SALESFORCE PRODUCTIVITY has been one of the hot conference topics for several years. And, when they first engage me, most clients use this term to mean what you’d expect – how do I get my sellers to sell more? Often though, the easiest methods for improving productivity are in your hands. Reducing internal obstacles, improving what we used to refer to as the” sales prevention department”, is one of the fastest ways to improve your numbers.
All things being equal – you have a great brand, a great product and solid delivery – how you enable your sellers will be the differentiator in making your numbers or not. The CEB has called this ‘seller burden’ and organizations will ‘higher burden’ have at least a 12% lower conversion rate. Here are five ways that you can pave the way for your sellers to be high performers.
1. The Right Processes
The key to productivity is having clean, repeatable processes in place that will enable the seller to consistently meet the needs of the customer and enable the manager to coach most effectively.
The two most important processes are the Customer Buying Process and the Sales Process. Understanding the customer’s buying process enables the seller to anticipate the drivers that will move the buyer off the status quo. It also enables your seller to be a consultant to the buyer throughout the buying process. Having a clear sales process provides sellers a repeatable framework for navigating the needs of both the buyer and the selling organization.
Selling organizations that are still trying to function without defining and leveraging these processes are treating sales like a crap shoot and unnecessarily burdening their sellers.
2. The Right Tools
The tools that you provide should cleanly and clearly match the Buying Process and the Selling Process. Many organizations have too many sales assets. Sellers become confused about what to use and when to use it. The result? The don’t use them at all.
Streamline the assets, case studies and other tools that help move the customer through the buying process. And, make the hard choices about which tools/assets in your sales playbook matter most in managing the selling process.
3. The Right Message
This is less about your value prop or positioning and more about the insight that you can bring to the buying process. Most sales are not lost to a competitor. They are lost to the status quo – to the buyer making no decision. You can decrease these losses by providing the right kind of insight to your sellers.
What market trends, industry changes or other situations will impact the customer in ways that they aren’t anticipating? This is the information that will differentiate you and enable your sellers to beat the status quo. But, this isn’t information that you should expect sellers to determine; this must come out of Marketing or another part of your organization that is looking toward trends and insights.
4. The Right Coaching
Too many managers see themselves as the keeper of the quotas when they should be focusing on coaching the right behaviors at the right time. Coaching should be cleanly aligned with the buying/selling process and managers must be coaching from the beginning of the process. This is one of the biggest gaps we see in organizations; and, many of the losses I’ve seen clients suffer occurred because managers stepped in to coach too late in the process.
5. The Right Relationships
Selling seems to only get more complex. And, relationships have changed. Clients no longer do business with us because we have kids on the same soccer team. That doesn’t mean, though, that relationships are no longer a part of selling; it means that we need to be clear about the kinds of relationships that are valuable to our clients. Today’s relationships flourish when we educate the client, add insight to their challenges, help them manage internal roadblocks, build trust, embrace collaboration and bring authenticity to the relationship. Managing the client relationship is a seller’s most important role and relationship building should be as important a process to your organization as any other. What are you doing to help your seller’s build relationships? Where are you part of the roadblock?
Sometimes as leaders, we are the biggest roadblocks to sales productivity. We are too focused on reporting and numbers and not focused enough on the processes and behaviors that get us to high revenue numbers consistently. How much is your ‘Sales Prevention Department’ handicapping your sellers?
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Jane Gentry leverages her experience with Fortune 500 clients to help mid-market companies grow revenue by solving key sales issues like: process, pipeline, leadership, relationship management and hiring. She speaks worldwide on topics about sales growth and leadership. Her clients include companies in manufacturing, medical, professional services and technology.
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