With the start of the New Year, achieving quota is always top of mind for sales leaders. Before you know it, it will be Q2 and – if you go by the standard research – 40% of your team will have missed their quota.

In talking recently with B2B sales teams, I’ve been getting many questions about making quota based on my years of inside sales experience. To help kick off the quarter, I thought I’d share a few of my top tips and practices.

Monitor your numbers

For a high velocity sales model – typical of an inside sales team – you need to be monitoring your pipeline and sales closure rate on a weekly, if not daily, basis. With high velocity models, if you’re not at 50-60% of your quarterly number by the end of the second month, it’s a big red flag.

Coach your team

While it’s important to focus on the numbers, one of the biggest mistakes that sales leaders make is doing so at the expense of coaching sales reps. Under pressure to make sure they do all the right metrics and satisfy management, sales leaders – especially new sales leaders – often miss important coaching opportunities with reps throughout a quarter.

Engagement analytics can make it easier for sales leaders to coach reps. With LiveHive’s sales acceleration platform, for example, I can see in real-time how my reps interact with prospects and compare behaviors across the team. I can quickly see how many emails and how many calls have been made – and the level of engagement that has resulted. If I see that one rep isn’t getting the same level of engagement, I can look at the behaviors, spot the missing pieces, and step in to coach before it’s too late.

Establish a clearly defined sales process

Identify your organization’s key buying stages – from prospecting to lead conversion to opportunity to close. What customer actions signify that a prospect has moved from one stage to the next? What sales activities does your team require for the different stages? How long does it typically take your team to move prospects through the funnel? What are the exit criteria at each stage?

To answer these questions, you need insight into buyer-side behaviors. Sales analytics give you visibility into customer interactions from the top to the bottom of the funnel – so you understand what’s needed to help speed the process for your team.

With analytics, your reps can see which prospects are most engaged (and which ones aren’t) – so they can focus only on the best leads.

You can also see how your reps are engaging with prospects. Are they doing the right level of sales activities that you’ve pre-defined for a particular stage of your sales process?

With sales analytics, you can see what’s working and what’s not, so you can correct your team’s course before it’s too late in the quarter to avoid missing your numbers.

Align with marketing to build pipeline

Sales leaders need to continually fill the pipeline. This necessitates a close relationship with marketing.

Sales goals must align with marketing goals. Is the number of leads that marketing is charged with generating high enough for you to make your numbers? Are they delivering good leads, i.e. do you have an agreed-upon definition for a marketing qualified lead?

Are you meeting with your marketing counterpart regularly? A weekly or bi-weekly meeting is key to the success of both organizations. Having clearly-defined metrics, such as the number of meetings each rep needs on a monthly basis, can also help keep the funnel full.

Simplify and speed follow-up with automation

Lastly, to help hit those numbers, be sure that your team has the time that they need to sell! It’s hard enough for inside sales reps to connect with today’s B2B buyers. Make sure that they’re not bogged down by time-consuming tasks that don’t contribute to the bottom line. Use email templates, automated email and call scheduling and offload the grunt work!

Try this quick ROI calculator to measure your team’s success and help hit your numbers in Q1 2016.

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