That time is almost upon us–the New Year! It’s a time for looking back at all the things we did right (or wrong), and try to figure out how we can make the new year even better than the last. We had such a great response to our post about New Year’s Resolutions to improve sales processes that we decided to put together a more comprehensive guide to sales best practices for the New Year.
Every manager wants to make his or her mark on the sales team, but many sales managers fall into the trap of over managing their sales reps. It’s easy to focus on metrics or deadlines to provide motivation to sales reps, such as whether someone made ten calls or sent twenty emails; but those actions do not in and of themselves make a successful sales rep. Yes they need to be done, but they shouldn’t be the end-all and be-all of your management style.
One of the key traits of a successful sales team is management that puts less focus on day-to-day activities and more emphasis on overarching goals throughout the week, month, or quarter. Your goals don’t necessarily mean your team’s numbers, but also how they manage their territory, follow up with leads, etc. Maybe someone didn’t make their quota, but if they managed their territory correctly, then that should be recognized and rewarded too. Sales reps should be motivated by big-picture goals rather than daily tasks.
Taking ownership of leads and responding to them immediately is of the utmost importance. It should go without saying, right? Sadly, we’ve seen many a sales department allow leads to lie untouched for weeks, even months! No lead should sit idle for more than a day or so because swift attention and follow up is key to the success of any sales process. This is even more important with inbound leads. Again, you’d think it goes without saying, but it doesn’t hurt to remind your sales reps of this golden rule often.
Want to ensure that they’re always aware of the importance of immediate response? Implement a program where they have to give up a lead to someone else if they let it sit for longer than two or three days. You’ll never see your sales reps let a lead fall through the cracks again.
Yes, it can be difficult at times, but marketing and sales need to co-exist and work together like two halves of a whole. Marketing’s job is to bring in leads for sales, and so then it’s sales’ responsibility to take those leads and manage them properly, or else all of marketing’s efforts are wasted. This goes back to our last point about immediate response as well.
Of course, there also needs to be an understanding between marketing and sales about what “leads” actually are. Marketing and sales have different definitions for what a lead is, so ensuring that both sides also have a mutual understanding of what constitutes an actionable lead is vital. For a more detailed look at how you can ensure that marketing and sales efforts are aligned, this article sales and marketing best practices from MarketingProfs is a great place to start.
Measuring results and success means much more than setting certain numbers as your goals and telling sales reps to meet those numbers. The numbers mean absolutely nothing if there isn’t a process flow in place that sales reps both understand and follow diligently. If Alison isn’t managing leads the same way that Gerald does, and visa versa, then that’s a major breakdown in the sales process that’s going to make it impossible for you to accurately measure success or failure.
Instead, management needs to build a model that takes into account not only the goals that you want your sales reps to reach, but also how you want them to get there. Having a set process in place ensures that 1) there’s consistency across the entire team, 2) there’s plenty of visibility so that everyone understands how they fit into the overall picture, and 3) there’s clear communication of what’s expected of everyone. It’s just simpler and easier to measure results when KPIs are clearly built into a set process.
I’ve already written a post on sales software tools, so I won’t rehash that same ground because we all know that software is integral to our sales processes. What some teams forget, though, is that software is not the only tool you’re using—your sales material should be one of the most effective tools at your disposal. Sales material includes everything from email templates, customer and client references, collateral, detailed product feature sets, etc.
Compiling and making good use of sales materials is yet another thing that many teams overlook, but it does so much of your work for you if you use it properly. Furnish references to vacillating prospects, test and re-test the most effective email templates to improve response rates, keep product sheets up-to-date so that you’re furnishing accurate information to potential customers. Building relationships and communicating with prospects is important, but that’s also built upon the foundation that your sales material creates.
What are your sales best practices? What do you think makes your sales team more effective and drives their motivation best? Let us know in the comments!