Whether you're a startup or a large corporation, improving sales performance is key to driving revenue, expanding your customer base, and fighting the competition in the market. However, achieving consistent sales growth can be a challenge. In this article, we share tried and trusted best practices that can help improve your sales team's performance.
Let’s get right to it.
Here are eight practical approaches you can take to boost sales performance.
1. Identify sales performance benchmarks and set business-aligned goals/metrics
'You can’t improve what you can’t measure' is more than a cliche in the sales world. Measuring and setting goals for sales performance is the first step to improving it.
- Identify the metrics that are most important to your business and align sales performance goals to them. According to CSO Insights, companies that align their sales goals with their overall business objectives experience a 24% increase in win rates compared to those that don't.
- Analyze existing data to create performance benchmarks for the team and individual sales reps.
- Ensure that sales KPIs have a combination of targets for customer acquisition or new business, total revenues, and retention.
You might also like: 10 Metrics to Consider when Analyzing Sales Performance
2. Standardize and document your sales process
Standardize and streamline your sales process as far as possible. Documenting your process and templatizing the resources needed at each stage are the best ways to do this.
According to a study by Aberdeen Group, companies with a documented sales plan experience 27% higher win rates and 18% faster sales cycles than those without one. Create a detailed sales plan document that captures the
- Goals and benchmarks for sales performance
- Target audience (and ways to customize the sales approach for different customer types)
- Sales processes/activities, playbooks, and templates for each stage of the sales journey
- Best practice documents and videos
- Available tools and resources for each stage
3. Invest in sales coaching
Sales coaching is one of the investments with the maximum ROI on sales performance. The benefits of sales coaching are well known. It can improve win rates by 28%, quota attainment by 10%, and revenue plan attainment by 15%.
To implement a successful sales coaching program,
- Set clear coaching objectives,
- Make time for one-on-one sessions
- Provide personalized and data-backed feedback to sales reps
- Leverage peer coaching to improve performance and support sales managers
If you’re looking to get started with sales coaching, conversation intelligence tools are a useful investment. They help managers by analyzing sales reps’ performance and providing targeted coaching recommendations.
Check out: 12 sales coaching tools to consider in 2023
4. Leverage purpose-built tools for sales teams
Today, there are tools designed to optimize and simplify every aspect of the sales process – whether it is forecasting, capturing insights from customer conversations, following up with customers, or capturing and analyzing data.
The best place to start is using technology for automating manual and repetitive tasks in the sales cycle.
Up to 30% of sales-related activities can be automated, as per a McKinsey study.
Here are just some of the ways that sales technology solutions can help:
- Capturing notes and action points from sales meetings
- Following up on sales conversations
- Analyzing trends and surfacing market, revenue, and performance insights
- Developing personalized coaching plans for sales reps.
5. Develop a sales performance review/management plan
The impact of sales performance reviews depends greatly on their frequency. Companies with quarterly sales performance goals achieve 31% higher returns on the process, than those that set annual goals.
Though annual performance reviews are the norm, your sales team will benefit from monthly or quarterly sessions. Frequent reviews give you a pulse of your sales performance and identify issues or ineffective activities/processes/habits before they become ingrained.
For it to be effective, sales performance reviews should focus on
- Evaluation/reflection and future improvement
- Individual sales reps, as well as the sales function itself
Set aside time in every sales performance review to
- Review your metrics, individual/team goals,
- Evaluate/review the pipeline, and existing activities/processes, as well as
- Share feedback and goals for the next phase.
With this balanced approach, you look beyond just quota achievement, and take an active role in improving existing systems, identifying issues, and providing timely feedback – ensuring better team morale and transparency.
Recommended reading: What Should a Sales Performance Review Include?
6. Improve your sales messaging by using the Voice of the Customer
Improving sales messaging is crucial to attract and retain customers – and improve sales performance.
Over 60% of buyers want to see a business’s message aligned with their needs and pain points. Use language that speaks directly to your customers' needs and pain points, highlighting benefits that are important to them, and avoiding technical jargon.
One of the most effective ways to improve sales messaging is by using the Voice of the Customer (VoC) approach.
While surveys, customer interviews, and online reviews are common ways to do this, you could also leverage meeting/conversation intelligence tools like MeetRecord to record and analyze all customer-facing conversations.
71% of consumers expect personalized interactions from companies. Use the VoC approach to tailor and personalize your sales messaging.
But remember that that’s just the start – you need to test and iterate your messaging over time, and monitor how your messaging is resonating with customers.
7. Create a referral program to leverage existing customers.
With 92% of consumers trusting recommendations from people they know, referral programs can be a powerful tool to increase customer acquisition and revenue.
Building a referral program is a low-effort, high-returns way for you to use existing customers to build a referral network and a customer community.
Here’s a 4-step approach to doing this:
- Start by identifying your most loyal customers.
- Define the program incentives. This can be anything from discounts to exclusive offers or even cash rewards.
- Create a simple and easy-to-use referral process for your customers. This can include a referral link, email template, or social media sharing options.
- Promote the referral program across your marketing channels, include it in your sales and marketing collateral, and ensure that sales reps bring it up in meetings.
8. Foster a culture that enables engagement, recognition, and learning/growth
Sales is tough, competitive, and often lonely. Build a culture where individuals feel engaged, encouraged, and supported.
- Use gamification to drive engagement: Create a sales leaderboard, and conduct monthly contests. A good way to involve the whole team is by switching up the contests regularly to ensure different winning criteria each month. For instance, you could have monthly contests that challenge sales reps to compete on various metrics such as sales skill improvement, cycle length, meetings booked, and meeting efficiency.
- Celebrate successes: Recognize and celebrate the successes of your sales team. Research has shown that employees who feel appreciated and recognized for their work are more likely to be motivated to perform at a higher level.
Here are a few easy ways to do this:
- Publicly acknowledging and recognizing the achievements of sales reps in meetings
Sending personalized messages of appreciation, or providing incentives for top performers.
To enable faster growth and learning,
- Embrace new technologies that can help your sales team work more efficiently and effectively.
- Encourage sales reps to attend conferences or external coaching programs that can help them grow professionally.
Over to you
Ultimately, improving sales performance requires a commitment to excellence and a willingness to take risks.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sales performance – or even improving it. It’s a journey that needs you to be proactive and adaptable. You need to experiment and adjust their sales strategies based on their unique needs and challenges.
We hope the tips in this article help you create a sales environment focused on achieving results, embracing innovation, and always improving.