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Why Innovation Is Key To Driving Sales Performance…

And Why Sales Leaders Need to Loosen Their Grip On Their Sales Teams

As sales dry up and the pressure to achieve target increases, for sales leaders it can be very tempting to impose greater oversight of sales teams through more regular check-ins, activity reporting, new processes and more. This is understandable given how volatile the world is right now. To make well-informed decisions about how to adapt to the new normal, it is only natural for a sales leader to want to have up-to-date information from those on the ground. But is it the right approach?

We already know that salespeople spend a lot of their time on non-sales activities, for example this Salesforce survey of sales professionals identified that even before lockdown on average 64% of their time is spent not selling. So if we are now asking them for even more information, more frequently, that can only further reduce the amount of time available for selling.

Worse still it may be stifling sales innovation at the very moment you need it most. There is a growing body of evidence that fostering a culture of innovation amongst your sales team will positively impact upon the bottom line. This is not achieved by a rigid ‘one size fits all’ style of management. It is based upon encouraging individual salespeople to share knowledge with each other, to ask questions, to challenge existing methods, to generate ideas and to explore these further in order to problem solve, all with the intention of adding value for the customer.

It requires sales leaders to focus on knowledge and behaviour within the team rather than their targets and outcomes. And it requires individual salespeople to work collaboratively rather than acting as lone wolves.

In rapidly changing and uncertain economic climates, everyone in the sales team and across the organisation needs to be sharing, and interrogating, information not just reporting it up to the sales leader. Allowing sales teams to be innovative could be a real differentiator. Encouraging your salespeople to think differently and to challenge each other and the status quo will enable them to respond innovatively and lead to better solutions that will enable them to position themselves with their customers as a trusted advisor; someone they want to hear from and whose insight they value. It is that quality of relationship that will drive your competitive advantage.

Jim Bloomfield is a Director of Bloojam Consulting with 20 years’ experience of using business psychology to develop salespeople and leaders. He is a member of the Association of Business Psychology (ABP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS) and has successfully helped some of Britain’s best-known businesses exceed their sales goals.

Blogs Consulting Human Resources Leadership Development Learning & Development

Driving Culture Change Using 360 Programmes

360 Programmes Beyond The Individual: Driving And Measuring Culture Change

Most people remember their first 360 feedback; the first time they’ve heard how their colleagues really see them.  The really great leaders I speak to have embraced the feedback, responded and been on a development journey (pardon the X Factor cliché) ever since.

I passionately believe in the power of a well-delivered 360 programme (see our previous blogs about 360 best practice).  Some of the immediate benefits are:

  • Increased self-awareness for the individual; clearly seeing their strengths and development areas, and opening up their blind spots, this gives a clear basis for ongoing development
  • Good 360 analytics can provide insights into training needs for teams and departments, helping to effectively target training and development budgets and identify quick wins such as peer mentoring

Longer-term, 360 feedback alongside other L&D and employee engagement interventions, can help to underpin culture change programmes for the organisation:

  • Regularly repeated 360 programmes can encourage a feedback culture that helps colleagues to give each other constructive feedback on a day-to-day-basis
  • 360 surveys that are structured around a well-designed competency framework clearly articulate what ‘good’ looks like, providing a shared understanding of what behaviours should be aspired to. Competency frameworks can include motivation and values elements that also underpin the desired culture.
  • Regular 360 cycles can help to measure the success of culture change programmes, using analytics to understand the extent of the movement towards the desired behaviours and where further interventions are needed.

Somebody’s first 360 can be quite an emotional experience, but that’s because it gets to the heart of what’s important in their role, to their colleagues and for their organisation.  Harnessing that insight can pay dividends for individuals, teams and change programmes.

Sarah is a Chartered Business Psychologist and a Director of Bloojam Consulting.  With 20 years’ experience working in selection and development, she is passionate about using evidence-based approaches to add demonstrable value to both the individual and the organisation.

Blogs Business Consulting Human Resources Learning & Development Sales Development

How HR Can Influence Business Leaders To Develop Their People

Helping HR To Speak The Language Of Business

When we see HR leaders and Sales leaders together around the table it can be interesting to hear the different language being used.

HR professionals often talk in people terms such as ‘talent’ ‘personal development’ and ‘engagement’.  They often see the value of robust selection and development practices in terms such as ‘talent pipeline’, ‘succession planning’ and ‘future leaders’.

Sales leaders often talk in terms of ‘targets’, ‘revenue’ and ‘sales performance’.

But, these are essentially two sides of the same coin.  Drawing a line between the two will help you to make the business case for using robust assessments for selection and development.   Here are some ways to support your argument for more ‘people’ focused activities that all business leaders can buy into.

