In part one of this post, I drew a parallel between front line soldiers and your sales team. In a battle, victory will be won or lost by the front line team of warriors. Let’s assume you’ve found a high quality group of soldiers. But, the actual battlefield is never defined for them, and the enemy is not well identified. Then, they are given little to no weapons to accomplish their mission. Finally, the rewards for their efforts have not been defined. Would you expect your troops to win the battle under these conditions?
In the previous post, we discussed the importance of a structured hiring process to find and hire the best sales candidates for your company. But, finding high quality sales talent is half of the equation for success. Your team must also have an environment in which they can be successful, and that’s your responsibility.
Provide These Seven Elements for Sales Success
- Define the target market: This sounds really fundamental, but it frequently happens that target markets are not clearly identified. Whatever you sell, that market (and sub-markets) must be well known. For example, in the B2B world, have you quantified your market into an actual list of targets, as best as possible?
Now go further and create a profile of your ideal customer. What’s the smallest customer you’ll take, or the largest? What customer type best fits your long-term business model? These models will help your sales team focus on the proper markets and customer types for your long-term success.
- Provide the proper tools for success: It frequently happens that sales executives are given little to no support to help them be successful. This will vary with every business, but consider some ideas like a great web site, customer success stories, marketing collateral and product/service training. Are you investing in these areas? If not, you’re really hurting your sales efforts.
- Define sales quota goals and incentive compensation: Typically, sales production quotas can be defined through some basic analysis. Over a typical year, you should be able to define a realistic, but challenging quota for your sales executive. Take into account your average deal size, typical sales cycle length and expected deal win rate. Then determine how many typical deals can be closed in a year. Regarding compensation, a good rule of thumb is base salary should be about 50% of the target compensation. When quota is fully achieved, the incentive compensation should be the remaining 50% of their target income. Your industry may have a prevalent incentive compensation structure, so just make sure you’re competitive for the best sales talent in the market.
- Define where to hunt: This is especially true as your sales team grows and needs defined territories (it also eliminates conflict). You may decide geographic territories make sense, or you might align sales efforts by industry. Then, analyze this area to make sure there are ample targets for your sales person to achieve their defined quota. Can you produce an actual list of targets? I highly recommend this so your sales team is well directed. Also, defining your ideal client will help your team focus on the best deals, not just any deal.
- Onboarding process/boot camp: Be sure to dedicate the first couple of weeks of new employment to in depth training for your new sales hires. Your business and industry will determine the amount of training needed, but be sure to provide extensive product/service training, walk them through the sales process in detail and assign a mentor with sales experience. Determine weekly training goals to help focus their training efforts help prepare them to sell quickly. See this example calendar of sales onboarding activities for ideas.Also, give proficiency tests regularly and determine their readiness to interact with the marketplace. Have them run mock sales meetings and put them through several trials before turning them loose.
- Create a culture of sales success: In many organizations, the sales organization is sometimes seen as a secondary effort compared to having great technology, or high powered consultants. The most successful organizations correctly staff, prepare and arm their sales teams. They prioritize investments in the sales effort, because this is where the real battle is won or lost. And, be sure to celebrate winning! Credit can be shared among many groups for their contributions to the sales success of the company. Winning is a big deal, be sure to let everyone know how appreciated they are for their efforts.
- Continuing coaching and training: In sales, the learning never stops. Be sure to gauge the needs of your sales team and help them advance in their productivity. Learn to be a sales coach, not a sales manager. Coaches assess their teams’ talents and help them increase their proficiency. Learn your teams’ strengths and weaknesses and help them achieve great success.
Hiring great sales talent is just the start to sales success. You, as their leader, must create an environment for sales success. This article is meant to help you consider how to create the necessary elements in your organization for long-term sales success. The best organizations are already doing this. By investing wisely, you will set your team up for sustained success.