At the end of the year, it’s natural for sales leaders to reflect on this year’s progress and think about how to achieve next year’s goals. Remember, you are only as good as your previous quarter.
Business leaders and CEOs are going to start setting sales and revenue goals for the new year. This means now is the time to fight for budget and initiatives and outline smart strategic plans for achieving new objectives and targets.
In order to do this, it’s useful to know what sales leaders are focusing on. What are some of the highest priorities for them, and what can be done to achieve those aims?
RAIN Group Center for Sales Research interviewed over 420 sales leaders, sales enablement managers, and CEOs to find out. Here is what they discovered are considered top priorities amongst sales leaders looking ahead to the new year:
- Improve how we communicate value
- Improve sales team productivity
- #Generate more from account management
- Increase activity in the top and middle of the sales funnel
- Improve the effectiveness of sales managers and coaching
- Win more market share
- Make the sales process more efficient
Now, from the top 10 uncovered in the research, we are focusing on 7 key priorities in this blog and looking into how companies can implement these goals.
#1: Improve how we communicate value
Communicating value is a difficult one, across so many sectors.
Do you know if you are doing this well?
Do you think it holds your sales team back? Do potential clients adequately understand what you are offering and why they need this product/service?
If not, then now is the time to do something about this. Correct this problem now. Either work with an internal marketing team, or bring external experts on board. Start with the messaging and brand values.
Go over every piece of marketing and sales content that is used in the growth funnel, and if there are inconsistencies or areas where clarity is lacking, then make sure a communications exercise gets the right message across that helps a sales team increase the conversion rate.
#2: Improve sales team productivity
Productivity is another massive challenge for every sales leader.
Are your team doing enough?
Are they making enough calls? Sending enough emails and messages? Ultimately, are they doing enough meetings and demos with the right accounts and prospects to convert enough of them and hit sales and revenue goals?
Every sales leader should have access to the right data. The challenge is interpreting that data. Another challenge is getting an accurate understanding of the state of the pipeline. Looking at everything through rose-tinted glasses isn’t much use when a team misses the last quarter’s target and you need to explain it to senior managers.
How well a team does all starts with the outputs. The activity. A team or individual salespeople who aren’t active enough aren’t going to hit targets.
#3: Generate more from account management
Account management is one of the most effective ways to maintain or increase revenue.
Keep your customers spending. It should be a simple equation: Keep your customers happy, encourage them to increase spend, which means not having to work quite as hard to win new customers. Also, happier customers refer others, making your revenue model more efficient.
#4: Increase activity in the top and middle of the sales funnel
At the same time, if you aren’t getting enough into the funnel, now is the time to increase activity.
Deals take time. Depending on your sales cycle, of course. Deal value, and a whole range of factors influence the time any particular sale can take. From initial contact — whether inbound or outbound (although inbound contact usually takes less time) — to closing, you could be looking at weeks or months. So, getting more in the top of the funnel and nurturing them through the middle is the best way to increase the overall chance of hitting sales targets.
#5: Improve the effectiveness of sales managers and coaching
Effective sales managers and coaches get better results from their teams.
It isn’t only about a sales manager spending time with individual team members. That style of coaching is always massively successful. Yes, a skilled manager should be able to share their experience.
However, what you need is a manager who listens and asks the right questions, and then adapts their experience for the skills and talents of sales team members to come up with solutions for problems they are having. In many ways, a manager or coach needs to apply the same approach to salespeople as they would with clients: Listen, Diagnose, and Solve Problems, with actionable solutions.
A sales manager or independent coach/trainer who comes into a business should be able to identify and solve problems and challenges that team members are having, instead of relying on a story-telling based methodology of how they would work through a particular deal.
#6: Win more market share
If you start succeeding with more of the fundamentals, this is going to happen naturally. Continued wins will naturally take market share away from competitors, making it easier to accelerate that growth in the months and years ahead.
#7: Make the sales process more efficient
Again, this comes down to generating repeatable and scalable success. As processes get more efficient, win rates are going to increase. As a sales leader, you can spend more time doing what generates maximum impact, thereby giving your team what they need to make more of an impact.