Crushed Your Number Last Year? Here's What You Should Do Now
Categories: Sales Transformation
Many of you had a killer year, despite its challenges. It may have been the best you’ve ever had as a sales organization and company. However, with any success, comes new challenges. Can you repeat the same success next year? How are you preparing to ensure the growth your sales organization has achieved doesn't stagnate?
As a sales leader, this recent success coming off a good year or strong sales initiative may mean you have the opportunity to further invest in your people, build on what was accomplished and continue to accelerate growth. As you work to become an elite sales organization, the stakes will get higher and the room for error will diminish. Moving into the expansion stage of business growth will undoubtedly amplify any existing sales execution challenges within your organization and make it more difficult to implement scalable solutions to course-correct and sustain success.
One of the benefits of success is often additional resources to invest. Commit to improving your sales organization’s ability to execute. Create more discipline around the key areas of sales effectiveness. Prioritize your sales team’s biggest opportunities to improve sales execution and define clear, actionable next steps to scale success. Taking these steps will ensure you repeat your success, and perhaps even exceed it.
Define Sales Execution Gaps While You’re Ahead
If you achieved great success last year or after the launch of a strategic initiative, the good news is your sales team is already doing some things well. However, building an elite sales organization requires a strategic plan to scale successes and to drive repeatable performance from your sales talent. You don’t get there by mistake or by a one-and-done training effort. After all, do championship teams forego practicing for their next season? Elite leaders define the right path to growth for their organization and invest in making it happen — building one success off of another.
Commit yourself to doing the same. If everything is going well in your organization, there are key steps managers and salespeople should be taking. Meaning, if there are still areas of the business you need to improve, it may be worth identifying where your sales teams are falling short and solving those challenges, especially while you’re ahead. Take a proactive approach.
Look at your numbers, then look for evidence (or missing evidence) in your sales team’s actions. Get in front of your managers and even front-line people to interview them about what's working. Here are a few places to start:
Qualification and business predictability
Could deal sizes be bigger and business predictability even more precise? If so, there still may be some room for improvement around how your sales teams qualify, dissect and progress pipeline opportunities. To drive further improvements in business predictability, assess the structure and discipline around your sales process.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Has your organization’s view of "what a good deal looks like" changed? Are your reps up to speed on any changes (i.e. size, pricing structure, time-to-delivery, etc.)
- Are there any gaps in customer knowledge and relationships that may be causing deals to draw on too long or stall?
- Are you and your sales teams aware of any shifts in the way your buyers want to buy?
- How quickly are your sales reps able to qualify in the right opportunities?
- Do your salespeople know when to qualify out opportunities that they don’t belong in or aren’t the right fit?
- Even if win rates and deal velocity has improved since last year or the launch of a strategic initiative, can you say for certain your reps are selling the entire solution effectively? Are there gaps in what they’re selling, and if so are you or your managers able to pinpoint why?
- Do your managers have a cadence to regularly inspect deals and coach reps on progressing their deals efficiently?
- Are sales reps and managers able to repeatedly determine what's needed to move their deals forward at a high value?
Set your focus on building an engine that predictably produces the results you need. Aligning the way your salespeople sell to the way your buyers want to buy and defining exactly "what a good deal looks like" are great places to start. Provide your sales teams with practical tools and high-value sales activities they can use to improve deal qualification and business predictability.
Many of the sales leaders we work with leverage the success of implementing a buyer-focused sales message by additionally rolling out a sales process and qualification tool that maximizes results and consistency.
Review the process they use to align the sales function around a sales strategy that powers predictable business growth.
Win rates, deal size, margins, account penetration and the ability to repeat success:
Your sales reps are having conversations with critical leads right now. The challenge for many organizations is that those buyer needs may have changed or perhaps the solutions they’re selling have shifted. How have you assessed if your sales message is relevant and meaningful to your buyers whose needs may have changed? Reframing your sales messaging framework may enable your reps to capture more value in their deals and charge a premium because of it.
Here are questions to help you determine if your sales messaging framework needs a refresh:
- Are your reps able to have relevant conversations in a way that uncovers the biggest business problems? Many companies have good revenue success, but they're selling at too low of a level, which hurts them when they try to scale growth.
- Are your reps struggling to get in front of key decision makers aligned to those business issues?
- Is your revenue coming from too many technical buyers? Is there opportunity to go higher in the organization for even bigger deals? If so, are your reps having the right conversations to progress the deal or are they getting stuck?
- Are your reps struggling to cross-sell, up-sell or penetrate further into existing accounts?
- When your reps win high-value deals do they know why and are they able to replicate that behavior?
- Are your reps continuing to lose late to competition (including do-nothing or do-it-internally decisions)?
- Are your managers successfully helping their reps map business-level pain points to your solution in a way that’s relevant to their specific buyer(s)?
- Do you have a great message that enables reps to increase win rates and deal velocity, but your reps are still losing margins and not aptly selling your full solution set?
Your salespeople need to understand your solution’s value and differentiation (and perhaps how it’s changed) in order to be relevant to high-level decision makers and instill value all the way through to close. Your message and value negotiation process may be the piece of the puzzle that is hindering your reps from capitalizing on the high-value deals they're qualifying in.
If you’ve got a sales organization that is already performing well, but you’re noticing some of these gaps, imagine the results you could capture, once you define and implement a value-based messaging framework. A message that enables your reps to have impactful business conversations with your most influential buying audiences and a process to instill value early and often could be the change you need to drive repeatable growth. Consider what having command of your message could bring to your sales organization.
Talent and time-to-productivity of your (potentially growing) sales team
With increased revenue, your leadership team might already be working through the logistics of growing your sales force. With an investment in more talent, you as a sales leader have the opportunity to develop a plan to ramp up new hires quicker and in conjunction ensure retention of your top performers. Consider areas where your talent management process may need fine tuning and use this opportunity to course correct. Ensuring your talent process powers sales success could enable you to drive bottom-line impact for your business and unbeknownst success for yourself ...
Leverage these questions as you assess for gaps in your talent process:
- Do your salespeople know what good looks like in their specific sales roles or is there uncertainty around the key behaviors required to be successful?
- Are your managers and sellers aligned around critical areas impacting sales?
- How quickly are your managers able to bring new hires up to speed and productive?
- How often is territory momentum lost due to new hires that don’t work out, and why has your sales organization hired the wrong people in the past?
- Is there a cadence for setting and achieving developmental goals and how is it monitored?
- Are your managers successfully driving accountability and consistent execution against your sales processes and methodologies?
Competition and markets will adapt, which is why your sales organization’s only sustainable competitive advantage over time is talent. The right investment in talent management can help you build the right team to scale for growth, fortunately you own the responsibility of making your talent a competitive advantage. Consider how you can improve your talent process and benefit from those improvements years down the line.
Build on Your Sales Organization's Success:
A commitment to improving sales effectiveness doesn’t stop after one initiative, especially if you’ve already seen success and stickiness. Making continual improvements to your sales strategy can maintain the momentum of previous initiatives and further improve your organization’s ability to drive repeatable growth. It depends on what foundation you’ve already laid and what you can build on to fix execution gaps and drive further success.