It's no secret that an organization has to enjoy alignment across all of its departments to really grow (or at least grow in a sustainable way). The problem is, it's common for departments, teams, sales managers, and even individual team members to be misaligned with one another.
In other words, they may have very different ideas about the value the company provides, the selling points that help to convert leads, and the typical journey that the ideal customer takes.
Misalignment can be a major problem for any business. Think about it: If one of your reps is selling based on price, and another one is selling based on customer experience, then where does that leave brand consistency? How can you focus on the prospects with the highest potential value if your reps aren't even sure who they are?
The point is, sales management involves working out any misalignment issues within your organization as soon as possible. It may not lead to immediate, explosive growth. But it will stabilize your processes and revenue stream. That is the foundation you need for your company to really take off. This is where the revenue equation comes into the picture.
What is the Revenue Equation?
If we were to express the revenue equation as a mathematical formula, it would look like this:
Sales Foundations + Sales Design + Sales Infrastructure = Revenue Stabilization and Growth
When those three key elements on the left side of the equation are completely aligned across the entire organization, the inevitable result is stabilization, and ultimately growth. The question for sales managers is: Do you understand the revenue equation for your company? And if you do, how about the rest of your team?
We've talked about these three elements in this recent blog post, but let's just remind ourselves what each component involves:
For sales managers, defining these three elements is the easy part. The trick is, making sure everyone on your sales team (and within your organization) is on the same page when it comes to these "pieces of the puzzle." If each sales rep has a different idea about what your company is all about, then many of them are selling for an imaginary company — the one that exists in their mind, not in reality.
Understanding the Revenue Equation is Vital to Sales Management
In practical terms, the main issue is how to get everyone on the same page. If you're the Change Agent, then you'll need to lay the groundwork for the Improvement Team to achieve that desired alignment. That means you'll have to dig in and ask some probing questions. Throughout this entire process, you'll also need to be guided by the three key qualities of the Change Agent:
Hold the Vision
Remember, the ultimate objective of your meetings with the Improvement Team is to work out any alignment issues. This is critical to stabilize and grow revenue. You can't forget that — and you can't let your team forget it, either.
Think of it like a family road trip. You need to figure out where you're going (not just the main destination, but any "sub-destinations" along the way). How will you get there? What's expected of each family member?
In the same way, with each meeting you need to be upfront and intentional about the main goal (your destination), as well as any "stepping-stone goals" along the way. Of course, sales managers also need to be clear about how you're going to get there, and what's expected of each team member.
Consistently Cultivate Trust
Depending on the dynamics of your company, you may need to do some pre-work before your team members start opening up to you. Create opportunities for them to express their true thoughts and opinions. This may mean multiple introductory meetings at the start, several one-on-one sessions, and even meetings without the team's direct supervisor (just to give the participants some space, and with the supervisor's approval).
Here's another thing to keep in mind: Sometimes team members, in the middle of a meeting, will experience what we'll call a "tangential epiphany" — a really great insight that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. It's important to handle those occasions with care. You don't want to derail the meeting. But you also want to demonstrate your respect for the team member's contribution.
The best way for sales managers to deal with that situation is to put the participant's idea "in the parking lot." Set aside time to loop back around to it at the end of the meeting. Alternatively, you could have a quick one-on-one with the team member afterwards to flesh out his or her idea. That's a great way to build trust, and gain more insight into your company's Revenue Equation at the same time. (In fact, sometimes those "tangential epiphanies" are the most valuable insights that come out of a meeting!)
Seek to Understand
Once sales managers have established a baseline level of trust, and everyone in the meeting knows why they're there, you can really dig into the details of your company's alignment issues. You can easily identify which areas need attention by simply having each participant rank, on a scale of 1 to 10, each of the following components is within your organization. The ranking should be done based on how well-defined each component is in the mind of each sales team member.
1. Sales Foundations
2. Sales Design
3. Sales Infrastructure
After you get those preliminary scores, you can explore the discrepancies and areas of confusion you find on a deeper level.
Effort Pays Off
It takes some effort, and it definitely takes some commitment, to work through this process. But the light at the end of the tunnel is a deeper understanding of where misalignment exists, and the beginnings of a game plan to fix those issues. If you and your team really understand the organization's Revenue Equation, you'll be able to work together to refine it, stabilize it, and eventually use it to improve your sales performance.
