Managing Sales Behaviors to Improve Sales Performance
When sales teams don't meet their sales targets, managers usually look at the sales outcomes to figure out what went wrong. However, instead of just looking at the results, managers can be more proactive by focusing on early indicators and the specific sales behaviors that lead to success. This allows them to work together with their teams to improve sales. Let's explore some effective strategies and skills that can help achieve this.
Behaviors vs. Results
While sales organizations are evaluated on results, an analysis of results itself will not improve future performance unless managers identify specific behaviors that impact the results.
A good analogy that demonstrates this point is weight loss. Someone who wants to lose weight cannot simply get on a scale daily and record their weight. While there is likely to be some fluctuation, the results are not meaningful unless they take specific behaviors (e.g., modified diet, exercise) that promote weight loss.
Going back to improving sales results, sales organizations need to carefully think through the key results they want to monitor and then determine what behaviors will drive those results. The key distinction is that results (lagging indicators) can only be monitored, whereas behaviors (leading indicators) can be monitored and managed.
Connecting Results with Behaviors
Sales managers can learn how to improve sales performance by aligning sales behaviors with results.
As an example, a manager might consider a plan that includes the following behaviors to support a new customer acquisition goal.
#1 Developing a Territory Plan that includes a Comprehensive List of Prospective Customers
To drive new customer acquisition, sales teams should develop a territory plan with a comprehensive list of prospective customers.
This plan outlines each salesperson's specific geographic area or market segment and provides a roadmap for targeting potential customers. By identifying and prioritizing prospects within their territory, salespeople can focus on the most promising opportunities.
#2 Creating Account Plans that Map the Key Decision-Makers and Influencers
Another critical behavior that leads to successful customer acquisition is the creation of account plans which includes mapping out the key decision-makers and influencers within target accounts.
By understanding the organizational structure and identifying the individuals with the authority to influence and make buying decisions, salespeople can tailor their approach and effectively engage with the right stakeholders.
#3 Setting First-Time Meetings with Prospective Customers
By proactively reaching out to potential customers, salespeople can initiate the sales process.
Initial meetings provide an opportunity to understand customer needs, demonstrate value, and lay the foundation for building long-term relationships. Setting first-time meetings increases the chances of converting prospects into customers and growing the sales pipeline.
#4 Adding New Opportunities to the Sales Pipeline
Salespeople should actively identify and qualify new opportunities. By continuously adding new opportunities to the sales pipeline sales reps help ensure a healthy and sustainable flow of new business.
An essential aspect of this exercise is limiting the key results you want to monitor, so that you can focus on a manageable number of behaviors.
For example, if a sales organization decided to monitor 10 results, it could lead to as many as 40 behaviors (assuming four behaviors align with each result) that managers would need to monitor and manage.
From a practical standpoint, it is best to focus on 2-3 most important results and then manage the corresponding 8-12 behaviors that drive those results.
Managing a High Performing Team
Creating a high-performing sales team is a top priority for sales managers. By effectively managing sales behaviors, you can consistently drive your team to achieve great results.
Here are four key steps to help you manage a high-performing team.
#1 Communicate Performance Expectations
To set your team up for success, clearly communicating your performance expectations is crucial.
For example, if the desired result is customer acquisition, clearly state the number of new customers you expect each salesperson to acquire within a given timeframe. By establishing clear performance expectations, you provide your team with a clear direction and focus.
#2 Monitor and Manage Specific Behaviors
It is essential to monitor and manage specific behaviors (leading indicators) that impact future performance.
For instance, in the case of new customer acquisition, the key behaviors may include developing a territory plan, creating account plans, setting first-time meetings with prospective customers, and adding new opportunities to the sales pipeline.
Regularly observe and assess whether your team members exhibit these desired behaviors and provide guidance and support to help them improve.
#3 Monitor Results
Monitoring results is essential to track progress and identify areas for improvement.
You can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of your team's efforts by using metrics and analytics from your CRM system. However, remember that results are lagging indicators as they reflect past performance.
While monitoring results is important, focus more on the leading indicators - the behaviors that drive those results. This proactive approach allows you to make timely adjustments and address performance gaps.
#4 Provide Regular Feedback
Ongoing feedback is a critical component of managing sales behaviors. Regularly provide feedback to your team members, acknowledging their achievements and encouraging them based on attaining key behaviors. Celebrate milestones and successes, reinforcing the desired behaviors.
By providing regular feedback, you keep your team motivated, accountable, and on track toward achieving their goals.
Tracking sales behaviors is a powerful strategy for managing sales performance. By aligning behaviors with outcomes, sales managers can effectively lead their teams to success.
To effectively manage sales behaviors, there are four key steps to follow. First, communicate clear performance expectations to set your team up for success. Second, closely monitor and manage the behaviors that lead to the desired results. Third, while monitoring results is important, focus on the leading indicators - the behaviors. Finally, provide regular feedback to your team, recognizing their achievements and reinforcing the desired behaviors.
Keep in mind that while CRM systems allow us to capture an exponential number of metrics, it is more practical and effective to focus on 2-3 key results and the corresponding 8-12 behaviors that impact those results. This approach allows you to clearly communicate expectations and provide regular feedback on those activities that matter most to your sales organization.
💬 Join the Conversation
What have you done to ensure your sales team is always getting good results? Share your tips and experiences here.
About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is a Managing Director at the Sales Readiness Group, A Part of SBI. He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications, including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.