Many CEOs are creating ambitious goals for 2022. But most of them are also concerned if they have the right people in place to accomplish those strategic goals. The best way to accomplish sales goals is to have the right salespeople on your team. To achieve your sales goals in 2022, there is one essential question you need to ask before you spend a dime on marketing.
Do we have the right sales team in place to achieve our sales goals in 2022?
You can’t improve what you can’t measure. To measure your sales team you must assess their performance—not just review their performance. What’s the difference you ask? Look at it this way, when you submit your taxes to the IRS, do you think they review or assess your file? An assessment goes deeper than a simple review. When companies do a sales review of their current sales team, they typically look at one number—revenue. But that can be misleading. What a sales rep’s revenue tells you is important, but what it doesn’t tell you can be critical.
The simplest way to review sales performance is to look at the data and see which reps sold the most. That’s what most companies do. The top reps must be your best performers, right? Maybe, but it is worth digging a little deeper to uncover what else can be learned. Sometimes, when you assess a sales reps’ performance you’ll find a single account that is contributing to their growth. Other times, one rep might have a better territory which is contributing to the sales numbers. When you dig deeper with a detailed assessment there is a lot that can be learned which world-class organizations use to improve their team’s overall sales performance.
Without regular assessments, you are unable to identify hidden roadblocks that may be hindering sales performance. For example, a new hire may have achieved 100% of their quota his first year and all indicators point to him being a top producer. However, with a deeper assessment, you might find one single account represents most of his sales. In fact, you could learn that this one account was closed in the rep’s first 90 days and then the rep’s prospecting activity declined. Did the sales rep get comfortable because this one account put them over quota? Is the one account monopolizing this rep’s time and they are not able to bring on more accounts? Possible behaviors that could be worked on for the rep in this example include time management, account management, and prospecting.
This is just one example how misleading it can be to only review sales data. Other components to look for can include:
- How many new accounts has the rep brought in versus how many old accounts they are managing?
- How many prospects did the sales rep present to versus how many they actually closed?
- What is the average deal size per rep?
- What is the average sales cycle length per rep?
Reviewing this data uncovers golden opportunities for the astute sales manager to improve the team’s performance. You might find that one rep is better at prospecting and another is better at closing. This level of evaluation can also be utilized to adjust your sales process, fine-tune individual training or reposition a rep into a different department. There is a saying in the startup world that the team that got us here may not be the team that gets us where we need to go next. The annual evaluation ensures you have the right bodies in the right seats as your company grows and the market evolves.
A Formal Sales Process is Key
One major mistake that many companies consistently make is failing to track in detail how well their reps follow the designed sales process. Too many companies do not have a formal sales process they require their reps to follow every time. In our experience, companies with a formal sales process outperform those companies without. An arbitrary sales process produces arbitrary sales results. Additionally, of the companies with a formal sales process, those that require their reps to adhere to a consistent process are the highest of all performers. The evidence is clear—when sales reps start winging it and break from the sales process, sales suffer.
The classic example of this is when a sales rep is making their prospecting calls and the potential customer says, “I’m interested, show me what you got.” The rep gets excited and jumps right into a product demo. They skip the discovery call, needs qualification, and other steps in the sales process, eager to accommodate the prospect. Data shows this is a mistake. The difference between reacting to the prospect’s request and following a formal sales process is what separates the high performers from the average.
Sales Compensation Remains a Strong Motivator
No sales assessment blog would be complete without mentioning ”compensation.” As a sales leader, this part of your team’s assessment is absolutely critical. Money is a motivator for sales reps but can be a detriment in certain situations. Do you have aggressive reps over-promising to prospects in order to close the deal? This could create headaches for support or high cancelation rates. Yet if you were only performing a surface review of the sales data, the numbers look great.
Alternatively, is your sales department a revolving door? Keeping the best talent on your team is critical. If you’ve ever had one of your best performers leave for the competition then you know how it feels. Selling in today’s competitive environment requires talent and losing talent to the competition is like losing a winning lottery ticket—very expensive. If you are looking for insights on retaining top sales talent, we covered that in our article 6 Tips to Retain Your Top Sales Talent.
Here’s the quick version—money is on the mind of top-performing sales reps. They’re not coming to work for the free coffee, even if coffee is for closers. If your reps are not competitively compensated, they will take their services to a more generous company. You have to keep track of this on an annual basis. The world-class companies will conduct an exit interview (not by their sales manager) and determine why they left.
As you can see, there is plenty of information you can uncover in a detailed sales assessment. In this article, we are just scratching the surface. Just like in any activity, the more you do it, the better you will get. For companies that are fanatical about improving sales performance, getting down into the nitty-gritty on a sales assessment is mandatory.
Based on the information you uncover in your annual assessment you will find areas to get better. You can then create an individual development plan for each member of your team. This type of formal process is the model for a world-class sales organization. As a result, the conversation that sales managers must have with their reps needs to go beyond something like, “Well you sold X dollars last year. This year we need you to do Y.”
The best-developed processes will not provide results unless supported by effective organizational processes. Leaders must demonstrate a focus on the “right things” and have the knowledge and skills to coach and develop rep performance. The reps themselves must possess the skills necessary to deliver on all phases of the relationship model and sales process. Both leaders and reps must have access to the right information at the right time in the right way. This is a key benefit of a rigorous sales assessment, discovering the skills and behaviors to work on next year.
In summary: profitability in 2022 will depend on your sales team’s productivity. Performing an annual assessment is the best way to ensure you have the right talent in place to reach your sales targets.