By CommenceCRM

Best Strategies For Improving Sales Rep Performance

evaluating sales performance, concept image

Your business is made by your product, team, and service, but without a high-functioning sales team, you will find yourselves without a single customer or client to enjoy what you offer. Getting the most out of your sales rep performance is crucial towards the success of your business, which is why it is important to make sure your sales team is always performing at the highest level.

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know for improving your sales rep performance, from understanding what makes a bad sales team to the strategies to employ to improve their performance immediately.

Signs Your Sales Team Is Lagging Behind

Before you can tell if you need to improve sales, you have to assess whether your sales team actually needs the help. Here are a few sure signs that your sales team isn’t doing as well as you think:

  1. Team members don’t respect meeting times: Identifying problems in your sales force means tracing their behavior back to the smallest things, and this includes whether or not they respect meetings. There should be a culture of punctuality when it comes to meetings, and team members shouldn’t wander in and out during what should be important team sessions.
  2. The team is experiencing difficulty in a stable market: Stable and growing markets should be prime areas of success for your company, so when a sales team can perform as expected in these easy markets, then something is definitely going wrong. Take off the pressure and see exactly what’s not working right, because failing in a stable market is signs of fundamental issues in your sales set-up.
  3. Conversations with the team seem short and shallow: When trying to identify problems with the sales team and why they’re not performing up to expectations, you have difficulty squeezing information out of the team. Conversations are short and light on details, as if the manager is trying to get out as soon as possible. They might be hiding key facts that you need to know.
  4. Managers can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong: A manager should be on top of every situation, so when sales are on a decline, they should be able to tell you what’s going wrong. A manager that fails to recognize serious issues in terms of performance and team compatibility is not the right manager for a successful organization.
  5. There is little respect for company regulations and rules: Like meeting times, it’s important that your team respects the little things that are part of your company, from the most basic regulations and rules. A sales team that blows off expected company policy can’t be expected to want to perform and help the company grow.
  6. Cliques have formed amongst members of the team: Cliques always form naturally, particularly in larger teams; some people just bond more with each other than others. The problem is when these cliques become rooted in the foundation of the team, leading to disruptions in harmony and overall team performance. The clique should never become bigger than the company, and once it does, it needs to be broken up immediately.
  7. Team members don’t contribute during meetings: Old-school managers think that meetings should be all about manager-monologues, where no one speaks but the manager. But modern work culture revolves around flexibility and transparency, which is why sales teams should be expected to chime in and discuss rather than sit down and listen. Encourage your sales team to talk and share their ideas; they might understand more than the manager what’s actually going wrong.

Assessing Performance: Key Sales Metrics to Track

So is your sales team lagging behind, and have you identified some key issues that might be causing the fundamental problems in your sales performance?

When you get the sense that your sales team isn’t doing as great as they can be, they might start telling you otherwise. But here are some key sales metrics that the most successful organizations track to measure whether or not their sales team is performing properly:

1) Quota Attainment

First and foremost is quota attainment. This is the most basic metric to begin with, because it’s the easiest to start with to root out any problems. Quota attainment is the percentage of your sales team that are meeting or surpassing their expected quota. You might think that it would be best to have as many people as possible reach their quota and even surpass it, but who sets the quota in the first place, and how realistic is that quota?

While it definitely varies from industry to industry, the general rule is that if less than 60% of your sales team is reaching their quota, then your quota might be too high (although this could also mean that you just have an underperforming sales team). This could also indicate that you don’t have strong enough incentives in place to properly motivate your sales team to sell; in this case, review your pay structure and change if necessary.

On the other hand, if over 90% of your sales team is hitting and surpassing quota, then your quota might be too low. Set higher goals and challenge your team to perform better next quarter.

2) Average Deal Size

Average deal size is found with two factors: your total deals divided by the total amount of those deals. Simply looking at the increase in customers or clients isn’t enough; to assess whether your revenue is growing, it’s important to look into the sizes of the deals being signed off, and whether those sizes are growing, shrinking, or steady.

What you want to see here depends on your goals; for example, if your company is trying to expand to more SMBs, then it would be expected to see your average deal size shrink.

Assess your average deal size and whether it’s in line with the overall direction that your business is trying to move in. If average deal size seems to be moving in the other direction, then your sales team is probably not onboard with overall plans, meaning there is probably a problem with sales management.

Finally, take a closer look on sales reps who have average deal sizes that are much lower than the entire average of the team. This could mean two things: they are offering too many discounts that your company doesn’t actually cover, or they’re going for the easiest and smallest targets just to reach their quotas.

3) Win Rate

Win rate or more commonly known as conversion rate is the percentage of your leads that convert into customers. 1000 leads per month with 50 new customers or clients per month means a win rate or conversion rate of 5%, which can be good or bad depending on your industry.

While it can be difficult to compare conversion rates across industries, the most important use of this metric is to compare it with your historical records. Every month or quarter, check if your average win rates are climbing or falling, and try to understand why this might be.

Win rates naturally climb up as you move downmarket, and fall as you move upmarket; switching focus to SMBs should increase win rate, and switching focus to enterprise should drop win rate.

Common Reasons Why Sales Teams Aren’t Effective

Like all inefficiency issues in the workplace, your sales team is probably experiencing some roadblocks that prevent them from achieving peak performance.

There are a number of factors that can generally put a damper on a  sales team’s efficiency, regardless of size and industry. Understanding what these common roadblocks are will help you understand how to restructure your sales team, and what type of support is best suited for the challenges they face.

