Throughout 2016, we’ve had the pleasure to talk regularly to sales leaders across the world about what are the best ‘levers’ to pull, in order to create high-performing sales teams. It’s probably no surprise that there isn’t a single magic ingredient — it’s a powerful combination of people and processes, of planning and partnership, of measuring and motivation.
From these conversations, we’ve identified seven factors that we believe are fundamental to sales success in 2017. We’ve also developed a number of tools to help you assess your own performance and identify any gaps that need to be filled to be successful in the year ahead.
These assessment tools range from in-depth sales audits, sales and sales leadership 360-degree surveys to a short ‘taster’ benchmarked survey, which we invite you to take part in at the end of this article (or you can go straight to the survey!).
7 success factors for exceptional sales performance
Take a look at the 7 success factors. Then, if you are brave enough, think about how your own organisation stacks up against each one of them:
1. Strategy and Metrics
Do you have a clear 2017 sales strategy? Do you know which segments you are focusing on? What is the target split between new business and existing customer growth? Do you really know what success would look like – and are you measuring/tracking it? Even more importantly, if you asked any of your sales team, would they also know what that strategy is?
2. Processes and Tools
You probably have a CRM system but are you making full use of other sales tools, for example for developing accounts and writing compelling proposals? Do you have the processes to capture best practices and customer intelligence, avoid people reinventing the wheel and allowing the sales team to focus on your customers?
3. Sales Structure and Rewards
Are all roles clear and optimized to deliver your strategy – or can the sales structure seem to get in the way of success? Do channels sometimes compete for business or create confusion for your customers?
Are your pay, bonuses and recognition schemes driving the sales behaviours you are looking for? (Often, they don’t!) Are they building both short-term success and longer-term strategy goals?
4. Sales Skills and Mindset
Do you know the skills strengths and weaknesses of your sales people? Are they great listeners? Do they ask searching questions, build senior-level relationships and have the gravitas to have real business conversations? Can they negotiate with confidence? Do you regularly invest in keeping these skills up to date.
As well as skills, do your sales teams have the right mindset? Are they resilient when faced with obstacles? Do they demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for your company and your products and services? Do they motivate their colleagues? Or are they more focused on their own personal careers and their next move?
5. Sales Leadership and Culture
Are your sales people prepared to have difficult performance conversations? Are your sales leaders spending time coaching their teams and building capability and success for every member of the sales team?
6. Recruitment and Development
Do your sales leaders have a strong network of talent they can leverage for rapid hiring? Do they hire the right people (more hits than misses?) Do they invest in ongoing training and development to keep skills up to date and effective?
7. A Compelling, Differentiated Value Proposition
Do your salespeople really (really!) understand your customers’ business problems and needs and exactly how your solutions can deliver tangible – and measurable — value for them? Are they confident and knowledgeable enough to educate your customers about trends in their business rather than only being experts in your own products and services?
Do you – and your teams — know exactly how you compare with your key competitors? Are your strengths important to your customers? Do your sales teams influence the criteria that customers use when making buying decisions?
Take the Survey
If these seven headings make sense to you, then we invite you to take part in our confidential, benchmarked survey. It should only take you 10 minutes to complete and you will receive an interesting report showing how you compare with other organisations, together with some top tips on how to bridge the gap.
Like to find out more?
We really hope you found this a useful exercise. If you would like to dive deeper into any of these questions, we have developed a number of more in-depth tools and approaches to help you work on each of these areas. We would be delighted to explore these with you. Please feel free to contact us if you would like an informal discussion on any of these areas.
There’s also an opportunity to meet us at the Sales Innovation Expo 2017 being held at the Excel Centre, London, on 28 and 29 March, where Ian is a keynote speaker. Tickets to the Expo are Free. Please let us know if you’d like to meet us at our stand (S194).
7 characteristics of world-class sales organisations
- Your sales team understands and delivers against your sales strategy.
- You have actively used processes and tools in place that free up the sales teams to sell.
- The sales team’s structure and rewards help drive the right behaviours.
- Your sales team have great consultative skills and are resilient, enthusiastic and motivated.
- You hire the right people – and then invest in their ongoing development.
- Sales leaders in your organisation work effectively to coach and motivate.
- You have a compelling, differentiated value proposition that clearly delivers real business value for your customers.