Scoring the point that wins the game feels like closing a big sale. Sales and sports have a lot in common. They’re competitive institutions with high stakes and high rewards. Both arenas require players to possess many different skill-sets that work in harmony to achieve greatness as well.
Reaching the top of his game meant that Michael Jordan had to perfect his ability to steal, make shots from anywhere on the court, and dribble past world-class defense. This took endless hours of practice, high-level training, and guidance.
Behind every great sports legend—Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Michael Phelps—is a great coach. In sports, and in life, outstanding performances are achieved when talent meets guidance that inspires, informs, and pushes the boundaries of what is believed to be possible.
The same is true for sales. If you want to achieve tremendous growth and success, you must seek out guidance that inspires, educates, and pushes you beyond your self-imposed limits.
You must also assess your entire ‘game.’ You can’t just focus on making the shot or closing the deal, and then expect to rise to the top of your market. You must invest time into analyzing and improving all the skills that support and lead up to the closing handshake. This honed-in focus endows your process with efficacy and consistency, attributes that all successful athletes and salespeople have in common. According to a study performed by Forbes Insight, “Value and consistency separate top salespeople from the pack.”
If you don’t know how to get there, we’re about to show you how. This article is about maximizing your sales goals and earnings. It’s an updated version of a previously published article that we’re revisiting because many sales leaders are not adopting these practices. Early adoption can lead to growing faster than the market and your competitors, so it’s worth a second look.
We won’t be touching upon your standard numbers: revenue, the percentage of quota, customer retention, etc. We’re digging deeper. All these facets of sales depend on one fundamental factor: your ICP – that is to say, your Ideal Competency Profile numbers.
Building your ICP is the game-changer that bridges the gap from okay sales to great sales, and from 45% consistency to 75% consistency. It gives you higher efficacy and value, while amplifying your earning potential.
Increasing Your ICP
Your end-of-year evaluations and numbers are all dependent on your ICP. Many Sales Reps completely overlook this critical factor, which limits their earnings. We don’t want you to be one of them. Investing in your ICP is the key to effectively and sustainably increasing your closing rate and putting money in your pocket.
It is our promise to you that when you employ the strategies in this article—when you build your ICP into a powerhouse that fuels your ability to close—you will see measurable growth in your sales numbers and your earnings.
Let’s get right to it then. There are two simple strategies for improving your ICP:
- Increase your access to coaching
- Sabermetrics = Moneyballing: Tracking your numbers statistically instead of theoretically
The athletes who become stars in their given sport are the players who are committed to learning and growth. They seek out more coaching and tools for success because they’re hungry and never satisfied with the status quo. You must share this mindset if you want to break through the barriers to the top of your market.
You can move into the starting lineup of your team through a commitment to training and pushing the limits of your potential. This requires a coach. 66% of Sales Reps believe that increasing the amount of coaching they receive from sales managers would increase their sales. They see coaching as a crucial investment that’s equally important to making calls and presenting deals. Are you among this 66%?
According to the same Forbes Insight study, “Nearly three-fourths (74%) of leading companies cite coaching and mentoring of sales reps as the most important role front-line sales managers play.” To bring the point further home, research conducted at the Sales Executive Counsel finds that, “No other productivity investment comes close to coaching in improving reps’ performance.”
If coaching is the defining factor of successful sales performances, it needs to be viewed as a high-value tool that you leverage often. The bottom line: proper coaching is paramount to increasing your competencies en route to becoming a Hall of Famer in your squad.
Improve Your Player Averages – Push for Coaching
You want the training and you’re committed to rising to the top. But, how do you get the adequate amount of coaching that pushes your career to the next level? The golden rule that sets apart top performing Sales Reps from the majority is: Don’t wait for your manager to come to you. Go to your manager, and get the training that you need and deserve.
You know how to be assertive and persistent. Take these same qualities that help you close deals and use them in service of the upward trajectory of your career.
Furthermore, now is the time to leverage this option. You’re at a point in the year when you’re discussing next year. Your manager obviously wants you to succeed and hit these numbers. Showing up and asking for more conveys that you’re hungry for growth and success, and that you’re ready to be a top Sales Rep for your company. It sets you apart from the pack, and most importantly, the added coaching you’ll receive gives you the edge to make it to the top.
How Do You Achieve This?
Give him the squeeze – In baseball terms, you may have your manager in a pickle between 1st and 2nd base. Employ the old Give-Get strategy to negotiate more coaching, training, and metric-based analytics. Now is the perfect time to approach the subject when you’re in discussions regarding quota, compensation, and next year’s goals. After all, sales management is responsible for Sales Performance Management.
Build those skills by utilizing the tools around you. Your manager is one of those tools. Your HR department may be another. Oftentimes HR is familiar with which competencies to evaluate, and you may be able to use this to improve your performance. If HR doesn’t have this knowledge, they can contact SBI to establish the right benchmarking criteria.
