By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist
White-collar workers spend their time and effort in convincing, persuading and influencing people. We are all in Sales now, says Daniel Pink. Customer-facing teams (and the rest of us) need to invest in human skills – skills that make us relationship workers.
What’s common to out-performers in Sales
From startups to global giants, it is the sales teams that bring in the revenue. I have observed that in a post Covid world, the customer describe digital interactions across platforms to be more important than traditional method. Sales teams are not used to leveraging video, audio and webinars to sell ideas, products and services. The customer-facing teams must meet the customer where they are.
Experts describe four factors that customer-facing teams need – Insights, Agility, Talent and Technology. Technology (systems, tools and processes) determines the kind of data that generates insights. Insights help you decide how to impact the customer journey through an agile culture. An agile culture draws world-class sales talent that can make the customer experience magical.
Every business must transform and evolve continuously. Taking a people-first approach ensures that employees own the transformation. The 3 tenets of the “People-First” approach
INSPIRE: It is only the leaders who get energised by metrics and dashboards. The employees get inspired by a purpose that is beyond making money.
INVEST: Transformation needs different skills at different stages. Investing in building capability of the leaders and their teams creates the organisational muscle to drive transformation.
SUPPORTIVE CULTURE: Microsoft’s cultural transformation under Satya Nadella’s leadership turned the company to become the first trillion dollar business. An inclusive leader builds the psychological safety that employees need to voice opinions and innovate.
Top talent in sales needs to have empathy when they listen to a customer. In a connected world they need to separate the signal from the noise. They need resilience and optimism to dust themselves after a really bad sales quarter.
Addressing high churn in sales teams
According to SHRM, employees leave when their job wasn’t enjoyable, their strengths weren’t being used, and they weren’t growing in their careers. This is where people-managers can play a major role in designing motivating, meaningful jobs. The best managers go out of their way to help people do work they enjoy—even if it means rotating them out of roles where they’re excelling. We do not enjoy doing every job that we CAN do.
Find and train OUTSTANDING people managers: A 2019 study by BetterUp found that workplace belonging can lead to an estimated 56 percent increase in job performance, a 50 percent reduction in turnover risk, and a 75 percent decrease in employee sick days. 57% of workers have left a job because of their manager. An effective manager who can set targets and coach the team can dramatically lower attrition. Outstanding sales people do not automatically become outstanding people managers – they need different skills. Every golfer is not a great tennis player.
Came across this young, innovative start up Skillr (no that is not a typo!) which is working on just this. It is a talent intelligence platform that uses a combination of technology and behavioural science to identify high performing teams. <Read this>
Daniel Kahneman recommends how to use training to improve forecasting. Hiring is all about forecasting who will perform best and achieve results. In his book Noise he says:
Several forecasters completed a tutorial designed to improve their abilities by teaching them probabilistic reasoning. In the tutorial, the forecasters learned about various biases (including base-rate neglect, overconfidence, and confirmation bias); the importance of averaging multiple predictions from diverse sources; and considering reference classes.
Assess and train people in soft skills before you hire: According to LinkedIn with the rise of AI/automation changing the job market, 92% of talent professionals and hiring managers agree that candidates with strong soft skills are increasingly important. Assess the candidates on soft skills since 89% feel that “bad hires” typically have poor soft skills.
‘Human skills’ on digital platforms: Customers expect sales teams to be comfortable engaging over digital platforms. Working with customers in a post-sale environment is growing in importance. Building trust over the web or video-conferencing is a human skill that every customer-facing employee needs. Human skills like ambition, grit and resilience take to develop. These are not taught in our schools and colleges. They can be built through micro-habits and bite size content.
Soft skills are the differentiator. The organisation culture is built through everyday interactions. Investing in soft skills for customer facing teams will pay rich returns in a Post-Covid world.
If you want to use the sketchnotes and graphics for your own work, go right ahead. It is my way of saying thanks for reading and sharing the ideas.
Join me on Tuesday June 1, 2021 at 7pm IST on the Mentza audio platform for a live chat – how to build the skills for the Customer Facing Teams.
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