How would you respond if someone asked you: "What's the main job of a sales manager?" Would you talk about pushing your team to meet quotas? Improving productivity metrics? Driving better performance?
Granted, when we're talking about any position in sales we can't discount the importance of the bottom line. But there's a right way and a wrong way to achieve the results you desire. The right way is to bring out the best in your team. That means supporting each individual member, mentoring him or her, and (at the same time) building a certain level of predictability into your forecasting model.
Use KPIs to Build Visibility into Your Sales Funnel
If you really want to drive team performance as a sales manager and motivate your individual employees to give their best work, then creating more visibility into the sales funnel should be one of your top priorities.
The truth is, sales reps thrive within clear boundaries. When you and your team know which Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are most important to sustained, lasting success — and why they're so important — then everyone can work together to meet the same goals. That's one critical way you can support your team.
To paraphrase Tom Petty: You don't want your people to be "out in the great wide open," sales reps without a clue.
So now the question becomes: Which KPIs should you focus on? There are a ton of crucial metrics in the world of sales, but let's narrow our discussion down to three big ones:
Let's take these one at a time, and see why they're so important to individual and team performance.
1. Sales Funnel Populations
It goes without saying that your organization needs to have a sales funnel with clearly defined stages. After all, your "sales pipeline" becomes much more predictable within such a structured framework. If it's predictable, it's measurable. And if it's measurable, it's improvable.
Once you have your sales funnel stages clearly defined (and your sales and marketing departments on the same page), you need to determine three things.
Why are these sales population KPIs so important? For one thing, they're great markers for the overall "health" of your sales funnel. If you see increasing populations, then you can expect revenue growth. If you notice decreasing populations, then you should brace yourself for revenue contraction in the near future.
These metrics also provide actionable insights. For instance, they can help your finance team forecast for future demand. They can shed light on which activities are driving growth, and which ones are ineffective. Moreover, they can provide a wonderful point of reference to which you, as sales manager, can align your teams for more stable, quantifiable growth.
2. Conversion Rates
We're specifically talking about conversion rates between funnel stages here. There are two key elements in play: the amount of time it takes to move leads from one stage to another, and the quantity of leads that make the conversion.
What are good benchmarks for your company? It really depends on your specific business and industry. However, if your percentage of leads moving from the evaluation stage (middle of funnel) to the decision stage (bottom of funnel) is low, or if it's taking those leads a long time to convert, then you'll need to make some adjustments.
Why are these two aspects of your intra-funnel conversion rate so important? Basically, for three reasons.
3. Close Rates
Finally, it's vital to understand your team's average close rate (aka "quote to close ratio," "lead-to-customer conversion rate," etc.) — both as a whole, and for each individual member. Not only does the close rate help to calculate ROI, but it also provides a baseline from which to manage your sales team.
Why are close rates so important for sales managers? Realistically, not everyone on your team is going to be a "sales superstar." But knowing the average close rate for your team can inform your expectations for new team members. In addition, knowing the close rates for individual members can provide a great starting point for your coaching/feedback sessions. This knowledge will also act as an early warning sign if someone needs extra support (for example, if a high performer's rate starts to drop month over month).
Your close rates can help you to inject a heavy dose of predictability and transparency into your sales process. They can help you set lofty but reasonable goals for each sales rep, incentivize improved performance, and forecast growth.
Leveraging KPIs for Sustained Success
There you have it: three important KPIs that every sales manager must use! If you take away one key point from the above information, let it be this:
Use your KPIs to create visibility, predictability, and accountability for your sales team — and yourself.
When your team members have clear, actionable direction and specific goals to shoot for, they'll not only be more productive — they'll be happier at their job. They'll be able to individually improve themselves. At the same time, you'll be in a better position to mentor and support them on a one-on-one basis.
Sales KPIs, when used properly, can be a dashboard for performance, both in terms of revenue and human capital. That's their true power. Don't take it for granted!
Of course, there's a lot more to the world of sales management than the three metrics discussed above. If you'd like to chew on some more practical SMB insights and advice, sign up for our newsletter; contact our team; or check out our website for valuable resources and webinars. We'd be happy to help you grow your business, one KPI at a time.
Do you have a culture of trust within your sales organization? Many companies, and managers within those companies, pride themselves on having an "open door policy." In other words, their employees can come to them at any time with work-related issues, and expect to be heard.
An open door policy is a great thing. And guess what? If your sales team is bringing up issues to you as the sales leader, that means the open door culture you've created is working. Because you've taken the lead in staying open to feedback, your team trusts you. They feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and issues with you — and hopefully with each other.
But here's the thing. You've got to do more than passively listen to your sales team's feedback. In order to build a trust culture, you have to actively listen. And then you have to act. If you fail to follow through, you may end up doing irreparable damage to your culture of collaboration — and to the trust you've built up with your employees.
Here are three basic steps you can follow to address issues that are important to your sales team in a decisive, empathetic and effective way.
1. Generate a Trust Culture by Creating a Space for Feedback
The best way to get feedback from your team is to ask for it. But it's not enough to simply ask. You have to demonstrate, over a period of time, that you're willing to really hear them out, and not take feedback or criticism personally.
In fact, the feedback you receive by simply asking could change your entire approach to team building, the workplace environment, and even your management style.
It's important to remember that your basic job as a sales manager is to help your team members become the best reps they can be. You're there to support them, mentor them, and even befriend them. When you prove to your team day in and day out that you're interested in them as people, they'll be much more willing to come to you with their issues.
2. Actively Listen to Understand
Once a team member comes to you with an issue he or she is having, it's time to really drill down to the core of the problem. Building a trust culture requires active listening.
