Evolve beyond activity management to improve the sales behaviors that drive performance
In today’s technology-driven sales environment, sales leaders rely on data-driven indicators to monitor and track the success of their team and attempt to forecast the end-of-quarter outcome. Your sales managers likely have the ability to track key metrics and know at a glance the number of emails, discovery calls, demos, and sales calls individual representatives engage in.
But when your forecast accuracy is a coin toss and 30% of your reps are still not getting to goal, how do you explain the discrepancies between your top, middle, and bottom performers?
It’s because the difference exists within the sales call. Your top performers have mastered the behaviors they need to move their opportunities to the next stage of the process. These behaviors lead them to enjoy higher conversation rates at each stage. In other words, they are focused on having high-quality conversations, instead of making more dials or sending more emails.
Meeting activity goals with lackluster revenue performance is a common source of frustration for sales management. While some will accept the discrepancies as an expected part of the game, others realize that activity data alone does not reveal the whole story.
The Importance of Coaching and Monitoring Effective Sales Behavior
Increasing the number of cold calls, email contacts, and sales calls will not close deals. Your business still relies on the skills of your reps to move customers through the pipeline. And an underdeveloped sales force will do your business more harm than good, leaving a trail of missed opportunities year after year.
Unfortunately, most sales leaders and managers are ill-equipped to identify, measure, and coach effective sales behaviors in individual reps and throughout the team. Many mistakenly believe they have the necessary instincts to differentiate between effective and ineffective sales methods when they see them. Quite often, critical areas for development are overlooked, or feedback is inconsistent and coaching methods are ineffective. Some of the signs that your sales team could benefit from structured sales coaching and meaningful behavioral data include:
- Sales growth is slow or stagnant
- New hires have difficulty achieving quotas
- Current coaching and training methods do not produce results
- Management and leadership teams are frustrated by missed quotas
- Productivity is not increasing
- Individual performances are inconsistent
- A breakdown in the communication processes
- Reduction in morale or employee confidence
- Top performers are leaving the company
The Basics of Effective Sales Behaviors
If your sales team members go through all the motions but are not producing significant results, your business will likely benefit by focusing less on the sales activities and more on the specific behaviors of the sales team. With coaching and practice, your sales team will be better prepared to:
- Build a rapport with potential clients based on fulfilling client needs
- Tell a compelling story to establish trust and validate your proposed solutions
- Set an agenda to help maintain focus
- Provide a vision of use
- Align solutions
- Close to the next step
The most effective sales behaviors are not instinctive, they are learned. When a sales team is not being consistently coached and developed to their full potential, iyou find that a small portion of the team to close the majority of the deals. This discrepancy in performance indicates that solidifying sales practices by consistently coaching effective behaviors could close performance gaps and increase the productivity of the sales team. A prepared sales coach uses the information at their disposal to evaluate, strengthen, and empower the entire sales team. They instill productive sales habits and evaluate the skills of each team member in key behaviors, including:
Engaging in Active Listening
Active listening is an important communication technique that helps build rapport. Active listening shows that the seller values the client’s needs and opinions and is essential to the discovery process. While associates may believe they are listening, if they are not actively listening, they miss opportunities to address client needs by not delving deeper into what they hear or missing the cues.
Setting an Agenda to Establish Purpose
Surprisingly, half of the time a prospective client will not know what to expect during a sales call. This is unfortunate and can be easily remedied. A sales team coached on the processes of setting effective agendas establishes an agreed-upon purpose of the sales call with the client. Setting an agenda also helps the sales rep remain focused on the purpose of their call and deliver their message effectively. The ability to set an agenda ensures that the meeting is uniquely relevant to the client.
Incorporating Engaging Stories that Build Trust
Not everyone can tell a good story, but the ability to tell a story is an essential sales tool that takes a fair amount of practice. An engaging tale gives your prospective client a memorable reference to your product or service. Stories aligning to a customer’s needs are a useful method of establishing trust and third-party validation, proof that the new client will potentially have the same results. An effective sales team needs the ability to incorporate relevant stories in a way that complements their style.
Differentiating Your Business From the Competition
Our research found that 56 percent of sellers do not adequately differentiate the business they represent from their competitors. Instead, most tend to focus almost exclusively on features rather than benefits; it’s the benefits that will typically close the deal. Features and pricing alone will not differentiate your goods or services in the eyes of the client. Your salesforce needs to have the ability to communicate what sets your business apart and how you are uniquely capable of fulfilling client needs.
Communicating an Engaging Value Proposition
At the end of a sales call, there is only a fifty percent chance that the average sales representative has effectively articulated how your business is of value to any prospective client. To rectify this alarming percentage, your team needs to develop the ability to deliver the concept of value consistently in an engaging and highly relevant delivery. Your entire team should offer the same value proposition consistently. This takes practice. Your company’s value propositions should never sound scripted or flat.
It takes a great sales manager to lead an effective sales team. While many are good enough, few excel without the proper tools. If your sales managers are not supported and trained to effectively assess and coach the skills of their sales force, your business is losing out on valuable opportunities. Empowering your sales managers and team leaders with effective analytical tools will ensure your business will not lose sales due to inconsistent salesmanship.
Simply getting your sellers to do more will not substantially increase sales without an effective sales team. You must develop the skills and behaviors they need to convert more opportunities to the next stage of the funnel to make an impact on goal attainment performance.