If you are still waiting for the old normal to come back, you will see that almost two years of experiencing the pandemic has forever changed the way people look at sales. Back in the day, businesses skipped the socializing aspect and went straight to selling products or services. However, it seems that building a relationship is more important now than ever as COVID-19 inadvertently transformed sales towards being more human.
LinkedIn report’s State of Sale for 2021 states that “70% of the buyers want to continue working remotely half or more of the time in the future.” Remote working, the limited in-person interaction, and the inability to travel had a strong impact on the sales strategy, so revenue leaders discovered the urgent need to shift their strategy by building a more human and personal approach when closing a sale.
Certainly, we are now at the beginning of a Human-to-Human era. So what kind of sales strategies should sales leaders use to increase the sales team’s performance? This article will present seven sales strategies that can be used to outsmart and overcome pandemic challenges.<
Regain and re-qualify your loyal clients
The cost to acquire a new customer is higher than to retain an existing customer. Loyal customers are a source of boosting profits through these challenging times when customers are extremely conscious of their budgets. Companies must have a customer loyalty program for salespersons to use to their advantage.
Having offers like additional discounts, credit card programs, punch cards, and points systems is a good way to incentivize customers. If the customers feel rewarded, they will choose to stay with your business. It also avoids the possibility of them going to other competitors in the market.
A referral program is another fruitful strategy that can bring unlimited opportunities. Customers are more inclined to spread the word and refer your company’s products or services to a friend or family member if there are rewards for doing so. This is also an easy way to keep existing customers and to attract new clients.
Follow up with your customers regularly
As shown in LinkedIn’s report, only 2% of sales are done from the first interaction with a client while 80% of sales occur after at least five follow-ups. In terms of timeliness, 63% of the potential customers are not ready to buy for at least 3 months. Meanwhile, 20% of customers would be more likely to purchase in the next 12 months.
In practice, almost half of salespeople give up after just one trial. However, only 8% of salespeople will try to reach the customer for the fifth time. This means that those who make an extra effort would more likely be the top-performing salespeople in their organization.
Following up means building trust and loyalty. This means salespeople need to take time to use various channels such as emailing, calling, and even social media to reach their clients. It cannot be done without a consistent and time-efficient strategy. Nevertheless, a follow-up time-efficient strategy implies efforts, creativity, and a lot of patience.
Use Social Selling like a pro
Salespeople can use Social Selling practices as a tool for building relationships. Social sellers can connect and interact with potential prospects on social media, avoiding spamming. This is a new sales strategy that can focus on presenting your brand and providing solutions to build trust and loyalty.
In times like these, when we are missing face-to-face interaction, social selling should become a priority. Social selling cannot be done without Social Listening. This term refers to using the right tools in monitoring what people are saying on social media about your company, products, or services. In being cognizant of these tools, you can also find valuable opportunities to know what your customers need.
Oftentimes, companies will send an email to their customers. However, sending an email will no longer be enough to break the barrier between the seller and buyer. Instead, having a real conversation with your clients can build trust and confidence.
Focus on inbound sales
Inbound sales are defined by Mark Roberge, Advisor at HubSpot as “a scalable sales strategy that focuses on attracting interested prospects to your business and building lasting relationships to help your customers succeed.” The focus is more on quality than quantity. This is also the opposite of outbound sales.
Inbound sales start with defining your Buyer’s journey and understanding their current needs in three main steps: awareness, consideration, and decision. After which, the next step should be focused on identifying leads, connecting with them, exploring their current needs, and advising. From there, inbound sellers should separate the passive buyer from the active buyers and focus more on finding a good fit or ideal buyer. Finally, inbound sales imply writing a personalized presentation adapted to the buyer’s context.
It is now very important to step out of the game when it comes to sales. Sales representatives should become advisors and consultants who can understand the current challenges the customer is facing. By doing so, they should also be translators for the content that is provided on the website of the business.
Create content and provide solutions
Through creating and sharing useful content, social sellers can provide value and interact with potential customers. With the sophistication of interactions today, customers will know genuine intent from just a simple sales talk. If a sales representative is only interested in promoting what he wants to sell and not connecting with the customer, the customer will feel it and refuse any further interaction.
Furthermore, sharing the right content can change up the routine. This will help both customer and seller to also learn something new and useful. Channels such as LinkedIn and other relevant news and articles sites can prove to be useful in this area.