We're not just talking about techniques like repeating your team member's statements back to him or her in your own words (although techniques like this are helpful). We're talking about making absolutely sure you understand what the issue is. Why is it affecting your rep? How does it impact your team as a whole?
Then, when you have a firm grasp on the issue, reassure your team member that you know where he or she is coming from. If you've faced a similar challenge in the past, perhaps you could mention that as well. And then it's time to transition to step #3...
3. Outline What You Plan to Do, and Follow Through
"Talk is cheap." "Actions speak louder than words." Pick any cliché you want. They're all true. If you truly want your sales rep to feel valued, highly motivated, and part of a team, then you need to clearly communicate what you're going to do about this issue.
You don't have to give out all the details. Just provide a basic outline of the next steps you plan to take. If at all possible, provide a rough timeline of when he or she can expect a resolution.
Obviously, the more mission-critical the issue is, the faster you should address it. However, don't let "minor issues" fall to the wayside. A minor issue may not be urgent on an organizational level, but it was still important enough to the rep that he or she approached you to talk about it. Not following through will damage the trust culture you've worked hard to build.
If you want your team to stay focused, to feel valued, and to give your company their best, then stick to this three-step process no matter how big or small the issue may be. For more insights on how to be the best sales manager you can be, be sure to sign up for our newsletter, contact us, or explore the valuable resources on our website.
There's an old folk saying that goes like this: "Never forget where you came from, because when you do it's a long road home."
That's great advice in general, but especially for a salesperson. After all, long before you were in the sales business, what were you? A customer, right? And obviously you still are in most aspects of your life.
So if you want you (and your team) to be more relatable, to sell with more confidence, and to take business to the next level, it's time to rediscover what it's like to be a customer. And not just any customer, but your own customer. Optimize your customer experience by putting yourself in your customer's shoes. Circle back to how your customers are really experiencing your brand, and your product/service offerings.
Now, don't get me wrong. We're not talking about some vague mental exercise here. If you really want to tap into the power of customer-centered empathy, guide your team through an actionable process. Dig deep into the customer experience with these three steps.
Step #1: Realization (Think of Yourself as the Customer)
It's absolutely vital that you, as a salesperson, constantly remind yourself of what it's like to be a customer. Granted, a lot of companies use buyer personas to help them identify "target consumers." These semi-fictional profiles certainly have their place. However, as a salesperson on the "front lines" of your business, you need to go deeper than demographics and the surface level of a persona's hypothetical sales journey.
For instance, think about your own customer experiences. Ask yourself questions like:
Write down the answers to these and similar questions. Then, spend some time analyzing those answers for actionable insights.
And don't stop there! Get different perspectives from your friends, colleagues, current customers and past customers. Schedule a team meeting, and ask your employees to prepare examples they can share to educate and inspire the entire team. Have an open dialogue with one another. Encourage creative thinking. Collaborate.
Training yourself and your sales team to really "step into the customer's shoes" is the first step toward optimizing the customer experience and growing your business. In fact, a whopping 86 percent of customers say that they're willing to pay more if it means getting a better customer experience. Chew on that for a moment!
Step #2: Processing (Identify What's Important to Your Customer)
Now that you've gathered quite a bit of data from the "realization" stage, it's time to organize and filter that data into meaningful patterns. Use plenty of questions during this second step to honestly assess the strengths and weaknesses of your product/service offering.
Think of yourself as a guide. If you were in the buyer's place, how would you want to be guided along your journey? What would be most helpful to you? What would help create a memorable customer experience?
For example, think of the following points:
As you process the information you've gleaned from the "realization" phase of this process, you'll no doubt discover new insights about both your customers and your brand.
Step #3: Action (Make the Customer Experience Better)
Finally, it's time to take your research and turn it into results. Develop a workable plan of action to implement the insights and opportunities you've discovered.
As an example, think about how you could use the information from the previous two steps to improve the customer experience during a sales call. Ultimately, there are three elements of a great sales call — but how can you achieve them?
Keep Learning. Keep Growing.
At the end of the day, the three-step process that we've discussed will help you to stay aligned with your values, your company's mission, and the needs of your prospects. Basically, it's a powerful way to "remember where you came from," and grow from the experiences you've shared (and still share) with other consumers.
For more SMB insights and advice, sign up for our newsletter, contact us or visit our website for valuable business resources and webinars.
Compensation is essential in managing, motivating and retaining a sales force. A great sales executive compensation plan accomplishes quite a lot. It provides fair compensation to the sales executive, incentivizes specific actions and behaviors that suit the organization's needs, and motivates employees to hit set goals.
Today's sales executive wants a challenging job with a clear path to match his or her performance based on what he or she can directly impact and control. They want employers to recognize their performance with rewards that increase as their impact on the organization increases.
What is fair compensation for a sales executive? Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, gear your sales compensation plan toward what is right for your company. Design it to influence the outcomes you want, and align it with your SMB sales executive's strengths and motivators. Here are some guidelines to think about.
Sales Compensation Plan
An effective compensation plan will drive your sales team's performance. It includes details about all aspects of your sales team's earnings, such as salary, commission, benefits, incentives they are eligible to receive, and on-target earnings (OTE).
OTE is a metric that helps forecast the total potential compensation of a specific position when a team achieves all the set performance targets. It is common in sales compensation plans since it's a contract that guarantees a particular commission percentage.
You need a comprehensive compensation plan for all your sales team members based on their role, experience, the type of deals they handle and the sales cycle's length. Consider these factors:
Factors that Affect Your Sales Executive's Compensation Plan
Determining compensation for your sales executive is challenging. You must consider several factors in your plan, including experience, the current market and the business sector. How long will it take to train and bring them up to speed? Do they bring their own book of business? Here are five factors to consider when creating your compensation plan.
