A more efficient sales organization can take your company to the next level.
Sales is so closely tied to success in business that it’s impossible to find a thriving business without those who can sell. The sales department is also the closest part of a company to the customer. Good salespeople understand the pain points that customers deal with and how much they’re willing to pay to solve it. An efficient, focused sales team can help your company run laps around competitors. In order to improve your sales organization, it requires maximizing efficiency, maintaining open communication with marketing, and understanding the customer’s evolving needs. These 9 actionable tips will help your sales organization reach the next level.
1. HAVE SALES CREATES CONTENT
The sales team is the closest part of the company to the customer – interacting with them more than any other department. They are the company’s eyes and ears. With this privileged position comes a deep view into the customers’ habits and pain points. Have a member of the sales team write an article (or video interview, or podcast) once a month. Understandably, your sales reps’ time is extremely valuable, so we’re not advocating them spend every day doing this, just a few hours a month. Creating, or even just brainstorming, new content with marketing generates two distinct benefits.
- The marketing team is able to get direct insight into the customer from the sales team. What are their problems? What are the current products on the market? How does the sales team pitch our product? Open communication aligns the two teams and presents a unified message to the customer. The content that’s created jointly will also make the company’s marketing materials much more relevant to the customer base.
- The salesperson can share the piece on their LinkedIn, email signature, and social media accounts. High quality content on relevant topics will help establish the salesperson’s personal brand, which will influence leads who have seen the content prior to engaging with the salesperson.
Less than 1/3 of a salesperson’s time goes to core selling. Most time is spent on repetitive tasks like follow up emails and data entry. Automating low ROI sales activities allows the sales team to spend more time on core selling activities like reaching out to and engaging new leads. Follow up emails set to a particular cadence, website crawlers that find and pull contact info, and reporting can all be automated to a certain degree. Sales software like InsightSquared, Axiom Sales Manager, Reference Edge and many other tools can help break down the redundant parts of the process.
3. SET GOALS UNIQUE TO THE INDIVIDUAL
Having a sales organization goal is common to most companies. So is having individual rep quotas to target. However, every salesperson is different. Some reps on your team might be high-activity reps, others phenomenal closers, and others great at demoing the product. So although each rep has the same overarching goal (quota), managers should provide different goals unique to each individual to help them achieve their number.
For instance, if a rep is struggling with activity and it’s obvious to the manager that they’re calling fewer prospects than their colleagues, their goal needs to be activity-oriented. If they currently call 15 people a day, set a goal of 20 starting next week.
For someone who struggles with closing a deal, the goal should be very different. In this circumstance, getting the rep to listen to their calls every single day with a team member and reflecting on what went well and what didn’t might be a better strategy.
4. FEWER LEADS (Seriously)
Many sales organizations see dramatic increases in productivity and output by delivering fewer leads to the sales team. In may seem counter intuitive, but by ensuring leads are more qualified and thus likelier to convert, they can focus more effort on fewer potential customers. Sales & Marketing Management explains: “There’s a sales paradox at work here as reps actually need fewer sales leads or, more accurately, fewer raw, unfiltered, unqualified marketing leads.” Working hand in hand with marketing to deliver fewer but higher quality leads, can generate better ROI for sales.
5. SOFTWARE TOOLS
Going hand in hand with automation, a strong suite of tools provides the ability to track, engage, follow up and analyze throughout the sales process. The critical software is the CRM system, which is the nerve center of your sales organization. Most companies now, even small ones use some type of CRM software. Besides the market leading Salesforce, there are a host of smaller players like Nimble, Hubspot CRM, Pipedrive, etc. In addition to CRM tools, email automation (ToutApp), account management (DemandFarm), and dialing (Velocify) tools can all help sales reps accelerate redundant work.
For unbiased sales software reviews, our go to site is G2Crowd.
6. SOCIAL SELLING
Social selling is when sales reps use social media to find and engage with prospects. According to Forbes, in 2012, 79% of sales professionals using social media to sell, out performed those who weren’t using social media. Marketing departments already know the power of social media. Sales reps can also leverage social media to engage potential leads before starting the sales process, establish personal brand, answer questions and search for prospect. IDC Research has found that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level/vice president (VP) executives surveyed use social media to make purchasing decisions.
Additionally, social selling goes hand in hand with salespeople creating content (highlighted in Tip #1). Strong, relevant content shared over social media develops the reputation and “brand” of the salesperson before they even reach out – resulting in more engaged leads.
7. JOIN LOCAL NETWORKS
Despite everything today being technology-enabled, nothing can establish a connection like a face-to-face meeting. Networking is a long term game but it’s invaluable for salespeople. Build your local network by targeting industry-specific meetups and groups. Mingle with those who you can offer something to, as well. Local business networks around Los Angeles, where Harper is based, include, USC NEXT: Digital Media Alumni Association, BNI4Success, and TWDI.
8. IDENTIFY OTHER KEY METRICS
Measuring ‘sales’ as revenue and dollars, is a good indicators of success because it measure the final product, but it doesn’t measure how efficiently the sales organization is operating. Other important metrics include call rate, time spent selling, sales cycle length, pipeline conversion rates, and average number of touches until conversion. A good CRM system will have customizable dashboards to visualize trends and gain valuable insights into sales rep activity beyond revenues and dollars.
9. FIND BOTTLENECKS
Besides identifying other “good metrics” to track, what about identifying bad ones that could be causing bottlenecks? Take a couple weeks to track your sales organization’s activities to figure out where the bottlenecks and time wasters are, so you can fix the problem.
In sales, the number of calls, emails, and connections made are still the best predictors for future results. If your team isn’t doing enough of these core selling activities, they probably won’t hit their goals. By increasing productivity, you can help reps focus on the activities that have the highest return on invested time.
I really enjoyed your article. I understand how important it is to dig for the pain. It’s also important to assume a teaching role in the sales process. As sellers, we need to educate our customers to opportunities that they hadn’t previously thought of. This unique insight requires a deep level of understanding of your customers’ world, but it can be very impactful.