On June 22nd an engaging group of sales professionals gathered for the 4th Annual Sales Team Accelerator Retreat: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange at the InterContinental Times Square Hotel in the heart of New York City. One highlight of the event was a new “Making the Rounds” exercise consisting of three rapid-fire brainstorming sessions where participants tackled current sales challenges. Ideas and solutions were crowdsourced to address these ongoing sales issues, and each group built upon the previous one. Topics, highlights and insights included:

Advancing Women in Sales Leadership

Tiffany Lemon, Assistant Vice President, Customer Team Leader, L’Oréal led this session, guiding the discussion on strategies to help women advance in sales leadership. The groups addressed good and bad perceptions about women in leadership and discussed how to increase the number of women in sales leadership positions:

Current realities – strategies for improvement

  • Workplace behaviors and culture play a major role in ensuring the doors are open for women to advance in leadership
  • Women tend to feel the need to defend themselves in a less diverse workplace
  • The need for advocacy from men, mentors and senior leadership was a primary theme
  • Disparities that vary across industries still persist
  • Solutions should be industry specific and dependent on the organizational resources in place for women leaders
  • Consider creating a mentor chain of women, and offering training to be aware of unconscious biases

Addressing perceptions and beliefs

  • Women leaders in the workplace should be welcomed and their presence is refreshing for the organizational culture:
    • Critical thinking is applied
    • Different styles are at play
    • Nurturing/caring approach can make a difference
  • Women in leadership–characteristics and differences:
    • Women tend to be more knowledgeable, which could be a function of their putting more effort into proving their ability amongst their peers
    • Women tend to network differently to get to leadership positions as a result of being in the minority within different industries

Ideas and solutions to increase women in leadership roles

  • Organizations should create events/ think tanks or Executive Sponsors  to ensure there is a safe space for women to share their experiences and grow as budding leaders
  • Quality of the individual’s talent for the role should be the primary focus
  • Diversity assessment within organizations is critical to ensure there is a mix and a pool of talent that best represents the diverse community
  • Accommodations and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) should be reviewed to ensure there is equity in how a person ‘shows up’ to work
  • For instance, having resources for single moms would not only benefit women in leadership, but could also benefit single dads that may also need the resources
  • Senior leadership engagement is critical, alongside continual behavioral training for a diverse environment

Show Me the Money – What’s Your Compensation Strategy?

Michael Aronowitz, Executive Vice President Digital Sales, Teleperformance, discussed the latest compensation plan trends and sought feedback from participants about compensation strategies at their organizations.

2022 compensation plan trends:

  • Higher base rates than in the past years, designed for more experienced salespersons who want quarterly incentives along with year-end bounces
  • Most all have quotas with penalties and accelerators for under and overachieving goals
  • Perks include presidents’ clubs, personal trips, sporting events and awards
  • A few companies will offer a sign on bonus to cover any loss of income from a former position

2022 all in:

  • Compensation plans are 25% above 2021
  • Attrition rates are around 20%
  • Tops three reasons why people leave are bad sales managers, lack of career development or organizations not investing in their employees
  • COVID means some people don’t want to travel as much as in the past. Some will leave if they must travel more than 50% of the time, or go back into the office
  • It takes approximately three to six months to find a good salesperson in the current  market
  • The average range for a great salesperson is $200,000 to $300,000 with a base rate of 50% to 80%

Marketing and Sales Alignment to Drive Resiliency

Brendan Sweeney, Director of Mid-Market Sales at Allego, led this brainstorming session on improving marketing and sales collaboration and success in today’s environment.

Sales and marketing should not be measured with different metrics

  • The biggest takeaway and issue was that sales and marketing are measured on different metrics. Marketing qualified leads versus closed won revenue can be a large disconnect
  • Sales spends too much time searching for, modifying, or creating content that they feel comfortable to share with prospects and customers
  • Marketing often has no insight into the content/messaging that sales is sourcing or using
  • Velocity is different. Sellers need content, messaging, competitive intelligence, etc. Now. Marketing likes to take time to create polished materials or messages

Tips for engaging buyers virtually

  • Try to understand where prospects are in the buying cycle before you have your first conversation with them.  Look at tools for buyer intent data
  • Share digital sales rooms with buyers so they have one place to go for everything they are discussing with you including pricing, call recordings, proposals and white papers. They can share access to the digital sales room with their peers
  • Sellers love digital sales rooms because they can track engagement.  Look at vendors that support this
  • Provide as much public information on your website as possible, so buyers can do as much “seller less” shopping as they like. Consider using YouTube to post videos of your product or service, or customers talking about your product or service
  • Pay attention to customer review sites. Shoppers are paying more and more attention to reviews

Smart sellers can make good use of the insights and strategies above, as most are ready to operationalize right away. To learn more or to register for the next Sales Team Accelerator Retreat: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange, click here.

Thomas Taber

By Thomas Taber
Senior Production Manager, Events and Leadership Councils
Frost & Sullivan