  1. Reduce the risks and costs of wrong decisions

A good assessment process tells you more information about an individual than you can ever get in an interview alone. For example, an expert-led discussion with them about psychometric survey results will give you an invaluable insight into a person’s strengths, preferences, values, drivers and areas for development.

Armed with this rich information, you can make informed decisions about whether a candidate will perform well against the critical job criteria, whether your employee is ready for the next level of role or how to best spend your training budget to meet the specific needs of a team or department.

  1. Show me the money

A powerful business case will demonstrate the return on investment based on identifying the costs associated with poor selection or promotion decisions.

Questions to consider include:

  • How much does the recruitment / selection process cost?
  • How much does it cost to train someone in the new role?
  • How much does it cost the business while they are getting up to speed?
  • How much does it cost in re-training or performance management if a team member is underperforming?
  • What impact does it have on others if someone is underperforming? E.g. colleagues “carrying” their work, re-training them or becoming demotivated themselves; managers demotivating their team; a leader getting the direction wrong for the whole business.

Based on the answers to these questions, you’ll find that the cost of a robust selection process is a drop in the ocean in comparison. Click here for a useful ROI calculator to get you started.

  1. Provide the evidence

If you want to add even more weight to your business case, a validation study will link the results of the assessment method to key performance indicators in the role.  Take the example of a sales team; if you can identify which elements of personality and behaviour will drive sales performance then you can show the associated increase in income to the business if everyone was recruited against this profile. To see an example of how this has been done click here for more information.

  1. Hone your training budget

Using personality questionnaires, 360 surveys and other tools shows that as a business you are willing to invest in your people and their professional development. Using these as part of a development process can create a culture of self-awareness and self-development that didn’t previously exist. It can also provide team, department and organisational level themes that need to be addressed, thereby enabling you to make the best use of the training budget rather than taking a more costly “sheep dip” approach. Providing cost saving figures for your business leaders will again support your argument and help you to achieve your people aims.

In summary, an objective business case outlining the costs of getting it wrong and the value of getting it right can speak the language of senior peers and the C-Suite, helping HR leaders reach their own objectives while bringing other business leaders with them.

Sarah is a Chartered Business Psychologist and a Director of Bloojam Consulting.  With 20 years’ experience working in selection and development, she is passionate about using evidence-based approaches to add demonstrable value to both the individual and the organisation.

Blogs Consulting Leadership Development Sales Development Sales Leadership

Why Sales Leaders Need To Encourage Their Salespeople To Ditch The Sales Process

A lot of B2B sales organisations like to have a clear sales process written down for their salespeople to follow. The thinking is that this clarity will make the purchase experience easier for the customer and therefore will speed up the sale for the seller. A win-win that benefits both parties.

Blogs Business Consulting Sales Development Sales Leadership

Three Things Sales Leaders Should Do Now To Support Their Sales Teams

Nobody needs telling that business is tough at the moment. In the UK, GDP fell by 2% quarter-on-quarter for the first time since the last financial crash in 2008 and the next quarterly report is likely to be far, far worse. The government furlough scheme in which the state pays 80% of an employee’s wages now has more than 1 in 5 of all workers enrolled and has recently been extended to October.

Blogs Business Consulting Sales Development Sales Leadership

If Salespeople Now Need To Sell Remotely, Why Not Recruit And Develop Them Remotely Too?

Prior to this global pandemic, the steady beat of the climate change drum was already becoming more urgent. Greta Thunberg had, to some extent, succeeded in ensuring that the climate crisis was a regular feature in news bulletins. In news that already seems a long time ago, Heathrow’s plans for a third runway was ruled illegal because the government failed to factor in the impact it would have upon its commitments to tackle the climate crisis whilst HS2 was given the green light.

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Bloojam Bookclub: Issue 4

Title: Coaching for Performance

Author: Sir John Whitmore

Who is it for? Managers, leaders, Sales Leaders, coaches – anybody who wants to take a coaching approach to help others improve their work performance.  Suitable for all levels of coaching experience.

What is it about? The role of the manager as a coach and the role of coaching in management. This book explains the principles of coaching drawing on examples from the worlds of sport and business.

Why should I read it? A highly practical and accessible book written by a leader in the coaching field. It helps those new to coaching by providing an easy-to-follow framework for coaching conversations.  Equally, it serves as a helpful refresher and guide to more experienced coaches.  The case studies bring the GROW framework (Goals, Reality, Options, Will) to life. Highly recommended.

Blogs Consulting Professional Services Sales Development Sales Recruitment

The Case For Sales Skills In Professional Services

I have assessed hundreds of candidates who are up for promotion to more senior roles in professional service firms and I am yet to come across one whose burning desire is to become the top salesperson. Experts in their field, trusted partner to their clients, yes. But not a salesperson. The word ‘sales’ is rarely mentioned. Client management, business origination, occasionally business development, but sales? No, we’re a little more sophisticated here thank you!

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