Elements of an Effective Sales Force

Elements of an Effective Sales Force

In this lesson, we’ll explain what it takes to specialize your Sales force and what qualities they should possess to create a powerful Sales machine.

Most sales reps spend less than half of their time actually selling

Before deciding how to build an effective sales team, make sure you have an effective sales process that enables your sales force to go sell and not spend time sifting through unqualified leads or finding and repurposing marketing content.

[Optional] Freeing up the sales force for selling
Sales Force Performance

Sales force performance is obviously of vital interest to any company.

Here are 4 key elements for ensuring that your salespeople are selling at their optimal levels and constantly improving:

1) Full Knowledge of Product or Service
Does your sales force fully understand the products and/or services they are selling?

2) Comprehensive Knowledge of Buyers
Who exactly is your sales rep selling to? What particular issues does the prospect company encounter?

3) CRM Solution for the Sales Force *

4) Continuously Improved Sales Technique

How to Structure Your Sales Force

A great blueprint to follow is provided by Aaron Ross’s bestseller, Predictable Revenue.

The world has gone digital – there’s a lot of great technology out there that can help drive predictable lead generation.

At the same time, well paid salespeople aren’t too valuable of a resource to do research for prospects or do cold calls. With that in mind, Predictable Revenue suggests splitting your Sales force into four roles.

Aaron Ross’s Way

The author of Predictable Revenue, Aaron Ross, suggests splitting your Salesforce into four main categories.

Let’s further break down what each of these roles mean.

Roles in sales team
1) Inbound Lead Qualification

Commonly called Market Response Reps, they qualify marketing leads coming inbound through the website. The sources of these leads are either marketing programs, search engine marketing, or organic word-of-mouth.
2) Outbound Prospecting / Cold Calling 2.0

Commonly called Sales Development Reps or New Business Development Reps, this function prospects into lists of target accounts to develop new sales opportunities from cold or inactive accounts. This is a team dedicated to proactive business development.

Highly efficient outbound reps and teams do NOT close deals, but create & qualify new sales opportunities and then pass them on to Account Executives to close.

3) Account Executives

These are quota-carrying reps who close deals. As a best practice, even when a company has an Account Management/Customer Success function, Account Executives should stay in touch with new customers after they’re closed until the new customer is deployed and launched.

4) Account Management / Customer Success

Client deployment and success, ongoing client management, and renewals. In today’s world of “frictionless karma”, someone needs to be dedicated to making customers successful – and that is NOT the salesperson!

[Optional] 3 Models of Effective Sales Team Organization

There are other ways to divide up your Sales force and effectively run it.

This article by Close.io proposes three models while investigating the pros and cons of each:
Defining Effectiveness
While revenue-per-rep is ultimately the most important sales performance metric, there are other areas that sales managers should focus on.

Managers can exercise a greater degree of control over sales performance and activity metrics. By focusing on these key areas within their control, sales managers can bring about an improvement in sales performance and grow revenue.

Make sure you measure the following metrics in order to separate high performers from those who need more coaching:

1) Cost of Sales to Revenue Ratio

This sales performance metric reflects the overall efficiency of the sales division.

Total costs include salaries, commissions and expenses for your sales organization. Over time, this metric can help you gauge the level of investment needed to reach a certain performance level.

You’ll be able to tell how much of an investment it took your company to reach annual revenue. Measure your cost of sales to revenue ratio against the industry average to see how your levels of sales productivity stack up.

2) Average Deal Size

The average size of closed won deals is a metric which can quickly flag deals that may not be worth pursuing. One of your priorities as a sales manager is to ensure your reps are spending their time as wisely as possible.

You might also learn that reps are veering towards smaller deals because they are easier to close instead of pursuing the most important opportunities.

If your average deal size is smaller than you would like, take some time to assess your company’s lead generation efforts and why they are producing leads that end up in smaller deals.

Liaise with marketing about ways lead generation can be tweaked to boost Sales performance.
3) Opportunity Win Rate

Keeping track of this metric gives you some insight into the ability of your reps to close a deal. Closing ability is quite a large part of sales performance.

