How to Improve Sales Performance
If you read our previous article on sales performance, you’re probably wondering how to increase sales generated by your team. Each rep and account executive in your sales department is an important asset, one that you can’t afford to waste. By helping your sales force unlock their full potential, you can enhance a mutually beneficial relationship and support both the employee and the company.
There are many reasons why your sales org might not be doing the best possible work, and it isn’t necessarily because they’re lazy. Feeling out-of-sync or unsupported can lead to employees trudging their way through tasks and barely getting anything done. After all, the lack of firm direction can suck the productivity out of anyone. On the other hand, successful sales teams build synergy between each other and run like a well-oiled machine. If you’re wondering how to improve sales performance, it’s best to start by adequately equipping new hires.
Companies spend an average of 7 months and $30,000 to train and onboard new employees, and yet around 87% of that training is forgotten in just a few weeks. What do you suppose is going wrong with this learning curve? If you can shave time off this journey of almost one year, you can empower new hires to start pulling their weight much sooner. Of all the ways to improve sales performance in your company, this one is a no-brainer.
But what makes a successful sales team more productive consists of much more than quick onboarding. Even seasoned sales reps can use refresher courses to sharpen their current skills. Honing the pre-existing abilities of your team will help your new employees pick them up more quickly as they become part of the group. It’s easy to see how to improve sales team performance if you’re looking at the big picture and addressing productivity across all areas of your company.
How to Improve Sales Productivity
Now that you’ve given your sales numbers a thorough evaluation, it’s probably apparent that there are significant differences between individual reps and across your entire team. Once you’ve ruled out the obvious (such as some groups selling things that are innately easier or harder to sell), it’s time for the next step. You’re likely wondering how to improve the sales process across the entire company.
First, understand that you need a slightly different approach to improve a sales team versus an individual sales rep. You can’t focus exclusively on how to make a sales team more productive. Teams need to establish a sort of synergy, and improving individuals will enhance that effect. You may have to move specific reps across groups, and it’s essential to understand how that could make or break the team dynamic and relationships you’re hoping to achieve.
Shortening the learning curve for new hires, as mentioned above, will undoubtedly bring up a sales team’s average. But if you want to know how to improve sales productivity across the board, you need to concentrate on both aspects at once. Standardizing sales routines and practices throughout your teams will give you a twofold bonus: new hires will integrate faster if they don’t get conflicting instructions, and sales teams will operate more smoothly with each other for the same reasons.
The key to knowing how to increase sales volume is bringing out the best in all of your sales teams. Work with your employees on both an individual and team level to bring everyone up together. No one sales rep or team can carry the entire company. If you want to know how to maximize sales for your business, you need to focus on ways to help everyone do their best. More resources, better training, and proper oversight will help all of your employees improve performance and reach peak productivity more quickly.
Sales Improvement Plan
Now that you’ve identified the areas you’d like to work on, it’s time to create an action plan to improve sales performance across your company. Identify the main areas of weakness in each rep or team by auditing sales numbers and completing productivity reviews. Be sure to inform your employees about the issues you found and how you intend to fix it, and then proceed in a measured way to implement your improvement plan.
Sales improvement plans should have both an individual and a team focus. The actions of a single sales rep can affect the team and vice versa. Treat everyone fairly and don’t drag down an entire team for the actions of just one member; likewise, don’t blame only one person for a team’s shortcomings. It takes many factors to make or break a successful sales team.
An action plan for sales strategy should deal fairly with everyone’s shortcomings without unfairly assigning blame. At your sales review presentation, keep anecdotes genuinely anonymous, and keep your examples non-specific regarding the people involved. Still, make sure they’re relevant to the department you’re addressing, and if someone permits you to reveal a personal experience, you may do so.
An action plan to achieve sales targets should include how you measured the current sales results, how you intend to improve them, the goals you’d like to meet, and the timeframe everyone has for meeting the new goals. Set natural, achievable goals in one area to assure your team of a morale-boosting win. Assign stretch goals to your top-performing teams and reps so that they can set an example and inspire your other groups to do better.
In your sales action plan presentation, point to the techniques of your most successful sales reps and teams. Nothing says “it can be done” like watching someone else do it and receiving their blueprint for success. Keep everything upbeat and positive. Emphasize that what your best reps and teams do to gain these sales numbers is a matter of training and experience and can be achieved by anyone.
If you’re a sales manager, consider taking over a sales team long enough to implement your new strategies. Once you hold their hands for a short period, you can step back to see how they do on their own. Also, consider using a pre-built improvement plan template for confidential evals with your employees so you can address problematic behavior without publicly shaming your reps.
But be firm: if some of your employees frequently arrive late or don’t pull their weight on the team, other members will become embittered and the entire team will suffer. Curbing undesirable behavior in problematic members is a must if you want your team to work together without conflict.
How to Improve Sales Skills
How to improve sales skills will vary by the needs of your sales force. Most sales reps spend less than one-quarter of their workweek on sales. If your sales team has too much on their plate, try to help them spend less time on non-essential tasks. Assigning some tasks to other departments could also help. Whatever you decide, make sure the solution doesn’t cause its own set of problems. Here are a few other ideas to consider for improving your team.
1. Sales training that addresses gaps
Sometimes things fall through the gaps. If your new employees miss a training session or senior employees have gotten rusty on perishable skills, targeted sales training can help. Make sure the training is relevant and empowers employees to raise their productivity, and watch your sales blossom!
2. Practice exercises to hone essential sales skills
To bolster the effects of gap-training, try adding dry-run exercises. Deliver demos, offering upsells or warranties, or how to direct customers to the item they need are all great areas of focus. How to practice sales skills might vary, but offering mock scenarios and walk-throughs is the perfect way to build confidence in your employees. Worksheets and quizzes that refresh employees’ memories regarding perishable skills are also part of this equation.
3. Coaching and feedback
Training to improve sales performance benefits from a personal touch. And, coaching feels more personal and involved than sitting at a seminar. That’s why personalized feedback can help your reps gauge their performance and find ways to do better. Often, employees have no real idea how they stack up the rest of their team. Showing them anonymized team data will let them know where they stand compared to the rest of the pack. This realistic assessment also provides a necessary baseline for your improvement plan.
4. Peer-to-peer learning
Personal selling skills are essential to a good sales team. Since this approach relies heavily on intimate person-to-person interactions, it’s the perfect skill to learn directly from someone who has already mastered it. Apprenticeships, shadowing, and on-the-job training are targeted approaches with high rates of success. Letting inexperienced sales reps learn tried-and-true selling skills and strategies directly from veterans in the field will help you pass successful techniques along to your entire team.
5. Regular 1:1 meetings with reps and leaders
Your newest reps are doubtless wondering, How can I improve my sales skills? That’s what you, as a sales manager or trainer, are there to answer. By addressing concerns, offering additional resources, and heading problems off at the pass, you can stay on top of developing issues while keeping your performance improvement plan on track.
Also, remember that reps are more likely to speak about their struggles in a private setting. If you only take questions when speaking to a group of your employees, you might remain unaware of critical problems that people are reluctant to mention in front of their team. Offering confidential sessions is a great way to build rapport with your individual employees and let them know that you care about their success.
Improve Sales Performance with Lessonly
Lessonly’s enablement software makes it easy to deliver ongoing training and coaching to sales teams so they can 1% better every single day. With Lessonly, accelerate ramp time, improve selling skills, and personalize feedback, faster. In fact, companies who use Lessonly to deliver training and enablement increase sales by more than 75%. Learn more here, or click on any of the additional resources below.