Do you have a real-time view of the sales pipeline? How is your sales force performing? Are they trained to sell? Could they do better? Do you actually know how many customer appointments, calls and visits they are actually making every week? What is the call to conversion rate, how are you planning to improve upon this? Do you have the right incentives? How is marketing supporting them?
There are many questions to be answered and performance management practices are traditionally designed in order to measure your salespeople, not really to get the best out of them.
How are you driving sales performance?
A standard set of KPI's, a pipeline management system, SFA, CRM etc all help of course, however, in my experience the systems, process and incentives are important, but the key drivers of sales performance are 1) empowerment, 2) passion, 3) communication, 4) enthusiasm and drive. I will briefly touch on why these are important.
As the Salespeople are at the sharp end and understand the customer better than anyone else, they should trusted and empowered to the deals. After all they are the ones bearing the full brunt of underhand competitor tactics, customer complaints and invariably cursed by all, when sales revenue targets are lagging.
Great salespeople need to be passionate about their job. Passion comes from confidence and the knowledge that you are actually good at what you do, whatever you are doing. By correctly coaching, encouraging and developing your sales teams you can build a passionate army that can sell just about anything.
The art of communication, particularly in direct sales, should not be underestimated. Selling something is not just about product or market knowledge, it is about interactive communication, tact and the ability to listen. Couple this with the nous to quickly interpret closing signals and improvements in customer communication and closing those deals, can be achieved immediately.
Enthusiasm & Drive
This comes from motivation. You can only motivate your sales force or anyone for that matter by first having a good understanding of the people you are dealing with. Salespeople are or should be, a breed of people that like to compete and win.
The drive to achieve can be instilled into your salesforce by a variety of tried and tested methodology that is common sense to those that are familiar with it.
Your sales teams are your mouth, tongue, ears, eyes and nose. They should be able to talk the talk and walk the walk, articulate your proposition, listen for buying signals, see what is happening in the market and when at their peak, be able to smell opportunities.
Do not just invest in systems, pipelines and management dashboards and expect great things to happen. Often it is basic coaching and training in ‘Sales’ is what salespeople need! Invest in all your people, by all means, but invest more in your salespeople, as they bring the bread and butter home.