You see a lot about success strategies for sales reps, but what about sales leaders? The effectiveness of a sales manager can have a big impact on the bottom line for an organization. No matter how many talented sales reps you hire, the sales leadership and coaching that you offer them has a huge influence on their ultimate ability to drive revenue. For example, in an HBR survey, over 2/3 of sales reps who exceeded their revenue goals rate their sales managers as “above average” or “excellent”.
So how does a sales leader go from average to over-achieving? Use these 4 strategies to guide your team to sales success in 2017!
1) Set the right targets
High-performing sales leaders are driven by goals and deadlines. The goals you set can be challenging and even a little scary, but they must still be realistic and measurable.
As you are setting your goals, determine key metrics to measure success. But beware of vanity measures that may not be indicative of what is actually going on. For example, your reps may be sending a high number of emails, but how many are personalized to each prospect? Your team may have won enough opportunities to hit a revenue target, but how many opportunities were lost?
Now, use those targets to proactively develop an action plan with an outline of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that will help rep achieve long-term goals. Having this type of strategy is better than trying to do too much while actually achieving nothing. And the timeline will keep your team focused and on-track, as well as help to set expectations and hold reps accountable.
2) Enforce a sales process
Sales leaders who monitor and enforce a sales process are more likely to exceed quota. And let’s face it – it is difficult to hit sales targets when you have reps going rogue. But the problem is that almost half of underperforming sales teams have an informal or unenforced sales process.
Start by outlining a consistent workflow. Use data to gather important insights that can guide the sales process. For example, how many calls does it take to set a meeting? What talking points are most effective at advancing prospects to each consecutive stage? What content progresses deals and generates the highest ROI? Data from across your sales team can help to identify which factors impact sales, why and how those factors affect the progress of the deal, and opportunities for improvement. Also consider how your new workflow may vary from what your reps are currently using. Are there potential problems that may arise when your plan is implemented in real life? This is where it will be important to enforce the new workflow, as reps can sometimes be hesitant to shift away from what they have always done in the past.
Lastly, automate as many parts of the sales process as you can. Doing so will reduce the number of opportunities for human error, as well as free up sales rep time so that they can focus more on core selling activities. Automation may not be able to answer every obscure question a prospect has, but it can help provide information about that persona (such as their unique preferences, goals, buying pains, and challenges) and recommend content that will help intelligently answer the question.
3) Give your team feedback
Sales managers who do not invest the time and resources into coaching> are missing out on a valuable opportunity and effective way to develop their sales force. Reps who receive just three hours of coaching each month can expect to see their close rate increase by 70% and revenue increase by 25%. But great sales leaders also understand that each sales rep is different, each sales situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for either. As such, sales leaders need to adapt to each individual situation.
Keep in mind that feedback doesn’t just have to be negative. Take the time to consider the positive too, recognizing your reps for their work and achievement. Also, sales leaders often focus solely on revenue metrics to measure rep progress and success, but don’t forget to provide feedback on other areas, such as product knowledge, personal sales skills, and career development. The B2B sales space is constantly evolving, with shifting funnel dynamics and better-informed buyers. Sales reps must adapt to the new B2B buyer expectations, and sales leaders can provide the appropriate insights and guidance.
4) Promote collaboration
You want to create a culture where your reps are driven to continually prove and improve themselves. Pitting sales reps against one another may work in the short run, but it’s not as effective of a strategy in the long run. Instead of focusing on competition, encourage your reps to work together and learn from each others’ successes, failures, and learnings. Your reps shouldn’t be afraid to approach their sales leader or their peers. With this strategy, your average- and under-performers can learn from your A-players.
And while you are at it, promote collaboration with your marketing team. Marketing and sales alignment is more important now than ever before as prospects increasingly demand content. But Forrester research shows that only 8% of B2B companies have tight sales and marketing alignment, causing communication disconnects, missed opportunities, and lost revenue. However, companies with shared goals and collaboration between the two departments can expect 25% increases in quota achievement, 15% boosts in win rate, and 27% faster three-year profit growth. This departmental collaboration should also trigger the creation of content that is sales supportive — marketing can use sales’ feedback to focus their efforts on creating content that advances deals.
With a tool such as Seismic, sales leaders can give their reps the tools, resources, and guidance to help them do their job more efficiently and effectively. They are able to quickly access playbooks, content, and more – right where they work, in the CRM and email! Sales enablement technology also helps reps to be more productive by using predictive analytics and data science to recommend proven, winning content that adds value to the sales conversation and accelerates deals.