If you know someone that runs a business with a sales team, or they lead the charge themselves, have them take a look at the areas below for ways they can increase their sales. Improving even one of these areas could take their sales to the next level.
1. Sales process efficiency
Sales processes have room for improvement in nearly all companies.
Prospecting: Companies routinely run cold calling prospecting processes that fail 99% of the time, with 1 in 100 calls getting a meeting. In recent times sales reps have switched to email prospecting logically reasoning that the increased volume of messaging from email will generate more leads, unfortunately, email conversion rates have dropped below 0.1% as this channel has become saturated. Smarter approaches to prospecting are needed. New technology like AI may help in better prospect identification and referral selling approaches that leverage social networks have been shown to increase conversion rates.
Closing: Closing cycles that fail 80% of the time are the norm (where 1 in 5 deals in the pipeline closes.) One of the main reasons for this low close rate is that sales people miss decisionmakers in the prospect company. Research shows on average there are 6-10 decision makers and it’s typical for most sales people to only speak to one person. The problem of missing decisionmakers most often shows up when companies submit a proposal and never hear anything back. This is usually because an unidentified decisionmaker has vetoed the deal. Following a systematic process to identify decisionmakers, understand their interests, and have them “coauthor” proposals, can significantly boost closing ratios.
2. Sales time sucks
Research shows that most sales people typically spend 65% of their time on non-selling tasks.
Where does this time go? Some of the top non-selling tasks that come up time-and-again are:
- Updating the CRM
- Sending email (internal and external)
- Researching prospects (often on Google and Linkedin)
These non-core tasks can be often be delegated, automated or simply eliminated, allowing sales people to spend more time selling.
Delegate: Many of the tasks above can be delegated to an admin. If the processes that admins need to perform are well-documented, admins can be onboarded quickly and the number of admins can be scaled up quickly.
Automate: There are more and more tools on the market that remove the need for sales people to do non-selling tasks. The key to automation is to clearly understand the task being automated before applying a tool. Tools can perform tasks way more rapidly than a human and so it’s critical that the task produces the results you want; otherwise, you will create a mess.
Eliminate: Some tasks should just be eliminated. They do not produce important results. Sales people may be doing these tasks out of habit, or as a reason to avoid doing tasks they perceive as hard, like prospecting.
3. Sales management
Sales people need support in order to change their results. Management needs to create the environment that makes sales success more likely.
Goals: How good are the goals the sales team is pursuing? No matter how effective a team, if they are pointing in the wrong direction they will not achieve the best outcome. It’s common for sales managers to always be running, focused on hitting the next quarter’s number. Although this is a vital part of a sales manager’s role, they also need to reserve some time for thinking and planning to set goals and strategies accurately.
Territories: Sales territories need to be designed to support these goals and strategies. Territory design can take in several factors as inputs such as geography and industry coverage, how the skills of the team match the needed coverage, and how equal each territory is to the others.
Compensation: A key with compensation is to make sure that you are rewarding the behaviors you want. Too often companies have compensation plans that reward “activity A” when in fact they are hoping to encourage “activity B”. Sales comp plans can also become too complicated for sales people to clearly know what to do on a day-to-day basis to maximize their income.
Richard Fouts says
Sales strategy has changed a great deal too. Now, with so much information available online, prospects come to the sales call with a great deal of information about what we as providers do, how we compete, and what we charge. We as providers need to do our homework as well and come to prospect meetings with a strong POV and a set of ideas about how we can help. Challenging the prospect is also a powerful tactic …. e.g., the Challenger Sales model, which I use frequently. You have to know exactly how to use challenger tactics, but it’s powerful stuff.