Take a mental snapshot of your sales staff. Do only a few of its members consistently bring in high volumes of good margin sales? An old rule of thumb says that about 20 percent of salespeople will make 80 percent of sales; in other words, everyone is not going to be a superstar.
However, you can create performance management standards that raise the productivity of your sales department and, in turn, the profitability of your company. To do so, focus on the three key traits of every successful salesperson:
- Authentic aptitude. Some people are ‘born to sell’ while others, with hard work, can become proficient at it. But if a person struggles to form relationships, has no tolerance for rejection or failure, and desires a routine workday, he or she probably does not belong in sales.
You may want to use a sales aptitude test during the hiring process to weed out those most likely not a good fit. But it is always possible to hire someone with ‘potential’ who just never grows into the position. If an employee lacks the aptitude for sales, no amount of training and coaching will likely turn him or her into a stellar performer. In such cases, you will need to choose between either moving the person into another area of the business or letting them go.
- Effective tactics. Entire books could be written (and have been) about sales tactics. There is the hard sell, the soft sell, upselling, storytelling, problem solving — the list goes on. At the end of the day, customers buy from people whom they like and trust and who can deliver what they promise.
Doing the little things separates those at the top of the sales profession from everyone else and helps them build lasting and fruitful relationships with customers. Identify the most valuable tactics of your top sellers and pass them along to the rest of the staff through ongoing training and upskilling.
- Strong numbers. There is no way around it: A good salesperson puts up the numbers. Sales is a results-oriented profession. The question and challenge for business owners (and their sales managers) is how to accurately and fairly measure results and ultimately define success.
There are many sales metrics to consider. Which ones you should track and use to evaluate the performance of your salespeople depends on your strategic priorities. For example, if you are looking to speed up the sales cycle, you could look at average days to close. Or, if you are concerned that your sales department just is not bringing in enough revenue, you could calculate average deal size.
Hopefully, everyone on your sales staff demonstrates these three key traits to some degree. If not, regular performance reviews (to catch problems) and effective coaching (to solve them) are a must. We can help you identify the ideal metrics for your company, run the numbers, and set reasonable and profitable revenue goals.