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.
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!
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.
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.
Do you solution sell? Here's a quick tutorial to help you solution sell more effectively during the entire sales life cycle. In this whiteboard video, Karl Becker introduces a simple, proven construct called Trial Balloons - a construct to test the waters and move up the value-creation ladder in any sales conversation.
When you use Trial Balloons you will sell more effectively and create more value.
What Is Your Client Really Buying From You? How to Create a Winning Value Statement - with Examples & Templates
You know that a strong value statement is crucial effective sales management, and ultimately for your company to thrive. It’s that power statement — those magic words — that tell your client that you understand their problem and have the perfect solution at the ready.
Though value statements are often brief, the process of getting to those precise, honed words can be anything but. So, here are some hacks and examples to help you write your own winning value statement.
Questions to Answer with Your Team
Before you put word one down on the page, you want to make sure you have these five questions answered with your team:
Putting it all Together: Examples + Templates
Now that you have all the elements, you want to put them together in a way that’s attractive, easy to process and memorable. Here are some hacks for doing just that.
Write one powerful sentence.
The most straightforward way to build your value statement is to connect your client and their challenge to your services and benefits in one, clear sentence. In Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, Geoff Moore suggests using the following template to do just that:
Compare your service to something your client already knows.If you can find a way to compare your service to another well-known product in another industry, you’ve found a shortcut to conveying your value proposition. By relying on your audience’s knowledge of the familiar product, you can quickly say a lot about what you offer.
Focus on who and how you help.Steven Blank’s suggestion for cutting through the noise is to frame your value proposition in a way people will easily understand. He suggests focusing on who and how you can help.
Nail your elevator pitch.Building off of Dave McClure’s How to Pitch a VC presentation, which encourages businesses to focus on short, simple, memorable keywords or phrases, use this simple template to define the elevator-pitch version of your value proposition.
Challenge yourself to be brief.Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write an entire story using no more than six words. Since then, many writers have similarly tried to pack an entire story into as few words as possible. Can you convey the value you provide in six words or less?
Want more templates? Check out our Value Messaging Worksheet.
Looking for more on how to grow faster? Check out 10 Sales Tactics CEAVCO Audio Visual Used to Generate $2 Million in New Revenue.
When companies lack leads or have an empty sales funnel, it’s common for execs to start searching for the newest, hottest sales- and lead-focused solutions. But these are just Band-Aids, and they won’t help you achieve long-term success if the source of your trouble lies in the internal functioning and processes of your company.
Generate more leads by looking within. Here’s a look at the three internal steps you need to take before you can make any solid movement forward.
Determine Your Ideal Customer
Does your team treat every lead the same? Think again.
Before you can create a high-functioning sales organization, you need to know exactly who you sell to. Just as a regular gas engine doesn’t run on diesel, you can’t transform prospects into customers if you don’t sell what they need.
You might have a single target audience — or you might have a couple. Take a look at everything your company offers. Then, identify the people who need exactly that.
With a clear understanding of who your ideal customers are, you can move forward in a coordinated — and profitable — direction.
Define What Your Company Does for Customers
With your ideal audience in mind, it’s time to define your company’s value. Your value definition is like GPS. It gives your team a clear path to follow. Plus, it makes it easier for you to attract generate qualified leads and maintain their interest.
Before you can increase leads, you and your team need to agree on what you do for customers. Sit down with your team, and identify the words or phrases that describe your company.
It’s worth the effort to make sure your team is aligned around the value you provide. As you explore different opportunities, this infrastructure of what you do and who you do it for will help guide your path
Clarify Your Brand Message
Finally, once you know your value internally, you need to communicate that value externally. So, before you set out to generate more leads, make sure you’ve clarified your brand message. This means putting your value message into words that are meaningful to your prospects and customers.
Value messaging looks like this:
“We help _____ do _____ by providing _____.”
“We help manufacturers source hard to find materials through a web-based platform that uses search technologies to find and rate material providers that have immediate inventory.”
Simple, yet extremely effective.
Consider your ideal audience, what you help them do and how you help them do it. Just as a map will point you in the right direction and a full gas tank will help you reach your destination, these three steps will help you fill your sales funnel with qualified leads, and then turn those qualified leads into customers. This is the foundation of a solid, high-performing sales engine.