1. Determine if You Have a Farmer or a Hunter.
Hunters love chasing down leads and finding opportunities. On the other hand, farmers cultivate leads and opportunities and grow existing accounts to generate revenue. Making this distinction will help you select the right person for a sales executive position and determine compensation.
How do you know if you are hiring a farmer or hunter? There are certain soft skill sets associated with each. Try giving candidates sales assessments during the recruitment and hiring process. Here's what I mean.
Hunters tend to be outgoing, risk-averse and motivated by recognition. They are typically self-managed and able to operate independently. Their ability to bet on themselves makes packages with a high degree of variable compensation desirable for them and their employers.
Farmers excel when they can grow relationships, create ongoing value and connect with the same clients year after year. They thrive on driving customer loyalty and creating long-term value. Farmers are more security-oriented than their hunter counterparts, making a base salary and small variable compensation structure more attractive for them.
2. Incent Based on the Degree of Control.
This method holds sales executives accountable for things they control. For example, if a sales executive influences a sale alone instead of enlisting help or delegating tasks to their team members, they qualify for higher incentive compensation.
To implement this sales compensation plan, determine what variables the sales executive can control. Will they close sales or open doors for their sales team? For sales management, consider whether they can increase the sales team's closing rates, impact KPIs, affect Customer Relationship Management (CRM) adoption or decrease the sales cycle.
These tangible metrics help measure the impact of their work and determine their compensation.
3. Reward Successful Results with Variable Pay Plans.
Variable or incentive pay plans refer to pay that sales executives earn beyond their regular salary. It is not a guarantee, and you only pay it if the sales executive achieves his or her goal. Those goals are tied to tangible metrics such as sales growth, profits or productivity improvement.
Variable pay plans allow you to reward your sales executives for attaining successful results. It also controls compensation expenses when they don't achieve good results. These plans motivate your sales team's performance, encourage them to meet their specific job role's goals and any measurable targets you associate with their compensation. For example, their plan might be based on an individual sales quota for their team if they are responsible for sales team management.
Here are four main types of variable pay.
4. Work Back from the Revenue Targets Using OTE
Start with the goal or objectives in mind. When you work backward from your sales executive's revenue or success targets, it will help you determine an appropriate compensation package for them.
On-Target Earnings (OTE) provide you with a realistic view of what your sales executive's total compensation would be when they reach their expected (and reasonable) quotas and goals. OTEs could include the base salary plus the realistic commission from closed deals. You can use this metric to determine your employees' total potential compensation when they achieve their performance targets.
For example, if your OTE is between $200,000 and $250,000 annually, the basic salary could be between 70 and 80 percent ($140,000 to $200,000). You could base the rest of the OTE on performance, which you could pay annually, quarterly or monthly.
Start Creating Your Compensation Plan
An effective compensation plan is vital to the success of your team. Commit to continuously evaluating your plan to match the changing business climate and the outcomes you want to achieve.
For more SMB insights and advice, sign up for our newsletter, contact us or visit our website for valuable business resources and webinars.
Whether you're the leader of a sales team or a member of one, your sales task list is always long and a constant juggling act. There are leads to generate, opportunities to cultivate, contracts to write, customers to call back, trade shows to sign up for and sales meetings to attend.
Which tasks take precedence over the others? Is your day just a series of running from one urgent sales task to the next? A recent study found that two-thirds of a sales rep's time is spent on non-revenue generating tasks. That means it's essential for sales managers and the sales team to understand the difference between urgent and important sales tasks. Why? It directly affects your ability to generate revenue, the sole purpose of a rep's job. Here are some tips to help you make this distinction.
Urgent Sales Tasks Generate Revenue
For a sales manager or a member of a sales team, an urgent task is one that generates revenue. For example, writing up a final contract or returning the call of a client who wants to make a purchase are revenue-generating tasks, and therefore urgent. When you and your team review upcoming tasks, the first question should always be, does it generate revenue? When the answer is yes, it moves to the urgent column of your to-do list.
Managers Highlight Urgent Tasks
It's always a good idea to highlight urgent tasks in some way. If you're a sales manager with a whiteboard, dedicate a section to urgent tasks. Or, use a different color — maybe green, the color of money — marker for urgent tasks. You want your team to always know which tasks to concentrate their time and energy on.
Team Members Create a To-do List
When you're a member of a sales team, you have individual tasks that you're responsible for completing. Some of these tasks generate sales while others don't. Create a prioritized to-do list each morning or at the end of the day for the next.
Let your urgent tasks lead the list. As your day progresses, and you add tasks to the list, you need a way to indicate urgent sales tasks. Consider highlighting them or using an online to-do list where you can rearrange your priorities.
Urgent tasks are always the ones that generate revenue. Whether you're a sales manager or part of a team, you want your company to succeed. Making sales is the best way to grow a business.
What is an Important Sales Task?
An important task is a job that needs to get done in the near future, but it does not directly generate revenue. Whether you're a sales manager or a salesperson, there are administrative tasks that must get done. For example, an important task might include completing yearly performance reviews for your team or entering leads from the last trade show into the database. These are tasks that must get done in a timely manner to keep the company running smoothly. However, they don't directly generate revenue.
Focus on the Urgent without Neglecting the Important
As a sales manager, it's your goal to keep your team focused on urgent tasks without neglecting the important ones. Consider dedicating one hour a day to important tasks or maybe one afternoon each week.
If you're a member of a sales team and your manager doesn't dedicate time to important administrative tasks, find time that does not interfere with revenue-generating tasks to tackle the important jobs in your workflow. However, be careful not to allow an important sales task to slow any momentum your team has built throughout the day.
