B2B Sales is a tough profession. It is a fun and challenging vocation to be in. It can be rewarding and extremely lucrative. It can fast track careers and get high performing sales reps noticed at the highest levels of the organisation. It can serve to be a fast onramp to the much-coveted C-Suite. But there is no denying it. B2B Sales is a tough profession. The ‘highs’ of the role allow the salesperson to experience all the benefits of riding the sales high. Equally, the ‘lows’ of the B2B sales profession bring all the downsides. It really is a story of stark contrasts.
Salespeople become adept at battling the downsides. They learn how to fight themselves out of the several lost deals for that one win. They become skilled at getting ‘that deal’ over the line just before the quarter’s closing. They also master bringing in a large opportunity and closing it just before the end of the FY. B2B salespeople become well versed in making the impossible, possible. But all of this comes at a cost. There is a mental price for the salesperson and the sales leaders involved. Many sales teams seem to almost enjoy the dark lows and the euphoric highs. They take into their stride the sinusoidal nature of the profession of B2B selling.
However, there is an inherent problem in B2B sales cultures globally. Salespeople often take their foot off the accelerator after getting that big deal over the line and reaching their sales target. To be candid, it is rather tempting to take your foot off when the times are good. Even for the sales leader, once you have made the team target for the quarter or the FY, it is easy to fall into the trap of complacency. After all, revenue is coming in steadily, cash flow is healthy, team morale is high, stress levels are low, your team has achieved their quotas, you have paid their commissions, and success is in the air. However, sitting back and enjoying the rolling results of deals closed in previous quarters is a flawed business practice. One practised more commonly than it should be.
When times are good, sales leaders must continue to drive the sales function to success, just as they would if they were chasing a failing quarter. Businesses can better protect themselves from sinusoidal performance by maintaining consistent sales efforts. The loss of one top-performing salesperson or one large account can be devastating for a quarter or even four. Consistency in the sales effort can minimise the highs and lows of sales performance. I am a huge believer in the notion of ‘put in your absolute best when you are ahead’.
Here are some of the advantages of driving sales during good times
When the team is winning, the psychology of the period is good. You are in a good quarter or a good half. You might even be smashing your targets for the FY. The morale is high. The moods are good all around. Most importantly, the team psychology is positive. This is when the sales leaders and the salespeople will naturally think more clearly. This clarity will enable them to naturally navigate deals from a positive frame of reference rather than a ‘forced positive’ stance they may adopt during challenging times.
Lack of time pressure:
When the sales team is ahead, time is on your side. You are not chasing deals. You are not burning the midnight oil on proposals. You are not trying to build consensus in a month that requires three months. You have the time to prospect. You have the time to say no to the wrong fit of client. You have the time to work on the right opportunities properly. You have time on your side. You can leverage this time to work deals and opportunities to completion. You do not have to try and close early. You can walk the entire nine yards. You can get to know the customer and the priorities of several members in the C-Suite. You develop a robust sales strategy, and you execute the right tactics. Minimised time pressure allows salespeople several significant advantages. Rather than chasing any possible deal, they can build consensus across good quality deals. This focus means that they can walk good quality prospects through each stage, from top of funnel to close, properly, providing valuable and unique insights.
Space for innovation:
When a team is chasing targets, it cannot think in innovative ways. The time pressure is too high. The deadlines are too close. The demands are too taxing. An air of impatience prohibits organisations from innovating when the times are tough. There is limited time and poor resource availability in tough times. This limits the ability to approach matters with ingenuity. ‘This is good enough’ ends up becoming the mantra. Though challenging times can often lead to innovation, the inventiveness and originality born in good times come from a positive spectrum. Teams can pull together and yield tremendous innovation when the environment is positive.
When times are good for your sales team, you have likely had major wins. If these wins are new logos, chances are you beat competitors to get the wins. If these wins are from existing accounts, chances are your competitors tried to oust you from the account, and they failed. Either way, when you win, someone else does not. Your good times are a source of competitive advantage. It is the ideal time to press forward and ahead by putting in quality sales effort with discipline and dedication across the entire sales team.
When your sales organisation is amassing wins, you are beating the competition in the process. The market finds out who won. Your supply chain will know. Your competitors will find out. The best Salespeople want to work for winning organisations. When your organisation operates in this echelon, attracting and retaining talent will be an easier feat.
Sales teams worldwide become caught in the sinusoid of the B2B sales world. An effective way to break the pattern of chasing quarters and FYs is to gain momentum when you are ahead. Leaders who maintain positive momentum on the sales front place their organisations in better stead for sustainable and consistent long term growth. This growth ultimately impacts the company’s overall trajectory and its future valuation. Sales leaders must ask themselves and the sales teams they lead – ‘How do we as a sales organisation behave when we have over achieved our sales results for the quarter?’