CEOs: Frustrated by Poor Sales Results?

Gain SUPERSTAR performance from solid salespeople using these FORTUNE 500 sales leadership secrets!

Many people believe that sales growth is an ART.  I disagree.  Research proves that repeatable sales growth is a SCIENCE.  Sales are consistently strong for large public companies because their sales leaders know the secrets to building scalable sales infrastructures that produce consistently strong and repeatable results.

Finding A+ salespeople is extremely difficult.  One cannot grow an organization hoping to find all A+ sales performers.  Sales superstars are too hard to find.  That process is unfortunately not scalable.

SECRET: Find the best (solid) salespeople possible and transform them into A+ Superstar performers using the three Fortune 500 sales leadership secrets listed below:

THE MOUSE AND THE MAZE: 

Everyone is familiar with this high school science experiment.  A mouse is put into a maze with a piece of cheese as his goal.  We time the mouse to see how long he takes to obtain his prize.  As we know, once the mouse finally gets to his destination (the cheese) he will then reach his goal faster on each repeated run.  Eerily, similar challenges await new sales representatives.

The Big Challenge Awaiting A New Sales Representative:

  • The “WHAT”

Most organizations are experts at sharing the “WHAT” (the goal, the “cheese”) to new sales representatives.  The sales rep’s job is to close deals.  Everyone knows it, and the rep gets it!

  • The “HOW” 

Unfortunately, research tells us that the vast majority of small business sales teams receive little instruction on “HOW” to reach their goalBecause of this, the vision of many new salespeople quickly becomes clouded.  Soon they see only a MAZE of possible paths that may or may not take them to their desired destination.  The sales rep then becomes worn down with frustration and despair.

  • The “RESULT”

Unfortunately, approximately 85% of sales reps for small businesses leave (or are terminated for cause) within their first 12 months.  If only there was a predetermined roadmap to identify a fast, repeatable pathway to “the cheese”!

SOLUTION STEP #1: “The Roadmap”

  • Fortunately, there is a roadmap for virtually every “sales maze.” Once properly constructed, it allows all sales professionals (regardless of skill level), to gain immediate traction and produce quick, consistent results.  Tenured sales leaders call this roadmap “THE SALES PROCESS.”  A “sales process” is simply a very detailed step-by-step plan (usually 5 to 7 steps).  When these steps are completed in sequence (you can’t skip step 2 and go to step 4), they direct the salesperson to their goal as efficiently and quickly as possible.  (This is something we call sales cycle velocity – a topic for another day.)
  • Let’s look at an example: Kim sells software.  Her sales leader built the organization a 6-step sales process that has “discovery” at step 2, and step 5 is “the presentation.”  If Kim bypasses steps 2, 3 and 4 and goes directly to step 5 (because she thinks the potential client is so eager to “buy”), she will likely not get the sale she was so hopeful of.  Why?
  • The importance of cadence: You see, the order (“the cadence”) of a sales process is as important as the unique steps in the process.  Bypassing steps causes problems that result in lost revenue and the collapse of “once promising deals.”  In this example, Kim did not complete her discovery process (she skipped that step).  Her presentation was therefore focused on what she “thought and assumed” the customer wanted.  She was wrong.  Because she skipped step 2 she never discovered the “true value” the customer was looking for.  The result?  Her presentation missed the mark completely and the deal collapsed.  This is why following a strong, well-thought-out sales process is so important.

SOLUTION STEP #2: “Forward Looking Indicators” 

  • KPI’s and metrics are important. Lagging indicators such as a sales rep’s percent to quarterly quota (ex: Bill finished 85% to his Q2 quota) are nice, but they don’t allow sales leadership to take action early enough to affect change.  Leading indicators on the other hand, allow sales leaders to affect a rep’s performance early enough in the game, allowing the rep and the entire sales team to achieve 100% of their quarterly quota – with consistency!
  • Let’s look at an example: Say that we know only 30% of the deals in our sales pipeline actually result in a completed sale.  And as a goal, we want each sales rep this quarter to successfully complete 30 sales.  Therefore, we know that each sales rep should start with at least 100 deals in their existing pipelines (30% of 100 = 30).  Therefore “100 deals in the pipeline” is a leading indicator to see who will likely make quota and who will likely miss quota this quarter (before the quarter ever begins).  Specifically, let’s look at Sam.  He has only 60 deals in his pipeline at the start of Q2.  Therefore, he will likely not make quota in Q2 unless immediate action is taken (he should have 100 deals in pipeline).  A sales leader, having visibility to this leading indicator early, can likely help Sam boost his pipeline to 100 deals quickly, allowing Sam an excellent shot at exceeding quota for Q2.

SOLUTION STEP #3: “Sales Leadership”

  • Sales professionals need leadership! This point is irrefutable.  Massive amounts of research support this fact – from Neal Rackham (author of SPIN Selling) to the various academics at Harvard Business School.  Discipline and accountability are critically important for sales professionals.  Without it, your organization is leaving copious amounts of money on the table.  Yet experienced sales leadership provides much more than “discipline and accountability.  An experienced sales leader will do many things, such as: (1) review your compensation plan to ensure the correct daily behaviors are being performed; (2) completing “field rides” and (3) conducting “training” with role play are also vital parts of an experienced sales leader’s skill set.  Additionally, a strong sales leader is your “architect” for creating your organization’s unique SALES PROCESS as we discussed earlier.  In fact, most Fortune 500 level sales leaders have constructed well over 100 sales processes in their tenure.  They’re pros at it!  Strong sales leaders also hold consistent weekly sales meetings – important for accountability and coaching.  I could go on and on, but in the interest of time I will stop here.
  • An Unfortunate Truth: Unfortunately, research again tells us that most organizations in the SMB space don’t have competent sales leadership.  Most current sales leaders at small/mid-size business were simply “the best sales rep at the company” and were promoted through default.  Unfortunately, the skill set of a great sales rep is very different from the skill set of a competent sales leader.

SUMMARY:

Finding superstar A+ salespeople is difficult.  It’s easier and far more scalable to transform solid sales people into sales superstars by providing them a proven roadmap for success (known as a SALES PROCESS). 

You should then use LEADING INDICATORS, to affect a salesperson’s performance early on, allowing them their best chance of consistently crossing the finish line above 100%.

Finally, remember that salespeople need leadership.  Find an EXPERIENCED SALES LEADER who will (1) establish discipline and accountability, and (2) can build a sales infrastructure that turns solid sales reps into sales superstars!

Good selling!