Create a To-Do List
There are important sales tasks that need to be completed each day, once a week or once a month. Create a daily, weekly and monthly to-do list, so you don't miss any important tasks.
Find a balance between completing urgent and important tasks that doesn't leave important tasks sitting for days, weeks or months unfinished. Similarly, as a sales manager, dedicate a specific time each day or week to these tasks.
What About the Gray Area?
There are some tasks that seem urgent, but don't generate revenue immediately. For example, cold calling leads has the potential to generate revenue, but it isn't guaranteed. Of course, you have to develop leads to increase your customer base and generate greater revenue for your company. However, does it fall under the urgent and important task list? It's actually the gray area in between the two. Make time for these tasks as well.
Managers Help the Team Prioritize
As a sales manager, it's your job to help your team make the most of their time. You wouldn't want gray area tasks placed ahead of urgent tasks. However, you don't want your team working on important administrative duties while a batch of gray area tasks waits. Find the gray area tasks a spot at the bottom of your urgent to-do list, ahead of the important items.
Sales teams want to generate as much revenue as possible for the company, especially if they work on commission. Complete all your urgent tasks first. Then, devote some time to gray area tasks that have the potential to generate income, even if it isn't in the immediate future.
Create a Routine
Put these gray area tasks on your to-do list somewhere between urgent and important. Work on these tasks without completely ignoring your important administrative tasks. Creating consistency in your daily and weekly tasks will benefit you and your team. Sales team members thrive with a level of consistency and routine.
Ask for Input
Trust your team. They likely have many years of experience in prioritizing tasks. No doubt, they will offer solutions to help incorporate important tasks without losing momentum on urgent ones. Encourage your team to come and discuss the possibilities with you. When you put a co-created plan in place, it helps you achieve the team's goals with support and accountability.
Get more tips, tricks and insights on identifying urgent and important tasks, and the evolving sales environment. Sign up for our newsletter or visit our website for webinars and other valuable business resources. Contact us any time!
Marketing and sales is all about communication. Even if you have an experienced sales team, aligning them with effective marketing strategies that will drive profits can be difficult. Help these two camps work together productively by gaining better insight into their minds. How so? DiSC assessments are designed to improve sales performance.
Let's discuss the basics of a DiSC assessment, its benefits, how it impacts sales and how managers can use it to build top-producing marketing and sales teams.
What is a DiSC Assessment?
DiSC is a behavioral assessment test based on the DiSC Theory. Its design is to provide insight into how individuals behave and think. Understanding an employee's personality and behavior in the workplace is essential to maximizing productivity and cohesion with other employees. DiSC's four distinct personality traits include:
How DiSC Can Impact Your Sales Success
Understanding team members' DiSC profiles allows sales and marketing teams to connect better, communicate more effectively, and build a stronger relationship with prospective and current customers. The results from the assessment enable individuals from each team to understand how their unique profile impacts the sales process. Managers can then use strategies to complement individual personalities and increase productivity. Likewise, when you understand how team members think and act, you minimize the chances of miscommunication.
Another way DiSC assessments can improve your sales is by developing a better understanding of your customers' buying preferences. Your sales team can find reliable ways to generate effective communication that leads to a lasting rapport with customers. They can then adapt those strategies to changes in buying behavior, making your customer service far superior and more successful. Here's a quick summary of how DiSC can impact your sales success.
Managers- Build Your Teams Using DiSC
Using DiSC assessments is a useful way for managers to build sales and marketing teams with diverse personality traits. Each specific personality trait brings something unique to the table. Use those traits to build a team that complements each other's preferences.
Use DiSC to assign specific roles to individuals you know will succeed based on their personality traits and preferences. This will foster greater creativity and engagement among each member. Not to mention, it can also lead to more effective communication and overall productivity.
As a manager, your task is to hire, train and manage teams with different personalities and learning preferences. The amazing thing about a DiSC assessment is it provides you with the necessary insight to know exactly how your team ticks, how you can maximize effective communication between each team member, and how you can leverage those distinct personalities into increased sales performance.
DiSC Maximizes the Five Stages of Action
When building a marketing and sales team, you want each team to maximize the five stages of action. This fundamental sales technique includes:
Generate More Sales - How?
At Improving Sales Performance, our name says it all. We are here to help your business increase its bottom line. Through our frameworks, we aim to increase your revenue and optimize your sales methodology.
For more tips, tricks and insights on videoconferencing and the evolving sales environment, sign up for our newsletter or visit our website for webinars and other valuable business resources. Contact us any time!
Are you celebrating each sale your team brings in? If not, you're missing an opportunity to motivate your sales team to even greater achievements. In the past, sales managers installed an actual bell in their department. Each time a sale was made made, the manager rang the bell to celebrate and ensure that every team member knew.
Sales people are competitive by nature. Ringing a bell in their honor is a challenge worth striving for. Consider adding a little friendly competition (and motivation) to your team by ringing a bell. Okay, it doesn't need to be an actual bell, but it does need to celebrate the win.
You might consider ringing the bell through a team broadcast email, group text or slack. If you're in an office setting, an actual bell might be appropriate. Whether you opt for a literal or figurative bell, here are five reasons why ringing the bell is essential for your sales team's motivation.
Create a Strong Sales Culture
The culture of an office or department defines the group's goals and priorities. You know your priority is sales, but it's always beneficial to reinforce that in your culture. By celebrating every sale with a ringing of the bell, you put a unique spin on your own sales culture. A stronger sales culture drives your team to make more sales and to become more proactive.
A stronger sales culture can be achieved in a variety of ways, including bonuses, weekly and monthly goals, and supporting and strengthening the sales team. By adding a ringing of the bell, you strengthen the team without spending a lot of money or energy. Even without a monetary bonus attached, people like to be acknowledged for their accomplishments. It inspires both the recognized individual and those around them to work harder. A strong sales culture translates into increased profit and growth.
