Sales Effectiveness: 3 Characteristics of Successful Teams
As I reflect on this past year and our work with clients, I’ve found three consistent characteristics within top performing sales teams. First, their sales professionals add value throughout the sales process by engaging in meaningful sales conversations with their customers. Second, their sales teams have the selling skills to effectively sell and present value to their customers. Third, their frontline managers are skilled coaches who provide constructive feedback to help their teams achieve their full potential.
Let’s look at each one of these characteristics in more detail.
1. Improving the Quality of Sales Conversations (watch video):
Over the past few years there has been a dramatic shift in power between buyers and sellers as the web enabled buyers are no longer reliant on sellers for information. In many cases, buyers are in the middle of their purchase process before they even speak to a salesperson.
Given this reality, sales professionals need to have the skills to improve the quality of sales conversations they are having with their customers and help their customers solve business problem. This mean doing better research prior to making calls, developing focused call objectives, asking the right questions, presenting well thought out solutions that closely align to the customers’ needs. Sellers who can successfully execute these skills will thrive in this new environment. Unfortunately, many sales professionals are still focused on their “sales pitches” as opposed to understanding their customers’ needs and customizing their message to align with the actual priorities.
This blog post by Peter Ostrow, Vice President & Research Director of the Aberdeen Group, does a great job of describing how sales professionals can elevate their sales conversations.
2. Selling Value as Opposed to Price (watch video):
While many sales professionals talk about selling value, few know how to do it. That’s unfortunate since successfully identifying, quantifying, and presenting value to a buyer is a highly effective way to off-set pricing pressure. Selling value involves developing a clear understanding of the benefits your solutions provide to your customer, as well as the associated costs. This includes identifying what is important to various constituents (end users, managers, key stakeholders, and decision makers), and, to the extent possible, quantifying that value. As an example, reliability is typically valued by all constituents but many sales professionals do not take the time to quantify what reliability means in terms of value to the customer.
Selling on value takes effort and persistence by the sales professional since they have to look holistically at the customer’s business. Sales professionals also have to be cognizant of total cost since there are many drivers besides price (e.g., training and implementation costs) that can influence a customer’s purchase decision. Ultimately, value comes down to the total benefits (both tangible and intangible) you offer less the total costs your customer will incur in purchasing, implementing and operating your solution. In order to sell value, sales professionals need specific skills, including systematically analyzing the customer’s business, understanding the priorities of multiple stakeholders in an organization, and effectively presenting value to your customer.
3. Better Sales Coaching (watch video):
Most sales managers are promoted from the sales ranks and, as such, are proficient at selling but have little insight how to coach their sales representatives. Sales Coaching, properly executed, can have a profound impact on sales success. In fact, CSO Insights found in their 2013 Sales Management Performance Optimization Study that companies with sales coaching skills that “exceed expectations” have much higher overall revenue plan attainment than companies whose coaching skills “meet expectations” (97% vs. 87%) or “need improvement” (93% vs. 83%). High performance sales coaching involves learning how to create a coaching culture, assess skill gaps, develop coaching plans, observe calls, and follow a consistent sales coaching process.
Best wishes for a happy and successful New Year!