By Henrique Dos Santos, Project Director, Cogent Analytics
The productivity of sales representatives is an increasingly important consideration among companies attentive to the challenges of the current market. Entrepreneurs from various sectors and segments already understand that consumer relations cannot be managed in the same way as they have been. The financial results often depend on techniques that directly promote the productivity and performance of the sales team.
Here are a few suggestions for how to strengthen the performance of your sales team.
The first step is to review the company's current planning process. It is essential to consider the process strategically. Subsequently, the company must implement the standard procedures for contacting customers and the metrics suitable for monitoring efforts and productivity. If one cannot measure it, then one cannot manage it. The company must also verify that its target audience is well-defined and identified. By doing so, the company will understand not only the right actions required to increase productivity in sales but also the communication and marketing messages needed to attract the desired audience. Feedback from existing customers regarding the products and services provided will help craft the right message to the target audience.
Companies can no longer depend solely on talent. In modern times, the company cannot be hostage to the sales performance of a few employees who stand out with very significant results. Similar to other skills, such as creativity and entrepreneurship, the aptitude for sales performance can also be developed. The secret to this development is quality and continuous training. The company should be regularly taking steps to identify the needs for their sales team and provide them adequate training in performance metrics. Specifically, by including training on customer psychology, product/services, and negotiation skills which are critical to success.
The productivity of the sales professionals will also improve once the company offers them adequate tools. Some of the technological resources and tools available to help the sales team include quality (high speed and reliable) computers, the internet (both in the office and mobile), video conferencing software for online meetings, time for follow-ups or customer prospecting, CRM platform, and more. Apps that assist the sales team members in organizing their agendas and managing contacts are also critical.
4-Do the Homework!
The company invests and believes in the sales team and wants to improve the performance of each individual, through the provision of serious training and cutting-edge technological resources that help them optimize their returns. However, all this effort can be in vain if the sales team member does not seek the results. It is essential that each sales representative puts into practice the lessons learned in training. They must adopt standardized procedures for customer contacts, follow-ups, prospecting, closing sales, etc. A team review is critical to make sure team members are executing.
The sales team must “do their homework” by understanding the company’s products and services, the process or the production capabilities, and researching the potential clients in their respective regions. They should go through local newspapers, participate in local chapters of industry associations, study the existing and potential new customers’ websites, brochures, connect on professional online platforms such as LinkedIn with your customers’ decision makers, etc. Preparation is essential for a successful performance.
5-Monitoring is Crucial
Without continually monitoring the performance of the sales representatives, it is impossible to verify whether the new measures are productive. It is essential to stipulate appropriate metrics for tracking the productivity of the sales professionals separately and the richness of the sales team in general. In this way, it will be possible to identify failures and successes and act to ensure better results. Best practices can be shared and taught amongst the sales professionals.
Moreover, the company needs to monitor the level of effort by each member, such as the number of phone calls made to existing customers and the total amount of cold calls to potential new customers per week. It is essential to calculate and monitor how many calls it takes to schedule a face-to-face meeting, how many conferences or post-meeting contacts it takes to send a quote, and how many quotes are required to receive an order. Monitoring all these indicators will lead to a reasonable estimate of the level of effort among the sales force. Consequently, the company will also generate an understanding of the cost of producing an order both from existing customers and from new customers. It will also help the company's marketing and sales plan estimation of the costs and resources necessary to reach the target sales levels.
6-Sales Teams Need Leaders
Many sales managers care exclusively about management and trust that the company's metrics and deadlines are enough to drive team performance. In doing so, they end up forgetting that their sales team needs another kind of motivation. Active sales managers find countless ways to motivate their team members. There is no standard formula or recipe for motivation since each team member has a unique profile. The sales manager needs to understand those different profiles, their expectations or needs, and learn how to motivate each team member within the company's policies and boundaries. Reaching this level of understanding is an arduous task, but extremely rewarding for the overall success of the organization. Incentives and awards are an excellent way to motivate prominent professionals. Depending on the profiles of individual sales professionals, setting up a ranking system and updating it weekly or monthly can also be beneficial.
7- Use of a CRM platform
In the sales area, it is necessary to prospect efficiently and have full control over what the sales team is negotiating along with whom and what is said. Each stage of the sales process—or the sales funnel—must be carefully analyzed and monitored so that the company can use it as a tool to help improve the sales process and increase the bid-to-award ratio. With a good CRM platform, the sales manager can filter the opportunities by qualifying the sales funnel and by paying close attention to what is most likely to happen, rather than dealing with uninterested customers. A functional CRM will make managerial work much more sophisticated and, above all else, will help the sales team focus on the right opportunities to increase sales productivity. Integration of the CRM platform with e-mail and accounting packages will also help increase productivity and efficiency in the sales cycle.
8- Share Goals and Objectives
Another critical action to increase the sales team's productivity is to share with them the overall goals and objectives of the company. Remember, these goals have to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. If professionals know where the company wants to go, then they can concretely assimilate the reasons for their work. Additionally, the input from the sales team is essential since they are the ones who will generate the sales and revenue stream to help reach some of the company's goals. Once they provide their contribution, they will engage in the process and own their piece of the action.
9-Structure the Meetings
Sales executives have a specific agenda, and they need to dedicate the majority of their time on achieving it. Meetings are essential, but group meetings can often ruin a seller's daily productivity. When convening a group meeting, a company should have a clear agenda and must ensure that the items discussed will be relevant to all participants. Comments on the sales funnel, for example, can be highly inefficient if you want to refer to a single representative. Take care to maximize the agenda and productivity of each team member to the fullest. Finally, the company should use the meeting to review goals, actions, share positive results, and correct mistakes. Use it to motivate the team.
10-Quality of Life
Quality of life improvements results in better productivity from all employees. In general, people who have a good quality of life are more willing to go above and beyond their duties to achieve results.
Some ways to invest in overall quality of life are listed below:
- Promote lectures with nutritionists to guide employees regarding meals consumed during the day (including early morning and evening)
- Promote healthier breakfasts for the team
- The company should care for the employee’s family
- The employees should exercise both inside and outside the office
An organization will witness dramatic improvements in the skills of their sales representatives by following these ten detailed steps. As one of the main driving forces behind a company’s success, the sales team should have the best training and resources readily available.
Henrique Dos Santos is a Senior Project Director with Cogent Analytics. Henrique started his own consultancy in Brazil for small and medium-sized businesses, where he has shared his experience and helped companies in the food, catering, packaging and services industries. Moving to the US, Henrique has continued his consulting practice for small businesses by developing go-to-market strategies, strategic planning and implementation and market analysis. Visit www.CogentAnalytics.com or e-mail [email protected] for more information.