Drive Individual and Team Performance
It doesn't cost anything to ring the bell for an employee, unless you pay to have a bell installed in your department. Even then, it isn't that much. However, you get so much goodwill in exchange for this small act of recognition. While you might be considering a large and expensive reward system for your sales team, starting with t-shirts and ending with a trip, you can save money and create positive energy and momentum by simply ringing the bell.
You like to be recognized for a job well done and so does your sales team. As you ring the bell and recognize one salesperson, the others will see this recognition and strive harder to earn it for themselves. This small act can help drive the improved performance of your entire staff with very little effort or expense on your part. Isn't that the goal?
Show Your Sales Team that Their Efforts are Valued
Even in small companies, it can be hard for an individual employee or team to know that they are valued and appreciated by those above them. Your sales team works hard, and many of them probably wonder if anyone ever notices. Ringing the bell shows immediately that you and the company value and appreciate their efforts.
While blasting an email, ringing a bell or shouting out on a group text might seem like a small, easy-to-do thing, one of your salespeople might really need to feel appreciated and valued. You want all your sales staff to feel this way because this feeling fuels their abilities to go out and make more sales. People who feel valued are more productive and successful than those who feel marginalized within a company of any size.
Create a Sense of Self-Worth
Yes, everyone would like to believe what others think of them isn't that important, but it's typically not the case. Sales teams flourish under compliments and other recognition of their hard work. This is because it helps create a sense of self-worth. You spend a lot of time at work. In many ways, your job helps define who you are as a person.
When someone recognizes that you're doing a good job and celebrates your successes, it helps to raise your confidence and self-worth. As a team leader or department manager, your opinion matters to your sales team, and a little recognition and bell ringing can be a wonderful and positive thing.
It might seem a little awkward when you first start recognizing every sale. Over time, however, you'll really begin to enjoy celebrating with your sales team. Helping someone else feel better about themselves is a reward that you can enjoy too. You can also watch as that person becomes more confident and productive.
Allow Momentum to Generate More Momentum
When someone makes a sale, it shows that the team has built up some momentum. By ringing the bell, you encourage your sales staff to use its current momentum to create more. You want your team to be similar to a ball rolling down a hill, picking up speed as it goes.
Momentum drives sales and makes your team successful. You don't want to do anything that might halt or slow the momentum. By recognizing and praising success, it encourages your staff to continue working hard for their next sales.
As a manager, you're always looking for ways to motivate your sales force and increase profits. You may need to go old school and begin ringing the bell to motivate your team. Show them they're appreciated, and help build momentum. You can send an email blast or group text so each member of your team knows about a sale and understands that you and the company appreciate their hard work. A little "Woo-Hoo" can go a long way!
For more tips, tricks and insights on videoconferencing and the evolving sales environment, sign up for our newsletter or visit our website for webinars and other valuable business resources.
A cautionary tale for sales managers
In 1818, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, the tale of a young scientist who searches for the secret of life through the creation of a cobbled-together monster. Are you similarly building a monstrosity of a sales team through alchemic and irresponsible means?!?!
Let’s hope not. But if you are, don’t fear. You can shift things around.
All too often our sales organizations take on lives of their own and can run amok if we don’t plan and proceed with proper awareness. Frankenstein’s monster was created without a meaningful plan. He was born out of excitement and the pursuit of knowledge, but his vision wasn’t fully considered.
If you feel like your sales team is a Frankenstein, bolted together and not acting the way you’d hoped, it’s ok. Unlike the mad scientist, you can fix it!
Your sales team is not a monster. You might perceive it to be jury-rigged and inoperable, but most likely it just needs proper guidance and a slight adjustment. Remember that you are a leader and not a mad scientist! You and your team already have the skills needed to stop scaring the villagers.
If you’re frustrated about the actions (or lack of actions) that your team is taking, and if the results you want aren’t getting procured, hit the reset button. You’re the leader. Act like one. Bring the team together and discuss what you’re unhappy about, what you’re observing. Do it in a positive and constructive way. Set a clear agenda and ask your team to come prepared to have a thoughtful conversation about improving the sales organization as a whole.
There is great importance in moving towards solutions and not resting in negativity. It’s about walking the talk. If you believe in and are fostering constructive values, then your team needs to witness these values in your actions. If you ask your team not to dwell on their mistakes and to move forward with positivity, then show them how together you can all achieve solutions in an optimistic and forward thinking way.
The idea behind creating Frankenstein’s monster was awesome. The scientist wanted to discover the secret of life! Your motivation as the sales manager is happily not so grand, but perhaps your sales team sees you more as a mad scientist than an intentional designer.
Are you trying to create success, but horrified by the results your team is having? Ask yourself if you consistently introduce different strategies without a plan. Stop grasping for random parts to achieve your solution. Hiring a sales trainer, finding an SEO master, handing out the latest sales book - this grab bag incohesive approach lacks intention. The larger result you’re seeking will continue to elude you unless you and your team follow a blueprint.
But you can’t create a plan if you don't know the outcome that you want. Get the team to agree on the result, then ask the team to co-create the plan. By doing this you have a better chance of aligning everyone and having their actions and experiences contribute to the overall success.
It will be alright. We all get caught up in the moment, and we want our sales teams to be amazing. However they can’t succeed without clear direction and objectives. We must consider the outcome of any creation, whether new life built from stolen body parts or a well-assembled sales team.
A good sales team is devised of smart, reliable and creative individuals who must be given the chance to succeed. Invite them into the conversation, respect them for their ideas and give them the opportunity to grow and contribute.
