The phrase “Always Be Closing” was popular before it was made famous (or infamous?) by the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. This year has shed a light on the shortcomings of the adage, and it’s time for the ABC’s to be revisited with a people-first update for sales enablement leaders and team managers.
Two luminaries in sales discussed their take on the update – Brooke Bachesta, Head of SDRs at Outreach, and Sheevaun Thatcher, Head of Sales Enablement at RingCentral, and shared how selling has changed. So what do managers, coaches, and enablement leaders need to know?
They said the new ABC’s of selling is about attitudes, behaviors, and competencies.
1.‘A’ is for Attitudes
“Our customers need our help. They don’t need any solution, they need the right solution as they battle questions like ‘How do we survive? or ‘How do we keep our planes flying in this new atmosphere?” – Sheevaun Thatcher, Head of Sales Enablement at RingCentral
In this climate, it is impossible not to feel empathy. Nothing solidified that shift away from the old selling stereotype than this year’s events and social movements. For so long, sales and enablement were focused outward. The old way of seeing the job functions was “How do we help our sales teams so people buy from us?” but that doesn’t work – and it didn’t really ever anyway. Now, the entire attitude around how to sell starts from an empathetic attitude and genuine interest when we say or write “How can I help?” That goes for everyone, your customers, your employees, and your vendors. They all need to know that as their partner, you have the same goal, that someone is out there to help you, to check in on you, to not let you fail.
2. ‘B’ is for Behaviors
“After attitudes, we’re starting to see managers working with their AE’s and SDR’s to align on a mutual action-plan for behavior. Are they supportive? Are they listening more than they’re talking?” – Sheevaun Thatcher, Head of Sales Enablement at RingCentral
As consultative selling becomes what shoppers of both retail and enterprise expect from their buying experience, their expertise and behaviors play bigger and bigger roles in how they build and manage those relationships toward desired outcomes. Behavioral science research has shown there are six behaviors that map to quota attainment, customer and employee retention, bigger deal size, and culture alignment – all the things sales professionals want. Here they are:
- Interaction style – How emotionally perceptive are they?
- Communication style – How persuasive are you? How assertive are they?
- Supportiveness – How competitive you are? How much do you value autonomy at work?
- Level of discipline – How often do they procrastinate? How quickly do they make decisions?
- Approach to change – How experimental are they? Do they need details or top line info?
- Reaction to difficulty – How resilient are they?
The amount of each behavior that leads to sales differs from SMBs to mid-market to enterprise. As a result, leaders are leveraging tools like behavioral assessments to understand their people. They’re setting up their teams to evolve with the customer by learning what behaviors their current teams have, which behaviors map to quota and pipeline for their market, where the gaps are so they can make a shared action plan to coach them, and finally hire to the culture you want to cultivate.
3. ‘C’ is for Competencies
“Asking for help doesn’t make you look weak. It shows self awareness, your willingness to collaborate, and take feedback. I’m still learning it! ” – Brooke Bachesta, Head of SDRs at Outreach
In a relationships-first environment, competence is judged by one’s willingness and ability to find out what they don’t know. For many, this year has thrown up a lot of unknowns leaving managers and their teams unsure how to work together from home most effectively on an unknown timeline. But the best, highly competent sales leaders got to work on formal and informal ways to lead with empathy.
Some formalized mentorship programs or leaned on optimizing their learning and development tools. Others responded by creating Slack channels and Employee Resource Groups, and tapped internal change agents to lead community-building activities like reading groups or cooking clubs. Still others focused on culture alignment and DEI by implementing Shadow Boards where the C-level hears feedback from a rotating team of people from diverse walks of life (eg. people right out of college, people who haven’t been in the business very long, Millennials or Gen. Z’ers, etc.) about “How can we do better?” At its core, competence is the outcome of a behavior – curiosity. So in order to be competent and retain both customers and employees, it’s essential for organization leaders to start learning about the behaviors present among their people.
Putting the ABC’s into Practice
Behaviors are just as critical as intent to buy or risk of turnover, but for the first time, this information is available to people at work, to understand themselves, develop, and be successful. Leaders who empower employees and organizations with this knowledge have an unfair advantage over the competition.
Looking for a way to enhance your toolkit with behavioral insights? Get a 15-min. Aptology consultation to assess your tech stack and discover opportunities to leverage the data you already have.