Great salespeople are passionate about the products they're pitching. They're excellent listeners who can tell you exactly what their target customer is looking for. They're also terrific storytellers, adept at immersing clients in the brand experience they represent. Yes, a good salesperson is a truly unique breed.
That doesn't mean they can't do better.
In sales, good enough doesn't exist. There's always room for improvement, and no matter how outstanding your team may be, it's your job to boost them even higher. With this credo in mind, let's take a look at some of the ways you can increase productivity and enable your team -- even among your very best reps.
Say hello to Marketing and Services.
As most executives have realized by now, a siloed approach to managing corporate functions is rarely a successful one. Sales needs Marketing, Marketing needs Services, Services needs Sales -- and by sharing data and comparing processes, each of these groups stands to make individual gains.
Embolden your reps to break down barriers and ask Marketing and Services for help. Make sure objectives are aligned and present a unified front to the customers. These complementary teams are your reps' pipeline to customer data and behavioral metrics that can go a long way toward improving a pitch.
It used to be that sales reps had to spend a big chunk of their day on menial tasks like updating call sheets. Today, that's unnecessary busywork that can easily be automated to save energy and time. To automate your sales workflow, from prospecting to preparing proposals and closing deals, make sure the process is intuitive to your team. Find a sales force automation tool that's flexible and allows you to adjust its software as desired. The best way to ensure your reps are levering automation is by customizing it to fit their needs.
Get to know social listening.
Encourage your team to make better use of social listening tools in order to suss out what their customers are looking for. Social media may not represent a direct sales channel for your products, but it's invaluable where gleaning insight into your market is concerned.
Earlier this year, Forbes magazine reported on one sales expert who has watched reps turn leads obtained through social media into sales of $30,000 to $250,000. "The biggest sales have come from salespeople using Twitter to find opportunities and LinkedIn to find the names of the true buyers inside organizations," she said.
Ask reps to identify where their customer base is spending time and look to those social sites when researching consumer opinions. Champion the idea of using social media to search for buying signals that indicate an upcoming purchase -- information reps can use to get a better grasp on their customers' buying habits. Tell salespeople to look out for consumer reviews and recommendations, which illustrate what customers love about your products -- again, material a rep can leverage. Your team should follow current leads and potential customers in equal measure to track prospects and get their pitch timing just right.
Be a good coach.
It isn't enough to oversee your team. To really increase sales rep productivity, you have to coach your players: Lead by personal example, and show them what you've learned and how it fits into their own sales strategy. You wouldn't expect an artist in the midst of an apprenticeship to produce top-notch work without years of education from a master, right? Teach your team everything you know, and approach both their successes and their failures as opportunities to provide actionable feedback they can turn to when tackling future transactions.
Even the best sales team in the world can benefit from some guidance.
Originally published Jul 3, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017