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Successful sales reps work across diverse industries, pursue different performance metrics, and have various selling styles. However, there are certain things they all share. One common denominator is training. Continuous, relevant education that keeps them at the top of their game, and up-to-date on the latest trends in their market is critical to success.
Of course, as a sales manager you want to give your team the tools for success — which often includes a guided training or "up-skilling" program. But what if you could turn your sales reps into their own teachers? What if each individual sales rep could regularly tap into the collective knowledge of the entire team?
When your reps are oriented toward collaboration and continual self-improvement, then your entire team's performance will enjoy a significant boost.
How to Make It Happen
It may not take a huge amount of investment to transform your reps into self-educating superstars. Once you establish a consistent framework in which your team members can learn from one another, they'll be able to "fill in the blanks."
Here's one idea: Develop a worksheet that your sales team has to complete on a quarterly basis. Empower them to proactively manage it — you don't want to be standing over their shoulder, urging them to fill it out. Assign a different rep to take the lead each quarter.
Any insights gleaned from this exercise can be distilled into actionable lessons. Then, they can be distributed throughout the team (either in one-on-one feedback sessions, during team meetings, or both).
Sample Sales Success Worksheet
The worksheet you develop may include questions such as these:
Of course, you may need to curate the feedback gathered from this exercise in order to make it as beneficial to the team as possible. Still, the objective is to promote critical thinking and collaboration. You want your reps to think about what is and what is not working — and to feel comfortable enough to share their insights with you, and with one another.
Why Is This Important?
It's been said that "no man is an island." The same could be said of sales reps. Not only does an individual's performance affect the bottom line of the entire team (and the company). But the team as a whole, when managed properly, can contribute to improvement for each individual.
Take this scenario as an example: A sales rep at Company X discovers that he can convert 10 percent more leads into customers by focusing on product quality rather than pricing. As his manager, you definitely wouldn't want him to keep that knowledge to himself. Instead, you would want your other sales reps to follow suit, and (hopefully) improve their performance as well.
With a consistent process in place to share ideas and insights (i.e., to transform your reps into their own teachers), it would be that much easier to disseminate the knowledge of a single sales rep throughout your team — and your entire department.
Avoid the "Silo Mentality"
Many sales organizations are victims of the "silo mentality" — departments are in fierce competition with one another, and sales reps are more concerned about individual accolades than team success. You want to avoid that mindset at all costs. By empowering your reps to teach themselves and each other, you'll almost certainly see a higher ROI from your efforts. And what more could you ask for?
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Are you a sales leader who sees that your organization needs to undergo a deep-seated, positive change? If the answer is yes, then you need to make an important determination: Are you the right person to implement that change, or should you play a supporting role? In other words, are you the change agent or the champion?
Change Agent Vs. Champion
In a previous blog, we talked about the main goal of a change agent — to affect powerful, lasting change within an organization. Change agents are more like guides than they are supervisors. Their job is to approach underlying issues and bottlenecks in the sales process with an open mind, like an investigative reporter approaches a "developing story. They must ask probing questions, listen to understand, and get buy-in from the entire team. Their sales leadership role is essential to making the organization's vision a reality.
Change agents have a lot on their plate, right?
However, a change agent's effectiveness is limited without the support of a champion. The champion is the sales leader who discerns the problem, and has the authority to assign a change agent. He then supports the change agent as he/she gets to work. The role of the champion is supportive in nature, but absolutely essential if you want the best outcome for your company.
Which Sales Leadership Role is Yours?
This is a key question to answer early on. After all, you don't want to spend the next several months in "shoes that don't fit!" Here are a few indications that you can take on the role of change agent.
If you can check all of these boxes, then you may be able to take on the role of the change agent.
On the other hand, you might have a full plate already. Maybe the thought of carving out 10 extra hours a week seems like an insurmountable obstacle. Or perhaps you don't naturally have the personality or skill set that's required for an effective change agent. There's no shame in knowing your limits. If you conclude that it wouldn't be realistic for you to take on the duties of a change agent, then you can start the search for someone else to handle that responsibility.
What Resources Will the Champion Provide to the Change Agent?
If you are going to play the role of the champion, then there are two important resources you must provide the change agent (once you appoint him/her).