There is a wealth of relevant content that sales representatives can use to reach their clients in a meaningful way while providing information. LinkedIn articles, statistics, and research data that are relevant to your company are important for customers to learn more about your business. Other information such as infographics, videos, and even content on your company’s working culture can be useful in connecting with your customers
Use technology to your advantage
Social sellers should use and master technology to their advantage. Learning how to use various online tools to strengthen their online presence will give them that edge when reaching out to customers. You can utilize technology and boost your sales through various means such as having knowledge in CRM tools, video conferencing software, meeting schedule, content automation, and quote generation.
In an article written for Johns Hopkins Magazine, Patrick Ercolano describes sales as “a struggle for everyone, but it is less so for those who understand it and know how to leverage digital sales capabilities.” This goes to show that there is a need for sales representatives to rethink their strategies within the digital space. Additionally, he mentioned that “digital sales transformation is about making technology focus on the process, so you can focus on the customer.”
LinkedIn also stated this year that 77% of sales professionals are going to invest more in sales intelligence tools. This number shows that CRM System integration is a must. Utilizing sales engagement and sale intelligence software is very useful for building trust with their customer base as well.
Use KPIs to measure personal and departmental performance
There is a need for a rigorous measurement system to improve sales performance. In the past, metrics were more oriented toward measuring individual or team performance. Nowadays, the performance measurement needs to be more focused on customer satisfaction and retention, as well as the tracking of activity quantity.
The most important KPIs to measure customer satisfaction and customer retention are % Customer satisfaction, % Customer loyalty, % Customer satisfaction with service levels, % Customer satisfaction with complaints handling, % Net Promoter Score, % Customer retention, $ Customer retention cost. Meanwhile, the most used activity quantity KPIs used to measure sales performance during this pandemic are the following: # Leads created, # Calls made, # Sent emails, # Follow Ups, # Social Media Connections, # Meetings Scheduled, # Proposals Sent, % Closed Ratio, # Referral Requests, # Attemted Upsells. To see all these documented KPIs, explore SmarKPIs.com, the world’s largest database of documented KPIs.
Satisfied customers mean happy customers and they can become the best advocates of your brand. Considering all these seven sales strategies, we realize that it is time to reconfigure our ways to sell. The sales representative will not disappear and cannot be replaced by any technological inventions because humans need other humans to trust and interact.
If we reconfigure our sales strategy based on building loyalty and trust, we need to be perseverant in following up, mastering social selling and social listening skills. We also need to focus on Inbound Sales by using the best technological advances to our advantage. Finally, if we can do all these and measure our performance, we can outsmart the pandemic challenges.
The EFQM Model, or the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model, is a globally recognized management framework that allows organizations to achieve success by measuring where they are on the path towards transformation. The EFQM Model helps them understand the gaps and possible solutions available and significantly improve an organization’s performance.
The excellence also recognizes the role that organizations play in supporting the goals of the United Nations. Those goals have also helped to shape the latest edition of the EFQM Model. It covers the United Nations Global Compact (ten principles for sustainable and socially responsible business) and the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which are a call to action for all countries to promote social equity, sound governance, and prosperity while protecting the planet.
The strategic nature of the EFQM Model, combined with its focus on operational performance and results, makes it the ideal framework for testing the coherence and alignment of an organization’s ambitions with the future and referenced against its current ways of working and its responses to challenges and pain points.
The EFQM Model in 2020 has seven criteria:
- Purpose, vision, and strategy: An outstanding organization is defined by a purpose that inspires, a vision that is aspirational, and a strategy that delivers.
- Organizational culture & Leadership: Organizational culture is the specific collection of values & norms that are shared by people and groups within an organization that influence, over time, the way they behave with each other and with key stakeholders outside the organization.
- Organizational leadership relates to the organization as a whole rather than any individual or team that provides direction from the top. It is about the organization acting as a leader within its ecosystem, recognized by others as a role model, rather than from the traditional perspective of a top team managing the organization.
- Engaging stakeholders: Having decided which stakeholders are the most important to the organization, i.e., its key stakeholders, and independent of the specific groups identified, it is highly likely that there is a degree of similarity in applying the following principles when engaging with key stakeholders.
- Creating sustainable value: An outstanding organization recognizes that creating sustainable value is vital for its long-term success and financial strength.
- Driving performance and transformation: Now and in the future, an organization needs to be able to meet the following two important requirements at the same time to become and remain successful.
- Stakeholder perceptions: This criterion concentrates on results based on feedback from key stakeholders about their personal experiences of dealing with the organization – their perceptions.
- Strategic and operational performance: This criterion concentrates on results linked to the organization’s performance in terms of the ability to fulfil its purpose, deliver the strategy, and create sustainable value.
