Here’s a breakdown of the three “secret weapons” world-class organizations use to leverage economic conditions, buyers’ needs and market changes to their advantage, according to new research by the Aberdeen Group.
1. They have a formal selling process. Eighty-three percent of best-in-class sales organizations require reps to follow a specific, step-by-step process for prospecting and closing deals. In addition to creating rewards and consequences to support their process, the study found the most successful sales operations (in terms of quota achievement, average volume and lead conversion) reflect three specific criteria:
- Built-in flexibility to tailor their approach based on how each customer’s buying process works
- Annual reviews that ensure the process reflects the company’s mission and values, and
- Clear exit criteria at every stage of the process (i.e., salespeople know when and how to accept a “no”).
2. Assessing sales competence. Best-in-class sales managers meet with individual reps to assess progress and adjust goals nearly three times as often as average managers. These managers also achieve better results because they:
- tie every goal to a quantifiable metric, so salespeople have a gauge for measuring progress
- provide ongoing training meant to keep salespeople on top of emerging trends, as well as sharpen their fundamental skills, and
- hold regular pre- and post-call evaluations to strategize how a salesperson can win a key account, as well as what the salesperson did – or didn’t – do well.
The Aberdeen study found consistent use of these tactics also led to gains in territory alignment, rep performance, retention and satisfaction.
3. They train (and re-train) their trainers. Most sales organizations are a reflection of their management. Managers who view themselves as a constant work in progress are likely to recruit, hire and develop salespeople who harbor similar ambitions. Nearly two-thirds of world-class sales organizations encourage supervisors to attend regular training sessions and seminars designed to help them train their reps more effectively. But success is incumbent upon more than simply ensuring managers attend these sessions. Organizations that are head and shoulders above the rest insist:
- managers constantly reinforce the lessons and concepts taught during these seminars, and
- the outside training sessions managers attend are specifically geared toward skill areas where the sales team needs improvement.
KnowledgeAdvisors, a national business consulting firm, reports managers retain only 60% of what they learn during these seminars. The point being, it’s crucial for supervisors to return from these events and develop specific training sessions ASAP, while the content is still fresh in their minds. Otherwise, attending these seminars is little more than a paid vacation that provides little or no long-term benefit for the company.
Source: “3 Levers to Rev Up Your Sales Process,” by John Kenney, Sales Benchmark Index.