1. Ample Time to Work
They say that "Rome wasn't built in one day." The same principle is true of organizational change. Your change agent is going to need enough time, over the course of several months, to identify areas of opportunity, explore options for change, and then implement those findings.
A change agent's average time commitment is usually 10 hours per week. This includes meeting with the organization's Improvement Team on a regular basis. They also need time alone to process the results of those meetings and come up with potential solutions for your sales team.
2. A Reasonable Level of Authority
A change agent also needs, well, a certain level of agency in order to handle their sales leadership role effectively. This will include the authority to call meetings, to pull your sales reps into those meetings, and to maintain confidential communication with team members. A change agent also needs the authority to assign employees individual (and even group) work to do. In fact, if you're going to be a truly supportive champion, you should even empower your change agent to hold you accountable for any work they need from you.
How to Identify the Right Change Agent
Any potential change agent you identify will need to possess 3 key qualities.
The question is, where you should look for that change agent?
The natural fit may seem to be someone who's already in a sales leadership position in your company, either in sales or marketing. The obvious advantage of going that route is the person's pre-existing familiarity with your sales process, and any problem areas.
Of course, that familiarity may be a double-edged sword. Perhaps your sales and marketing managers are too close to the problem. Or, there may be some internal friction that will hamper their effectiveness as change agents.
If that's the case, then you can broaden the scope of your search to include leadership from different departments. For instance, maybe your VP of finance has the right skill set (and distance) to lead the conversation around positive change. (And if they need some help in that role, you can always assign an assistant to lend a hand.)
Then again, what if every potential change agent in your organization is slammed with work, lacks the required skill set, or doesn't have the distance to successfully navigate volatile team dynamics? If that's the situation you're facing, then it may be best to bring someone in from the outside.
As the champion, you'll have to make sure that this external change agent has the resources they need for success. At the same time, you may need to set up certain safeguards in order to trust them with private information.
Effective Sales Leadership Results in Greater Performance
Whichever route you decide to take, remember that regular, two-way communication between you and the change agent is vital. If you both are closely aligned towards your common sales goals, then you'll be able to make a lasting change within your organization. The result of an effective sales leadership strategy will be improved, sustainable sales performance.
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There's a quote from one writer that goes like this: "Don't chase success. Decide to make a difference and success will find you." Even though that concept could be applied to many aspects of life, let's look at it from the viewpoint of sales success in your organization.
It's true that everyone in the sales industry wants that "big win," that easy fix to their performance issues that makes everything fall neatly into place. There's nothing wrong with that feeling. It's only natural.
Here's the thing, though. Chasing that big win is usually counterproductive. In real life, it almost always takes a series of small, deliberate actions to get to a place where your business is humming along. It takes cooperation and collaboration. It takes hard work and perseverance. It takes intentionality and planning.
Here's another saying (or part of a saying) that makes the point well:
Your actions become your habits.
Your habits become your values.
Your values become your destiny.
What Sales Success Stories Have in Common
The point is, business growth is the result of small, intentional actions and good habits. These form the foundation of your brand's values and reputation. And ultimately, they decide your organization's destiny.
Sales success stories may be flashy, or dramatic, or even heartwarming. But if you dig a little deeper, you'll almost always find that all success stories have a few things in common: namely, 3 solid frameworks that enable a sales organization to perform at a high level.
Let's talk about each one of these frameworks, and why they are so crucial to improved sales performance.
Framework #1: The Revenue Equation
The Revenue Equation framework is actually a combination of three critical factors that form the basis of your entire sales process. These three factors are:
When each of these factors are streamlined and optimized, the result will be revenue stabilization and growth. The question is, what do these elements involve, and how do they work together?
Sales Foundations (Who Are You?)
Your sales foundations are the values and characteristics that make your brand unique. Sales foundations include your company's reputation, your pricing strategy, and your unique selling proposition (USP).
Think of Apple, Inc. as an example. They have a reputation as a leader in technological innovation. Their price points reflect their position as a premier brand, and one of their USPs is their commitment to personal privacy and security.
As the name implies, your sales foundations form the basis of everything else you do within the sales process. That's why you absolutely must understand who you are as a company, and then play to those strengths.
Sales Design (Who Do You Sell To?)
Once your sales foundations have been firmly established, you need to understand who your target customers are. After all, you don't want to be "punching air" by targeting consumers that aren't likely to purchase from your business.
