In our last post, we started our deep dive into the best practices correlated with selling success in leading sales organizations, as identified in the “All That Glitters Is Not Gold: 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study.” In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the how performance-support practices, including sales management, sales operations and sales enablement, can help customer-facing sales professionals engage customers more efficiently and effectively.
The study identified five performance-support practices that most correlate with sales success:
- Sales management, operations and enablement are effectively aligned.
- Our culture supports continuous development of customer-facing professionals.
- Our sales managers effectively coach salespeople to higher levels of performance.
- We have a rigorous forecasting process that drives forecast accuracy.
- We effectively use call planning tools to prepare for customer interactions.
Answering two key questions can help you assess your organizations’ current state and optimize these practices to set up your business for success.
- Where Are Your Sellers and Managers Spending Their Time?
Sellers need to sell, and managers need to manage sellers. But according to the CSO Insights 2018-2019 Sales Performance Report, sellers have inefficient internal operations: less than a third of a seller’s time is spent on selling. Instead, they’re spending a ton of time on administrative tasks, such as inputting data into CRMs that often aren’t as effective as they could be.
Meanwhile, sales managers are spending twice as much time on internal work as they do on coaching. But sales coaching, when implemented properly, can lead to significantly higher deal win rates. So why are 60% of organizations following an informal coaching process, if they follow one at all?
All too often, sales managers haven’t had formal training in how to manage and they may lack time and guidance. To encourage managers to set aside time for coaching, which will cascade down into making more time for sellers to sell, set a global definition of coaching for your organization. Help them understand that with coaching, managers aren’t just trying to help their sellers win deals; they’re striving to develop their sales team’s full potential.
Attaining buy-in from senior executives can also promote the value of sales coaching in your organization. To show the value of coaching to executives, use the extensive data available at CSO Insights to build your business case, and supplement it with additional activities such as feedback from customers and sellers, coaching success stories, examples of failed selling efforts (including recorded failed calls) and role-play exercises.
Once your sellers and managers devote more of their time to selling and coaching, you’ll not only find your sales teams more productive, but you’ll also be able to attain the same results with a smaller headcount if you’re forced to reduce capacity down the road.
- What Budget and Tools Do You Need to Support Coaching and Sales Enablement?
Building a culture that supports continuous development means justifying and budgeting for sales enablement and ongoing sales coaching. Now, while the market is soaring, is the time to put a plan in place and advocate for the tools you need, including coaching, technology that can facilitate forecasting and effective call planning.
If you use informal coaching processes, consider instituting a formal coaching process that consists of coaching guidelines, tools and an approach to measure success. A program like Professional Sales Coaching can equip sales managers with the skills and framework they need to lead their teams to greater results and build stronger customer relationships.
Although most organizations have a forecasting process, few find it meets all of their needs. The key to success is a formal, structured forecasting review process: by implementing one instead of a random or subjective approach, win rates can surge by 25%, according to the CSO Insights Sales Operations Optimization Report. Adding a tool powered by artificial intelligence like Scout can take your forecasting process to the next level, generating predictive data that helps you assess the health of a sales opportunity, so you aren’t relying solely on subjective or historical data—which can be the equivalent of reading tea leaves.
Finally, sellers spend almost 20% of their time on call planning, versus actually making them. Using call-planning tools and following the right methodology can help convert that preparation time to productive selling time. The right call-planning tool for your organization, such as the Green Sheet used in Conceptual Selling, depends on your current state and your projected needs. You might invest in a data-driven solution like Scout that records and analyzes calls to determine the attributes that lead to closing the deal, whether that’s certain keywords or the positioning that a salesperson uses. Be sure the tool integrates seamlessly with your other workflows and technologies.
Invest Now, Before the Downturn
Take stock of what you need and make the case for investment in sales coaching and technology now. Transforming your sales processes, instilling sound coaching practices and investing in technology to achieve results will yield meaningful returns in the next year as well as when an economic downturn hits.
To discover more sales transformation activities that can help insulate your organization from a financial decline, download “All That Glitters Is Not Gold: Key Findings From the CSO Insights 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study.” And watch for our next blog, where we’ll cover the third and final pillar of a world-class customer experience: strategy alignment.