Being in the sales game both as an individual contributor as well as a sales manager for the better part of 30 years, I’ve often found that you don’t have to look far to find some book, tape, seminar, webinar, or conference that instructs you on how to be the world’s best sales organization. However, there are many common threads by which many of these organizations sew.
1. Buyer enablement. How many times have you heard phrases like……… “Qualify the prospect” or “submit a Statement of Work or proposal”. What does that tell you? It tells me that it’s all about the seller……….not the buyer. “Sales Cycle” is often discussed with the multitude of steps that it possesses. Wonder if it should be called a “Buy cycle”.
2. Outbound lead ratios. What percentage of the leads coming into your firm do territory salespeople generate? This may come as a surprise to a lot of companies but what you’ll find in true sales organization is they will have a lower outbound lead ratio. Believe it or not………… fewer leads from the reps and more from marketing efforts and other formal lead generation processes. Reps without lead generation support are less effective; those with it are able to focus more on opportunities and less on filling their pipeline, research, administrative tasks, white spacing, and other non-selling activities. I’ve found this to be true in most every organization I’ve worked for over a 30 year career.
3. CRM/SFA utilization. Most sales account executives struggle with the issue of CRM/SFA adoption. I have to admit……most of the time I look at it as a ‘necessary evil’. Leaders of Tier 1 sales organizations have somewhat cracked the code and typically boast a higher percent of these systems than average organizations. That’s because at most organizations, reps view these systems as an added administrative burden that allows management to oversee their every move while contributing little to the sales effort. The result: they use the system as little as possible and/or they manipulate the data to match management’s expectations. Why? Most companies do a terrible job of showing reps how they can sell more and benefit from the technology.
4. Sales rep training. The top tier sales organizations spend exceedingly more time on training their reps than their average counterparts. I’ve been a part of companies where it is a part of daily life as a Sales Executive. In many organizations you’ll see training is often the first line item to be cut in a downturn, whereas in top producing firms, senior level managers view training as an investment that will pay dividends.