Sales best practices for improving sales win rates, shortening the sales cycle and increasing overall quota attainment. Sales strategies to make revenue growth repeatable, and scalable
With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation rapidly evolving, I wanted to share a few tips for those who are now tasked with leading a remote team of sales reps or recruiters.
Studies show that sales leaders who operate with a consistent and repeatable sales cadence outperform those who don't. Daily huddles, and a weekly sales forecast have become commonplace for most sales teams. As part of their weekly cadence, top sales leaders are now incorporating peer deal reviews into their operational cadence, especially for strategic accounts, highly competitive opportunities and must-win deals.
Here is a startling statistic; according to a study by The Bridge Group, 50% of all sales people miss their quota. In years past I've actually witnessed a variety of behaviors and heard a plethora of phrases from staffing leaders that support and encourage the under performing behaviors that drive these very statistics. Phases like "Sarah is great for the office., not a great performer but everyone loves her so we have to keep her." Or, "I know my team is under performing, but I can't push them too hard, they could push back and even consider walking out, and what would I do then? "And the classic, "Ron has been with us for years, we just leave him alone let him do his thing (under-perform and bring team down morale)."
Top performing staffing leaders including sales and recruiting managers are blowing their peers out of the water by over 20% on a gross profit per head basis. How are they doing it? They're dropping the old school sales manager approach (see Alec Baldwin, Always Be Closing) and instead they're connecting with team members on a deeper and more personal level. A recent Gallup study supports this showing that engaged employees produce on average 20% more higher sales than those that are not.
In corporate America it's standard operating procedure to promote the top sales performer into management despite the fact that it's common knowledge that many of those top performers struggle with leading and managing a sales team. What might not be common knowledge is why so many top performers struggle with the transition into management. If you're a top performer actively interviewing for a sales management role or have already received a promotion, you should understand the most difficult aspects of the transition into management and leading a sales team. To give you a dose of sales management reality, I’ve outlined the most six most common reasons why new sales managers fail.
Today’s sales leader is expected to be part sales superstar who still closes deals and models the desired sales behaviors, part trainer, part CRM/ATS expert, part “chief problem solver,” and responsible for a plethora of other responsibilities including territory management, compensation and commission plans, performance management, recruitment and selection, customer segmentation, sales strategy, sales forecasting and opportunity management to name a few.
I've been blessed with the opportunity of working with hundreds of sales and recruiting teams from IT staffing companies across the country. One of the most common questions I get is "Dan, how does our sales team stack up against the competition?" As you can imagine, there are many ways in which I can answer this question and even more ways in which to compare and contrast one sales team to another. So a few years ago I started answering this question with the following question, "how accurate was your most recent sales forecast?" I usually get a deer in the headlights kind of response.
Every IT staffing sales organization has a sales culture. Great ones are hard to come by because they take a long time to develop and tremendous effort to sustain. Sales teams can have a lousy sales culture but still have a great year and hit or even exceed their sales quota. Consistently meeting and exceeding sales quota (24 months without missing your sales quota) however requires a healthy sales culture. Sales teams don't consistently meet sales quota without having a strong sales culture. At the same time, your sales culture can prevent sales quota attainment from happening.
Most people don't like to be on the proverbial hot seat. Professional coaches, (NFL, NBA, MLB) politicians, CEO's, individual contributors. Why would you, right? Sales leaders however, especially top performing sales leaders thrive on it. That is what the job is. Every month or every quarter they're basically trying out to make their own team. Sales leaders live under a microscope of constant scrutiny. So how do they do it? Better yet, how do top performing sales leaders perform and consistently deliver their number in this pressure-cooker work environment?
According to a study conducted by Sales Benchmark Index, "A” players generate 5x more revenue than “B” players and 10 times more than “C” players. Why is this important? As I reference in my eBook, The Top 4 Mistakes Limiting Revenue Growth for IT Staffing Firms, relying exclusively on your superstars to carry the team is not a sustainable business model. When 80% of your revenue comes from only 20% of your sales reps you know you have a BIG problem. Tolerating poor performance including bad hiring decisions, long new hire ramp up cycles and high employee turnover leads to missed sales quotas and increased expenses, not to mention the loss of a job for the sales leader!