Elevate sales performance with these 12 sales practices
The last two years have left their mark on sales. From COVID-19 and remote work to social justice movements and the Great Resignation, sales organizations have had to shuffle their priorities. And, in doing so, one of the things that stands out most is the impact all of these disruptions have on sales organizations’ most valuable resource: their people.
That’s why it’s not surprising that when we surveyed 1,100 leaders at global sales organizations to identify the key sales practices that lead to success, every practice identified ties back to people.
Sales organizations that invest in and develop their people, give them the tools and coaching needed to excel in their role, and create cultures, processes, and structures that support their growth thrive. Those are the 6% of sales organizations globally that stand out as world-class.
Our latest research project, the 2021 World-Class Sales Practices Study, emphasizes that the factors that drive success come down to the basic premise that stronger sellers close more deals. And those stronger sellers are backed by the people, process, technology, and culture that help them succeed.
The 12 sales practices that drive sales performance
The 2021 World-Class Sales Practices Study analyzed more than 60 sales practices, cutting them down to the top 12 practices that differentiate world-class sales organizations. These are the practices that differentiated the leaders from the rest.
1. Plan sales calls efficiently
Sellers spend 20% of their time planning calls and only 30% of their time actually selling. That means sellers have little time to waste, and they need to make the time they do spend planning calls as efficient as possible. Call planning tools solve this problem — that is, if they integrate with your workflows and technology and if you offer the right training and coaching to help your sellers use them.
2. Tailor solutions to your buyers
Buyers want sellers who understand them and their business. That means sellers can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach with their sales, and they have to avoid sales tactics. They have to invest time in learning about their buying influences and delivering perspective. A consistent sales methodology can help if it’s aligned with your buyer’s journey.
3. Set a clear, measurable talent strategy
Sales organizations worry about whether they have the right people to help them succeed in the future. Establishing a formal talent strategy helps organizations identify the capacities, competencies, and capabilities they need to succeed in the future. When sales organizations forecast their future needs, they’re better able to hire and develop talent to help them achieve their future vision.
4. Make internal hiring a formal process
Internal hires are known quantities. That makes it easy for sales leaders to simply promote people based on their gut feeling. A data-fueled assessment process can ensure you’re developing the right talent for future roles and making smarter hiring decisions.
5. Determine what “good” looks like
In many sales organizations, sellers are deemed “good” if they hit their sales and revenue quotas. But those numbers can be misleading. A talent assessment can identify the traits, drivers, and behaviors that lead top performers to excel so you can replicate their success, using them to inform your job profiles and create personalized learning journeys.
6. Build a more diverse and inclusive sales culture
Diverse, inclusive sales organizations outperform their peers. You can’t develop a more inclusive organization overnight, but you can create a foundation with values and goals that you execute on with processes and training. Work to eliminate subjective processes and build a pipeline of future talent using assessments and individualized development plans.
7. Turn your sales data into an asset
The average sales organization uses 10 technologies, but most don’t follow data hygiene best practices. That means they aren’t maximizing the value of your data. When you have a data strategy that assigns ownership for your data and you follow through with a framework that defines what data you store, how you store it, and how you cleanse it, your data will give you new insights that can accelerate your sales.
8. Improve sales forecasting with a rigorous process
Forecasting processes are often informal or too complex. That’s why fewer than 20% of sales organizations have forecast accuracy of 75% or greater. To improve accuracy, you’ll need to convince sellers to move away from subjective evaluations of deals and coach them on how they can use technology and process to improve their opportunity reviews and choose the right sales techniques.
9. Formalize sales coaching
In many sales organizations, coaching is an informal, ad hoc process that focuses on helping sellers close individual opportunities. When coaching is formally defined, with a clear process to follow and a schedule, managers coach sellers on sales methods more effectively.
10. Measure and predict sales performance with analytics
Advanced sales analytics tools deliver high-quality insights. If you’ve implemented a data governance strategy and high-quality data, analytics tools can show you what actions to take to move a deal through your pipeline. Analytics can identify patterns in deals, highlight seller patterns that need coaching, and show you how to replicate successful selling behaviors across your salesforce.
11. Align sales management, operations and enablement
These three functions often operate independently. When you create formal ways to encourage these groups to work together, such as by scheduling regular opportunities for cooperation and dialogue, you’ll start building trust and cooperation — and you’ll see the impact in your sales results.
12. Align sales, marketing and customer service
If these teams are siloed in your organization, it’s time to find ways to unite them. Start with the one premise they have in common: supporting your buyer. From there, work to set up clear collaboration paths, such as sharing data and regular check-ins.
How to move your organization toward world-class status
To learn more about the 12 world-class sales practices and how you can activate them in your own organization, download the 2021 World-Class Sales Practices Study.
After you’ve reviewed the full slate of practices, we recommend that you choose one or two of the sales practices that will have the greatest impact on your organization. It might be a practice that’s causing you pain, one that will yield the greatest payoff, or one that will be the easiest to tackle first so you can build momentum.
It can be difficult to decide where to start. That’s where we come in. Our consultants can recommend which sales practices will position your organization for world-class status. Reach out today to start your journey toward sales transformation.