Are you concerned about the performance and productivity of your sales team? Do you wish your salespeople were generating more new prospects and more consistently delivering, even exceeding, targets? Do you struggle to find good salespeople and retaining them when recruited?
I was struck recently by the Heiman Miller global study of how the behaviors of world-class sales organizations differ from those of the average sales organizations. Much of what this study points out is relevant to fire and security installers.
So let’s look at the behavioural characteristics of world-class sales organisations. They fall into 5 distinct areas:
- Managing and Creating Sales Opportunities
World-class sales organizations keep their sales funnels full of high-quality opportunities by applying well-defined prospecting plans. These plans include a combination of marketing driven lead generation and prospecting activities led by the sales team.
World-class sales organisations have formalized value propositions that are very compelling to their prospects. Such propositions make it clear why a prospect should buy from you vs your competition and evidences this with case studies and testimonials.
World-class sales organisations have developed consistent criteria for the types of accounts and opportunities they want to pursue and walk away from those that aren’t a good fit.
Bottom-line is that world-class sales organisations consistently follow a standardized process to target, pursue, attract and qualify opportunities.
- Managing and Converting Opportunities
World-class sales organizations have a clearly defined sales process to guide them in winning new business. This includes developing a clear understanding of the customers’ issues and priorities prior to creating a solution to fit their needs. It also includes mechanisms for identifying where the customer is in their buying process. Both disciplines are hallmarks for successful management of opportunities.
- Managing and Deepening Relationships
World-class sales organizations proactively manage relationships, especially at the senior levels. Their salespeople spend more time with key accounts than their equivalents in average sales companies. This makes these companies effective at both account retention and driving year on year revenue growth with existing accounts.
Key account management is central to this. The sales team regularly collaborates across departments to manage key accounts. They conduct account reviews and documented account plans – which are not so much about the next project as they are about developing strategies to increase sales and wallet share, about strengthening relationships and improving service levels.
- Managing and Developing Salespeople
Sales managers in world- class sales organizations have developed highly effective coaching skills. They have moved way beyond being good salespeople themselves and are adept at guiding, encouraging, supporting and leading their sales teams. They do not hold on to knowledge to defend their power base but share it widely to help others develop.
World-class sales organizations know what makes their top performers successful and use that information to improve the performance of their sales force as a whole. They leverage best practices of top performers to improve everyone else. Top performers are valued not only for the revenue they generate, but also for what they offer to help improve other members of the sales team. Recognizing, documenting, and sharing best practices are activities that return value in quota achievement. Putting top performers into mentor roles can motivate and equip others to raise their game.
Sales managers in world-class sales organisations have a highly effective process for getting new hires to full productivity. As a result, these organizations experience faster ramp up times and increased salesperson productivity.
- Managing and Driving Implementation
Sales performance measurements in world-class sales organizations are concretely aligned with business objectives. For fire and security installers this can mean paying the sales team on gross profit sold, not on sales order value, and giving them service and maintenance as well as installation targets.
World-class sales organizations maximize the time that salespeople spend with customers and provide technology tools, strong performance measurement and in-house support to allow them to achieve this. Clear data – on results, activity and opportunity/pipeline – provide historical, current and future perspectives to hold salespeople to account for delivering high performance.
Take some time to discuss at your next sales meeting what you can learn and apply from world-class sales organizations in your own business. Why not start with one simple composite question: What share of your key customers’ fire and security spend are you winning, what could it be, what do you need to do to make that happen?