How to Build an Elite Sales Organization

How to Build an Elite Sales Org
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An elite sales organization is one that drives higher win rates, larger deal sizes, higher margins, and predictable revenue. 


  • Insight into what it truly means to be an elite sales organization
  • The four critical areas of sales effectiveness
  • Detailed examples of how successful organizations apply the four critical areas

Read our insights to help create a sales motion that drives rep productivity and accelerates growth.

Your Plan for Improving Sales Performance 

Elite sales organizations are those that drive higher win rateslarger deal sizeshigher margins and predictable revenue. They are backed by a reliable team of sellers who know how to uncover customer problems and align their message of value. Outcomes like these aren’t arbitrary; they are deliberate and finely orchestrated. Leaders of elite sales organizations purposefully direct these results by aligning critical areas of sales effectiveness with a well-defined
sales strategy. The result? Reliable and repeatable revenue growth.

So what is it about these elite sales organizations? How do they pull it all together? What do they know that others don’t? Leaders of elite sales organizations have discovered that aligning behind critical areas of sales effectiveness gives them a distinct and enviable advantage in the marketplace; so that’s where they focus — relentlessly.

There is a sales motion in every organization that drives sales productivity and ultimately, accelerated revenue growth. When you see companies that are outpacing their competition, it’s because they’ve defined a consistent sales motion and have aligned their functional areas behind it. When you consider how to enable your sales team, remember there are four essential components of sales performance. A sales organization's success is dependent on its plan to execute in these key areas of sales effectiveness: 

  • Sales Message: the ability for your sales team to articulate value and differentiation in a way that has meaning for your buyers
  • Sales Execution: the ability for your sales reps to understand what they need to do during each stage of the sales process and how they can leverage appropriate resources within your organization to move an opportunity forward
  • Sales Planning: how your sales teams are able to build qualified pipeline at the territory level and accurately forecast your business
  • Sales Talent: how your sales organization is attracting, hiring and retaining top sales talent.

Can you confidently say you and your team excel in all of these areas? 

It's difficult to scale if you don't have the right foundation in place, whether you're launching a new product, moving to a subscription or consumption-based pricing model, and/or trying to meet accelerating growth rates. The more you have a cadence around these areas, the more your sales organization will exceed goals and out-perform the competition. 

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1. Enable your customer-facing teams to have value-based sales conversations

Elite sales organizations build cross-functional alignment in two key areas:

Sales Message - Elite Sales Org 2

Every department in your organization (e.g., marketing, product, services, etc. ) must have a clear understanding of the problems you solve for your buyers and the positive business outcomes you drive, as well as how you deliver that value differently or better than your competitors. Without that clarity, salespeople can’t execute a value message or that buyer conversation effectively. They are unable to demonstrate a clear message for the buyer because what they say is often lost in a sea of mixed messages from digital avenues, technical consultants, etc.... 

Everyone in your company should have the same answers to these essential questions

  • What problems do you solve for your customers?
  • How do you specifically solve those problems?
  • How do you do it differently than your competition?
  • What’s your proof?

Many leaders don’t realize it, but their message about value is as compartmentalized as their organizational functions. It’s a safe bet that if you were to separately question your executive group, your marketing team, your technical team, and your product developers about your value, you’d get many different perspectives. These competing messages funnel down to your sales representatives, who don’t have a choice but to determine their own interpretation of that value—and then take this variety of messaging straight out into the marketplace. If there isn’t clarity about value within your own organization, what do you think your customers and prospects are hearing? Probably a lot of noise. Worse, they are likely experiencing vastly different things—none of which are helping them to make a clear buying decision. Add to the mix your competitors’ messaging, and what you have is a lot of noise and interference that can disrupt the buyer’s decision process.

It sounds simple, but it’s very difficult to do. If you’re dealing with low margins, low quota attainment and a smaller-than-desired average deal size, you’re likely in a place where you need to equip your salespeople to have a value-based, buyer-focused conversation.

Leaders of elite sales organizations make sure they create a critical connection between what they do and how they solve their customer’s biggest business challenges. Elite sales organizations stay focused on how they materialize their value in the marketplace and how they deliver on the positive business outcomes they promise.

If you want to improve sales performance, you need to ensure your organization has alignment and focus on the answers to these essential questions. By building that foundation, you can then come up with a plan to equip your salespeople and additional customer-facing teams with the ability to be successful at the buyer-level, repeatadly.

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2. Improve your sales teams ability to qualify and advance the highest-value opportunities

To improve sales qualification and execution issues, you may have to dig deep and define the underlying execution challenges that cause your sales reps to get into deals they don't belong in or progress deals that aren't baked. Elite sales organizations build a process that enforces discipline, repeatability, predictability and validation of progress throughout a sale. Most importantly, they implement processes that allow for inspection and planning — in advance. Define where the gaps in your sales process and qualification criteria lie that result in poor outcomes.

Start by generating executive alignment around the critical sales process questions below. Use these questions as you consider a broader, strategic shift in how your sales teams qualify-in high-value opportunities.

Sales Execution - Elite Sales Org 3

In order to sell more, faster, you need a way to drive repeatability within the sales process. Elite sales organizations enable salespeople to spend as much time as possible on revenue-driving activities. They ensure their sellers are equipped to do their job as they move an opportunity into a closed deal. Here are five things elite sales organizations account for in their sales process:

  1. Alignment with the customer’s buying process
  2. Delineation of sales roles and responsibilities
  3. A focus on customer verifiable outcomes
  4. Support for sellers, typically with complementary tools, coaching and collateral
  5. A consistent way to enforce qualification criteria

Moving opportunities forward and maintaining a healthy pipeline are two common pain points of sales organizations. They are also closely related to the negotiation process in a company.

