Marketplace challenges have many sales teams struggling to meet performance goals, but even those teams that consider themselves healthy can stand to take their sales performance temperature every now and again.
The first step in determining specifics around improving your sales team’s performance is to identify the metrics that are the most indicative of your team’s success or failure. Some of those might include revenue growth, profitability, new customer acquisition, market share, etc. Turnover in the sales department may also come into play here.
What you decide to measure will vary depending on how your company goes to market and your unique corporate goals, but coming to a consensus at the executive level about key sales performance metrics must take place before you commit to any sort of performance improvement initiative.
3 Tips For Improving Your Sales Team’s Performance:
Get Real About the Quality of Your Current Sales Talent
You can’t expect the health of your sales organization to flourish if you don’t have a team of well-qualified sellers going to bat. Step back and objectively evaluate the talent you currently have and determine which struggling reps have the potential to be trained or coached to become top performers. When you have someone who is clearly unfit for the position, however, no amount of reinforcement will turn them into an A-player. Unfortunately, those are the people who can’t stay on your team.
You can avoid having to make the tough decision to terminate underperforming salespeople by hiring the right sales talent in the first place. Assessments can be used to predict a candidate’s performance capabilities as well as provide insight on the best ways to bring them up to speed and coach them once they’re there. Bottom line is, if you want the best, you have to hire the best.
Develop a Culture of Sales Coaching Excellence
If you have team members who need improvement, a targeted coaching plan can be beneficial in improving sales performance. Front line sales managers often fall into the trap of compensating for a rep’s poor performance (closing sales for them, avoiding tough conversations, etc.), rather than providing them the feedback, coaching and course-correction building a team of top performers requires.
Installing a culture of sales coaching excellence can be one of the most important steps in an overall sales performance improvement plan. Sales managers, just like salespeople, must be taught how to provide coaching to their team members. And, just as importantly as developing those skills is having senior leaders in place who reinforce the fact that coaching is the #1 responsibility of the sales manager.
Get the Customer’s Perspective
Regardless of what your organization sells, you are in the business of providing solutions.
In order to be perceived as a strategic partner in the eyes of your customers, you must ensure that you are in fact offering solutions for the problems they face. Each customer will define satisfaction differently, so make it a point to meet with your best clients to validate their perspective and see exactly what it is they like – and don’t like – about doing business with your salespeople.
The concerns and pain points that your top customers have are likely shared by many of the businesses in your market, so this information will provide insight as to what your prospects are looking for and how you can appeal to them specifically. Work towards sales performance improvement by viewing your salespeople’s performance through the eyes of your customers.
Once you have laid out a plan for improving sales performance, determine how you will execute on that plan in order to achieve the goals you have set for your organization. The action steps you decide to take will vary depending on your unique situation, but it is likely that a training initiative is necessary in order for performance growth to take place inside your organization.
The level of improvement your sales team will see is directly correlated to the amount of time and resources you are willing to invest. Keep in mind that a sales performance initiative requires ongoing executive sponsorship and a transformational shift in culture in order to be truly successful.