For many buyers contemplating a sale, sellers are almost an afterthought. Buyers look to eight other resources — including industry experts, social networks, trade shows and conferences, industry publications, peers and colleagues, vendor websites and web searches — before they consider contacting a salesperson, according to our 2021 Buyer Preferences Study. That doesn’t bode well for sales growth.

Perhaps that’s why, in part, sellers are struggling to meet their quotas. Before COVID, only 53% of sellers attained their quota, a 9% drop from 2019. However, before you dismiss the quality of your salesforce, consider what factors may be affecting their sales performance.

For many sales organizations, sales performance problems are rooted in sales methodology, sales skills and sales technology. Let’s take a closer look at all three problems and how you can solve them.

A formal sales methodology drives sales performance

A sales process defines the steps a seller should take in the sales cycle to find and close a deal. A sales methodology details the methods that help sellers carry out each step of the process. To put it simply, sales methodology answers the questions “how,” “what” and “why” behind each step of the sales process.

But too few organizations adhere to a formal sales methodology, which hampers their sales performance. This means they’re more likely to chase opportunities longer than they need to, missing the chance to craft the best possible deal and settling for easier-to-close opportunities, resulting in a loss of valuable deals to their competitors.

When sellers follow a formal sales methodology, they have a repeatable way of operating that leads to improved win rates. A methodology gives sellers tools that enable them to evaluate sales opportunities and challenges, best practices that increase their likelihood of success and strategies for navigating disruptions in a business environment.

How to implement a sales methodology to reach your sales goals

When sellers can quickly find answers for “how to”, “what” and “why” directly in their workflow, following a methodology becomes second nature. That’s why bringing a scalable sales methodology directly into your CRM can improve sales performance.

Once your sellers see how a sales methodology helps them streamline their work, create bigger and better deals and win those deals more consistently, they’ll be more inclined to follow that methodology every time.

Strategic Selling® with Perspective by Miller Heiman Group, now part of Korn Ferry, is the go-to sales methodology for companies around the world when it comes to handling complex sales opportunities. This sales methodology makes managing multiple decision-makers simpler. It uses the sales industry’s iconic Blue Sheet to help your sellers identify their position with the buyer before determining the best course of action.

Technology can also take sales methodology to the next level. When you connect methodology with an AI-powered CRM, you can amplify sales performance. An intelligence-fueled CRM can cue sellers to take optimal action with every outcome they report to the system, causing a ripple effect that improves sales performance.

Strengthening sales skills improves sales performance

Sales organizations are right to be concerned about talent gaps. In addition to buyers’ preference for other resources as they plan sales, the 2020-2021 Sales Performance Study showed that just 20% of sellers are responsible for 62.5% of sales.

To drive sales performance in this new era of customer expectations, sellers need training and tools that elevate their sales skills in a way that drives smarter actions and stronger outcomes. Moreover, when sales organizations commit to developing their sellers, they improve seller retention.

A key skill for sales organizations to develop in sellers is their ability to deliver perspective. Perspective includes insights and education to help buyers reframe their thinking and see business problems in a new light. It also builds seller credibility so they can engage with different buying influences.

When sellers master a perspective-fueled sales methodology, like Strategic Selling® with Perspective, they achieve higher quota attainment and win rates than sellers who don’t, according to our 2018–2019 Sales Performance Study — differentiating themselves from their competition.

How to develop sales skills

Sales organizations can develop their sellers in three key ways: assessing talent to understand the gaps that need to be filled in order to reach potential, determining the winning behaviors that contribute to deal wins and implementing a formal coaching program.

A talent assessment can show where sellers have undeveloped potential, whether that’s the ability to take on major accounts or lead a sales team. It can also unearth what behaviors drive your top sellers’ success. Predictive analytics built into your CRM can indicate which seller actions lead to wins and losses, allowing you to choose the behaviors that you want to replicate across your sales team.

With this information, you can develop individualized learning plans for each seller. Then you can follow up training with individualized coaching. Sales organizations with effective sales coaching programs had a 24% higher quota attainment rate than their peers, according to our 2020 Sales Management Study.

7 ways to transform your sales organization

Sales organizations must rethink their processes and accelerate change

The right sales technology accelerates sales performance

Technology plays a critical role in shortening sales cycles and increasing win rates. But technology isn’t the entire solution - it can’t replace a sound sales methodology. Rather, it’s a complement to sales methodology.

Take, for instance, the fact that almost all sales organizations use a CRM. However, most sales leaders don’t think their CRM is effective. And even fewer sellers believe their CRM enhances their productivity. That leads sales organizations to adopt even more technology.

Most sales organizations already use 10 tools and plan to add four more. But throwing more tools at the problem doesn’t help boost sales performance. It often just adds more tedious administrative work for your sellers, who are already strapped to find enough selling time. When they don’t have time to invest in technology, that means the output of the tech has little, if any, value for improving sales, resulting in a “garbage in, garbage out” situation.

How to improve your sales organization’s tech stack

The answer to stronger sales performance isn’t more technology. It’s smarter technology. That means sales technology that’s capable of not just storing your data but also analyzing it.

When sales organizations add an insight-driven sales methodology into their CRM, predictive analytics enable sellers to see what methodology-backed actions will lead to more wins, bigger deals and faster sales cycles. Analytics tools help sellers deliver perspective at the right time to the most receptive buying influence. Sellers can also prioritize deals appropriately, plan their daily activities more effectively and improve their time management.

But this technology benefits sales managers and leaders as well. Sales managers can use the customer-focused data generated through analytics to give more actionable coaching advice, guiding the actions of sales reps to improve win rates. Sales leaders can measure the efficacy of their sales methodology and process and refine it to yield even better results.

Want more information on how to improve your tech stack? Contact us today.

Assess your organization’s sales performance in 10 minutes 

Think your organization’s sales performance is strong? Put it to the test with the Korn Ferry Sales Performance Meter. Our Sales Performance Meter uses data from our World-Class Sales Practices Study and more than 2,000 sales organizations to generate your results. 

In just 10 minutes, this diagnostic tool can tell you where you’re performing well and where you can improve. You’ll get a detailed report emailed to you with recommendations and suggestions for transforming your sales organization. 

Download our eBook and check out the Sales Performance Meter today. 

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