To some people, there aren’t many combinations of three words that stir up emotions so much as ‘Team Building Event’.
Whether you find these things terrifying or tedious, perhaps either inspiring or irritating is obviously a personal choice. But like it or not, team building events are with us to stay, and they take many forms.
People who have opted to mainly work from home (WFH) in the post-Covid hybrid work environment can find themselves mercifully free of such things; others look forward to them as a chance for ‘a bit of a laugh’ and maybe some face-to-face time, even to get flirty with a favorite colleague.
Salespeople tend to find team building events more fun than those in other job roles, as they tend to be more competitive than, say, people working in accounts or HR.
Such events can take the form of ‘escape rooms’, role plays, go-karting sessions, murder-mystery whodunnit solvers and even pop quizzes in a bar.
All these exercises, however, are intended with a serious purpose – to identify individuals’ strengths and weaknesses, then assess how the team as a whole can best use those strengths and also support any given person’s weaknesses.
It’s All Kicking Off!
Another such event in sales teams is known as a Sales Kickoff (SK). Gamification and competition often figure highly in SKs, where a leaderboard shows the high achievers at the top, but this can lead to the ‘shaming’ of those who have not achieved so well.
Fortunately, attitudes to workplace bullying and safeguarding people’s mental health have changed dramatically over the years.
Back in the late 1980s and 90s it was commonplace for salespeople to be ranked in a league table on a huge office whiteboard.
Their weekly and monthly sales figures were displayed in marker pen for every team member and manager to see.
There would often be a red line, demarcated by duct tape on the whiteboard, whereby anyone below that line, having achieved under a certain figure, was ‘on parole’.
If you stayed on parole for more than two consecutive months, you didn’t even get fired; you were just expected to fall on your sword, say goodbye to the crew, put your stuff into a cardboard box and head for the car park. Goodnight Vienna.
Nowadays, the process isn’t so brutal or public, but salespeople must still survive on performance. SKs are a great way of mapping out the requirements and targets for a forthcoming quarter.
Bonuses can be dangled like carrots to a hungry donkey, while the stick might always be the danger of possible redundancy for low achievers.
It might be that in the first week in January after the Christmas break, the beginning of Q1 for the year, a sales team SK might use online agenda builders or virtual and augmented reality simulations; incorporating technology into the SK can make it far more engaging and enjoyable for the participants.
Martech – The Fuel For Sales Teams
Sales teams need a continuous conveyor belt of fresh prospects, which is where marketing technology (MarTech) comes into its own.
Not only do savvy tech marketers outreach via LinkedIn, but also, depending upon their intended audience, platforms from Facebook to Discord, Twitter to TikTok.
It’s a well-known fact that the shadowy but commonplace activity of purchasing Twitter followers is widespread. People engage with Tweets if their author has a million followers, not paying attention to the fact that 80% of these might be fictitious or non-used accounts.
Let’s not forget that a sales team can only be as good as the products and services they’re selling – keeping customers after one transaction isn’t all plain sailing.
Companies need great Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to keep track of all customer feedback, activity and desires – together with contract management, subscription management and also perhaps a ‘Configure Price Quote’ (CPQ) platform to keep abreast of competitors and marketplace prices.
Configure, Price, Quote
CPQs are essential for whenever a salesperson provides a quote; they work via Artificial Intelligence (AI) to sift through all the hundreds of variables that can affect the quote and make the quoting process much more informed and transparent.
Imagine for example that a manufacturer of automotive parts has to quote a huge company like Toyota for supplying headlamp bulbs. The thousands of variables such as materials, fitting compatibility, electrical compliance, European, Asian and USA variances will all affect the potential cost of manufacture and component sourcing.
This is why a CPQ dashboard works on a set of logic-based rules. Sales managers input the rules and the source data into the CPQ Configuration Engine, and the platform offers a sorted list of costs, lead times etc for easy understanding.
One push of a button can create a quotation to email to a prospect along the lines of : ‘1000 x 12v halogen bulbs to fit Toyota Yaris 2010 model – $5000 plus sales tax, manufacturer lead time 3 weeks…’ or whatever.
Naturally, the other part of this equation is ensuring that the correct data is fed into the CPQ in the first place.
You might have the best AI algorithms in the world, but incorrect information input leads to what computer analysts call GIGO – ‘Garbage In equals Garbage Out’.
In order to ensure that accurate information is being input into your CPQ, it’s essential to keep tabs on the competition.
This is where valuable business intelligence can be gleaned by Google scraping software, which automates the process of performing thousands of Google searches every day.
In summary, a successful sales strategy for any organization must contain the following elements:
- A motivated, well informed, well remunerated sales team.
- Business intelligence about competitors, trends in the sector and the intended customer base
- Efficient, understandable software and workflow procedures to ensure that sales quotations are competitive and contemporary.
- Excellent CRM systems and good old fashioned customer service, to keep those customers happy once you’ve found them.
Companies that follow such procedures are likely to find that their quotations and indeed their whole business success is working well, because every shot on goal hits the back of the net!