Top performers rarely hit target alone. It requires a team to achieve monthly and quarterly goals. It is also rare to find a team where performance doesn’t need improvement.
Hitting target isn’t easy, and there’s a reason top sales performers earn good money: Sales is a talent, a combination of arts, science and people skills. But it isn’t a mystery. No one is born to be a highly-skilled sales professional. With the right data, those at the bottom of any table can get better, and those in the middle can achieve a higher batting average.
As we have learned from analysing tens of millions of sales calls and meetings, data can shine a light on the so-called mysteries of sales talent. Luck rarely plays a role. For many, luck is persistence and repetition; there’s no such thing as “getting lucky” on a call or in a meeting. Not when there is, or should be, one hundred other calls before that one. Practice makes perfect. Managers who want improved performance would benefit from thinking more about inputs and actions, than outcomes.
Outcomes happen after-the-fact, often weeks or months after calls and meetings move a prospect from maybe to yes. Focusing on inputs means thinking about “Levers”: Your role, as a manager, in the sales process. What can you do to improve performance? Not one or two weeks after you have analysed the numbers, but daily and weekly, whilst agents are putting deals on the board.
The Six Performance Improving Levers
#1: Increase the Number of Calls
Firstly, ask yourself, how many calls should your agents be making every day/week? Why do they make that number? Consequently, how many meetings should they be booking? From this information, do you know how many deals should come from all this activity?
In simple terms, that is a deal pipeline. Calls are the input, deals the output. If you have a number — part of your teams KPIs — think about the rationale behind it. For example, say you need to hit a sales target of £100,000 per month, with average deal values of £10,000, and a conversion ratio of 1 to 5, you would need to make 50 calls a month. Would increasing this number help? How many more calls would your team need to make to get an extra deal or two on the board?
A team of ten, making two extra calls per day, over the course of a month (twenty working days) will make four hundred extra calls per month (4,800 a year). Now think about your sector and current conversion rates: How many extra meetings does it take to get a deal?
#2: Are they seeing the right people?
As a general rule, sales agents are outgoing, self-motivated people. If they weren’t, getting out of bed to face rejection after rejection would result in an expensive staff turnover rate for most organisations. But this doesn’t mean they won’t, on occasion, seek the fastest route to an easy sale. This means seeing customers who regularly buy at lower price points.
Quick wins are great. However, long-term value comes from establishing relationships with larger potential customers who take more time to buy. This often means there are multiple decision makers, influencers and sponsors, which can force sales agents to take time to cultivate multiple relationships.
Encouraging your team to see the right people means reviewing deal-flows and targets, to ensure they’re focusing efforts on the highest-quality deals, sometimes at the expense of quick, easy wins. Speaking to the right people increases sales. One client knew an agent had to speak to around eight staff in prospect companies; our data showed that those who spoke to less than three failed to hit target.
#3: Make sure territories are covered efficiently
Pursuing quick wins encourages lazy attitudes. For field agents, this can mean staying in one area, rather than covering their entire territory. Taking that approach means it’s easy to overlook some customers. Just imagine if, instead of only seeing your bottom 20% of customers every six months, you saw them every three? How much extra business would that generate?
Covering a territory efficiently should be about maximising each meeting opportunity. Data from over 15 million sales visits shows that most sales professionals only meet with 40% of their allocated accounts. They often miss large accounts, since they involve a longer, more difficult buying process. Manage this properly and you can double visits and increase revenues.
#4: Reduce admin time
Admin and “planning” are the best excuses poor performers use to get out of making sales calls and taking meetings. In total, admin can take between 3–5 hours per week, which for many companies is allocated to Friday, which often means that 20% of total weekly selling time is spent on admin tasks. Top performers already spend less time than anyone else. Instills the same efficient approach across your whole team.
#5: Verify your team’s data
Sales are about building trust. It needs trust between agents and prospects/clients and a similar, stronger bond of trust between managers and agents. Sales professionals are skilled at putting a great “spin” on things, which is why managers should always trust, but verify. Especially when it comes to high-value deals with a long lead time.
Ask questions. Get a firm handle on the data around the pipeline, so that you have a clear idea how those in prospect firms are feeling about buying from your company.
#6: Have all the data you need, none that you don’t
With the right data, you should have a much clearer line of sight to each deal. Instead of wondering what is going on, what went wrong, or right, you can focus on giving your team the support they need to close deals quicker. Instead of your team spending ages writing up end of day/week reports, i-snapshot captures all the information you need after every call or meeting in under 60 seconds.
From this, you can see how many calls/meetings are being taken, where deals are in the pipeline, who is due (or overdue) a visit, and other areas for improvement. Drilling down on the data is easy with i-snapshot: It only takes a few clicks.
Key Takeaways for Improving Performance:
#1: Increase the number of sales calls your team makes;
#2: Make sure they’re seeing the right customers and decision makers;
#3: Ensure sales territories are covered efficiently;
#4: Keep admin time to a minimum;
#5: Ask more questions, to get a clearer picture of the status of deals in the pipeline;
#6: Get a handle on only the most relevant data, with i-snapshot.
SalesVisits: Powered by i-snapshot. Improve the performance of your sales team. Our real-time sales visits analytics increases field sales team productivity 21%, with 20 million and counting sales visits recorded so far. Contact us to find out more.
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