It’s the start of a new year, and it’s no surprise that your sales goals have become even more aggressive. Now is the time to decide what changes you’ll make and what processes you’ll implement to ensure that your sales team hits quota and then some.
From productivity hacks to communication tips and tricks, here’s a list of the top five initiatives sales leaders should think about in 2020.
1. Improve sales productivity
The priority of every sales team should be productivity. Teams that engage in high-return, high-value activities produce high-return, high-value outcomes. Here are some ways to improve sales productivity.
Is your team focused on outreach and outbound sales? If so, you should be focusing on who your sales team is reaching out to, how often, and with what success rate.
Is your team performing product demos and taking 1:1 meetings? Then you should focus on making sure these meetings are with the right qualified accounts, taking note of which accounts convert, which don’t, and digging into the data for reasons why or why not.
Streamline your pipeline
Sellers lose significant chunks of time when they have too many tools to handle or activities to perform to support their sales process. A convoluted sales process or a pipeline with too many steps can slow down or overwhelm your sales team, not only robbing them of their valuable time but also disincentivizing them from engaging vigorously in the sales process.
Sales leaders should be focused on streamlining everything from qualifying leads to facilitating onboarding to renewing contracts.
Increase visibility and eliminate data silos
Integrated software prevents data silos from occurring, as all information can be viewed in one place or across all platforms seamlessly. For example, the Lucidchart Sales Solution integrates with Salesforce and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, allowing sales reps to quickly build account maps from their contacts and share that information to find the fastest path to sell.
Sales today has truly become a team effort—and by keeping critical data in a central location, your sales org can better leverage everyone’s connections, leaders can see where they need to provide executive sponsorship, and no information is lost when accounts change hands.
On average, new sales reps take an average of 381 days to onboard and perform at the same level as your current reps—but what if you can ramp reps more quickly so they start making a larger contribution to your sales goals?
Hit your sales goals faster by optimizing your onboarding experience.
Remember—improving productivity doesn’t just have an advantage for your reputation and the company. According to HubSpot, team members described as extremely productive (XP) also report being more satisfied with their job and being happy with their work. Team members who are happy and productive are team members who you want to keep, as retaining talent is a necessity for any sales leader focused on efficiency in his or her strategy.
2. Improve the way you communicate value
When selling anything, the only thing that matters is how valuable your product or service is to your prospective customer. Too many teams get lost in this process, and for good reason—communicating value may sometimes be difficult. But setting a goal of driving value for your team will result in higher revenue growth, higher win rates, and higher retention.
So how do you improve your ability to communicate value? For starters, look into these areas:
- Get a better idea of who you are speaking to and what their needs are by creating account maps and buyer persona cards.
- Glean over every piece of marketing and sales content in your sales funnel, looking for any inconsistencies or spots that could use clarification. With a communications team member or an external marketing and communications expert, make sure your messaging is clear, aligns to brand values, and is passed on to all sales team members.
- Sales engineers can demonstrate value visually through current/future state diagrams. See the types of diagrams Okta has created to show how their solution works.
Communicating value will mean something a bit different for every customer. Sales professionals should understand intimately who their customers are and deep dive into discovering how their product or service solves that customer’s specific pain points.
3. Improve effectiveness of sales management and coaching
If a ship is only as good as its captain, then a sales team is only as good as its manager. According to Gartner, many companies report a high turnover rate in their sales team for two top reasons: compensation rates and poor management in their direct supervisor.
Though there’s a certain level of magic behind the industry’s top sales leaders and coaches, you too canthat ensure that your team performs at high levels by applying a few key principles. Consider:
- Creating opportunities to address deal-level challenges and providing room for new approaches to closing
- Giving actionable coaching insights, followed by ongoing dialogue and individualized development
- Encouraging reps to use account maps and account plans so sales leaders can gain higher visibility into accounts and provide better coaching
4. Improve prospecting and early pipeline activities
Vice President of Gartner Matt Dudek says that they’re “hearing a lot more focus from CSOs on prospecting and early pipeline activities,” even though “sales teams reject 55% of marketing-qualified leads.”
Why would a sales team reject a marketing-qualified lead? Typically this happens because marketing teams primarily value lead quantity, while sales teams focus on lead quality.
The truth is an effective sales manager must do both: build processes for securing and nurturing a high volume of high-quality leads. Nurturing the prospect through the buyer journey is all about delivering above and beyond service—use conversion rate data to identify any gaps in the sales process and work alongside marketing teams to address when and why sales aren’t converting.
One of the best ways to improve prospecting is by applying visual aids like flowcharts to map out your lead qualification process. Visuals that demonstrate where prospects are in the buyer journey declutter your sales process and quickly communicate next steps.
5. Improve account management to drive account growth
Account management should be a top focus for all sales executives in 2020. Well-performed account management improves retention—and account retention is the surest way to maintain or increase revenue.
To make sure that you’re focused on improving account management in your organization, strengthen the relationship between sales teams and customer success teams. By keeping clients happy through the sales process, continued into the onboarding process and beyond, your team will be able to more easily close on deals, renew contracts and, ideally, expand existing services.
See how to facilitate crucial knowledge transfer between sales and customer success.
A new year is a chance to refresh and improve. Even if your sales are going great, focusing on these top sales priorities will only improve your sales strategy and organizational performance. The right plan with the right tools and execution can produce staggering results.
See more, know more, sell more. The Lucidchart Sales Solution serves as a dynamic roadmap to help your team close bigger deals faster.