The B2B sales world has seen many changes in the last two years, remote selling is here to stay, coaching has taken an important place, organizations have revamped, re-aligning of teams and buyer behavior has seen major shifts.
The year is coming to an end soon and as a sales leader you are probably strategizing about tweaking your organization based on the year’s metrics, working on new strategies to hit the revenue numbers, and already worrying about the collective goals. As much as numbers are important, one needs to look beyond that also.
Being a successful sales leader requires authenticity and a consistent long-term approach that resonates throughout the organization. Trust and connections with the team members and customers/clients is the key. If you want to be a leader who wants to march his/her team to success, you need to think ahead and plan.
To get the ball rolling, here is a key lesson modern sales leaders need to acknowledge. While we used to function in a VUCA form, we have now turned to BANI. What do these acronyms mean? They are ways to describe the challenges we face in our present day to help us arrive at solutions effectively.
Want to know more about them and how sales leadership needs to change to align with them? Keep reading to find out!
VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous
This model refers to an approach that was framed in 1987 during the Cold War. It was a time of uncertainty wherein all the occupants were in a state of volatility. They faced every day as a challenge and had to stay on edge to avoid any unexpected circumstances.
This made the environment unstable and filled to the brim with rapid changes making it unpredictable. Many people would say the system lacked clarity and a definite idea of a clear future ahead. Due to this, it is inevitable that a lack of precision from the occupants needed to be dealt with.
It is hard to analyze and predict results when there are higher numbers and a vast variety of things. Therefore, the environment is defined as complex (C) owing to several connections that interact with each other in multiple ways.
Is it possible to counter such a system?
Of course! It can be countered by analyzing data and the statistics at hand. For example, an employee who is failing at a company can improve his performance by evaluating his work. It would help him understand the actions he took and the results it brought out.
This can help him avoid negative actions in the future or focus on aspects that are working out well. This ability to identify where one goes wrong and being able to rectify it with suitable modifications takes time and self-awareness to achieve.
To reduce the level of complexity, employees can opt for clear communication and frequent updates to stay on the same page. This will help teams organize their levels of collaboration and visualize outputs more effectively.
Teams can learn to be agile and adapt to new circumstances when they arise. No matter how vague and ambiguous the situation is, it helps if employees work outside their usual roles and bring out emergent ideas.
What is in store?
As mentioned, these are solutions and problems for an earlier model. Now that people have begun to debate more and gain clarity on situations accurately, we need to observe the modern form.
Factors such as global warming, the pandemic, political changes, technological advancements, etc. have resulted in a new form – BANI. This is no better as Volatile has turned Brittle and Uncertainty has turned into Anxiety.
It is equally unreliable and fragile owing to a non-linear approach that is often incomprehensible. What with the rise of online meetings and hybrid workplaces, it is turning more unpredictable by the second.
BANI – Brittle, Anxious, Non-Linear, Incomprehensible
Let us study this model with a more accurate lens. “I have noticed a very brittle system at my workplace lately. It is unpredictable as to when people will reach their breaking points and collapse. Someone who has been faring well at work and has just received an incentive might face burnout tomorrow. This situation is not predetermined so it often causes a ripple effect – others follow and voice their concerns as well,” said an exasperated Team Leader at a top digital marketing agency in Chennai.
Strangely, the same leader was able to provide me a solution as well for this problem which was becoming more widespread by the day. The solution he gave me was pure resilience and the ability to acknowledge that danger is inevitable. Yes, the space is fragile and unbelievably brittle – nobody knows when it may crumble.
But acknowledging this and staying ready to tackle the breaking point is the start to progress. Keep in mind that this awareness could lead to anxiety and helplessness which are two more common attributes of this model.
The leader we spoke to suggested that companies begin making empathy the norm at their workspaces. It would help teams become more mindful and empathetic to each other’s needs. With this mindfulness, they can stay positive and look on the bright side of things to arrive at constructive solutions sooner.
Panic will only lead to a delay in arriving at the solution – it requires individuals to conquer their inner demons and identify potential areas of improvement.
The cause and the consequence
When we talk about nonlinear systems, we refer to a lack of clarity on what the action is and what consequence it produced. This is where the Butterfly Effect could be prevalent – a small, inconsequential action in one place that could lead to a disproportionately massive consequence somewhere else.
On the flip side, a massive cause that was intended might result in a very small consequence much later. Or there might be no consequence at all which would be even more disheartening to the team.
The only way to conquer this issue is to have strong mindsets and stay adaptable to deal with whatever results arise. Managers need to encourage teams to use their sense of intuition and comprehend scenarios beyond the face value visible. Finding the business models and value chains changing in time to consumer needs and buying patterns? Get set to adapt and stay agile to the change.
What do the leaders of tomorrow look like?
The importance of storytelling has reached an all-time high in recent years. It does not work anymore to simply present the facts to clients and explain data as it is. It requires interpretation and storytelling to produce objective results. In terms of the team as well, there is a need to keep them motivated and professional.
Sales leaders of tomorrow can embrace the ABCD model – Attention, Benefits, Credibility, Direction. It can help them accelerate their performance to grab their audience’s attention and retain it. By working backwards from the end of the story, it becomes easier to manage team performance and find out where you went wrong or right.
A competitive advantage for teams is the productivity of its members. Even the most high-performing teams turned unproductive during the digital shift. It is vital to strike a balance between goal orientation and team support. How else can you keep your team motivated and know how they are feeling?
“I was a sales rep who thrived on connections in person. I am an outgoing person who took the loss of direct interactions very personally. It made me lose my energy levels and my productivity as well owing to my manager focusing on the end results alone. I think the best way to support your team and stay ahead of the game is the offer team support rather than focusing on results,” said a sales rep from a life insurance agency in Bangalore.
Teams need to become more inclusive and embrace gender, generational, and various other forms of diversity. Welcome different skill sets, and personalities displayed by your team and let them play to their strengths. It helps to follow a people-centric approach and stay empathetic to your team.
Do not just be a sales leader. Be a friend and a helping hand when your team needs your support. Can you believe that one of the major concerns during the pandemic for most employees was the fear of AI taking over their jobs? People were afraid that technology would replace their roles and their efforts would turn redundant.
Sales is complex and so is your sales team. The BANI system has awakened the humanity in us by showing us how complex things can be. Processes need to be developed and without productive hands and minds working on them, no task can be completed successfully.
It is time for sales leaders to consider this and begin working on it by shifting their focus areas. Outsource your sales team and welcome new talents to handle different situations. Worried about not being able to predict the future? Have various teams and technologies in place to handle any circumstance that might play out in the end.
It is no longer one day. It is Day One every single day. And to gain the best results in today’s age, there is a need to predict things in advance and stay on your toes. To prep your sales team and enhance your sales leadership skills, click here.