This is where buyer personas come into the picture. Your marketing team (preferably with input from sales) needs to come up with a profile of your ideal customer — or even multiple profiles, depending on how specific your targeting is.
With that buyer persona in hand, your sales reps will be in a better position to understand the thoughts, concerns, and desires of their leads, nurture them effectively, and eventually convert them into paying customers.
Sales Infrastructure (How Will You Sell It?)
Once you have a firm grasp on who you are, and who your ideal customer is, it's time to build your sales infrastructure. In other words, the processes that can bridge the gap between you and your consumers.
Your infrastructure includes the systems and software programs you use to manage customer relationships, your clearly defined sales funnel, as well as your KPIs, metrics and quotas.
When these three elements — sales foundations, sales design, and sales infrastructure — are all working properly, and are clearly aligned with one another, then your first framework (The Revenue Equation) is firmly in place.
Framework #2: The Individual Performance Planner
Your Revenue Equation is in place. Everyone on your team has collaborated to make it a reality. Now, you have to start shifting your focus from the big picture to the details. These details are comprehensive, from the Revenue Equation to the individual performance of your sales reps.
This is where collaboration and open communication become even more critical. Within this framework, your first order of business is to discuss with each sales rep what his or her strengths and growth opportunities are.
What short-term and long-term goals will the rep set inside (and possibly outside) of work? The outcome of these discussions will be condensed and solidified into their own Individual Performance Planner.
Intentionality is key in this framework. You have to demonstrate how serious you are when it comes to supporting your team members, and helping them achieve their goals. At the same time, your reps have to buy into this process, and commit to being the best salespeople they can be.
This give and take is the only way to achieve maximum value from the important (but still theoretical) Revenue Equation.
Framework #3: The Revenue Planner
This final framework is where you'll see the fruits of your labor. You have your Revenue Equation in place, and your team members onboard. Now you have the insights and the freedom to identify key growth opportunities within the sales process. Next, you'll develop a plan of action for each one.
Over the first three months of the process, this will involve taking various actions. Consider adjusting discounts to featured products, doubling down on relationships with established customers, or refining your price points. Really, the sky's the limit.
After achieving some quick wins, you'll want to stabilize your revenue in the following three months. Aim for continuous revenue growth in the months (and years) to follow. While the Revenue Planning stage is unique to each business, the framework it provides is useful across the board.
Create Your Own Success Story
Look deeply at sales success stories. Odds are you'll discern these three frameworks at work, in one way or another. Build your sales process around these frameworks. Then, your company will also enjoy quick wins and sustainable growth.
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Meetings are just a part of life for most sales managers. They have periodic meetings with senior management. They may occasionally meet with high-value clients. And, of course they hold regular sales meetings with their team.
Anything we do repeatedly eventually becomes a routine, and any routine can deteriorate into a rut. If you're a sales manager who's holding weekly (or perhaps daily) sales meetings, then the last thing you want to do is have those interactions with your team become part of a rut — e.g., time wasters or, even worse, finger-pointing disputes.
With that in mind, here are three keys that will help you keep your sales meetings productive, uplifting, and motivating.
Key #1: Understand Your Team as Individuals
In order to have a productive sales meeting with your team as a whole, it's important to be mindful that each team member is unique. Personality, emotional makeup, communication style, goals, desires, concerns - all these factors differ from person to person. You must understand where each team member is coming from in order to communicate with them effectively.
Think of this as "laying the foundation" for a great sales meeting. Schedule some one-on-one time with each team member throughout the week. Observe how they react to constructive feedback, and any stressful sales calls that may come their way. Note their strengths and growth opportunities.
By building a "mental profile" of each team member ahead of time, you'll be able to generally predict how they'll behave in a meeting. Most importantly, you'll glean ways to help them grow as a sales rep within a group setting.
Key #2: Set Clear Expectations
At the beginning of each sales meeting, it's best to leave nothing to the imagination. Make the format, flow, and purpose of the meeting crystal clear to your team members. For example, everyone should know:
That last point is important. You don't want your meeting to turn into an interrogation session for underperforming sales reps. It's often best to give each sales rep some uninterrupted time to express his or her thoughts. This will enable your team members to be themselves without fear of censure.
Which leads into our third key...