Why sustainability matters to businesses
Nowadays, an organization’s primary focus is to maintain continuous business development and the high satisfaction of its stakeholders while facing the pressure to reduce resources utilization and changes in the business ecosystem. Hence, the way organizations cope with competitiveness, data processing, and customers’ needs and taking a proactive approach in the market has become the main concerns in their strategic agenda.
By benchmarking themselves against their environment, organizations learn how to better position themselves in the market and assess their performance levels compared to their competitors and secure sustainability based on the three world-known sustainability pillars, Society, Environment, and Economic.
Ultimately, the application of a sustainability strategy enables a recalibration of improvement initiatives and strategic approaches to provide better products and services while using less resources to benefit the planet, the economy, and society.
Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social, also known informally as profits, planet, and people.
Sustainability encourages businesses to frame decisions in terms of environmental, social, and human element impact for the long-term rather than on short-term gains, such as next quarter’s earnings report. It influences them to consider more factors than the immediate profit or loss involved. Increasingly, companies have issued sustainability goals, such as commitment to zero-waste by a certain year or to reduce overall emissions by a certain percentage.
The ultimate framework of sustainability is described in the UN Sustainability Goals, which set targets to be realized by 2030. Countries have announced their Sustainability Goals and are expected to be followed by leading organizations. Those organizations would design their own Sustainability Strategic Objectives to align with those of the UN SDGs.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals Agenda is a plan of action for obtaining 17 improvement objectives on society, environment, and prosperity by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals and targets are integrated, indivisible, global in nature, and universally applicable, taking into account different national realities, capacities, and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.
What is a Sustainability Best Practice Framework?
The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)’s Materiality Map determines sustainability issues that are likely to affect the financial condition or operating performance of organizations within an industry. SASB identifies 26 sustainability-related business issues or General Issue Categories, encompassing a range of disclosure topics and their associated accounting metrics that vary by industry.
For example, the General Issue: Category of Customer Welfare encompasses both the Health and Nutrition topic in the Processed Foods industry and the Counterfeit Drugs topic in the Health Care Distributors industry.
With SASB standards, companies can benefit from greater transparency, better risk management, improved long-term performance, and stronger, more valuable services. All of these while providing investors a more accurate picture of their sustainability performance to improve their image and contribution to the SDGs.
SASB standards and tools are helping organizations because they identify a handful of ESG and sustainability topics that most directly impact the long-term value creation; implement principles-based reporting frameworks including Integrated Reporting by the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD); and communicate sustainability data more efficiently and effectively to investors.
SASB can be a core part of any reporting system. Whether used alone, alongside other reporting frameworks, or as part of an integrated report, SASB standards and metrics enable companies to communicate with investors in a detailed, powerful way. SASB standards and tools enable organizations around the world to identify and manage financial-material sustainability issues and communicate these issues to investors.
Today, organizations face unique challenges, from climate change and resource constraints to urbanization and technological innovation. Although financial statements provide valuable information on tangible assets and financial capital, investors are increasingly interested in how organizations also manage sustainability issues that affect their long-term value and the global economy.
To learn more about designing an organizational, operational, or departmental strategy and running benchmarking projects, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional (C-SBP) Live Online training course.
What is an agile government, and how can it be achieved?
Agile is a well-known approach in the IT industry, where teams create deliverables in small incremental value within an iteration to achieve one big final goal or a product. This approach supports continuous development and allows teams to shift quickly when necessary because clients may ask for drastic changes.
Given the kind of results produced by the agile approach, it has attracted not only the IT industry but also the public sector and governmental institutions. To better understand the agile principles, let’s take a look at how Indonesia is reforming its bureaucratic system and implementing new strategies.
Bureaucracy in Indonesia
Indonesia is one of the countries in ASEAN that already put some effort into being agile by reforming its bureaucracy. President Joko Widodo expressed this intention in his speech at the Sentul International Convention Center on July 14, 2019. He recommended structural reform “so that institutions are simpler, more agile.”
Indonesia has a total of 217 government agencies, 31 ministries, and 98 statutory agencies as of 2014, based on the data of the Institute of Public Administration Australia. In the World Bank’s Mapping Indonesia’s Civil Service report, Indonesia’s civil service has increased by 25 percent from around 3.6 million in 2006 to over 4.5 million in 2018.
