Empowering Salespeople: Overlooked, but Crucial to Drive Performance

Last week, we discussed the need to engage salespeople effectively so that they are able to engage their buyers and be valuable, relevant and differentiating in every interaction. Today let’s talk about empowering salespeople, the third component of the “engage, equip and empower” trilogy.

You may ask, “What about the second element, ‘equip’?” The “equip” element is addressed in an abundance of my blog posts that cover all things content, customer engagement, value messaging, training and coaching.

Now what does it mean to empower sellers?

Empowering your sales force is an often-overlooked yet crucial component of success. And in this age of technology, it’s even more important to empower humans so that they are mentally able to master the various technologies surrounding them. I sometimes get the impression that it’s going the other way—that technology masters humans who adopt more and more an attitude of blind acceptance of whatever technology suggests they do. But that’s a topic for another blog. I only brought it up to emphasize why empowering salespeople is so important, especially in the age of technology. Let’s look at the aspects of seller empowerment step by step.

#1: The more complex your selling and buying scenarios are, the more empowered your salespeople have to be to navigate iterations along the customer’s path (click to tweet)

Whereas the transactional selling scenario is replaced more and more by e-commerce, online buying capabilities without human interaction, complex selling scenarios need empowered sales professionals who can navigate iterations and irritations along the customer’s path. In these complex situations, buyers come and go along their problem-solving and buying path. It can happen that an opportunity was initiated with a certain executive buyer who moved into another role soon after, and the new executive buyer sees things very differently.

Not only do these changes cause irritations for the sales team that often require changes to the engagement strategy, but they also cause iterations along the customer’s path because it often requires an adjustment to the sales stage internally as well… backward. Systems usually don’t allow sellers to do that; however, if that’s where the customers are, then it has to be adjusted internally as well to avoid any kind of buyer seller misalignment. And in some cases, a new executive buyer also can speed up the process, where even the first step might be perceived as a step backward. Empowered salespeople simply adjust the engagement strategy creatively to meet the new executive buyer’s expectations and move on. Sales organizations have to allow them to do exactly that.

#2: Only empowered salespeople are able to lead cross-functional buying teams successfully (click to tweet)

Buyers from different functions usually have different perspectives, different goals, and they approach the problem to be solved differently. Sales professionals in these selling scenarios not only need excellent skills, such as communication and problem-solving skills, but they also need leadership and orchestration skills. And first and foremost, they need to be empowered to change approaches, adjust solutions and provide perspectives that nobody else has provided so far. All of that requires sales organizations to allow them to do exactly that.

Being creative, changing the approach, providing different solutions, going down a path nobody else walked down before, is what these sales professionals need to be to make those deals successful. And sales organizations have to allow them to do that. Ideally, sales managers coach their sales professionals to be precisely that: empowered to win deals even if the situation requires some unusual actions.

One more observation: A Players empower themselves, or they leave. B Players need to be empowered (click to tweet)

Have you ever encountered this situation? The customer meeting is arranged, the agenda is set, and the messaging and flow are well prepared. The A Player walks in, meets and greets people, senses the energy in the room, follows their intuition and changes the entire agenda, flow and messaging. It drives everyone crazy, but it is successful. Intuitively tuning into the buyers’ mind and immediately adjusting strategies, approaches and messaging is an A Player’s game. They empower themselves. I fact, there are empowered by design. B Players, on the other hand, need to be empowered to grow into these behaviors that distinguish A Players from the rest of the sales force.

Truly successful sales professionals need space—space to unfold their creativity, space to leverage their creativity to inspire buyers with outstanding advice, recommendations and solutions. That makes them valuable, relevant and differentiating in any buyer interaction.

If you haven’t already, have a look at our new book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of “how-to” information to address the challenges mentioned here.


Questions for you:

  • Are your salespeople empowered? If not, what’s disempowering them?
  • How do you drive seller empowerment?
  • Is seller empowerment sales enablement’s responsibility? If not, who owns it?

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