Hitting growth targets requires a consistency and predictability that most sales teams fail to manage. In the top 22 percent of companies, business development managers are consistent and predictable when it comes to hitting target.
In order to achieve this, strategy and execution are acted on in unison. When emerging best practices are deployed as part of this, strategy and execution are balanced, and consequently, sales leaders are more successful.
Either when too much focus is placed on strategy or execution without strategy, CEOs often fail to hit revenue targets. Both are needed, with a clear balance between strategy and execution to ensure revenue goals are achieved. Applying learnings from emerging best practices are one of the ways that sales leaders and CEOs can achieve this.
What are emerging best practices in sales?
New technology, new training techniques and new ideas are all examples of emerging best practices. Applying these within a sales team improves consistency and predictability, thereby increasing the chances that a team can create and execute a sales strategy more effectively.
Emerging best practices can either be internal or external, or a savvy combination of both. It pays to listen to internal and external signals, such as those on your team who consistently perform better than others. Empower them to train others. Maybe they use techniques your average salesperson doesn’t: it makes sense to empower top-performing team members to encourage and train others. This is one example of applying an emerging best practice, as is the use of the right technology solutions to improve sales outcomes.
How to implement emerging best practices?
Take technology, for example; sales teams need new ways to engage with potential prospects more effectively and quicker than traditional approaches.
One way is to use screen sharing tools and apps to engage sales leads in live online demos. Instead of scheduling an appointment in the future, when a prospect might not be as interested, or might have found another solution, your sales teams can implement an instant live demo, without the prospect needing to download software.
Another emerging best practice is to give a sales lead an element of remote control during a product demo, for example using CrankWheel. It is a useful feature when selling software services. This way, your prospects get to experience a product they’re interested in before committing to a budget or starting a trial period.
Social selling is another strategy that sales professionals can use. Although no longer an ‘emerging’ best practice, it is another way to shorten the sales cycle. You need your team to constantly stay on the radar of potential buyers. Phone calls still have the highest response rate, albeit one that requires more persistence to get through to the right person.
Other ways to stay on the radar of potential buyers include social media (private messages and public sharing of content, commenting, etc.), email and even text messages. The aim is always the same: Get a response, move a sales lead forward in the pipeline, encourage a purchasing decision. Sales leaders need to ensure information is being recorded and projections are accurate, to avoid weak forecasts that can make boards question whether a sales leader can deliver the results they need consistently.
When it comes to creating or implementing a new strategy, sales leaders would benefit from more accountability and input. Strategies that result in a successful implementation are more effective when the team can make valuable inputs.
Create a collaborative document or workflow using a project management tool that includes the necessary elements of a new strategy - task, owner, date, dependency, and what phase the relevant tasks are at. Adapt as necessary to pull back from failing strategy elements while giving you the ability to spend more time and energy on areas where success is more apparent.
How to make sales more predictable?
Once a new strategy is ready, it all comes down to the execution. An excellent strategy will fail if the execution is poor. And a poor strategy executed well is going to get results, but they won’t be as impactful as a strategy that has more thought behind it.
Training and coaching is an important part of the execution process. Sales teams are similar to athletes: they never stop learning and there are always things that can be improved. Training and coaching gives them the means to achieve improved predictability. Within every sales team, there are often team members who are ahead of others. They always hit or exceed target. They earn the highest rates of commission and in many cases are carrying poorer performers.
Take a closer look at how your top performers consistently outperform everyone else. Invest in training them to train others. Give them the tools and skills to coach the team, and use external coaches to support implementation. Make the whole process scaleable and therefore repeatable. Revenue should never be uncertain, not when a strategy and best practices exist that can make it consistent and predictable.