Key #3: Establish a Judgment-Free Zone
Last but not least, you want to make sure that all of your team members view the meeting as a "judgment-free zone." The purpose of a sales meeting should be to exchange ideas and information — never to lecture or criticize team members over performance.
In fact, welcome the uncensored input of each team member. Their insights will help you to continually improve your sales process day after day.
At times, keeping the meeting "judgment-free" may require that you bite your tongue. Even underperforming reps that legitimately need some constructive feedback should be made to feel respected during these meetings (and during future one-on-one sessions).
The old saying "once bitten, twice shy" definitely applies in this case: You don't want to do anything that will scare your reps away from giving their honest, unfiltered opinions in a group setting.
Use Sales Meetings to Boost Productivity
There are challenges when it comes to preparing, coordinating, and leading sales meetings. However, if you implement the three keys discussed above, your team will enjoy productive, and even refreshing meetings.
Use your sales meetings to motivate the team to try new things. Energize them to "get back to the trenches." Ultimately, your entire team's performance will improve, and your business will grow as a result.
If you'd like more insights on how to improve sales meetings and sales performance in general for your SMB, sign up for our newsletter. Contact us directly, or explore our website for other valuable resources and webinars.
As the sales leader of your company, you want to train, support, and nurture your reps to the best of your ability. Sales leadership is about implementing repeatable, effective sales processes to grow revenue. How can you make those goals a reality? What actions and mindsets should you proactively avoid?
In this article, let's specifically tackle that second question. We'll talk about three sales leadership pitfalls that you need to navigate around in order to really improve your team's performance.
If you're staying far away from these situations, then give yourself a well-earned pat on the back. If you can relate to one (or more) of these scenarios, don't despair! After all, identifying the problem is the first step towards fixing it.
Pitfall #1: The Spaghetti Thrower
Have you ever thrown spaghetti noodles against the refrigerator? It's an old trick that lets you know when the noodles are cooked all the way through. If they're not done, they don't stick. If they are, they do.
Some sales leaders are like spaghetti throwers. They keep trying out new solutions, and hope that, eventually, something will stick. They may cycle through one "growth activity" after another - mission statement writing, sales training and up-skilling, marketing collaboration sessions, team-building...you name it. The problem is, none of those solutions ever really "stick." None of them make a lasting impact in terms of performance or revenue.
Here's the million-dollar question: Is the "spaghetti thrower syndrome" a solution issue, or a sales leadership issue? The reality of the sales industry is that there's no "secret sauce" to make the spaghetti stick to the fridge. Results don't magically appear overnight.
A sales leader's impatience will cause his or her team to constantly change course, without any set destination in mind. Then, everyone in the company is going to think something major is broken — even if it isn't.
The takeaway? Don't expect big wins immediately. Give any proposed solution some "breathing room" before moving on to the next big thing. Your team will certainly appreciate the increased stability — and will be more willing to make those changes that are actually needed.
Pitfall #2: The Cinderella Story
This is a scenario that may or may not be avoidable, depending on your company's particular circumstances. The basic premise is this. Your business (Cinderella) needs to grow sales ASAP. Otherwise, you'll lose your investors, partners, and maybe the company itself (translation: your carriage will turn into a pumpkin).
A lot of startups find themselves in this time squeeze between rounds of investor funding. It's a great problem to have — if your sales team operates like a well-oiled machine, and you're closing sales left and right. If not, then you may feel like hitting the panic button. When faced with a "do-or-die" scenario like this, many leaders will go into desperation mode, and resort to sales tactics that aren't good for the brand, and don't really work.
What's the solution to this problem? Basically, you need to take the time to analyze what your sales team is already doing that works. Then, optimize your process from there. Don't risk everything on a big, untested idea that could blow up in your face. Use what you have. Call in backup. When time is of the essence, make sure that you're not wasting any of your efforts.
The takeaway? Don't panic when your sales team is under the gun. Optimize the parts of your process that are working; and get help for the parts that need improvement. Don't gamble on an unproven sales tactic. Build on the foundation you've already laid.
Pitfall #3: The Runaway Train
This is perhaps one of the more common sales leadership pitfalls that companies fall into. The sales team is bringing in revenue (i.e., the train is moving). But there's no unifying strategy to maximize the revenue stream (the train is a runaway). As a result, the company is overly reliant on "barn burner" sales once or twice a year, and leaves a lot of potential profit on the table.
