The Gartner 2021 Workforce Resilience Survey (n = 3690) reveals that fixing hard work matters more than rewarding it. Fixing broken processes, removing bottlenecks and making work more efficient collectively impacted workforce health by 45%. Adding additional rewards and/or recognition had no significant impact. Wait, what? Traditionally coin-operated sellers want productivity over pay?
Spoiler alert: The sales professional of 2022 is not as coin-operated as their pre-pandemic counterpart. And their patience for inefficiencies, bureaucratic BS or anything that wastes their time, distracts them from their vision or otherwise slows their roll is nonexistent. As it should be. There’s work to do and decades of trading operational efficiencies for sales inefficiencies need to be remediated. Fast. Here’s why:
- The rejection rate for sales job offers is reaching new heights—which adds insult to injury after completing an already-challenging and lengthy recruiting process.
- Remote work is now table stakes to attract and retain talent and many sellers of today aren’t looking to be road warriors like their predecessors.
- Part of the reason front line sales managers often become the “junk drawer” is the unintentional consequences of business efficiency efforts that created sales inefficiencies. This costs us time, it costs us profitable revenue and, in this environment, it costs us people.
As we reflect over CSO/CCO/CRO/CGO focus areas in 2021, we have evolved through new Go-to-Market strategies, new and more virtual/digital organization designs, new technologies and tools. And we now find ourselves squarely at the challenge of the hour: SIMPLIFYING IT ALL. Because it’s not enough to pay high salaries, enable remote work, have a strong ESG foundation and enable the right culture. The stakes have never been higher to have an easy buying journey for your customers and a ruthlessly simple commercial process to enable it. More than anything else, complexity, burden and time sinks will cost you your customers and your people if you don’t fix this fast.
And if you don’t think you have complexity or burden in your systems, take a hard look at your back office as well as cross-functional hand-offs. Because if you’ve not deliberately addressed it in the past 12 months, you’ll find it lurking there. It’s reasonable to expect that some reps will push back on automation and streamlining. They may feel a loss of control or a lack of value for the things they’ve done so well for so long. This is where we step up as leaders to help them understand the “why” and the “how” with regard to supporting customers better to make their experience easier, to drive decision confidence and to free up the seller to focus on them. Simplify it. Sell them on the benefits to them and to customers. Gamify it if you need to. And don’t forget to hold them accountable to do it. There’s nothing about the past selling motion that’s going to drive profitable growth in our future. And don’t assume your long-tenured sellers won’t adapt. Some of them have been the earliest advocates to help their peers and more junior colleagues adapt. But you know what to do if they don’t adapt…cutting them is better for your organization than keeping the headcount. Just having a body to cover a territory can poison the rest of the organization if it’s the wrong body.
That said, in addition to streamlining processes and eliminating workplace friction points, some leaders are paying their sellers as much as 30% more just to get them to stay or reducing their work week since this is still less expensive than the cost of hiring and onboarding a new rep (both with regard to actual cost and likely lost sales from an open territory). But, again, that is not money well spent if you’re embedding them in processes built to frustrate them. Ruthlessly simple is the rallying cry of 2022.