To get a sales team to perform beyond expectations, we focus on these five essentials:
- Characteristics of a High Performing Sales Team
- Hiring Best Practices – building the best team
- Data Mining – providing the right data
- CRM – the right tool for your organization
- Training - the ongoing need
The best practices of top sales professionals invest more time in advance to understand and qualify potential buyers. Proposals are easier to execute and the pros know the value of closing and the foundation for success it provides.
Key Abilities & Characteristics
- Relationship Building - The internet changed everything
- Listening Ability - Non-stop talkers need not apply
- Persistence - Salespeople need to be motivated!
- Passion - Sales is hard enough
Hiring Best Practices
Hire first for fit with your organizational culture, then for critical sales skills and experience. Be clear about requirements and expectations. Compensate for the behaviors you want to see.
Data Mining can increase customer loyalty, unlock hidden profitability and reduce client churn. Data mining parameters include:
- Association - looking for patterns where one event is connected to another event
- Sequence or path analysis - looking for patterns where one event leads to another later event
- Classification - looking for new patterns (May result in a change in the way the data is organized but that's ok)
- Clustering - finding and visually documenting groups of facts not previously known
- Forecasting - discovering patterns in data that can lead to reasonable predictions about the future (This area of data mining is known as predictive analytics.)
When doing data mining, be selective, collaborate with the sales leader, continue to build and evaluate. Include a consistent reporting system on an ongoing basis.
Customer Relationship Management - CRM
A CRM software system may be perceived as a necessary evil to a sales team.
Why do so many salespeople take such a disliking to CRM?
Sean McPheat, MD of MTD Sales Training, believes that the challenge that organizations face is the very nature of the beast itself – sales people love interacting with people, not with CRM programs.
“Many sales people would rather make an additional ten calls per day or go out on another two prospect visits than update their records, especially as a lot of their commission is riding on the results that they achieve,”
A collaborative culture with an approach of empowerment will make the CRM system more attractive to users. Showing how the CRM system is key to growing the database and looking into the hearts and minds of customers.
A major benefit can be the development of better relations with your existing customers, leading to:
- Increased sales through better timing by anticipating needs based on historic trends
- Identifying needs more effectively by understanding specific customer requirements
- Cross-selling of other products by highlighting and suggesting alternatives or enhancements
- Identifying which of your customers are profitable and which are not
To remain competitive, sales people will need to know: What are their customers’ goals? How are things going in their businesses? What sort of progress are they making against their key performance indicators?
We have a white paper with the pros and cons of our five favorite CRM systems:
Ongoing Sales Training
Research tells us how organizations suffer from a “skills supply chain” challenge. More than 70% of organizations report “capability gaps” as one of their top five challenges. Many companies also say that it takes 3 to 5 years before a seasoned professional becomes fully productive.
The average company spends $10,000 to $15,000 hiring an individual and only $2,000 a year in sales training. – The Bridge Group, 2015
Your company may be filling the same pinch for sales skills and select a “boot camp” sales training event.
A common problem with many sales training initiatives is that they are event based (i.e., intensive, multi-day training events) where participants typically forget much of what they have learned shortly after the training event.
For ongoing sales training to be most effective, it should be part of a sales person’s regular day. It should be part of the regular tasks and systems they use. Good sales training takes advantage of the systems a sales person uses on a daily basis.
5% of sales representatives take ten months or longer to contribute to company goals. – Accenture, 2013
Breaking down the training into smaller digestible pieces that are presented on a regular basis is more effective. Research has found that micro-learning makes the transfer of learning 17% more efficient than traditional training.
Those in a successful sales culture have a desire to get better. More is needed than sales training for the team. It is also important to evaluate how the sales representatives are using the training and tools. The ongoing goal is to continuously improve the training. It is also important to measure the success of the reps and marry it back to the types and frequency of the training. On a micro level this will help when dealing with the individual sales reps success.
On average, only 29% of sales reps hit performance milestones in their first year. – Aberdeen, 2013
A more realistic form of measurement is the extent new knowledge and skills are implemented on the job. This ultimately means holding participants accountable for changing their behaviors and adopting new skills. Such measurement can be done through a combination of assessments, skill simulations and field observations. Just as with sales coaching, it is the frontline sales manager who is ultimately the best positioned to observe members of his/her team over time to determine if change has taken place, if it is relevant to the desired outcomes and if it is sustained.
Without follow-up, salespeople will lose 80-90 percent of what they learned in training within a month. – Sales Alliance, 2014
Why not just hire skilled sales people and leave them to create their own success? Culture and buying habits are evolving. To be effective, a sales representative must learn, adapt and evolve.
- In 2007, it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach someone. Today, it takes an average of 8 attempts. (source: TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group)
- Even though 91% of customers say that they would give referrals, only 11% of salespeople ask for them (source: Dale Carnegie)
- After a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories while only 5% remember statistics (source: Dan and Chip Heath)
- In firms with between 100 and 500 employees, an average of seven people are involved in most buying decisions [Source: Gartner Group].
- Eighty percent of closed deals require five follow-up calls after the initial meeting [Source: The Marketing Donut].
Here are a few quick tips to consider as you build your sales team and keep them motivated to perform:
- Spend more time selling vs project management or schmoozing.
- Follow up on sales leads.
- Invest in leadership development.
- Define the ideal profile.
- Schedule time to research "ideal customer".
- Avoid random. Have a process in place with clarity and focus.
- Have an accountability system in place.
- Track activity.
- Focus on those in the pipeline vs. just those closing.
- Incentivize the team.
- Everyone one is motivated differently - know what motivates them.
- Think about behavioral types.
- Have a plan B in place.
- Set the bar high - don't compromise based on marginal performance.
- There is no one size fits all solution.
- Train the team properly. Reinforce the training and observe them in the field putting it to use.
- Teaching and having them apply the basic principles of time management and emotional intelligence.
- One of the best ways I’ve found to motivate our team is competition (friendly, of course).
- Knowing and work with the personality style of each team member.
- Provide sales reps with better data.
- Inspire the sales team.
Whether the sales process inefficiency lies in preparedness and training, teamwork, motivation, organization and use of sales data, or communications with the sales staff and other departments of the company, these issues have to be addressed if you ever want your business to grow and thrive.
Sales Compensation Plans
- Examples, Templates and Software Options