Some of your reps might be great at networking and working a deal through the pipeline only to consistently fail when it comes to closing. By monitoring this metric, you can work with reps who consistently post low opportunity rates.

If the rep’s performance continues to suffer due to low opportunity win rates, you could think about transferring the rep to a new role as a sales development representative (SDR)where they can use their strengths to move leads through the pipeline.

4) Time Spent Selling

Take the time to measure how much time your reps actually spend selling. This step can help you identify any issues that are hampering sales performance. Time, after all, is the most precious commodity of the sales rep.

Look to eliminate sales roadblocks
For example, many reps today struggle to locate relevant content. It is estimated that sales reps spend between 6.5 and 8.8 hours per week searching for information. If content retrieval issues are holding your sales team back, think about introducing sales enablement software that eliminates this inefficiency and improves sales performance.

Understanding your sales force
Types of Salespersons

The term sales representative covers different positions:

1) Deliverer: a salesperson whose major task is the delivery of a product (water, fuel).

2) Order Taker: an inside order taker (standing behind the counter) or outside order taker (call
ing on the supermarket manager).

3) Missionary: a salesperson not expected or permitted to take an order but rather to build goodwill or educate the actual or potential user

4) Technician: a salesperson with a high level of technical knowledge (a consultant to client companies).

5) Demand Creator: a salesperson who relies on creative methods for selling tangible products (household products) or intangibles (insurance, advertising services).

6) Solution Vendor: a salesperson whose expertise lies in solving a customer’s problem, often with a system of the company’s products and services (for example, computer and communications systems).

[Optional] An Argument for Specialized Sales Teams
Here’s a great article that turns an old school Sales concept on its head:
Cultivating the Right Habits

You can hire the best people but getting them to adhere to the principles of Sales success for this day and age will only further propel overall Sales performance.

Below are several good habits that are worth incorporating into your Sales operations:

1) Conservative Outlook

Create a habit of doing a Sales pipeline cleanse at least once a month.

What is Sales Pipeline cleanse? 
Many Sales managers tend to get excited about new leads and opportunities but as time goes on, average Sales people that aren’t good at challenging and keeping the deals progressing to a close, stack up these opportunities. In the meantime, clients do not close and drag their feet.

“No, I didn’t get this deal in this quarter but next one I will..”

“They had a change in management but four months from now when the new VP settles in, they will make a decision..”

Sound familiar? 
If it doesn’t close in 3-6 months (standard Sales practice), it’s out. Put it as a lost deal or you can also mark it as Nurture, and let marketing re-engage by sending emails but do not keep these opportunities in your pipeline.

2) Credibility

One of the oldest tricks in the book is to stop selling and start helping.

One thing clients respect beyond the fact you actually sell a good product/service and have decent social proof is your ability to understand the context of their business and effectively consult them.

Let’s say you sell tables. Many competitors will be identifying the right kind of table the client needs. Then selling them that.

But if YOU are selling a table and are able to tell the client something like this:
“You know what, this table you think you need, it won’t fit in this room.. from my experience this room needs a round table not a big square one.”

That’s credibility.

Your clients will respect you for your knowledge and will be grateful that you’re trying to help. They will feel like you’re not just there to sell but are also looking out for their interests.

If you’re just starting out in a sale of a product/service you’re not familiar with, be sure to read up on the industry, the context behind your product, and what the competition does to sell it.

Make sure you understand all these nuances and can add value beyond simply explaining product features.

Hiring Real Talent and Developing Existing Resources

There isn’t one way to be a successful salesperson.

One of the root causes of the many B2B sales challenges companies have today is that they have too many unqualified people in sales jobs.

Various research publications agree that on average, up to 30% of all salespeople are unqualified.

Here’s a great roadmap of what NOT to do when it comes to building an effective Salesforce.
Of course, having a good on-boarding and sales training program helps. But how can you really avoid making bad decisions?

This is where the Sales Predictive Index (PI) test becomes extremely valuable.

The Predictive Index Learning Indicator is a scientifically validated measure of general mental ability.

It’s a powerful recruitment tool that will give you deep insight into a salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses; what their selling style is; and how to empower them to be even more effective.

You can learn more about the Predictive Index (PI) here:
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