Every business wants to grow.
But what happens when your sales performance has stagnated? A number of factors can affect whether or not your sales team can close deals. Using the tested tips below, you can assess your approach to sales — and ensure your team is set up for success. We’ll be covering:
- What factors affect sales performance
- What makes a successful sales team
- 15 ways to increase sales performance
Let’s get started.
What Factors Affect Sales Performance
Sales performance is affected by your enablement efforts, such as sales training or content management; sales productivity; your customer experience; your cross-functional alignment across sales and marketing team members; and your company culture. Together, these elements determine whether your reps have the training, context, and guidance they need to successfully engage customers and reach sales revenue goals.
What Makes a Sales Team Successful
Successful sales teams result from a company-wide commitment to ensuring reps have everything they need to do their jobs effectively. This means empowering reps with content, training, and guidance — but it also means developing a supportive company culture, building out a robust customer engine, and aligning with other go-to-market functions, like marketing or customer success.
As you think about what your team needs to be successful, a good point to keep in mind is that while an individual seller may be able to succeed based on talent alone, a successful sales team is only possible through collaboration. In short, sales can only succeed when your company is executing key initiatives as one unified organization.
15 Ways to Increase Sales Performance
Now that you have an idea of what goes into high-performing sales teams, let’s take a look at how you can put these concepts into action.
1. Hire the right people
First and foremost is hiring. Traditionally, businesses approached hiring from the lens of recruiting top talent. But for salespeople, it’s important to recognize that top talent is the result of great training.
Therefore, as you think about hiring for your team, it’s important to look for the sort of skills and personality traits that make someone receptive to your training and coaching efforts. These might include high emotional intelligence, a can-do attitude, or a deep love of collaboration. As you build out your ideal candidate persona, be sure to maintain a little wiggle room — sometimes applicants will surprise you.
2. Invest in sales enablement
Sales enablement is critical to ensuring salespeople are equipped to engage customers and prospects successfully. Depending on the size and structure of your sales organization, you may have a robust sales enablement operation already in place, or you may just be dipping your toes. Thus, what “investing” in sales enablement looks like for your business will be different from that of your peers.
To ensure you’re optimizing your program appropriate for your current operations, use our guide to identifying your sales enablement maturity stage. This report will break down the four stages of sales enablement — and give you actionable advice to take your program to the next level.
3. Use an effective sales structure
How you structure your sales organization has an immense impact on the ability of your salespeople to do their jobs. That’s because certain sales models are better suited to certain types of businesses, selling motions, or solutions.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to start with one structure and move to another as their company evolves, so take the time to evaluate the three most common sales models — the assembly line, the island, and the pod — and determine which one is right for your business.
4. Refresh your sales strategy
Another key element of sales performance is the strategy with which you enable your reps to go to market. Unfortunately, too many sales strategies are developed in January only to remain untouched until December, when it’s time to plan for the upcoming year.
If this approach sounds familiar, it might be time to rethink your sales strategy: Modern markets require organizations to be agile and responsive to changing consumer needs. Don’t shy away from examining your sales strategy bi-annually, quarterly, and even monthly. Though this may seem intensive, it’s important to continuously confirm your sales plan is still relevant to the market you’re selling to.
5. Make decisions with sales performance metrics
In this day and age, most businesses know that they should be making data-backed decisions. The problems arise when it comes to examining the data itself: most of us are drowning in numbers. Without clear dashboards for reporting or key performance indicators (KPIs), it can be difficult to understand where opportunities for growth or weakness exist and how to optimize them. Rather than taking on more sales data, it’s important to find and utilize the right data. Some metrics you should track include:
- Win Rate
- Sales Quota Attainment
- Sales Content Usage
- Sales Training Completion
- Sales Cycle Length
- Sales Pipeline Coverage
- Conversion Rates
All these sales performance management analytics can be tracked with your sales enablement platform. A great platform should integrate with your CRM and offer real-time insights into how individual and team-wide efforts are hitting sales goals. You should be able to prioritize efforts and power accurate sales forecasting with full visibility into sales opportunities.
If your current solution doesn’t offer these insights, it might be time to switch to one that does.
6. Find a methodology that works
The right sales methodology can make or break your sales performance. Much like sales models, businesses will often find that the methodology that suited them when they were a startup no longer serves them at enterprise scale.
Thus, it’s important to continuously evaluate the efficacy of your sales methodologies and ensure you have the right one for your organization. Because there are so many sales methodologies to choose from, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you out.
