Ineffective sales processes can cost companies and organizations milions of dollars in lost revenue every year. In fact, while sales quotas have been rising in recent years, the percentage of sales representatives attaining quota has fallen by 50%.
Sales ineffectiveness occurs when sales admins and executives focus on the wrong metrics, which lead to sales reps missing targets and wasting time.
What is Sales Effectiveness
Sales effectiveness is the process of identifying the key metrics to success of a sales rep and reducing the obstacles that prevent reps from hitting them. For some companies, it could mean reducing the steps required to close a deal for others, simplifying the motions sales reps must go through — all depending on how an organization defines sales success.
How to Measure Sales Effectiveness
Naturally, companies will want to increase their sales revenue, but assessing sales effectiveness is just as crucial as increasing your company’s profit. For companies to measure sales effectiveness, they need to define first what effectiveness means to them. Effectiveness will vary based on your team’s structure and your company’s strategy. Here are the common metrics used to measure sales effectiveness:
- Effectiveness per territory, product, etc. - You may find that specific territories, or products, take significantly longer to close and/or have a much lower close rate compared to your core territory/products.
- Effectiveness at each stage of the process - There are always bottlenecks in any process but with sales it may become evident that completing a specific step in the sales process is sufficiently onerous.
- Effectiveness based on tenure - There's a reason that senior reps demand higher pay than junior reps and understanding what experienced reps do compared to new ones is critical.
- Individual effectiveness against the average - Certain sales reps will stand out naturally against their peers. It could be some innate quality or a lesson learned that gives them an edge.
- Impact of investments on effectiveness - Improving sales effectiveness is an investment. It can certainly be an investment of money if you buy new tools or hire consultants, but it's also an investment of time from the executive team to actively seek barriers to break down and processes to simplify. Every minute of time you spend on one task has an opportunity cost of time spent on another.
Common Challenges in Sales Effectiveness
No proper training
Some companies often see training as waste of time and resources. And, most times, when trainings are provided by the company, they are poorly designed, the trainers are ineffective, and/or salespeople are unable to apply the training in the workplace.
Sales processes are not automated
Salespeople nowadays spend just 1/3 of their time in actual selling. The rest is spent on administrative sales tasks like updating the CRM, logging calls, searching for leads, and other time-intensive processes.
Resources not aligned/available
Forester research suggests that only 8% of B2B companies have sales and marketing departments that are aligned. This inefficiency results in a drag on revenues and missed sales opportunities.
Vague selling measures
It is common for companies to focus on vanity sales metrics (e.g. # of dials, talk time, POCs completed, etc.) that don't necessarily move the needle in terms of effectiveness. Perhaps making more dials leads to more revenue, but it's important that you measure and assess rather than make assumptions.
Ways to Improve Sales Effectiveness
- Make selling simple
Companies should reduce the complexity of the agreement between them and the customer. Making the agreement simple and straightforward will not only make the process easier, it will also help the company boost customer satisfaction and customer experience. A quick solution for this is to review the past 50 agreements that had redlines and track which sections of the agreements had pushback from the customer. If you're finding the resistance is pretty consistent among customers you can update your MSA to reflect and ideally remove that step from the review process.
- Separate concerns
Sales executives should start separating concerns among departments/functions. Sales departments should have a sales rep closing deals, an SDR for booking meetings, and another team focused on data entry. If a company is going to make their salespeople do all these things on their own, they’re going to make things harder for their salespeople. What you can do is outsource help from third party service providers like Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer to do admin related tasks such as data entry, CRM cleaning, and lead generation. You would want your sales team to be laser focused on what they are primarily tasked to do rather than updating the CRM.
- Make your CRM easy to use
Often, companies require sales reps to input irrelevant data in their CRM system. Extraneous info, tabs, fields should be removed on the system as it will only cause confusion and clutter. Sales reps should only be shown the things they need to close the deals. One tactic here is to look at the Account, Contact and Opportunity layouts. Start with a fresh template and add only the fields reps need to update to close a deal. When reviewing whether a field belongs on a page layout it should be either 1) Hell Yes! or 2) No.