Here’s a fun fact that popular culture overlooks: in the actual book, Frankenstein’s monster was born intelligent and articulate, capable of great things; but without good leadership and collaboration he becomes self-taught, fearful and unpredictable. Be sure to not act too independently, or else your sales team may become a wild creature roaming around without purpose or understanding!
I encourage you to meet with each member of your sales team individually and simply ask them, “How would you improve the sales organization? How would you create revenue?” They will probably have brilliant ideas.
If you feel that your sales department is Frankenstein’s monster, in actuality it’s probably not. You have a team with all the proper parts and the ability to evolve, because you are not the mad scientist and they are not monstrous! You can create a smart, functioning and creative team that feels built more upon the mind of Einstein than Frankenstein. Let’s get them going…
New trends in virtual meetings have given rise to sales tech challenges for many teams. In March 2020, Zoom saw more than 20 million new users download their mobile app. While the Work From Home (WFH) business model has been gaining traction for years, the current socio-political climate radically sped up the advent of technology like video conferencing. At the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, more than 300 million people participate in Zoom meetings every day. Add that to the immense number of people who use rival services such as Google Hangouts/ Meet, and you have a major shift in global business practices.
That level of explosive growth isn't without problems, though. With so many first-time users adopting this new technology, things are bound to go wrong. Tech issues and sales meeting challenges are likely to arise. Here are five sales tech challenges that I see my clients struggle with every week, along with instructions on how to solve them.
1. Attendees Click the Wrong Meeting Link
Google's entire suite of products is built on user experience. They have led the renaissance of easy-to-use applications that integrate seamlessly with one another. For the most part, it makes life much easier for the end user. Sometimes, Google's quality-of-life updates can be intrusive, and create a sales tech challenges.
Businesses hosted through Gmail who choose to integrate with an enterprise platform like Outlook are subject to Google Meet/Hangout links where they might not want them. Google automatically embeds a link to their Meet/Hangout application in email and Google's calendar. Meet was formerly known as Google Hangouts, but over the summer of 2020, Gmail was upgraded to include additional video conferencing functionality, and thus Meet was born.
Because Google automatically injects the embedded link into emails for enterprise users, people who you've invited to your Zoom sales meeting might be confused. Instead of clicking the Zoom link in their email, they click the embedded Meet/Hangout link instead. This link correlates to your Google calendar and is dependent on it. No matter how clear you make it in the body of the email, there will still be clients that click the embedded link anyway. Fortunately there is a fix.
It requires your business's Gmail administrator to adjust a setting in your Google calendar to prevent Google from automatically embedding the link across your G Suite. If your business is smaller in scale and you aren't using an enterprise account, you can turn this feature off yourself by going into your calendar settings and turning off the "Automatically add Google Meet video conferences to events I create" option in your calendar.
2. Zoom Only Allows the Host to Share Their Screen
Being able to share what's on your screen is an important part of a virtual sales meeting. To implement a truly functional WFH model, your video conferencing platform has to foster productivity. By default, Zoom only allows the sales meeting's host to share what's on his/her device screen, however. This information can include:
Fortunately, there is an extremely easy fix to this sales tech challenge, allowing everyone in the meeting to share screen content. To allow multiple users to share the contents of their screen, the meeting host must click the up arrow icon on the right side of the screen. This will open a menu where the host can select the "Multiple participants can share simultaneously," option.
It should be noted that this is a change to the default option, which is set up so that only the host can share. Clicking a simple radio button located below the previous option allows the meeting attendees to share their content as well.
3. Time Zone Confusion Creates Sales Tech Challenges
Large, multinational companies may have sales meetings that involve participants from all over the globe. That means participants operating out of different time zones.
For some users, time zone conversion can be a painful, time-consuming process that involves consulting an outside source and then doing the math manually. For default Google users, it involves setting up a secondary time zone for each invite that has international attendees. That's where plugins come into play.
Plugin calendar apps like Calendly or Acuity integrate easily with your G Suite, and provide valuable time zone information for your sales meetings by default. These extensions allow for easier time zone access, such as rolling over an attendee's name to show information, including time zone.
For example, with Acuity integration, you simply click on the appointment in your Google calendar to see each attendee's time zone. The initial time investment that it takes to set up plugins like these are more than worth it given their overall convenience and effectiveness at solving this sales tech challenge.
4. Solve Tech Issues by Enabling Advanced Functionality Tools
Add-ons like Calendly greatly augment what you're able to do with your video conferencing platform, helping you overcome multiple sales tech challenges at once. The basic version of Calendly includes free meeting scheduling functions, while their premium service allows users to do much more.
Using Calendly's advanced features allows hosts to embed a link right on their website that allows potential clients to set up a meeting without having to go through an additional platform to initiate contact. Calendly also allows you to set up PayPal or Stripe payment options within the video conference itself, allowing for functional, results-driven sales meetings.
Each new meeting type that the host sets up will walk them through a checklist of options for their prospective meeting, allowing them to easily initiate advanced features like these.
5. Make Video Conferencing More Secure
Users worldwide have made a big deal out of the potential security issues inherent to free-to-use platforms like Zoom, and with good reason. Those security threats have introduced a new term into our collective vernacular: Zoombombing.
Sales people deal with sensitive information on a regular basis. The integrity of our customers' information and our internal communications is essential. Video conferencing, however, has become a modern-day necessity. What can users do to overcome this specific sales tech challenge?
While both Google and Zoom have added additional layers of encryption over the last few months, as well as unique meeting invite codes, Zoom users have a frontline defense they can proactively employ. Before starting a meeting, users can log in and access their settings. Under advanced options there is a setting to enable a virtual waiting room. This allows the meeting's host to pre-screen people attempting to join the meeting.