Oftentimes, the lure of a quick win is what makes this pitfall seem like an opportunity. For instance, think about a business that discounts its products to 50 percent off during an end-of-the-year sale. Sure, the sales team will be able to drive revenue hard over the course of that promotion — but at what cost? What about the leads that would have bought the product at full price the month before, but decide to wait for the sale instead? Or the customers that just bought the product, and then discover that it's half-price? The strategy may keep the company's lights on, but it simultaneously reduces the business' revenue stream and devalues the brand.
Sales leaders that get stuck in this kind of rut may think there's no way to "stop the train." In many cases, though, the company isn't really on the brink of disaster. Maybe all that's needed to get the train back on track is a change of perspective.
Ask yourself: "Instead of worrying about the next three months, what can we do to grow the business over the next year? Should we really sell based on price alone, or can we sell based on other factors, like quality or uniqueness?"
The takeaway? You may need to take a step back and see if you and your sales team are stuck in a rut, and leaving growth opportunities on the table. Never devalue your brand or product without a good reason. Don't focus on quick wins to the exclusion of long-term revenue growth. Look further ahead than the next few months, and look for ways to improve sales performance in sustainable ways.
Sales Leadership in a Nutshell
There you have it: 3 sales leadership pitfalls that you should absolutely avoid to the extent possible. If you've fallen into any of these thinking patterns, then get to work on setting things right! You may be surprised at how impactful even small adjustments can be to your team's overall focus and performance.
If you'd like more insights on how to improve sales performance for your SMB, be sure to sign up for our newsletter, contact us directly, or explore our website for valuable resources and webinars.
Constant communication within a sales team ensures that everyone's effort gets expended to achieve a similar goal. According to HubSpot, more than half of salespeople rely on peers to get tips on improving. Interestingly, 44 percent look to their managers, 35 percent to team training resources, and 24 percent to media. It is clear that effective communication within the team and with the sales manager is key to success.
However, creating an effective communication system is never as simple as it seems. After all, each member is focused on their individual accounts. How can you keep the communications framework open? Keep your sales team prepared, informed, and focused on the critical goals with these four ways to build an effective sales team communication channel.
1. Get to Know Your Sales Team
Communication will thrive when you show interest in your staff. Get to know more about each member's professional and personal experiences and aspirations. You will establish a link that will promote effective and clear communication.
Your team will pay close attention to the message when it is more personal. Think about how you would respond to a more personalized message. Personal knowledge also gives you the edge of using fun and humor when communicating key points.
2. Think About Your Goals
Before you start sending out an email or having an important meeting, clearly think about what you need it to say. Did you know that the value of communication gets lost during translation? Managers often prioritize haste at the expense of communication quality.
Start by defining what the outcome of your communication needs to be. You will find it extremely difficult to communicate when you have a half-baked conversation in your head. Your sales team will also find it relatively tricky to decipher your goals. Ask yourself what you want your sales team to take away from the conversation.
3. Keep Your Communication Channels Consistent and Recognizable
When communicating with your sales team, always use a consistent and recognizable channel. It can be somewhat confusing for the entire team when you shift between different communication channels. Choose a particular communication tool. Stick with it and alert your team if it changes.
Start by training your team on how you will deliver the information and what to expect. Doing this will ensure that each member of the sales team gets communication on time and effectively. Avoid frequently switching communication channels, which could cause some members to not get your message on time.
As a rule of thumb, good communicators are always good listeners. When managing a team, the majority of the communication will be from you. However, this does not mean that a two-way communication system is not vital.
Establish an open and regular dialogue with every member of your sales team. Periodic check-ins are an excellent way of ensuring that each member can share their thoughts. Your team will also get a chance to weigh in, thus fostering effective and honest communication. Most importantly, you can act on the feedback you gather from your team.
Advantages of an Effective Sales Team Communication Channel
Why is an effective sales team communication channel vital to your organization? Never forget you stand to benefit a lot from keeping your sales team informed, focused, and prepared. Here is what a successful communication channel will get you.
Optimizing your communication channels is just one way of effectively managing a sales team. If you'd like more insights on how to improve sales performance for your SMB, be sure to sign up for our newsletter, contact us directly, or explore our website for valuable resources and webinars.
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.
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.
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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!
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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.
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.
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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.
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.