If your sales organization is struggling with margins, deal size, and overall sales productivity you, as a sales leader, are likely trying anything to stop the bleeding. Your first step is to assess the root of the problem. Then, determine where you can make changes both in the short-term and long-term in order to drive the biggest impact.
Where are you seeing the worst of it?
Poor sales metrics typically materialize when there are inefficiencies in one of these four areas of sales effectiveness. Use these four categories to identify where your sales team is struggling.
There’s no one more important than your buyer. As a sales organization, how you engage your customers is a critical component to making your numbers. Your sellers need to be armed with the tools that help them to consistently uncover customer needs and map the value of your solution back to customer’s desired outcomes. Does your sales organization have a consistent message to engage your buyers, or are your salespeople just winging it?
If you asked your salespeople the following questions, what would the answers be?
What problems do we solve for our customers?
Specifically, how do we solve those problems?
How do we solve those differently or better than everyone else?
Where have we done it before?
Every one of your salespeople should be able to answer these questions in the same way. If not, you likely have a problem with consistent sales messaging. Just think, if you’re getting different answers, what impression does that leave with your buyers?
If your sales cycles are too long and your win rates are less than stellar, it’s likely the way you sell isn’t aligned with the way your customers buy. To improve your sales execution, you need a common language and a consumable sales process that your sales team can easily implement. Ask yourself these questions about your organization to evaluate your sales process:
How aligned are the selling and buying processes?
How do we ensure opportunities are qualified?
How do we ensure reps don’t skip sales steps?
What are the customer outcomes that move an opportunity to the next sales process stage?
If your problems stem from sales planning, your reps are frequently missing quota, inaccurately forecasting revenue, and every quarter is a fire drill while you try to make the number at the last minute.
Even some of the most veteran sales managers out there don’t have an effective way to extend the accountability of the forecast to the rep level. As the end of the quarter nears, the pressure of the number hits high levels. Your sales team is one giant ball of stress. Consider these questions:
How do reps build pipeline?
How accurately do we forecast revenue?
How do we ensure quota attainment?
How well are we covering our territories and key accounts? Are we missing opportunities to add value?
A predictable sales planning process allows sales managers to control the critical factors that impact their ability to consistently maximize the value from their sales teams. It also provides the mechanism for sellers to provide reliable information to their sales managers.
If your problems are rooted in sales planning, creating a disciplined approach to develop Territory, Account, and Opportunity plans builds pipeline and enables accurate revenue forecasts.
The way you attract and retain top sales talent is an often overlooked process that could have a crippling effect on your bottom line. When you factor in missed quota and time to productivity, a bad hire can be a costly mistake. This isn't an isolated problem either -- research shows that there's a correlation between an established sales process and better sales hiring.
Developing a talent management process is a critical component to lower turnover rates and improve your bench strength. Use these questions as a guide to determine where you need to improve:
What does success look like in a role?
Why have we hired the wrong people in the past?
Why do we lose key talent to the competition?
Why would someone want to work here?
How do we hold people accountable for results?
If your sales organization is struggling, pinpointing where your problems are stemming from should be your first move. Then, determine the processes and tools you need to correct the course. Often, standardizing processes and tools can help you drive the consistency that leads to measurable results.
Originally published Aug 22, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017