Iron Out the Kinks
As with any new technology, there are millions of unanticipated issues that will inevitably arise. With the WFH business model, sales people worldwide are experiencing a major operational shift that will affect the industry as a whole. Experience is the best teacher available, even as we all try to figure out sales tech challenges together. Fortunately, each of the video conferencing platforms currently on the market are customizable, designed with the end user in mind.
For more tips, tricks and insights on videoconferencing and the evolving sales environment, sign up for our newsletter, or visit our website for webinars and other valuable business resources.
Today's marketing teams require a multi-channel approach to carrying out both online and offline marketing campaigns. While utilizing multiple channels enables marketers to personalize a customer's sales journey throughout the sales funnel, there are some unique challenges when analyzing a particular marketing campaign and its ROI.
One key metric to determine your marketing ROI is through attribution. If your company is not focusing on sales and lead attribution, here is why it should be at the forefront of your marketing campaign.
What is Attribution?
Attribution indicates how prospective customers enter your sales funnel. Likewise, it serves as a touchpoint of customer experiences throughout the buyer's journey. It specifies what door they came through, what channels and messages resonated with them the most, and what was the deciding factor that led to a purchase.
A common flaw for many businesses is they fail to clearly understand attribution, leading to a lack of understanding of which sales tactics and initiatives are working best for their bottom line. Focusing on lead and sales attribution can help your business determine where it is getting the most ROI for your marketing dollars, and what acquisition channels are the most valuable.
Why is Attribution Important?
Attribution programs require marketers to aggregate consumer data across all levels of your marketing channels. The data is then normalized and properly weighed to give your business better insight into the customer's decision-making process.
For instance, if a potential customer receives both an email ad and a display ad, but only clicks on the promotion from the email, it indicates to your marketing team the email was more effective at enticing interest for your good or service for that particular customer.
Understanding attribution can improve your business' decision-making process. Attribution helps you determine which channels are better at generating new leads, or which channels are more effective at converting leads into finalized sales. If you find your promotional emails are generating more leads, then you can allocate more resources to your email campaign.
To achieve efficacious attribution requires advanced marketing analytics that can take a large amount of data and convert it into personal-level insights, which you can then use to optimize your marketing campaigns.
Benefits of Effective Attribution
Avoid the Pitfalls
Despite the many benefits attribution can bring to your business, some common pitfalls can obscure the success of marketing campaigns. To ensure you are getting the most valuable insight from your data, these are the common mistakes marketers should avoid when using attribution models:
First-touch attribution assumes a customer chose to convert after the first advertisement they came across. Therefore, it gives attribution to the first touchpoint, regardless of any additional messaging subsequently introduced.
Last-touch attribution gives entire attribution credit to the last touchpoint the customer interacted with before finalizing the purchase. It does not take into account any prior engagements. Both single-touch models fail to account for the broader customer journey.
Multi-touch attribution models look at every touchpoint a customer engages with throughout the buyer's journey. Therefore, multi-touch models are more accurate at depicting the efficacy of your marketing efforts. These models are different by how they divide credit between touchpoints. These include:
How to Improve Your Sales Attribution
Sales and lead attribution are crucial aspects for your business, and knowing how to accurately gauge your customer's journey is paramount. Want to learn more, but not sure where to start and need some expert advice, check out our website to view our informational webinars, or sign up for our weekly newsletter.
Did you know it takes an average of 18 calls before a salesperson connects with their lead? Multiply that by every lead in the salesperson's funnel, and that's a gigantic amount of time spent chasing down sales. Yet, there's often a perception among company leadership that salespeople have it easy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If your company doesn't properly value or take the time to understand its sales team, it can affect every facet of your business. Fostering a sales-positive culture helps you obtain long-term success.
The Benefit of a Sales-Positive Culture
Success begins with understanding, and understanding comes from the top down. Your company's leadership must set an example by demonstrating respect, appreciation and insight as to how their sales reps operate.
It's easy to see how misconceptions are born. For those who've never been a salesperson, speaking to clients seems like a soft skill, chatting and schmoozing followed by a lot of downtime. In reality, the sales rep spends only about 30% of their time talking directly with clients. The rest of that time is spent on administrative tasks like scheduling, paperwork and training.
Still, the misconception persists: that no one really understands what sales does, that sales seems easy, and that if the company needs more revenue, sales just needs to sell better or call more people to increase it. Unless your leadership takes measures to stop the anti-sales attitude from taking root, your company's morale and profitability could be in serious trouble.
10 Things Leadership Needs to Know About Its Sales People
It's a more effective strategy to build a bridge than it is a fence. Keeping your company's individual departments synchronized boosts morale and overall prosperity. After years of interacting with professional salespeople, these are the most essential things every salesperson wishes their CEO knew about them.
Your sales department is the driving force behind your revenue and prosperity, but they're often misunderstood by fellow employees and company leadership. It's important to view your sales team as essential and look for ways to enfranchise them. It's always better to build a bridge than it is a fence.
For more SMB advice and insights, sign up for our newsletter, or visit our website for webinars and other valuable business resources.
Before you continue to find fault with your sales organization, consider the possibility that you’re lacking alignment from the foundation up and that is the root cause of poor sales performance. You are not alone, however. This is a universal problem, and sales forces are picking up and moving on at staggering rates.
According to a 2018 survey by Marc Wayshak, only 17.6% of respondents rate their job satisfaction as "outstanding," and 47.1% rated their jobs as just "good."
If you’re feeling frustrated with sales performance and revenue, it’s possible that some core strategies and relationships need to be reconsidered. Take a deep look at your foundations, your team and your leadership. How can you give sales performance a boost? Consider these three steps.
