How to Improve Sales Performance?
Industries today are ever more competitive than it was years before. Everyone in the market is competing with one another to maximize their business value and establish a brand in the world. What may have worked in the past few years, would not be good enough today. In this competing and ever-growing world, there is no place for trial and error or order-taking; there is only time to sell. In the blink of an eye, new competitions are emerging with similar products, it is always a great plan to stay ahead of them. Any company’s primary goal should be to produce effective products or deliver excellent services to its users. However, selling their products and services is also an essential part of the business. Sales performance is one important aspect that every business has to look at thoroughly as it holds the potential of growing and expanding the company and generating more revenue.
What is a Sales Performance?
Sales performance in simple terms can be defined as the measurement of the sales activity that is estimated against the goals of the outlined plan by the company. One of the simplest methods to track sales performance would be to establish a sales goal for the team, and the individual representatives and evaluate their performance either quarterly or monthly. New processes, tools, and software are also great techniques to increase the company’s sales performance. It is only a matter of choosing the right tools and techniques that the company chooses that decide the quality of their sales performance and growth of their company. The right tools used by the company would help them become vigilant in their search and help them become more efficient and productive. The key ingredient that any company needs to succeed in the sales world is the company’s team performance. It is the role of the sales leader to ensure that the reps are trained and coached effectively to use the right set of tools and operate them as per their requirements. In this article, we discuss more the tools and strategies that companies can use to improve their sales performance.
What are the factors affecting Sales Performance?
As you have already understood, sales performance is the effectiveness of the members of the sales team in terms of setting their goals and achieving them. Many other factors influence sales performance. Sales revenue is one of the main factors that helps organizations to measure team performance. Other metrics such as the amount of repeat business and time spent per client are also important measures that one has to keep in mind while going through sales performance. No matter how qualitative the service or the product is, it cannot sell itself. The success of the company contingent on the professionalism of the sales team which requires at least one member who knows all about how sales work and knows the tactics to increase the revenue. Let us understand a few points on the factors that affect sales performance.
- Poor economy: With the recent pandemic that has struck the world with its wave, the economy of many countries has fallen greatly. Experts believe that the fallen economy could be worse than the 2008, Great Recession. Hence, business owners are made to decrease their pricing policy, till the situation becomes better.
- Bad Individual Performance: When the members of the sales team are not motivated or not trained enough, the results of the sales performance would be poor.
- Poor Sales Forecasting: Placing unrealistic expectations could lead to poor sales performance.
- Incorrect sales pipeline: Whenever the sales pipeline is improperly organized and is too lengthy, it negatively influences the general sales performance.
Strategies to Improve Sales Performance
Now that we have understood what are the factors that influence the sales performance of a company, lets us know more about how to improve your sales team’s performance. Here are 10 tips that elaborate on how to increase sales performance.
- Creating a Plan
Creating a plan is the first task any team has to start to enhance any type of sales performance. The sales plan includes the team objectives, sales process, and strategies. It also defines how the team will measure success. The sales plan acts as a roadmap and provides directions to the team members which would help them to achieve their goal. Here are a few advantages of creating a sales plan.
- The sales plan helps in establishing goals for the team and communicates about the role of each member in accomplishing the larger objective goal.
- It helps in aligning the team such they focus on the tasks that are on higher priority
- It clearly outlines the measurements that have to be tracked every week such that the sales are executed effectively and efficiently.
While creating a successful sales plan, one has to include the objectives, strategies, and tactics for generating revenue from both the existing and new customers. This plan should also account for the measurement tools for sales performance and progress. Writing down action plans that would help them accomplish their plan is a great way to lead the sales team. Reviewing various documents that explain in detail about creating a sales plan would be a greater help for the person.
2. Using Client Relationship Management (CRM) Softwares
The CRM software tool is one of the most efficient tools that has helped businesses drastically in managing leads, contacts, and opportunities as they move through the sales process. CRMs can help the business to track all the leads, deals, customers, and processes involved in the sales cycle. It makes the work of the sales team easier by automating the pieces of the sales process. Effective CRMs improve sales performance by helping the team to organize the overall sales process. It makes the team more efficient by managing the moving parts that the reps handle daily.
CRMs help the business in the following ways:
- Keeping a track of deals and leads makes sure that nothing gets lost and opportunities are followed promptly.
- Identifying the deals and leads that have more chances of becoming customers through lead and deal scoring and lead nurturing tools.
- Generates the analytics reports that show the current sales performance and helps the sales team to identify the areas for improvement.
- By using the real-time dashboard of the CRM, the team can work cohesively and have well-informed sales meetings.
- Forecast sales revenue more accurately so that the execution of the sales plan is optimized.
When the CRM is in place, the following steps have to be considered to drive the sales performance:
- Reviewing the key stages of the sales plan so that it accurately reflects in the CRM.
- Setting up the reporting tools in the CRM to give regular analytics and feedback to the sales performance, which also includes the individual team member performance.
- Importing the leads of existing and new customers in the CRM helps the team to stay on top of their opportunities.
- Adopting the sales pipeline summary dashboard from the CRM as the default-agenda for the weekly sales meetings and reviewing progress on key opportunities.
3. Selling to the needs of Customer
Selling products and services specific to customer needs is a method called consultative selling. This method helps the sales team to evaluate the products and services that are the best fit for the customer. The person needs to convince the customer to buy the product or service by generating a need for the product. This could be achieved by emphasizing the features of the product or service and how it helps to reduce cost and solve problems of the customer. It all depends on the creativity and the presence of the mind of the salesperson to sell the product or service to the user. The whole idea of this technique is to position the salesperson as the subject matter expert which would lead the customers to build trust and result in more closed deals. Consultative approaches would help the reps to child more meaningful relationships with the clients and also help them gain more clients in the future. The team could also understand the opportunities in the market from the perspective of both individuals and the overall market. This means the sales team can position themselves better according to their specific needs.
