Success leaves clues
It’s a simple concept really, if you want to be successful in any endeavor just look for people or organizations that are already successful and do what they do!
What do successful sales organizations do?
1. They have a structured sales process that is coached and reinforced consistently. They understand that there is a process involved in taking a customer from “Hi, how can I help you?” to “Thank you for your business” - that some sales will happen by chance or clever marketing, but most rely on a helping a client work through the decisions they need to make in order to feel comfortable saying “yes”.
In a recent study by Steve W. Martin at the University of California Marshall school of business they found that 50% of the high-performing sales organizations had a more structured sales process that was closely monitored and strictly enforced. Contrast that with 48% of the underperforming sales organizations had a nonexistent or informal process. There is a logical, mental, emotional process people go through in order to decide whether or not they want to do business with a company, and good sales people understand and respect that process. They don’t wing it or just talk to people hoping for the best. They have a plan that they consistently refine and implement.
2. They are not afraid to set stretch goals. People live up, or down, to your expectations. The same study found that 75% of high-performing sales organizations raised 2014 annual quotas more than 10% over 2013 quotas compared to 25% for average and 17% for underperforming sales organizations. Annual quotas remained the same or decreased for 65% of underperforming sales organizations, and 48% of average sales organizations.
3. They train, coach and reward the right activities. The top organizations don’t just set high goals for their team, give them a process to follow, and hope and pray they succeed. They are consistently looking for ways to support them in their goals and careers and have sales management processes in place to make sure that happens.
4. They hold people accountable. Some companies do a phenomenal job of training their teams and supporting them in their pursuit of corporate objectives but fail miserably when employees don't consistently bringing their best effort to the job. The study showed that 29% of high-performing sales team members strongly agreed with the statement "that their salespeople are consistently measured against their quotas and held accountable for their results” while only 13% of underperforming sales team members did. Furthermore, the study indicated that 9 or more quarters were required to terminate an underperforming salesperson (according to 12% of underperforming and 9% of average sales organizations) while no high-performing sales organizations indicated it should take that long.
It’s not a fun part of the recipe for success but some people won’t be capable of performing at acceptable levels. Choosing to ignore poor or inadequate performance because you’re afraid of upsetting someone only upsets your high performers. Sports teams that tolerate mediocre talent or effort usually have a losing record that reflects the culture. How can you expect top notched sales performance if you are tolerating the same thing? Players get cut, people get fired. You can have a warm caring culture that supports people and still hold them accountable. Do everything in your power to help them succeed but they have to come to the party at some point.