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A challenging market requires a fresh approach & innovative sales solutions.

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

It’s no secret that we are currently living in turbulent times economically, both nationally and on a global scale. No sooner had markets begun to recover post-Covid-19, the UK was plunged into the Cost of Living Crisis which has seen more than two-thirds (68%) of adults in Great Britain spend less on non-essentials (ONS, 2023).


The ONS also reports that although when compared with their pre-coronavirus February 2020 level, total retail sales were 16.5% higher in value terms but volume was 0.8% lower. This climate is indeed a tricky one – how can an organisation plan for growth without pricing out its customers? How can salespeople continue to sell their products when customers have less money to spend. In this paper, we explore potential solutions to combatting some of these issues.


Motivation

At 3.9%, the UK’s unemployment rate is amongst one of the lowest in the world. The rise in the gig economy during the pandemic has tipped the scale in favour of workers – it’s now more important than ever to retain employees to avoid hefty recruitment, onboarding and training costs.


Turnover of staff not just in the sales team but in the wider organisation can be troubling. The Great Resignation, coupled with the evermore apparent economic crisis means hiring managers are having to make sacrifices in their budget. This can mean that businesses only use their budget and resources to focus on mission critical roles.


As the recruitment drive slows and salary budgets are stuck where they were pre-inflation, it’s hard not to notice that people are leaving and aren’t being replaced. Those left behind not only have more work with the same team targets, but they experience a shift in team culture affecting their motivation and productivity.

So what can business leaders do to not only retain staff, but to drive their motivation and productivity?


The key to this is employee engagement. Research has repeatedly shown that organisations with high employee engagement also have high levels of productivity (Chartered Institute of Personnelle Development, 2021). The key to employee engagement is ensuring employees understand the goals of the organisation and how their role plays a part in its success. On top of this, employees need to feel a sense of autonomy and the ability make a contribution in wider decisions being made.


One way in which an organisation can boost employee engagement would be holding company events whereby everyone is invited to learn about and discuss their role in the company strategy. If a team is struggling, it’s worth spending time with that team to understand how to realign that team to the objectives of the organisation.


Another way to improve employee engagement would be empowering employees to make decisions about their own development and career progression, as well as allowing teams the autonomy to decide how they should work based on their expertise.


Inspiring Leadership

The impact of inspiring leadership cannot be understated. As Simon Sinek said, “the value of a true leader is not measured by the work that they do, but by the work they inspire others to do” (2012). However, in CIPD’s report into the barriers to leadership, managers often reported that targets often hinder their leadership style, as achieving targets is the measure of success, so they spend more time being directive leaders who tell their employees what to do, rather than being inspirational leaders who coach their staff to improve their skills to deliver effectively on their own.


It can be difficult to find the time to inspire and coach staff when you’re trying to put out fires, but putting resources into inspiring staff to deliver not only impacts on the culture of the organisation but can also have impressive long-term results.


Coaching for resilience

Resilience is undoubtedly one of the key qualities in a good salesperson, but how do you build and maintain high levels of resilience across an organisation?

CIPD research conducted in 2021 shows that individual resilience is linked not just to employees’ wellbeing and ability to deal with stress, but also their capacity to be proactive and creative at work, their performance on work tasks and the role they play in the organisation.


Adopting a coaching culture within an organisation can help individuals pinpoint their own areas for improvement, as well as take pride in their successes. Sharing best practise is important, but so is providing a safe environment for staff to recover and learn from setbacks.


Learning strategy for continuous improvement

The Harvard Business Review cites innovation as being a key driver in business competitiveness (2002). A 2021 paper suggested that learning and development is an important factor in maintaining business innovation, with majority of businesses who described themselves as innovators having learning and development strategies for their staff.


It’s essential that organisations and individuals adopt a “growth” mindset in order to continuously adapt and improve. What worked a year ago might not work today, so salespeople need to be able to analyse their own performance and have the resources to make necessary changes to maintain high performance – especially in an organisation demanding growth.


While employees need the autonomy to identify their own personal areas for improvement, it’s important that the organisation also has a learning and development strategy which identifies and fills existing gaps, as well as prepares employees for any changes associated with the planned growth.


Aligned Sales Strategy

In this unpredictable economic situation, to say it would be challenging to plan for growth is an understatement. The pressing concern is the level of risk involved, financially and reputationally, which requires everyone to be onboard and willing to play their part to make it happen.


It’s necessary to not only have a comprehensive sales strategy, but this strategy must align with other areas of the business. From HR to marketing to finance – each department needs to be on the same page and working towards a common goal.


Without this, salespeople spend valuable time battling with cumbersome processes and having to get more involved in projects post-sale because of misaligned processes in other departments. Frustrations arise as other teams struggle to understand the customer journey- this leads to critical opportunities being missed.


As teams and processes change and grow, it’s essential to have clear communication pathways and project plans to ensure that departments are working together, not against each other. Sometimes without monitoring key milestones in the strategy, it can be easy for things to drift apart and decisions to be made in isolation, without considering the bigger picture or impact on another department.


If this sounds familiar, a review of current working practices may be beneficial to get everyone back onto the same page.


So, what can we do about this?


Mirable offers a wealth of tailored solutions to boost sales capability and give you the competitive edge you need to succeed.


Whether it’s optimising systems, refining internal structures and streamlining processes, or working one to one with line managers to improve their coaching skills, Mirable can pinpoint your inefficiencies and enable your success.



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