- Set up sales triggers
There are sales triggers for a prospect receiving a round of funding, a promotion, acquiring a new tool, press coverage, going public, etc. Think of actions or events, AKA triggers which would lead to a person being qualified for you to reach out. Ex: if you sell to companies that use a CRM, a trigger would be them buying Salesforce. There are plenty of tools available online (Datanyze, Builtwith) that can help identify new technologies to use as triggers but you've got to spend the time mapping out 1) What your sales triggers are, 2) How you'll get notifications to reps of those sales triggers and 3) what they're supposed to do once they've been notified.
- Buy tools that add value
Companies shouldn’t cheap out on the tools that add value to their team. However, many companies buy too many tools which creates confusion among sales reps. Rule of thumb is minimize the tools that reps need, but give them the ones that are valuable — the ones that automate sales processes and lessens their workload. For example, you wouldn't hesitate on paying for GMail, Salesforce or a Linkedin Sales Navigator account for your reps but is a tool like Gong/Chorus, Outreach/Salesloft going to move the needle for your team? There is certainly a case to be made but it's critical that you do proper evaluations of tools, especially ones that can automate work for your reps.
- Align resources / support
If a company is selling a product with enough complexity that it requires technical integrations, it is critical that you align resources like a sales engineer to help guide your sales reps. A sales engineer's role is to speak technically about your product eg. how it functions, components of the product, integrations, etc. Sales rep are most effective in building relationship and closing deals; they are not as effective in understanding all technical components that go into your product. Make sure, too, that all your sales reps have the resources they can lean on to help them in a sticky situation. Your executive team should also be made available for your sales reps to lean on when having tough conversations. Case in point, if your sales rep has a deal and it’s progressing, he/she should be able to pull an executive into meetings to give more clout to the opportunity. This access to power gives the buyer comfort that there is alignment not only between a sales rep and a buyer but also between a vendor's executive team and that buyer.
- Loop in a CSM
As a sales deal is progressing, you want to loop in someone from the customer success team who is going to be responsible handling the customer post-sale. This gives your customers the comfort to know that the implementation will run smoothly and that resources are allocated to the customer's success.
- Use deadlines to your advantage
As you're working through the sales process the customer will give hints to specific deadlines: e.g. we need this implemented by this date; we want our team using the product before EOQ, Our engineering resources are going to be focused on a new product in the new year. You can use these external events to your advantage to streamline deals by holding the customer accountable. For example, if the customer says they won't have engineering resources beyond 1/1 that are critical to implement your product then they need to be wrapped up by 12/31. If you know it takes 1-2 months of engineering support you'll need a contract executed by 10/31 or else dates will slip. Baking these milestones into the customer's review and procurement process can significantly smooth out any bumps, the tricky part is identifying those events.
- Train your sales reps
All companies hold general training for their reps, that's nothing new. But holding effective training is rare. Most commonly, a company will have a leader from the product, engineering or success team walk through the functionality of a new product/feature/integration outlining the key talking points for reps. No doubt, that information is critical as your portfolio of products changes. That said, it's rare for companies to host training that uplevels the skills reps need day to day. Just like a quarterback throws passes every day, or basketball players shoot free throws, your reps need to be drilling on the skills they need to succeed. Mock calls, objection handling, building technical knowledge, etc. are required skills for any sales team. It will often be challenging to keep reps engaged(especially senior reps) on much of this training and we believe it's critical to have the executive team involved as well. If an SVP of Sales isn't willing to get his/her hands dirty by role playing some objections, there's no chance your senior AE's will do it.
- Determine metrics that actually move the needle
Companies typically set metrics such as the number of cold calls made, emails sent, and demos done to determine sales effectiveness. Sales leaders have been using these metrics out of momentum rather than it actually being the right thing to do. Their sales manager made them track the minutes of talk time each day so they require their reps to do the same. However, companies need to understand the difference between a metric that moves the needle and one that's purely vanity. Does the number of cold calls made by a rep move the needle? At the end of the day do they directly drive revenue? Or does the sales leader like a loud sales floor so they push on reps to be making cold calls? Companies should take time to analyze what metrics are critical, emphasize those and make sure they are actively measured.
In this era, a company's growth requires more than just increasing sales revenues. It is now about providing exceptional customer experience across all departments — be it sales, marketing, or customer success. However, despite the changes in improving overall customer expectations, many companies are still operating in a traditional, one-sided manner which prevents them to improve their sales effectiveness.
Book a demo today and find out how SifData can help improve your sales effectiveness.
- Date- 20 Jun 2019