4. Encouraging Customer Referrals
Growth of a business and sales happens whenever a delighted customer refers to the products and services of the company to their known people or shares it on their social media. The recommendation from a known person about a product or service is one of the greatest aspects of business sales growth. The referrals can be through online reviews and feedback or in-person recommendations, both of them are by far the most valuable source of new leads that a business can receive. Whenever it comes to buying any goods or services, trust plays a crucial role in the customer’s decisions. Referrals provide the business with immediate credibility as the reference of the product or service comes from a person who they can trust. Online reviews and feedback are also great ways which help the customer to decide to buy the products or service.
One of the effective ways to generate customer referrals is to make it easier for customers to tell their friends about the business. Asking a satisfied customer to refer the product or service to someone who may benefit from it, and also sending follow emails after a sale, asking a customer to leave a review or testimonial on the website are a few of the great ways for generating more referrals. Companies have to consider making customer referral programs such that customers appropriate to the business can be found easily.
5. Listening First, then Speaking
The sales representative should always apply the 80/20 rule while selling the product to a potential client. The sales rep should only talk to 20% of the team addressing their product and should spend 80% of the time understanding the issues of the customer by asking questions, answering the inquiries, and should explain the reps about themselves. This 80% of the information of the client would help the sales rep to determine whether the product or service is useful for the client or not. The sales rep should include more about listening to the client and then should speak about the product and how it can make a change in their daily life. 20% of the information should include why the client has to choose the product and what will be the benefits offered to them.
6. Making smarter cold calls
Cold calls are phone calls or walk-in visits made by sales reps to strangers to qualify them for an appointment. Cold calls are smarter when the person approaches with both information and plan. These types of cold calls improve the sales performance by allowing the reps to make efforts that would most likely gain leads for the company. Creating cold call playbooks for the reps when contacting new prospects would help the reps to keep a track of the prospects and appointments and make the best use of their time and efforts. Cold call playbooks would provide the information and tools needed to convert more cold calls into appointments, and appointments into customers.
The cold call playbook should the following practices:
- The prospects of the customers have to be thoroughly researched before gathering all the information so that the client’s needs can be understood more accurately.
- Creating cold call scripts for the reps to follow such that the objective of the calling can be answered quickly and clearly
- Resist the urge of providing too much information in a cold call and instead concentrating on making an appointment with the potential client so that the relationship process can be started.
7. Holding regular sales meetings
The main objective of a sales meeting is to bring the team together and provide them with information that would bring accountability and encouragement they need to achieve their sales performance goal. Small businesses usually have weekly sales meetings but they are not sure how to make it effective. The meetings should focus on the goals and objectives within the overall sales plan. The meetings should give everyone a chance to share their best practices and challenges. It also gives managers a review of the health status of the overall pipeline and provides accountability to the reps. Having two meetings- weekly and individual meetings would be an effective strategy to hold sales meetings. The weekly meetings focus more on the overall aspects of the project and the individual one-on-one meetings help to gain insights into the overall health of the team member’s pipeline. Both meetings have the potential to improve the sales performance of the company.
8. Using Sales Metrics or Sales Analytics
Sales analytics or sales metrics give the data which is required to measure all aspects of the sales performance. This helps them to identify and improve the areas which require improvement. Sales metrics help the sales team to establish a performance metric based on their activities. This helps the team in the following ways:
- Keeping track of the progress of the objectives of the sales plan
- Making adjustments accordingly to the areas where the team is not achieving any goals by identifying them in the metrics.
- Identifying the members of the team that need additional coaching and support to achieve their goals.
- Finding out the strength and weakness of the sales pipelines so that the focus of the team is on the areas of improvement which leads to uplift in performance.
Few key metrics that help in sales management are pipeline stage analytics, sales forecasting, performance to plan, and lead sources.
9. Ensuring that the team works in a safe environment
Having a workplace that is safe to work for people of all cultures, religions, genders, etc should be a primary requirement for any team to progress. It is important to focus on diverse perspectives and encourage open conversations in a team setting. The workplace should be free from any kind of discrimination or harassment and the people working in it must feel safe and comfortable. Working in a safe environment would help the person to perform efficiently and more productively which would ultimately improve the sales performance of the company. The person should feel free to express their opinions and add on more ideas for enhancing the sales performance. Also, they should be encouraged to point out any errors and help the team members correct them so that the team functions as one unit.
10. Celebrating the wins
As much as working towards a sales goal is important, it is equally important to celebrate the wins of the sales team. The sales team has to be treated as prospects and every win of the team member has to be celebrated. This helps the sales team to build morale and keeps the reps motivated and keeps the day excited. Most of the team do not celebrate their wins and only focus on their further projects and start building new sales goals. However, taking time to feel good about the work performed would give a sense of satisfaction to the sales reps and help them perform better in upcoming projects.
Sales performance entirely depends on the company’s sales representatives and the tools and techniques they use to sell their products and services. One aspect is all about the sales reps and how we can manage them to perform their best. Another aspect is the use of sales metrics and CRM to enhance sales performance and become better than the competitors in the market. Both of the aspects are equally important and must be worked upon to improve your sales performance. Using these tips, any company can easily achieve their sales performance and increase the revenue of the company. Improvement of sales performance also helps the business value to maximize. Hence, companies that aim to enhance their sales performance should try out these techniques and tips and make their organization visible in the market.