Moneyballing: Improving Sales Competencies
If you want to succeed, next year’s strategy can’t simply be, “Sell more,” or, “Sell better.” That’s like a baseball team missing the playoffs saying, “Well, next year we’ll just win more games.” It doesn’t work that way. You need to strategically analyze the weak points and improvements necessary to create substantial growth. In a recent survey of 400 B2B Sales Leaders — 40% of them feel they don’t have the data they need to run effective analysis. This makes it very hard achieve growth and results. Enter SBI’s version of sabermetrics.
Sabermetrics is a form of analysis made famous by the movie “Moneyball.” When first employed, the strategy defied conventional baseball logic for determining the skill levels of individual players. (For example: Batting average was no longer the most important factor. Instead, the greater focus was on how frequently a player got on base.) It shifted a team strategy from scoring more runs to getting more players on base, which increased the chances of scoring. It essentially required a greater mathematical, micro approach to winning baseball games.
The same Moneyballing logic can be applied to your own sales performance. Its comprehensive approach to measuring the efficacy of your selling process equips you with the knowledge and tools to achieve rapid growth. It pushes you to a new level self-awareness and accountability. Your weak spots will no longer be hidden, and you will be challenged to improve them, and therefore, your overall ICP.
If you want to sharpen your selling skills, you need to improve your individual competencies, piece-by-piece. Your thought process shouldn’t simply be, “I need to make more sales.” It should be, “I need to get better at discovering prospect needs,” which in turn, leads to more sales.
A multi-focused and multi-strategy approach to sales is the key to dramatically growing your numbers. “Scoring”, or being the top sales agent on your team, isn’t only about improving your close rate. You must strategically improve every process and factor that supports your close rate and leads to more referrals, increased sales, and reduced sales cycle length. You must look at the entire sales machine and hone in on every nut and bolt—no matter how big or small—to ensure that your sales process is in top condition and bringing you top results. This is the path to sales mastery.
The Difference Between a Good Year and Great Year
There’s a reason world-class athletes seek out coaching. They know that there’s always room for growth and improvement, even when you’re a master. You’ve developed a selling style that is uniquely yours, but perhaps it’s time to have your coach make a small adjustment in your delivery or the way you address the ball…or your customer. These tweaks could be the difference between a good year and a great year. Now is the time to incorporate talent management into your lineup.
To grow, you must shift your sales mindset from theoretical to practical. Each step in your selling process is a building block. As you perfect each block, your selling becomes stronger as a whole. When every step of your process is at peak performance, your sales numbers are guaranteed to be robust, as are your earnings.
What to Improve – A List of Competencies
SBI has compiled a list of over 50 competencies that we use to assess various roles in the sales department, from the CSO to the Lead Development Rep. You could call it our version of Moneyballing. All subjectivity is removed – at least as much as possible. All that remains is an analysis of performance and opportunities for growth.
Below is snapshot from a talent assessment, which shows a partial list focused on the competency of Sales Skills.
These competencies have been standardized. We determine the weight and rank of each competency as it applies to your organization. Download the Individual Sales Rep Competency Chart Template here.
If you’re looking at the number of competencies and feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. You may be thinking, “I’d rather have my toenails pulled out one-by-one while taking a verbal lashing.” Keep your toenails intact. You don’t need to tackle all 50 competencies at once.
Here’s a simple guideline to follow: If you’re an individual contributor, you should be focused on 12 to 15. If you’re in management or above, you’ll need about 15 to 20.
Here are a few examples to help get you thinking:
- Selling Skills: With 14 attributes, such as sales approach, negotiating, and active listening.
- Selling Knowledge: 7 attributes, including pricing methods, margin analysis, and proposal.
- Personal Skills: 9 attributes, including analysis, creativity, and risk taking.
- Interpersonal Skills: 8 attributes, including resourcefulness, adaptability, and independence.
- Motivational Skills: 8 attributes, including tenacity, ambition, and passion.
Sales Competencies and Moneyballing: It’s not a shot in the dark. It’s the same logic that is taking the world by storm: using (sometimes unconventional) data to make informed decisions and improve performance. In hindsight, I’ll bet David Cameron wishes he’d had data scientist Nate Silver (sabermetrics guru) in his corner reading the stats. He might have helped with a pre-Brexit vote adjustment or two.
There are no more excuses. If you want to better your numbers and performance, you have the tools to do so. And we’re here for you.
Contact us today if you have questions about how to utilize the Moneyballing strategy in your organization.
Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you have the right strategies to support your revenue growth goals? Here is an that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate your Sales Strategy against SBI’s emerging best practices to find out if:
- Your revenue goal is realistic
- You will earn your bonus
- You are set-up for success in 2018