7. Train your reps to win
In addition to selecting the right sales methodology, it’s equally important to ensure your methodology lands with your reps. To do this, you’ll need a comprehensive sales training program that not only guides sellers on how to put your methodology into action but enables managers to coach and inspect behavior as well.
Sales training programs have a tendency to sprawl, so we recommend breaking key initiatives down into a simple set of objectives and sales activities reps and frontline managers can narrow in on to make incremental change. More on this strategic approach to sales training can be found in our Definitive Guide to Training and Coaching.
8. Coach your coaches
As we mentioned above, sales training doesn’t just impact reps: your sales managers also need to be trained on how to enhance rep and team performance through coaching. Too many businesses assume that because a salesperson was a great seller, they will automatically be a great manager.
However, this isn’t the case. Frontline managers need just as much investment and support as reps in order to do their jobs effectively. To invest in sales coaching, clearly identify what good looks like in sales rep performance. Once those behaviors are documented, you can train coaches to not only inspect rep performance KPIs against those behaviors but to offer remedial support if they are failing to take key actions. This approach ensures your coaches know what they are supposed to do and say and when.
9. Tame your sales content chaos
Sales content should be the thing that’s driving deals forward. But all too often, its impact is erased by the challenge of managing, organizing, surfacing, and finding it. Luckily, sales enablement technology now offers truly transformative solutions to organize content within sales team workflows.
If you don’t yet have a sales enablement platform, let this be your signal to invest. If you do have one, be sure that you are distributing your content effectively. One thing we can’t recommend enough? Stealing merchandising tips from your favorite retailers: when surfacing content to reps, think about how your content is displayed, curated, and marketed internally to decrease the period of time it takes to find, automate previously manual processes, and engage current and new customers.
10. Make personalization easy
Personalization is key to buyer engagement — it’s also a frequently cumbersome process. How can you make it easier? Start by putting yourself in your sales reps’ shoes: with lots of content to share and little time to do it, reps need a simple solution to quickly personalize everything from emails to presentations.
Therefore, enablement teams should focus on preparing foundational content — such as a customer deck — with many pivots for different industries and personas, all in one master asset. This allows for easy re-mixing within your sales enablement platform. Adding templated emails and social content into your enablement solution is another great way to make the personalization process simple for reps looking to quickly distribute thought leadership.
11. Elevate your customer experience
It should come as no surprise that customer experience factors into the sales performance. When customers have trouble engaging with your business, be it on the web or as a result or certain sales processes, they will be reluctant to buy your solution.
Thus, an investment in exceptional customer experience can only boost sales performance. It’s important to remember that Individual reps can only control one-to-one aspects of customer engagements — elevating your entire customer experience requires aligning with marketing, customer success, and other sales-adjacent teams to drive consistent, easy interactions across the customer lifecycle.
12. Activate every channel
You never know where your next buyer will meet you, so take advantage of every sales channel available to you. This could mean building and leveraging a partner-sales motion. But it could also mean exploring hidden gems, like hyper-specific industry events or that new social platform you brushed off.
As you explore new channels, be sure to provide reps with training, content, and guidance on how to maximize each one. Customizing messaging, introducing specific sales plays, and tailoring content to these new audiences will ensure your team’s pitches land effectively, wherever buyers encounter them.
13. Build a robust referral network
Satisfied customers are your best salespeople. They are living, breathing, case studies — and if you’ve built a strong customer advocacy network, you can easily leverage their passion for your product to generate new business.
The key to activating your customer engine is to create happy customers in the first place. So start by investing your customer success and support teams, to ensure they have what they need to deliver exceptional customer experiences and increase retention rate. Over time, you’ll build a pool of evangelists that will be more than happy to speak to prospects on your behalf.
14. Put your people first
Unhappy employees are hardly going to be top-sellers. As you work to increase sales performance across your teams, never lose sight of the people who make it all possible.
From employee recognition to enhanced benefits and perks, whether or not you put your people first will determine your success in the long run. And if you aren’t sure how employees are feeling, simply ask them! Listening to and incorporating their feedback will ensure that as you launch new strategies and enter new markets, you have their enthusiastic support along the way.
15. Stay hungry
Say you’ve followed the above fourteen steps and seen your sales performance skyrocket. Though it might be tempting to bask in your success, you must resist. Your competitors are right behind you — and they’re waiting for you to grow complacent.
Always look for new ways to innovate on your product and surprise and delight your customers. In the fast-paced world of modern sales, it’s the only way to win.
Secure Your Sales Success
Better sales performance is a marathon, not a sprint. By investing in enablement, customer experience, cross-functional alignment, and company culture, you can secure success in the long run.
Ready to put these tips into action? Get started with our guide to launching and landing sales strategies.