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
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.
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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!
Every CEO would smile ear to ear if they could grow their business faster than the industry. A well designed go-to-market strategy is imperative to achieving this level of growth and it requires more than sales, operational and/or recruiting experience. Consistently beating the industry requires management acumen and marketing expertise. In fact, organizations with little or no management and marketing experience are prone to commit mistakes when designing their go-to-market strategy. In some cases they flat out neglect this step altogether.
In the world of sales and technology, there always seems to be “the next big thing” hitting the market. And like most shiny new objects, sales people are drawn to them. As new technologies are brought to market IT staffing firms are tempted to buy the latest and greatest in order to “keep their competitive edge.” But from my experience most tools fail to deliver on their expected ROI. Is it the technology or is it the user and their lack of strategy to drive and sustain user adoption? You might say a little of both. To avoid falling victim to the next “big thing” and ensure your technology investment makes a real impact, here are three tips to making your technology investments along with insights on how best to implement them.
If you're a fan of professional sports such as the NBA then you know 'it's players league.' What that means is talent wins championships and the coaches are irrelevant. Most IT staffing firms are continuously on the prowl for top talent and hiring top performers. But even a team loaded with talent doesn't guarantee success. Just look at the 2007 New England Patriots who went undefeated in the regular season before losing in the super bowl. Or, consider the 2016 Golden State Warriors. They had 3 All-Stars, they won more total games (88) in season in history but blew a 3-1 series lead and lost in the NBA finals.
Each year sales leaders are faced with the agonizing task of creating fair but challenging sales quotas. As a sales leader or business owner, the single task of establishing sales quotas arguably wields the biggest influence on the future success and growth of your company. The question is, how high should you set your sales quota? Aim too high and it could lead to disengaged and demotivated employees, aim to low and you miss growth opportunity, overpay for performance and fail to properly challenge and channel your sales force. You want your reps to hit their quota but you also want to challenge them.
One of the many management challenges IT staffing owners face is figuring out how to compensate sales people effectively. We all know that we need to have a sales incentive compensation plan that motivates the salesforce to acquire new accounts and cross-sell within existing accounts, but how do you balance the two? Or, what if your goal is really to improve the bottom line, should your incentive plan be completely different altogether?