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Sales excellence is the driving force behind individual sales performance and cumulative growth. The definition of sales excellence is consistently meeting and exceeding growth targets, and is a measure of not only how successful an organization is at closing deals, but also how well their individual salespeople are performing. Not only is sales excellence an indicator of sales effectiveness, but it demonstrates an understanding of the customer’s needs, as well.
Dales excellence should always include a strong focus on developing relationships and building trust. This means being aware of how customers think and act, and then applying that knowledge to motivate or increase conversions.To attain sales excellence, your organization needs an engaged workforce where each rep is aligned with the necessary systems and processes to deliver an exceptional experience (and meet consumer demands).
Preferably, you’d use a combination of cross-functional initiatives — training, sales enablement, team culture — to support high-performing, well-adjusted sellers.
Why does sales excellence matter?
In today’s crowded and competitive marketplace, companies have to set themselves apart to turn a profit. And one of the best ways to create this distance and distinction is by providing superior value to your customer base.
That’s why sales excellence is so critical – because it’s centered on anticipating customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations at every turn. But to maintain sales excellence, it’ll require trusted leadership, dynamic sales teams, effective management systems, and exceptional people skills.
Develop the right foundation to achieve sales excellence
By implementing sales excellence strategies, identifying weaknesses within your organization, and taking action to strengthen those weaknesses, you’ll have created the perfect foundation to drive sales excellence.
Applying sales excellence to your business
The first step in fostering an excellent environment is to get a firm grasp on what this looks like for your unique organization. You’ll need to define and identify sales excellence among your sales and management team, since a new direction can be met with resistance unless everyone has a solid understanding of what they’re working towards — and why.
What’s more, it’s a good idea to look into how other, less obvious metrics affect sales excellence. These might include content engagement, sales (communication) analytics, or lead close time. With these metrics, sellers can get better acquainted with the needs of their buyers, which tends to drive sales excellence more than anything else.
Identify weaknesses within your organization
Even the most well-oiled, high-functioning organizations still have room to improve. And as uncomfortable as it might be, identifying these weaknesses will put you on the path toward sales excellence and continued success. But don’t just state the obvious pain points — reps being unprepared for their sales calls or consistently missing their targets — and instead dig a little further to uncover the root of these stumbling blocks.
You’re wise to consider things like: whether your reps are holding self-limiting beliefs, if they’re exhibiting a constant need for approval, or if they haven’t yet mastered the art of time management. Additionally, you might spend time auditing your process for lead follow-ups, to determine where interactions are lacking. The insights you gather will point to your deeper, prolonged weaknesses that more commonly show up as missed sales goals or lack of morale.
Develop strategies to strengthen those weaknesses
Once you’ve named the inefficiencies in your team, you can then work on developing strategies to close those gaps and strengthen your weak spots (i.e. whatever is preventing your sales team from meeting its quota). Your specific strategy might call for an intentional explanation of your products or services, a thorough audit of your follow-up engagement, or perhaps a plan for mentored relationships between new and veteran salespeople.
Also, you may want to turn your attention to crafting a ‘perfect’ sales pitch; even when sellers are well-versed in your product and have mentors they can bounce ideas off of, they’ll still need a way to connect with your customers. Once the pitch is fully polished, encourage your team to record it on a sales battle card template. Battle cards contain tons of useful information to help reps have rewarding conversations with their clients, such as exclusive product features or buyer success stories — so your sales pitch will fit right in. Using detailed battle cards will ensure the pitch is delivered with finesse, to then elevate the entire customer experience.
Using sales effectiveness and efficiency to boost productivity
As you know, sales effectiveness is based around the tasks performed to drive revenue, whereas sales efficiency looks at how those tasks are completed. In that way, sales effectiveness reflects quality, while sales efficiency measures speed. In addition, sales productivity often comes into play here — otherwise known as the ratio of outputs obtained (effectiveness) versus the initial input invested (efficiency). For example, if your reps close more deals in less time than the previous quarter, then productivity is bound to increase, too.
And yet, improving sales productivity is not always an easy feat. According to Forrester, sales organizations invest around 90% of their budget into personnel, which puts serious pressure on solving productivity challenges as quickly as possible. The trick to bypassing these issues really lies within your sales team’s most valued asset: their time. Because time is a limited and non-renewable resource, every single seller has to make the most of what they’re allotted.
