Sorry to descend into the old sports cliché: it's hardly news that coaching and teamwork feature heavily when it comes to getting better performance out of salespeople.
I've spoken to quite a few business owners and sales managers in technology companies over the years (and I've been a salesperson as well) - there's a common thread when it comes to performance problems.
What symptoms are you looking for?
- Competitive deals that are "low-profit", loss leaders
- Opportunities that take forever to close
- Lack of effective appointments - no clear outcomes
Of course, if it's all clear to you, then your salespeople should be good enough to create a sales process that fits with exactly what you are thinking.
And the rest of the team should get it, too, intuitively. Right? Wrong... not unless you write it down and work on it as a team, in a playbook.
The Sales Playbook
I've spoken to many business owners and sales managers who just hire wizard sales reps and get along just famously - people with fantastic personalities, expert in their industry, talented in the art of the deal and conjure magic with your solution at just the right time.
I'm guessing that you've probably seen some change that means that the loss of a key salesperson has inflicted some damage on the team. Your star player leaves and with it, their particular magic. Or the industry is being disrupted by a new challenge or competitor.
Or, you've had a selection of ineffective salespeople - they didn't ever quite get off the ground and hit the numbers.
Newsflash - if it's your business, then you should do something about it!
Go back to square one and look at your whole approach, objectively. How would it appear to a new sales rep that you are on-boarding.
Have you given them a documented structure to follow? Does it help them to on-board and selling effectively for you?
If you're not sure, then ask yourself these questions:
- Can they articulate what your company is all about?
- Do they choose the best person to connect with to when they sell your services?
- What is their technique for connecting with new prospects?
- Do they have a way of evaluating if the leads that they speak to are best for your business?
- Do they set up new deals in the most effective way?
- Do your sellers link your solutions to prospect's existing budget (low-profit) or to business goals (high-profit)
- Are your sales proposals being sent at the right point in the buying cycle, are prospects reading them?
And the last, but most important question:
Are you willing and able to measure these things and use the data to guide you into effective decisions?
The New Selling Environment - buyers gain advantage
I am assuming here that you know that the selling environment has changed. If a buyer knows that they want to solve a problem, then they're doing their own research and will search and find solutions without consulting a salesperson.
So, you need to make sure that your marketing efforts are in line with your sales efforts, so they help each other.
Your targeted contacts are probably a mix of key decision makers, recommenders and gate keepers.
You need to understand and plan for each of them, right?
Your messages needs to adapt to each one of these people in your target accounts. It needs to shepherd different people along a journey in stages. It needs to be in your marketing material, your sales approach and your social media messages.
So marketing and sales need to be coordinated.
You need to make sure that you are spending time on the right customers, so collect and manage the data you need to support your business decisions.
And as a tech company, you know that your sales platform and integrations are critical.
Is your sales process supported well? Is it left to spreadsheets, Excel, and a CRM that only gets updated when a sale closes?
Having a simple and straightforward place for sales and marketing to collaborate makes it more likely that you can align your processes to improve sales.
You'll need to back that up with the right incentives and processes - but sales automation is key.