In Part 1, I introduced the topic of building peak-performing sales organizations. I discussed some key data points and trends, the future of adaptive sales, Chief Selling Officers, (CSOs), and last but not least, people — who are the fuel of any sales organization. In Part 2, I will address processes, planning, marketing processes, performance metrics processes, and technology.
What is your process and methodology for the recruitment, selection, on-boarding,training, and continued development of your team?
Let’s review the selection process. Here are some key data points:
- 86% of employers are now hiring virtually, but 83% are finding the process
- 93% of managers need training on coaching
- 80% of Diversity and Inclusion efforts fail…despite $8 billion invested
Sales may be the most challenging of all:
- Globally there is a 35% attrition rate
- It takes an average of 18 months for new sales leaders to make an impact
- Only 43% of sales professionals achieve their quota
- It’s not for lack of trying – $40 billion is spent annually on HR technology
- and consulting
Companies mistakenly chose candidates based on the following.
- Process over people
- Efficiency over outcomes
- One-dimensional approaches
The traditional view of people is not sufficient. We look at education, experience, interviews and referrals, but what about the behavioral characteristics that we need:
- Emotional Intelligence
It is about overall fit – role, the person, and the environment.
One tool that I use in my class is a tool that determines if an individual has the right behavioral traits of a consultative salesperson. The Fit Indicator provides the individual HR professional and hiring manager with crucial information about the respondent’s behavior relating to the position. Selecting the candidate that is the right fit is essential to the commercial health of the business. Most surveys take only 15 minutes and provide key insights into the person’s behavioral characteristics and points out if they are the right, fit for the role.
For the manager with a team of salespeople, these tools provide a dashboard that identifies where each member falls in the Fit Score versus Performance matrix.
It will be essential for all CSOs to ensure that their processes have been reviewed and are up to these emerging standards. Let’s focus on the following three areas:
- Sales process and methodologies
- Marketing processes
- Performance metrics processes
Sales Processes and Methodologies
A prescribed consultative sales process and methodology are fundamental and it’s critically important that your team is well trained and certified in your sales process. Therefore, a training and certification program is critical to team success. It has been my experience that organizations that do not have such a program are not as successful as those companies with a formal program.
The best practices to ensure the adoption of your sales process are as follows:
- Self-learning preparation of product, pricing, promotion, and administration policies
- Consultative sales excellence
- CSE (Continuing Sales Education) – application sales calls
- Certification of sales call
- Annual CSE and Certification
Best Practices for Virtual Selling
- Establish a formal Virtual Selling Program – Leveraging the best practices of the consultative sales process
- Pre-call preparation meeting with the team focused on the sales hypothesis
- Day of appointment
- Log in 10 minutes early
- Professional attire and background
- Turn your video on
- Recording – ask for permission
- Follow consultative sales best practices with proper follow-up
The key objective is to align the sales and marketing organizations to ensure that the company maximizes all opportunities. The goals of sales and marketing should include the following:
- Acquire more customers
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Improve sales ROI
- Improve customer retention
Getting alignment with marketing will require a joint effort to answer the following 3 key questions:
- Who should we target?
- What should we say?
- How should we track deals across the entire funnel?
Performance Metrics Processes
We all have heard the phrase if you can measure it, you can manage it. Here are some basic metrics:
- Revenue growth
- Revenue per client
- Profit margin
- Client retention rate
- Customer satisfaction
Establish a future-forward sales technology roadmap. CSOs’ technology investments should aim to maximize the potential of AI-based solutions for the sales organization. First, sales leaders must identify parts of the sales value chain where AI offers improvement potential for processes. For example, replacing sellers’ educated guesses around what to do next on a complex B2B deal with AI solutions that can reliably detect buyer signals and actions.
CSOs must also invest in digital technology that improves the buyer experience. For example, equipping sellers with high-quality audio and video hardware and reliable remote meeting platforms enables productive customer interactions. Installing future-forward technology also helps CSOs attract top Gen Z talent — a demographic that values remote work opportunities and digital collaboration. Many expect that within five years, there will be no separation between sales processes, applications, data, and analytics. Instead, there will be one single concept: AI for sales.
A myriad of tools can offer the following:
- Ramp up and upskill your team faster
- Embed guidance: Align content and learning with customer interaction for
- better guidance on what to do and say
- Interact with buyers at the right time across every channel
- Differentiated experiences – Connect with buyers where and when they want to engage
- Better digital experiences for greater competitiveness
- Leveraging data to create better content, streamlined processes, and stronger
- Data-driven coaching – Deliver more effective coaching based on performance and engagement results
- Gain insights from sellers, process owners, and content creators for more significant overall outcomes
CRM and Communication Tools
I have seen many poorly designed CRM systems that do not reflect their sales process and methodology. The sales organization must see the CRM system as their bank account, remembering how they will win based on the incentive plan.
Last but not least, you’ll need to provide your team with the state of art communications tools that will allow them to communicate efficiently and effectively. Many salespeople have raised the concern of having to manage too many emails. There are several text messaging tools available that allow team members to communicate outside of email.
At each stage of creating a peak performing sales organization, the enterprise must commit to implementing the best practices, consistently leverage the best practices, evaluate everyone’s performance, and provide supportive, constructive feedback.
Ultimately, a peak-performing sales organization is not a destination but a continuous journey. Successful sales organizations work towards excellence daily, including ongoing sales education training and construction management. In summation, “business as usual” will not yield the sales results that are required in a digital environment. Today’s sales leadership must leverage their experience, emotional intelligence, and technology to build a peak-performing sales organization.
Darrell Gunter is an innovative Digital Sales and Marketing Executive leader experienced in launching, building, conducting turnarounds and managing digital business enterprises in both small and large information and technology businesses. He is also skilled and experienced in advising C-Level executives on their M&A strategy. Gunter Media Group, Inc., his Consultative Sales Excellence Workshop, provides clients with leveraging and mastering the best practices.
By Darrell W. Gunter
President and Chief Executive Officer
Gunter Media Group, Inc.
Professor, Salesmanship and Sales Management
Seton Hall University