  • Negative sales culture: Sales reps may work individually but ultimately function as a whole. If your company culture is predicated on competitiveness, your sales reps will be more susceptible to burn out and reluctant to cooperate with their team members.
  • Lack of customer profiles: Sales reps have an inherent understanding of what the best prospect looks like. However minor details might be different in every sales rep’s head, leading to disagreement and confusion.
  • No alignment with marketing: The competition between marketing and sales departments is a notorious reality in the workplace. But with new buyer habits, it’s essential for these two departments to work together in order to create the best content and deploy the best sales strategies to land a sale.
  • Inconsistency in strategies: Sales coaching is crucial for the simple reason that your sales team needs guidance. Every rep is expected to make their own call and make decisions on the spot, but general goals and techniques should be ironed out across the board.
  • Too much focus on quota: There’s a difference between pressure and motivation. If your sales philosophy is focused on quota and not much else, they are likelier to bring in unqualified leads and low-quality prospects just to hit monthly numbers.

Top 6 Tips to Improve Sales Rep Performance

1. Determine the Best Structure for You

For starters, try and see if your sales team is actually structured properly. Neil Patel mentions that there are two sales models that work best for businesses. The island structure is straightforward: every sales rep performs all responsibilities, from prospecting to account management. This works best for businesses with simple sales structures.

The other one is the assembly line. Each sales team is composed of individuals that specialize in specific aspects of sales. This means the qualifiers, closers, and account managers are all different people, with their own unique responsibilities. Every aspect of the sales process is optimized and handled by the most appropriate sales rep.

On the other hand, this may not be feasible for all businesses, especially small ones with limited personnel. Figuring out what works best for your existing team can help you harness their skills more effectively.

2. Hire the Best People

At the end of the day, nothing beats hiring good talent from scratch. Your odds of finding the most talented salespeople in the world will probably be slim to none, but that doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your hiring process so you can build a competitive team.

Sales reps have to possess fundamental qualities that, with experience, can transform them into great sales reps. Hire people that are self-motivated, goal-oriented, ambitious, and organized. These characteristics will ensure that your sales reps have the groundwork laid out, making it easier to train them to become a compelling sales force.

More importantly, hire people that have accountability. They need to be open to criticism as you develop a more robust sales process. Problem-solving is a crucial characteristic, but it’s also just as important that your team members understand what went wrong, and how they can possibly fix it to improve results in the future.

3. Use Sales Tools

Constantly looking over your sales team’s shoulder is a guaranteed way to make them feel burned out. Too many businesses focus on hands-on management and don’t give enough attention to tools that could help automate processes that weigh down performance.

Sales processes, much like other business operations, involve repetitive tasks that take up your team’s resources. With sales tools, these tasks are easier to manage, giving them more time to focus on aspects of sales that actually bring in revenue.

You don’t have to be a big company to have to invest in sales tools. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are being used by businesses both big and small because they help with functions like lead scoring, customer management, and campaign analytics – all of which could bolster your team’s performance.

Sales tools also level out the playing field. Sales reps that are great with managing customer relationships but lack data analytics skills can use tools like CRM to improve their performance, without having to learn additional hard skills on their end.

4. Stick to the Data

Sales tools are crucial for one simple reason: data. Back in the day, most sales decisions were predicated on gut feeling and experience. This prevents the team from moving forward because of inconsistencies and unforeseen contradictions.

But with data, decision-making becomes almost automatic. By taking in information from previous customer interactions and using that to launch powerful campaigns in the future, you are eliminating the need for guess work and allowing your sales team to create solutions with tangible results.

On the other hand, data isn’t just for your customers. A great way to stay on top of your sales team without being too intrusive is by looking at their performance metrics. Track sales activities so you know what their performance is like. Looking at performance data makes it easier to understand underlying bottlenecks in their individual processes, so you can provide specific feedback.

5. Solidify Lead Qualifications

Lead scoring is a crucial but often neglected part of the sales process. Even leads acquired through hyper-targeted campaigns won’t always be ready to sell. Lead scoring and qualification exist to help sales reps figure out how to best allocate their resources by determining the lead’s worth.

Establishing a foolproof lead qualification and scoring criteria will help make this process more seamless. Every sales rep will operate based on their own biases, which could slow down the conversion process. Work with top performers and senior sales reps to create a solid qualification and scoring system that will put the entire process on auto-pilot.

6. Celebrate Wins

This is a no-brainer. Celebrating sales wins incentivizes other sales team members to perform better. To make the celebration productive, make sure to highlight key strategies and techniques that make it a winning moment. Use this opportunity to scrutinize the very details that lead to this amazing win. This will help other sales reps replicate the behavior on their own.

Best Sales Training Strategies

Continuous refinement and recalibration is key in engineering a profitable sales team. Here are some amazing training strategies you can adopt to supercharge your team in no time:

1) Stay Consistent: As tempting as it might be to experiment with ten different techniques, do your best to implement a specific strategy, and stick with it. Sales reps need structure and consistency in order to perform properly, and shifting from one sales philosophy to another is bound to lead to problems.

2) Look Into Micro-Training: Keep training short and sweet. Instead of investing in multiple-day sales training events, limit training only to a couple of hours, and if possible, less than an hour.

The best way to impart learning that they’ll actually apply is by coaching them on the spot – when something isn’t quite right, point it out and give them the opportunity to learn from experience.

Learning with tangible results and practical world applications stick more than theoretical approaches. Whenever possible, coach on the spot, and keep it concise.

3) Use E-Learning: Coaching and training can be tedious additions to your sales team’s already busy day. Instead, consider using online videos, articles, and other content that they can tap into whenever they’re free.

Use online learning portals to provide courses that will brush up on their skills and product knowledge, without disrupting their day-to-day operations.

Improve Sales Performance With CRM

A customer relationship management platform is your one-stop shop to sales improvement. With CRM, sales managers can keep track of individual team members, while launching their own campaigns to mean sales goals.

Improve sales operations with one powerful tool. Get in touch with us to get a free demo of Commence CRM.