Increase Sales Performance by Revisiting Your Foundations
Are you clear on your company value foundations? You must know what problems you are here to solve and who you are solving them for. Take the time to really define your value proposition and how you’re different from other companies. Without a concise foundation, your sales team's performance will suffer. Make sure everyone is aligned with your purpose by training your team to understand the organization's well-defined foundations.
Explore Your Sales Team Dynamics
Chances are that among your group, there are individual strengths that merit individual approaches. Look at the sales team and understand who they are. The result will be higher sales performance because you have set them up for success by giving them opportunities that speak to their strengths.
From here, work towards group solutions and create a collaborative environment. If you have provided safety and encouragement through listening and asking questions, your team will feel relevant and confident. Be bold and ask them what they would do if they ran the department. How would they solve their frustrations and yours? You might be delighted by the answers you receive.
Reexamine Your Sales Leadership
It’s imperative that you create an environment for your team to be successful. Have you made them feel trusted, empowered and knowledgeable as individuals so that they can be aligned as a team?
You don’t need new hires. I’m a firm believer that most salespeople are good at what they do if given the opportunity to sell the way that best supports their strengths. You are responsible for putting each team member in the right role and fostering skills that will bring their sales performance to peak levels.
Remember that your team must be heard. Listen to them. Ask what they need and keep in mind that there are numerous ways to sell. Teach them trust and mutual respect through providing it yourself in your leadership.
Spotio’s Sales Career Statistics states that the typical account executive spends 2.7 years on the job and takes 4.7 months to ramp. You can do better.
It’s hard to see oneself as the culprit of other’s dissatisfaction or for a company sales slump. However, looking inward and accepting that changes need to be made can lead a poor sales team to greater happiness, higher performance and increased loyalty.
An experienced, well-equipped and determined sales team can lead any business to success. The problem many companies face is that they have poor sales team performance.
In many cases, it doesn't have to do with experience or determination. The reason lies in the lack of understanding, empowerment and engagement.
Today, 75% of companies say that closing more deals is their top priority. If you are among them, showing trust and giving the necessary tools to your team can give your business a giant push forward. Consider these five ways to improve sales team performance.
1. Learn More About Your Sales Team
Being a sales rep isn't a profession. It's a calling. To be successful, these experts need to feel the buyers' pain points and offer suitable solutions, while guiding them down the sales funnel. All that requires determination, passion and hard work.
Unfortunately, many business owners don't understand the variety of challenges these sales professionals face. From that comes a lack of respect and encouragement, resulting in poor sales team performance. That's one of the reasons for a high sales rep turnover rate, compared to other industries (35% vs 13%).
If you feel unhappy with your team's sales performance, start by learning more about your team. As you work on your involvement, you can uncover various factors to help improve the team's performance.
2. Increase Sales Performance by Encourage Strengths
All sales reps have certain professional strengths and weaknesses. When you want an employee to increase sales performance, focusing attention on their weaknesses is counterproductive.
According to Gallup, building on employee's strengths is much more effective than trying to improve on their weaknesses. It's up to the employer to create a work environment to cultivate the sales rep's strengths.
A supervisor's understanding of his/her reps' strengths has an impressive effect on the company's bottom line because managers play a crucial role in maximizing employee output. You can empower the sales rep to discover and develop their strengths. Once you do that, adjust their role to exploit these strengths fully.
3. Support Teamwork
To boost sales team performance, sales reps need to come together as a united group. This could be problematic for experts, who are used to working alone. As you get to know each team member's strengths and weaknesses, you can figure out the best way to bring these people together.
4. Ask For Feedback...And Listen To It
The best way to discover a problem in the workplace is to ask. If your team isn't performing as well as you expect, ask your sales rep why they think it's happening.
The information you can acquire simply by asking could change your entire approach to team building, workplace environment and much more.
Don't hesitate to ask your sales team for ideas. They may already know how to solve the problem. Listening to your employees and trusting their professional opinion could help you achieve many business goals in addition to improving sales team performance.
5. Promote Engagement And Involvement
One of the top reasons why employees are unhappy with their work is the lack of meaning. When sales reps don't see a meaning in what they do, their performance suffers.
Employee disengagement costs the U.S. more than $550 billion a year in lost productivity. Even when scaled down to one company, the losses could be devastating. To increase engagement, employees should be invested in the company's mission, vision, value and goals.
It's up to the leader to show the sales team why its work is highly meaningful to the company. You should help sales reps understand that the work they do contributes to the company's success directly.
Start Improving Sales Team Performance Today
The success of your sales team doesn't just depend on its professionalism and experience. A big part stems from your attitude.
By getting to know your team better, encouraging its strengths, improving the workplace environment and promoting engagement, you can improve the sales team's performance tremendously. Work with your sales team as much as you can. Such an effort can bring an impressive ROI.
For more information about improving your sales team performance and other important tips, please sign up for our weekly newsletter.
Ask Yourself Daily: What Will Create the Most Value?
I can easily get caught in the trap of "busyness." I remind myself daily, my job is to create value for myself, my team and my prospects with the actions I take today. I have to start by being mindful of how I create value and what will create value. Then, I prioritize.
The discipline required to remain focused on long term goals amidst the actual execution of a strategy is a rare skill, but is highly valuable to clients. Following a disciplined process typically leads to higher quality and faster results.
TIP: On a weekly basis, I challenge assumptions made when originally setting goals, and seek input from the team on whether our goals need to be modified.
I’m Karl Becker and I help individuals and organizations improve how they sell. My focus is on clear, concise, actionable solutions.
In short, I'll show you how to increase performance and generate more revenue.
This blog shares approaches, tools, and ideas that I have seen create success.
If you’re interested in discussing anything, please reach out.