When it comes to improving sales performance, everyone often looks for that one magical thing that will transform his or her ability to sell. But often, it’s typically not a single revelation that gets sales back on track. More often than not, sales transformation occurs when you get back to basics.
Most sales people are moving at a fast pace, keeping many balls in the air. I always visualize the sales person running with their elbows out knocking down all the key activities and obstacles that get in their way. And with so much going on every day – client meetings, prepping internal resources, traveling, proposals, admin work and much more – we miss some of the basics of sales. But it’s the basics that can make a big difference and get sales back on track.
The key is to identify the high-yield activities and assess the buyer’s engagement level at each stage
of the sales process and coach accordingly. If the buyer is actively engaged in the process, then typically things are progressing. It is when they are not, that you have to look at the high-yield activities and identify which activities are being skipped.
It is management’s responsibility to help sales to get back to basics since it is the basics that ensure you and your teams are spending time with the right prospects. Frequently, coaching reveals that everyone is not following the same process, and may be cutting corners. It’s best to get back to basics to regain consistency.
I worked with a client who already has a sales process in place, but the company wasn’t meeting forecasts. I interviewed every person within the sales department and found that not everyone was following the sales process. This led me to advise them to get back to basics – re-educate and re-establish the sales process, and make sure sales management provides focus through coaching to ensure everyone follows it.
Another client came to me with a similar situation. The company was shortlisted in a deal, but was unsure of what to do next. Through questioning, the sales rep admitted that some key activities had always been part of his process; however, he was unsure as to why he had stopped doing them. When I probed further, it became apparent that the sales process had gotten overlooked. The exercise substantiated for the sales rep and the rest of the sales team that it was critical to get back to basics and make their sales process top of mind since the activity took little to no time but provided huge insights into what the buyer was thinking at that stage in the process.
So when your sales performance is lacking, take a look at your sales process and focus on coaching your sales reps to your process. Is your selling team following the established process? Is sales management coaching to it? If they’re not, then just getting back to basics can make all the difference.
Janice Mars, Managing Partner and co-founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results.
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