The good news is, your company has a chance to leverage its sales effectiveness and sales efficiency to boost productivity levels. To do so, you’ll need to create a consistent and concise sales process, and authorize core objectives related to your sales goals. From there, each rep should be equipped with the sales enablement technology they need to work effectively — and ideally, they’d receive ongoing coaching to help them succeed. Research shows that only 40% of reps are working for an organization with well-established coaching, which could explain why their numbers aren’t up to par (or their morale has started to sink).
Lastly, consider implementing sales analytics and forecasting solutions that’ll directly impact company-wide performance results.
Best practices to drive sales excellence
While there are a number of angles from which to approach sales excellence, in our view, there are four key steps you’ll need to follow to come out on top.
You can achieve sales excellence with four key factors: Sales enablement, technology, coaching and being open to change (or, your company’s culture).
1. Use sales enablement to drive sales effectiveness
Sales enablement helps revenue-generating teams to effectively bring your products to market. Sales enablement is a strategic and collaborative initiative that’s been designed to increase predictable sales results. Sales enablement tools achieve this by offering consistent, scalable services that allow customer-facing employees to add value to each and every customer interaction.
One of the main objectives for sales enablement is to promote sales effectiveness by providing sales reps with relevant insights any time a customer engages with your business. In short, sales enablement can pull together the resources needed to provide sales content and sales coaching in a way that seamlessly coincides with the buyer journey.
For instance, sellers need access to sales collateral that can influence conversions, while managers need access to their sales team’s performance data to understand revenue drivers. When sales leaders have visibility into this data (and other value-added activities), the opportunities to close sales and meet your goals abound.
2. Incorporating trusted sales enablement technology
The right sales tools and enablement technology will help you get back countless hours in the workday, and they’ll also reinforce your business intelligence and help streamline processes.
Not only that, but quality software solutions provide key data and analytics that’ll shape your sales strategies. So, incorporating trusted sales enablement tools translates to improved sales efficiency and effectiveness, easier team training and coaching, and inevitably, heightened sales excellence.
You’ll likely have your bases covered already, but if not, consider adding: customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence, sales enablement, and sales engagement software. Later, you can add on to your stack: account-based sales and marketing, conferencing, performance management, market intelligence, lead generation, and contract management.
3. Delivering consistent coaching and support
Earlier this year, Gartner published findings stating that just 42% of sales representatives have managers who are held accountable for providing quality coaching.
When you invest in ongoing coaching, or training, you equip reps with the knowledge of what to know, say, show, and do for every selling moment. Cultivating a workplace with consistent, targeted coaching is the best way to ensure your sellers thrive at every step.
The training materials you use should ideally be integrated with your sales enablement platform. Thus, salespeople can easily access the materials they need to prepare, at the exact time when they need them.Training must be a continuous process. Materials should be updated frequently and rep proficiency measured often. Doing so ensures both content and reps stay fresh on product offerings, key messaging, and industry trends.
Finally, you must invest in ongoing coaching. Not only does this mean preparing reps through role play scenarios, call reviews, and one-on-one mentorship, but also by ensuring sales managers have been trained. After all, the guidance sales leaders deliver will only be as strong as your investment in their growth.
4. Welcoming (and accepting) change
Flexibility is a prerequisite for working in a sales-driven setting, given that circumstances can turn on a dime — and to stay competitive, you’ll have to turn right along with them. That’s why welcoming change is on our short-list of best practices for sales excellence, because when you’re always looking to improve and become better, growing pains are bound to happen.
So as you help sellers shift out of their technological comfort zone and connect with customers on a deeper level, try to embrace change management with open arms (and an open mind). This will mean having resources pre-prepared to guide your team if/when organizational changes occur.
As a basis, having a good and positive culture will help reps to do great work and ensure they’ll stay with your company longer.
Questions you can ask are: where are your biggest areas of improvement and growth? Does your culture encourage (or not punish) making mistakes? Do reps feel empowered to take initiative, or are they stuck in processes and endless admin? Do salespeople feel incentivized to stay and if so, why?