Your sales team morale is worth the travel expense.
Opportunities for sales leadership to invest in their teams over the last couple years have dwindled — and sales teams have felt the effects. Rain-checked are the days when sales teams gathered at a mixer after a training event. Memories grow fuzzier of the outings to a baseball game or even, for some, the annual sales kickoff.
While salespeople’s growth and sales team morale takes a dive, sales leaders are getting rightly concerned. They risk stagnant sales performance, losing talent — or both — if they do not show their salespeople they are invested in them.
There is hope: A recent Gartner survey reveals that 73% of chief sales officers (CSOs) estimated their organization’s budgets to increase by an average of 17% this year. And 84% of these sales leaders said they planned to allocate 20% more funds to sales enablement compared to 2021 levels.
Even while restrictions are easing and budgets are growing, some B2B leadership might be tempted to continue holding tight on budgets around travel for an internal meeting. After all, travel expenses have skyrocketed, while today’s virtual business tools have already been paid for and implemented.
But the value your sales teams can gain from in-person investments outweigh the record-high travel costs — both in elevating their selling craft, and in boosting their team comradery and morale. For leadership, this investment of time and dollars translates into not only greater performance but also higher retention. Keep reading to learn how to make the most of investing in your salespeople.
INVEST IN YOUR SALESPEOPLE WHERE IT COUNTS
Focus your budget on which sales team engagements matter most. While airfare prices skyrocket, look for alternative outings and other areas to save some dollars. The point of your investment is to bring sales teams together for a boost. This is not about having the coolest, grandest outing or event at the swankest property. Just get your teams together in whatever way makes sense for your budget — and start reaping the rewards.
Merchandise your priority to invest in your sales teams. Do not just assume your salespeople will see the shift in company priority and focus. Tell them outright that you are invested — investing — in them. This signals the importance of your efforts and the future changes to expect ahead, while leaving no room for guesswork about how valuable they are to the business and to you.
Manage and reinforce sales training wisely. Many teams have been apart for the past two years, and leaders across the organization will be eager to have a spotlight in front of your salespeople. Marketing might have a rebrand they could spend hours presenting. Product teams may have rolled-out two new solutions since 2020. Jam-packing in-person events with everything will only mean overwhelmed salespeople who have under-retained information. Prioritize what is most important to focus on during in-person events, such as where demonstrations and role-plays are needed. And plan to cover what remains at future virtual follow-ups.
Do not wait too long! If your leadership team puts off investing in your salespeople for too much longer, you continue to risk losing valuable team members. Sales job openings abound. And according to HR Daily Advisor, new sales hire costs can reach upwards of $100,000, not to mention the time and efforts to fully onboard new people. Prioritize your sales teams. They need it.
THE IMPACTS OF SALES TEAM INVESTMENTS IN PRACTICE
Lisa McQueen serves as the head of sales for Sandata, a leading software service company for Medicaid providers and payers that is a portfolio company of Accel-KKR. Her team too has been facing sales turnover. On top of that, her sales force has grown since 2020, with many professionals who are new to sales and who have never had the chance to actually meet the team. Even though it was expensive, she and other Sandata leadership knew it was imperative to bring everyone together in-person as a visible investment. She engaged Mereo principal experts to help plan and execute the engagement.
“By now, everyone has become used to this virtual world. But there is massive value to pulling everyone together in-person to set the skills foundation, and some of it too is getting together for the camaraderie and shared experience. It changes the dynamic completely. Then we can use shorter virtual follow-up sessions for reinforcement that our team can engage with from a different perspective,” Lisa said.
In May, Sandata sales development representatives and sales executives met in Boston for an eight-hour workshop, an outing to a Red Sox game and a mingling event with food and drinks. Key Sandata leaders joined the meeting and provided updates, which proved to be an additional morale booster to reinforce the importance of the sales team and to provide an opportunity for salespeople to connect with leadership.
“Across the board we have gotten incredibly positive feedback from our sales development representatives and sales executives from our in-person investment,” Lisa said. “Some of the newer salespeople were blown away by the insights shared and the learnings from the time invested on sales leading practices — and our more tenured professionals appreciated the reminders and the opportunity to refocus.”
To reinforce the training program, a couple shorter virtual training sessions are being held twice a month for the next three months.
INVEST IN SUSTAINABLE SELLING SUCCESS
While you boost your sales teams’ selling skills and morale with in-person investments, also consider the power of enabling them to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™. This selling philosophy encourages salespeople to put buyers first in a selling culture that often feels void of value-exchange, authentic relationships and trust.