize their operations (and thrive in a new, uncertain climate), sales teams have found themselves on the front lines.
Not only have Sales been tasked with finding inventive ways to engage customers while adapting to new working conditions and regulations, but they have also had to act as change managers for customers who may not have their own change management capacity, helping them ‘lead through change’.
Sales Program Managers also play a crucial role in supporting Sales in a trying landscape.
We all hoped that the upheavals of 2020 would be short-lived. But as the year wore on, it became clear that it wouldn’t be business as usual any time soon. As a result, sales teams have again found themselves at the forefront of finding ways to manage the changes brought about by the New Normal.
The most followed hashtags on LinkedIn — #Future, #digitaltransformation, #artificialintelligence, and #Innovation — speak to a growing realisation among business leaders that we are still just taking the first steps into a new and unfamiliar, yet also exciting and potentially transformative, post-COVID-19 world.
The challenges that Sales Teams face in guiding their customers through these changes are daunting, but the opportunities are huge. Sales Program Managers play a crucial role in facilitating their work.
Change management is the process by which companies improve their performance, address operational issues, and capitalise on opportunities. A fundamental stage in the change management process is identifying areas of opportunity, such as:
Gaps in customers’ current processes
Challenges they are unable to fully address
Needs that aren’t yet being met
This is an area where the knowledge and experience of sales teams can prove particularly valuable.
Sales teams are also uniquely placed to assess customer needs and drivers. They are able to map their sales pipeline to the change management process, allowing them to home in on opportunities, propose value, and confirm the business’ commitment to change.
Sales teams are the experts on the ground when it comes to helping customers to manage change, and they are helped and supported by Sales Program Managers (SPMs).
Sales Program Managers can free up Sales Teams’ time so that they can realise their change management capabilities.
Sales Program Managers can leverage internal sales intelligence or marketing data to identify which accounts or prospects are facing changes. This will enable a high propensity to buy or a high potential for upsell opportunities.
Sales teams can then connect with these prospects to generate awareness of the need to embrace change.
Change Managers need to be excellent communicators. To allow sales teams to demonstrate this skill, Sales Program Managers can advise them on suitable sales ‘plays’ that they can use to:
Ask the right questions to assess their needs
Communicate the company’s value proposition at every touchpoint.
Sales Program Managers can recommend the most suitable plays for each target account or contact. They can also work with Marketing, Enablement, and Product experts to keep plays most relevant for sales.
In order to lead customers through change, sales teams must keep their knowledge up to date so that they embody best practices. Sales Program Managers facilitate the sharing of knowledge, successful approaches, and best practices across regions or segments of the business. This ensures that sales teams always have the most effective techniques and programs.
In recent months companies have had to confront the fact that, for better or worse, the world won’t be going back to the way it was before March 2020. This New Normal brings challenges, but sales teams and Sales Program Managers have huge opportunities in their sights as they work together to help their customers truly lead through change.
For more insights into how customers are navigating the New Normal, read our State of the Connected Customer report!