Most companies and top sales people are always looking for ways to improve sales success. Now that customers complete much of the decision process on their own, before even contacting a company’s sales team, it’s more important than ever that your team executes effectively and understands that sales success is as much about relationships than it is about product, pricing and positioning. When it’s time to increase the effectiveness of your sales team, here are few key areas that you should investigate. The results from improving performance in any of these three areas will astonish you.
Inadequate pipeline management
Make sure your sales funnel is adequate to support the revenue targets you have set, but remember that pipeline management is about more than just providing leads to your sales team. You need to ensure that you have a system of nurturing and qualifying leads before they go to the sales force.
In addition, you should define criteria for moving an opportunity from one stage to the next. We’ve all worked with a rep whose deals move from initial meeting to closing without seeming to move through any steps in between, just as everybody has seen deals that sit in one stage seemingly forever. Both of these conditions indicate inadequate pipeline management.
If your reps aren’t updating opportunities as they move through the pipeline, you can’t forecast adequately, nor can you determine when and how to help the rep bring the opportunity to close. Usually, the reps that don’t update their pipeline stages are the least successful reps that would benefit most from pipeline management and review.
By paying attention to pipeline management and ensuring that your reps stage all opportunities properly and that they are moving at a reasonable pace, you will hit your sales targets more consistently and predictably.
Low sales productivity
It’s a fine line between ensuring that reps provide the data you need for management reporting and bogging them down with too much busywork. Take a hard look at any non-selling activities you are considering before asking reps to do them. Ask yourself if another team could just as easily acquire the information you’re asking for without burdening the sales team.
Be sure to provide adequate tools and technology for your reps to capture opportunity history and key discovery insights. Integrating a sales force automation tool with your phone system can improve productivity by automatically dialing scheduled calls and recording contact activity. Integration between CRM and ERP systems can improve productivity by providing inventory or other data that will assist with providing customer value. A sound investment in the right technology tools can increase productivity and revenue. Automating the processes may not only improve productivity by eliminating manual effort, it may also improve your pipeline management by automatically updating the sales funnel.
Lack of a proven sales process
The most effective reps on your team invariably follow a strong sales process. They may follow a process that you’ve provided or they may follow a process they have created on their own over time, but the important point is that they have a systematic approach that works. Imagine the results you would achieve if every rep on your team had an optimally successful sales process that they used.
You may want to use a proven sales process such as our Insight Sales Process™, or another that you are comfortable with. Adopting a sales process is different than providing your sales people with sales skills training. Your sales process must provide a framework for the consistent delivery of an experience of value and a baseline for measurement and continuous improvement. You will then find that your sales effectiveness and performance will dramatically improve.