I’m frequently asked what the most important factor is in building and leading a high-performance sales team. Based on my experience, I believe the answer is AGILITY. Agility is defined as the ability to move quickly and easily; nimbleness. Over the past few years, we have witnessed a number of blue-chip companies that have lost their way – due in large part to their lack of agility to adapt and change in face of new competition and a shifting marketplace. Sears, Kodak, Toys”R”Us and Blockbuster Video, to name a few, are all recent examples.
So how do companies stay agile when it comes to their selling strategy and methodology? How do they utilize performance management to drive the desired behaviors and results from their sales team? How do they hire and develop the right talent to help their company win in the arena?
At Sales Xceleration, we have worked with thousands of companies across every industry. Here are the common traits and characteristics we have seen from companies with high Sales Agility:
- They set sales objectives each year based on their pipeline and the metrics they have established. Begin with the end in mind, if your goal is to grow revenue by 25% then you have to have measurable sales metrics and a robust pipeline of winnable prospects to help you achieve it.
- Their sales reps have assigned goals and consistently meet them. Meeting sales goals occasionally is not a winning strategy if you’re looking to grow your business. There is a scoreboard in sports and you need one in sales, too.
- The total compensation for their sales team is the right mix between base salary and variable (bonus). What is your sales strategy? Retain existing customers? Prospect for new customers? A combination of both? You have to adjust the mix of base salary vs. variable compensation based on your sales strategy. Paying a high base salary for a sales rep who is primarily hunting for new business is a bad idea.
- They have a documented sales process that is followed at all times. To paraphrase from Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will do.” Plan your work and work your plan.
- They utilize a CRM system to collect and utilize customer and prospect intelligence. Knowledge is Power! Thought for the day … what happens when your top sales rep quits and there isn’t any customer information left behind? Not good!
- Their salespeople can easily articulate the company’s value proposition, and the company’s website and sales collateral supports the same messaging. Keep it simple so that your sales team can competently and confidently articulate your value proposition in the marketplace.
- They have and utilize a dashboard that depicts sales performance vs. expectations. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
- They hire and retain the right sales reps and leaders to achieve and sustain consistent growth. It’s all about people and culture. You can attract and retain the best and brightest with the right culture. Apple is a great example.
- They have a documented process with clear expectations and consequences for lack of performance. Inspect what you expect and hold people accountable for the desired results. They will respect you for it.
So, how agile is your sales team? If you’re curious to find out, I encourage you to take our 10-question Sales Agility Assessment. It’s free, and you will receive back a comprehensive scorecard.