SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Jason Davis, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing Practice at BTS

Jason Davis, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing Practice at BTS talks about the various ways in which sales leaders can build out stronger and more efficient sales teams:

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Welcome to this chat Jason, tell us more about yourself and your role at BTS?

I am a Senior Director in the Sales and Marketing Practice at BTS. In this role, I partner with sales and marketing leaders and their enablement and training colleagues to provide consulting and training services to help them understand their customers better and how they buy, develop sales and marketing processes and methodologies, and provide training services to build the capabilities of their marketers and sellers.

We’d love to dive into your thoughts on developing sales teams and sales leadership: as executives move through the journey from being sellers to managers, what training/leadership can help build them into better leaders?

As sellers transition to managers, there are three key areas where training and enablement efforts could help them most.

Shifting their mindset from that of “my success comes through my efforts” to “my success comes through the success of my team.” While seemingly obvious, most early tenure sales managers fail to realize the magnitude of this shift and how critical it is to alter how they engage with the sellers on their team.

Understanding where each seller needs help. Having performance data is no longer the issue for most managers. Instead, it’s the quantity and quality of the data. Today’s managers need to learn how to sift through the data to find the most relevant points. Combined with observations of their sellers, managers can develop a clearer picture of where each seller needs coaching.

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Understanding how to tailor coaching to each seller. While data and observations will provide a picture of sellers’ skill gaps, managers need to combine these with each individual’s qualitative attributes to determine how to coach them best. An individual’s temperament, experience in sales, tenure in the role, and relational dynamic with their manager will all impact how responsive a seller is to one coaching style versus another. Equipping managers with the knowledge of how to recognize these qualities and how to adjust their coaching style to be most effective will maximize the impact they achieve with their coaching.

Seeing how B2B sales trends are evolving rapidly with there now being more onus on salespeople to hone technical skills as well as strong virtual selling attributes, what are some best practices that can help salespeople develop this balance?

Virtual has forced sellers to hone new virtual selling skills while balancing their technical skills. Sellers already have many relevant skills – asking strong questions, listening effectively, creating passionate value propositions. However, what’s new in the virtual world is how those skills show up – they happen in shorter meetings with less non-verbal feedback. And sellers are likely doing things more frequently in a day due to the increased number of meetings – which means having a deeper reserve of energy. Most sellers recognize the need to shift how they do things but are unclear on how to make those shifts. By working with their managers and peers to identify what shifts to make first and then setting time to prepare for and practice these new behaviors in advance of customer meetings, sellers will shift more easily into this virtual selling world. Ultimately, the shifts should focus on the following:

Recognizing that during virtual meetings, sellers cannot do exactly the same things in the same way they have done in the past during in-person meetings.

Embracing the need to facilitate short, focused, and impactful meetings every time as customers have higher expectations that every virtual meeting is worth their time.

Competing with distractions is the norm, and good virtual meetings require driving higher levels of engagement during the meeting.

To find balance in honing these skills along with their technical ones, it is important to mix learning and usage of technical skills into the roadmap of the virtual selling skills. Despite the ever-present pressure in sales to go faster, all these new things cannot be learned at once – it simply takes time. By being patient and methodical in what skills sellers focus on and how to sequence the rest, sellers can balance how they develop their new technical savvy and virtually adept selves.

What are some of the integral aspects to a B2B sales coaching strategy that should be implemented more thoroughly to build higher-performing teams?

Several integral aspects should be implemented to more thoroughly build higher-performing teams that involve positioning (or repositioning) great salespeople to become great sales managers. This process requires a more comprehensive approach to training and often entails the following:

Develop an external (rather than an internal) mindset surrounding success:

Mindsets can sometimes limit a sales manager’s ability to lead a team successfully. Years of sales conditioning place all the focus on personal performance — not others’ results. Managers can’t operate with a seller’s mindset if they want to be successful sales managers. They need to shift their mindset, see how their success comes from others, and coach and empower employees to achieve their individual success.

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When trying to change a mindset, it’s also important for sales managers to assess their initial thoughts or knee-jerk reactions to situations. If managers find themselves considering or taking actions intended to resolve the situation on behalf of the rep, they need to stop and re-think how that would help the rep grow — or not grow. Instead of fixing things for the representative or reprimanding the rep for failure, it’s best to teach the rep how to resolve the situation next time. In general, managers need to find ways to empower their sellers to be successful on their own. This is a very different mindset than what is required to be a successful seller.

Experience great sales coaching from seasoned mentors:

More often than not, sales managers entered into their positions without experiencing great coaching themselves. They might be selling experts, but do they know what successful sales coaching looks like? Without examples and firsthand experience, they will always be disconnected from how to best impart their sales knowledge to the people they were tasked to lead. If sales managers have only experienced ineffectual coaching in the past, you can expect that cycle to continue. This lack of firsthand experience of excellent, empowering coaching puts new managers at a disadvantage.

To break the cycle of ineffective coaching, managers must experience great coaching from professional coaches who have the necessary training and experience. Coaching must be grounded in reality, so the best coach should possess a background in sales or marketing, which makes every session applicable. The coach must bring together the “what to coach” and the “how to coach effectively” for the sales manager.

Understand when they can make the most impact:

To meet the needs of individual sellers, managers must find the pivotal times in the sales process when coaching is most effective. Managers know which leads have been assigned to which reps and know when leads are closing. But what happens between those two points? Where are the entry points for empowering and guiding? There are three key opportunities in the selling process that are ripe for coaching:

  • Preparation: Managers can help sales reps prepare for client interactions and set them up for success.
  • Execution: When managers are called upon to co-sell with their sales reps, they are excellent opportunities to provide coaching.
  • Reflection: After the client interaction is over, it’s vital to help sellers reflect on what went well and what they might try differently next time.

Each of these moments provides an opportunity to guide the team member to employ ideal selling behaviors. Still, great coaching goes beyond timing. Sales managers must learn to assess each employee and tailor their coaching approach to their learning needs. Every person learns differently: Some need visual representation for information to sink in, and others benefit from kinesthetic, hands-on learning.

A few thoughts on the importance of sales coaching and why sales leaders need to pay attention to implementing strong coaching formats?

Coaching is so important because the majority of sellers cannot do it alone. Yes, there are some sales managers with innate abilities or the drive to figure it out, but no company has enough of them to achieve revenue targets. The vast majority of a company’s salesforce is made up of people who have the potential to succeed but need help to unlock that potential. Sales Managers who are effective coaches are the single key for this. When a seller receives effective coaching from their manager, they are much more likely to have higher performance and stay at the company.

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bts

BTS is a global professional services firm that partners with clients to enable strategy execution. At BTS, we believe that success comes from people understanding how their daily work impacts business results, so we provide the skills, tools, and knowledge your people need to take the right action at the right moment. We are experts in behavior change and care deeply about both delivering results for our clients and ensuring that their people do the best work of their lives. Our engagements range from embedded multi-year transformation projects to brief, targeted capability development.

Jason Davis is a Senior Director within the Sales and Marketing Practice at BTS, a global professional services firm that partners with clients to enable strategy execution. In his role, he is a partner to global client organizations seeking to expand the capabilities of their sales and marketing teams. Additionally, he is accountable for driving efficiency and work-quality of the consultants within the Sales and Marketing Practice.

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