We like to say that, “all the sins of the sales process come home to roost in the negotiation.” Meaning there is a clear correlation and intersection between your sales negotiation strategy and sales process. If you’ve got a negotiation problem, it could very likely be tied to the ineffectiveness of your sales process. The sales negotiation process always begins long before the negotiating actually starts with the customer.

There are similarities between the sales and negotiation processes — both start at the early stages of the buyer conversation and evolve constantly throughout the opportunity. They are both dependent on a clear understanding of the business problem the customer is trying to address and are impacted by the business, political and competitive landscapes.

The negotiation and sales processes are also inseparable from one another. You can imagine the two as opposite sides of the same coin… a problem with one equals a problem with the other. Poor discovery early in the sales process significantly limits your sales team's negotiating position later when they are closing the deal. So, if during negotiations your account teams are having trouble accessing key players regarding their biggest problems and/or they’re having the rules of engagement dictated to them or information is being withheld, it’s most likely primarily due to a sales problem. A successful sales process will garner insights and build strength that your reps can leverage in the negotiation to win a more valuable deal. Sales execution is a critical component of any sales organization's success and an area that most successful leaders spend a lot of time improving. 

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3. Accurately predict and hit your revenue number, repeatedly

Accountability couldn’t be more important than in the sales planning process. The cadence with which you enable your managers to inspect and reinforce every deal is critical to driving revenue predictability.

You’ve been there. It’s the end of the quarter and your reps are scrambling for the number. The whole organization is a stress ball. So, what happens? Sales reps go into the accounts and opportunities trying to squeeze anything they can into the quarter. They discount and lose margin, while they desperately try to close deals that aren’t baked. As a sales leader, you own the responsibility of ensuring your reps are building pipeline at the territory level. If you want to drive success in sales planning, you need to drive accountability in the forecast, and drive a sales culture where reps drive pipeline at the territory level.  How do elite sales organizations accomplish consistent revenue growth and business predictability?

Elite Sales Organizations Accurately Predicting Revenue

Elite sales leaders ensure reps are building pipeline at the territory level. They’ve shifted the mindset of the sales organization by driving accountability for the forecast and instilling a franchise mindset among the reps.

Elite Sales Organizations Have a Franchise Mindset

Salespeople view their territories similar to how a franchise owner views his/her business. They see “their piece of dirt” as their own business unit, and more importantly understand that they’re responsible for their unit of profit. The best sellers are the ones who own their territories. They’re accountable for the territory’s revenue. Just like a franchisee, they know how to leverage the power of the company brand to earn revenue.

This sales franchise mindset also drives your sellers to build pipeline at the territory level. If they see their territory as a business unit, they see the big picture. The question for sales managers to reps is, “What is your franchise doing right now to generate pipeline?” 

Elite Sales Organizations Enable Managers

Managers play a critical role in making sure an organization can accurately predict revenue. It's important managers know how to inspect pipeline and coach skills that will move those deals forward, enabling an accurate revenue forecast. 

Sales reps don’t need managers who sit behind a desk checking an Excel spreadsheet or grousing about not making their numbers. They don’t need managers who swoop in, take over a deal and close that deal themselves. They need a sales manager who will provide not just the what, but the how.  

Elite sales organizations ensure their managers have a repeatable cadence, (We use the Management Operating Rhythm®), that gives them the ability to focus on the high-value activities needed to ensure accurate forecasts. 


Sales Planning - Elite Sales Org

Predictability is a key element of effective sales planning. Elite sales organizations have the tools, processes and content that drive this predictability, enabling accurate revenue forecasts and overall accountability in the forecast. See how the right planning tools and processes could help you enable the franchise mindset across your sales organization and drive consistent business predictability.

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4. Make talent a competitive advantage.

Your sales talent is the only sustainable competitive advantage for your organization. Elite sales organizations develop and implement a process to attract, on-board and retain high-performing salespeople and managers. Because if you can hire great people, you will see results where it matters – in your bottom line.

Remember, great talent delivers.

As a sales leader, it is up to you to find the right fit for your sales organization — a team of people who have the right behaviors to be successful and who can operate with maximum efficiency in the four areas of sales performance.

Elite sales organizations define what success looks like in the variety of sales roles they have. Without that definition, you will never be able to be an elite sales organization, because you will constantly be struggling with the wrong performers.

Elite sales organizations are disciplined when it comes to sales talent. They ensure they have a defined on-boarding process that ramps reps quickly and plans for their succession. How are you ensuring that your sales organization is owning the recruiting and retaining of top reps? Implementing a success profile, as well as a coaching model and feedback tools that your team actually uses will give you the foundation necessary to make sales talent a competitive advantage.



Build an Elite Sales Org - conclusion

Enable an Elite Sales Organization

Leaders of elite sales organizations know that a true sales transformation is hard work. You know your company best. You know what’s working and more importantly where you need to make the greatest changes. Elite sales leaders take a customizable “draft in” approach, one that leverages your current best practices to build a more sustainable roadmap for success. 

To drive lasting results, remember the key to being an elite sales organization is a shift in mindset, rather than a single action. Elite sales leaders achieve sales transformations by ensuring new methodologies and processes are relevant to what their sales managers and reps do every day. Easier said than done.

Find impactful ways to align your sales organization around what’s needed to succeed and drive lasting impact, where it matters most, the bottom line. We can help. Contact our team today to see how we've helped B2B companies drive scale revenue growth.



Scale Sales Transformation. Drive Lasting Results. 

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