If you’re anything like me, after every end-of-quarter blitz you may think, “Whew, what a rush. How can we improve for next quarter?” I contemplate this whether we hit our goals or not. As the VP of Sales at RFPIO, I’m constantly on the lookout for how to improve sales performance. Not just for my team, but for our whole organization.
The sales process is unique to your particular brew of product and buyer profile. There are no magic bullets to improve sales performance no matter your bailiwick. With that in mind, I compiled this list of tips with the intent that they can be generic enough to apply to a majority of sales processes. They’re recommendations on where you can look to make incremental changes. Some may be obvious, but that doesn’t make them any less important to address if you want to improve performance.
I’m not saying that these 9 tips on how to improve sales performance are going to have you coasting into the end of the next quarter like Captain Jack Sparrow docking a schooner just as it sinks below the harbor’s surface. No, that end-of-quarter flurry will always be there (and, let’s be honest, it’s one of the reasons we love being in sales), but maybe the next one will be for your sales team to exceed quota or close larger deals or launch a new product like a moonshot.
9 tips to improve sales performance:
1. Monitor buyer’s evolving needs
So many companies forget this step, even seasoned ones. Many companies assume that they know their buyer. But when taking a step back, some may realize they are targeting the wrong buyers, neglecting an entire target altogether, or basing their buyer persona on outdated intel.
Establish a routine of reviewing your available market, determining what factors (e.g., pandemic-related shutdowns, new technology, political changes, ad infinitum) may have altered buyer motivations, and strategizing how your sales team needs to pivot.
2. Keep the sales tech stack humming
Each member of a sales team’s ability to achieve their goals will be determined by the tools they have to work with. It’s “sales tech mayhem” out there, according to Gartner, and the number of sales tools reps use has more than tripled since 2017. Many businesses thrive with knowledge management systems that help them streamline important information into one place.
Plug into sales enablement. It’s by far the fastest-growing sector in sales technology (up 567% in 2019 and still growing). It’s integral to ensuring salespeople are equipped with the tools that they need to reach prospects successfully.
3. Foster collaboration…internally and with prospects
Sales teams cannot exist in a silo. Collaboration must be seamless among presales, account executives, marketing, and product teams, at minimum. By fostering a culture of collaboration, you create a stronger sales team and brand.
I’ve also found that my strongest closes happen because I’m collaborating with prospects, too. I ask them to help me solve their problem. It adds another layer of buy-in to carry me to the next step in the process while involving other stakeholders, eventually connecting me to the ultimate decision-maker.
4. Make data-based decisions
This will improve over time, but the sooner you start gathering data, the faster you’ll see results. More data will equal greater insight into buyer personas, product and demo strengths and weaknesses, why deals succeed or fail, and methods that your most successful reps are using. Patterns will emerge faster than you think.
5. Fine tune how to build customer trust
Ask quality questions until you truly understand customer perspectives. Otherwise, you’ll continue getting a barrage of objections. Further understand their challenges until they give you space to respond to concerns. Then you can work to help them understand potential outcomes of using your product and how it can address their specific concerns.
6. Focus on the right deals.
Evaluate whether or not you are pursuing deals that are a lost cause. Also keep watch on individual activities within deal cycles. Always re-evaluate the priority because it will constantly change.
I explain it to my team this way: Say you’re on safari, watching lions, hippos, and giraffes…whoa! Check out that zebra! Black and white, it stands out among the brown and green of the savannah. Know how to identify the zebra, the one you need to focus on. To know this, you need to understand how your environment functions, including everything from team dynamics to the chain of events that has to happen before closing to product details to buyer profiles.
7. Improve your proposals
Personalize your proposals so that the customer feels like you really care, because you do! Besides, you spend too much time building relationships to sabotage that hard work with subpar proposals. The proposal will weigh heavily in establishing trust, communicating to decision-makers, and setting your solution apart from the competition.
8. Evaluate the Competition
Learn from your competitors. Always be thinking of ways that you can differentiate yourself from that competitor and find those challenges that other competitors may be missing that you can solve for.
Understand the value that competitors say they’ll provide to the prospects you’re both trying to target. That’s the only way to know how you can deliver greater value or fit your prospect’s specific needs better.
9. Track your pipeline
Monitor the volume of your pipeline regularly. Sales leaders need to be able to explain to reps that, “To be successful as a rep here, you need to have ‘X’ number of logos by ‘X’ date.” Know the benchmarks that determine success.
Always make sure you have a healthy pipeline. You’d be surprised how often this falls through the cracks. Reps understandably focus on the deal that’s right in front of them and can easily forget to nurture their pipeline.