Learn more about how we can help align your team with a Sales Engine Workshop or a Sales Engine Program.
“My sales team doesn’t use our CRM. Why aren’t we closing enough business? I’m not sure my sales team is making the calls they should."
Sound familiar? If you’re nodding your head “yes,” you likely know something’s wrong. You may find that no matter what you do, you still don’t see strong, predictable growth. Your organization's sales performance is seriously lacking.
A high-performing sales team is a lot like a car engine. There are many moving parts, and they must all be working perfectly to ensure a smooth ride. If your car is making strange noises or leaking oil, you need to roll up your sleeves and look under the hood.
So, how do you look under the hood of your sales engine to figure out what’s going on? Here are seven symptoms of a poorly performing sales organization — and how you can address them.
Your Leadership Team Doesn’t See Eye to Eye on Core Values
If your wheels are misaligned, your car will pull to one side. Similarly, if your leadership team isn’t aligned on core values, the company will focus on the wrong things. Ultimately, sales performance will suffer. You could easily end up with different departments pulling in different directions. This creates conflict that makes it hard for anyone — including the sales team — to do their job.
Sit down with your leadership team. Hash out your company values and decide the direction you’re going. Get aligned, and then move forward together.
Your Messaging is Unclear
If you have the first symptom on this list, you very likely also suffer from this one. As a test, ask three people in your organization exactly what it is that you do and who you do it for. If you get three different answers, your messaging is unclear.
Unclear messaging makes life difficult for the sales team. If they don’t know the values, how do they know how to convey that story to leads? Short answer: They don’t.
Spend some time defining your audience and clarifying your message. Who exactly are the people you help and how do you best help them? What story do you want your salespeople to tell? If this is all new to you, consider hiring a consultant to help.
Your Sales Organization Isn’t Measuring Goals
If you don’t measure goals, you can’t track success or identify areas for improvement. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t, and your sales team won’t have any way to judge their own performance.
Determine what goals matter most to you. Is it generating leads, increasing number of sales calls, boosting your MRR? Whatever your goals are, measure them on a regular basis to make sure that when the end of the quarter comes, your sales team is on track.
You Don’t Have a Repeatable Sales Process
Do you know the exact path by which your leads become customers? Or, is it all just chaos? If your sales process isn’t repeatable and scalable, or even worse not defined at all, you’ll never achieve steady revenue.
Analyze the different ways your leads become customers. Nail down the processes that are most likely to generate sales, and then make sure these processes are used across your organization.
Your Hiring Process Isn’t Strategic
Take a look at your job board. Are you trying to hire someone for responsibilities across sales, marketing, events and accounts? If so, this is a job description for a department, not a single person, and it’s a big indicator of a weak sales engine.
Before posting another job that will be impossible to fill, think carefully about exactly what your needs are. A more strategic approach to hiring will vastly improve your outcomes, and your sales performance.
Your Sales Team is a Revolving Door
Another consequence of non-strategic hiring is a sales team with high turnover. If what’s broken is the system, firing a salesperson and replacing them with someone new won’t fix it. That’s like changing the oil without ever replacing the oil filter. You’ll still have a dirty engine.
Look instead at the foundation of your sales organization. Examine the entire system, from values and goal setting to your sales funnel. Yes, sometimes employees need to move on. However, more often than not what needs changing is the foundation — not the people.
You Focus Too Much on Quick Fixes
Addressing the problems above takes work. And, you might find yourself drawn to quick fixes instead, like taking another sales training or trying a new marketing fad. You think, “If I change this one thing and get one ‘right’ client, I’ll open the floodgates to revenue.”
These things may work in the short term, but there’s no silver bullet for lasting change. Rather than settling for a one-hit wonder, buckle down and do the work. Your efforts will pay off mightily in the end, namely in your sales performance.
These symptoms are very common in organizations, and they all signify underlying problems. The good news is that every one of them is solvable. By defining your value, clarifying your message and developing a repeatable process, you can turn a poorly performing sales organization into a high-performing one.
Learn how The Carruthers Group can help you get your company on the right track through Sales Engine Workshops, Sales Organization Consulting and Sales Engine Programs.
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.