Bureaucracy bleeds several problems, ranging from corruption to low performance. The study “A Structural and Mindset Bureaucratic Reform Agenda for Jokowi’s Second Term.” published in May 2020, cited data from the Commission of Corruption Eradication (KPK) showing that in 2018, out of 2,357 civil servants who had committed corruption, only 891 were dishonorably discharged and 62 percent have not been fired and are still receiving salaries.
Indonesia’s six strategic steps
The bureaucracy culture of the Indonesian government can be traced back to its history of colonialism. But the country continues to aspire for reforms to give the public quality service. Its bureaucratic reform initiatives will be implemented according to the Grand Design of Bureaucratic Reform 2010-2025.
Bureaucratic reform, according to Indonesia’s “Regulation of Minister of State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reform Number: PER/15/M/PAN/7/2008 concerning General Guidelines for Bureaucratic Reform,” refers to a systematic process and carefully planned fundamental changes in government organizations that aim to achieve high performance in carrying out duties and efficiently implementing services, development, and governance.
Widodo instructed his cabinet to implement bureaucratic reforms based on the “Regulation of the Minister of State Apparatus Utilization and Bureaucratic Reform number 25 year 2021 regarding Simplification of Organizational Structure in Governmental Institution.”
It consists of instructions in the form of a Circular Letter, which presents six strategic steps for every government institution as they reform their bureaucratic system.
- Identifying which echelon can be simplified according to each organizational structure;
- Mapping which structural role for echelon III, IV, and V in each unit that can be converted into functional roles;
- Mapping the functional roles needed by each institution to replace the structural roles;
- Adjusting the budget according to the new organization’s structure;
- Communicating the results to internals;
- Submitting the results to the Minister of State Apparatus Utilization and Bureaucratic Reform.
Indonesia’s bureaucratic system is loosening up to give way to an agile environment. An organization that is flattening its organizational structure is aiming for a more agile, adaptive , according to the paper “Cultivating Agile Organizational Culture: Addressing Resistance to Change in Bureaucratic Government Organizations.”
The study states that in organizational flattening, “leaders allow subordinate units to operate with minimal higher level control, and prefer more collaborative interactions.”
Going agile: analysis and recommendations
Bureaucratic reform, when done right, could transform organizations and public services. For instance, the One Stop Service at the Investment and Integrated Licensing Service Agency (IILSA) in Puruan City is a result of reforms made in the administrative services licensing process.
For a country to exhibit agile governance, it has to listen to its constituents in an efficient manner. According to the article “Agile: A New Way of Governing” written by Ines Mergel, Sukumar Ganapati, and Andrew B. Whitford, agile administrations must welcome reforms and adapt to the changing environment, public values, and public needs.
The authors stressed that agile governments must choose adaptive structure over hierarchies and silos and individual discretion over bureaucratic procedures. They also emphasized that consensual decision-making and trial-and-error approaches must take place for a government to be agile.
To be adaptive, governments must introduce an approach where their decision-making structure is decentralized and bottom-up, according to the paper “Adaptive governance: Towards a stable, accountable and responsive government.”
Indonesia launched its decentralization process in 1999, encouraging participation in community and regional planning and involving citizens in local governance. However, Indonesia has yet to experience the full effects of decentralization.
For example, in the area of public finance, decentralization is not being carried out properly due to two concerns, as stated in the report “Government Decentralization Program in Indonesia” released by the Asian Development Bank.” The first issue refers to “the capacity of subnational governments to produce public and private goods, increase productivity and employment, and promote economic growth in their jurisdictions, was not increased.”
The second concern is about the lack of training of financial managers, as required by the new laws of public treasury and auditing.
To address those issues, the government must demonstrate flexibility. Mergel, Ganapati, and Whitford suggest that flexibility is crucial because agile is not confined to one finished product, service, or process and prioritizes continuous improvement instead.
This is applicable in contracting processes. Traditional governments apply the waterfall model, but agile “requires a contract management approach that is flexible and stretches beyond a fixed-price, one-time project.”
Lastly, these public management reforms can only happen under a new style of leadership. In the IT industry, developers in an agile environment are expected to collaborate with business users. The same is true for agile governments, where leaders must serve and empower people.
To learn more about how governments can measure and improve performance at all levels, visit The KPI Institute’s Center for Government Performance.
Corporate Strategy Development
Executives are familiar with Alfred Chandler, one of the more prominent strategic management scholars, along with Henry Mintzberg. Chandler perceives corporate strategy as the determining factor behind a firm’s long-term goals, after which you allocate capabilities and adapt actions & activities in a fashion that can achieve them in both an effective and efficient way.
Companies use international placements as a way to further their talent management objectives.