The sales development loop helps you get your team to quota every quarter.
Your revenue goal for the quarter is clear. How you reach it is not. In fact, it’s likely that only 57% of your sales reps will hit their quota. What might that mean for you if this trend continues? Let’s try not to think about it.
The solution to the problem is clear: sales team development. Sales team development refers to the development of your entire sales team, from management to reps. What most sales leaders don’t realize is how much of an impact frontline sales manager development has on goal attainment. A company that invests $2,500 per frontline sales manager per year increases revenue plan attainment by 18.4%—on average, 106.7%—compared to those who don’t. Now, let’s think about what that might do for your career!
The sales development loop is a simple, yet highly effective process for improving the performance of busy sales teams. It puts the development of your entire team on auto-pilot by running each loop over the course of a quarter (three months), broken up into three 30-day segments.
Though we have run development loops that attempted to improve multiple types of sales interactions, we’ve found that they are far more successful when each loop is focused on just one specific interaction. Begin your sales development loop by identifying a specific area of the sales process that you want to improve.
For many teams just getting started with the sales development loop process, we recommend starting with the discovery call (or equivalent). The main reason for this is, based on the 30,000+ sales calls we’ve observed, 25% of qualified opportunities are wasted due to poor discovery calls. Even just a small decrease in that number will have a huge impact on your business.
Note that sales team development also includes managers, so you can also target the development of your sales managers using the development loop. Because training dollars are traditionally spent on sales skills training for reps, few managers receive relevant sales management coaching needed to develop critical management skills. Leaders who are interested in the development of their sales managers might target the forecast review, for example, to improve the effectiveness of manager-to-seller interactions.
The main idea is to pick just one interaction to focus on for each sales development loop. Once you decide on that interaction, take the time to identify what behaviors and characteristics make that interaction successful to create an “assessment map”.
Step 1: Calibrate Your Sales Development Loop
Your sales assessment map can be a simple spreadsheet that plots attributes and behaviors you are looking for in the interaction against the score you would give for each seller or manager being assessed. For example, when assessing your team’s sales discovery calls, you’ll want to identify how well they set an agenda, ask qualifying questions, build rapport, and close for next steps. Rate each behavior on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 meaning “non-existent” and 5 meaning “excellent”.
The sales assessment map will help you stay focused on the behaviors that you’ve identified as most important to making the interaction successful. It will also help keep your scoring and feedback consistent and objective for each person being assessed.
Step 2: Baseline Sales Skills Assessment
Take the first 30 days of the sales development loop to observe your sales team’s behavior in the specific development area you are focusing on to get a baseline for where your team’s skill level is currently. Resist the temptation to try and fix problems as you see them. Just focus on understanding the current state.
There are two ways you can observe your sales team. You can either sit in on a live call or you can have them submit a call recording. Either way, have your assessment map ready for each call you observe so you can score performance as you go.
Call recording can save you a bit of time, and it provides you with real-life examples of what great performance looks like. When you start coaching your team in the next step, showing these examples to your reps will help them understand exactly what you are looking for.
Step 3: Activate Sales Coaching & Development
The next 30 days of the sales development loop is dedicated to coaching. Based on your assessments, how can you most efficiently allocate your time and energy toward developing your sales team to have maximum impact? This will take some practice, but getting good at it will save you a lot of time.
Chances are you will find that some reps are great in some areas, but need further development in others. Your assessment maps will highlight specifically who needs help in each area, allowing you to efficiently and effectively coach based on personal strengths and opportunities for improvement.
Step 4: Measure Sales Development Progression
Finally, the last 30 days of the sales development loop is meant to observe your team a second time and look for skills progression. Can you see evidence that your team is improving? Celebrate progress on the skill the same way you would celebrate hitting quota and you will be on your way toward creating an environment for your people to get better.
Sales team development isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain type of forward-thinking sales leader to commit to “slowing down to go further.” But once they see the final results, those that do make the commitment are energized and excited to do more. And, no, it’s not just about keeping your job. It’s really about building a world-class sales organization and a sustained revenue-generating machine through continual coaching and development.