In a recent sales effectiveness research report , 71% of the sales leaders surveyed named “uncertain economic recovery” ahead of the usual suspects: longer buying cycles, weak talent pool, and competitive attacks. In spite of the relentless economic headwind, world-class sales organizations continue to make their numbers and grow revenue. What are they doing that sets them apart?
Best-in-class sales organizations share many common traits, but they work 3 levers in harmony to deliver top performance.
Lever 1: Formal Sales Process – A formal sales methodology – either homegrown or from an external provider is the prerequisite for success. 83% of the Best-in-Class sales organizations (measured by quota performance, average deal size and lead conversions) rely on a predictable, repeatable sale process to achieve business results. A formal sales process, mapped to the customers’ buying process and defined by clear exit criteria at each stage is a basic requirement. Even two-thirds of the laggards have implemented one. What else separates Best-in-Class from the laggards?
Lever 2: Competency Assessment – The difference, of course, is people. Even the most brilliantly conceived sales process depends on a skilled sales force to effectively convert opportunities into orders. Top performing sales organizations regularly assess the competencies of their sales reps to identify skills gaps. This is dramatically different from the laggards, who assess competencies only one-third as often (60% vs. 36%). Using pre- and post-event evaluations, top performers measure the impact that training makes on performance. In addition to targeting gaps that result in poor adoption and implementation of the sales process, competency assessments help in territory alignment, specialist assignments and even career development. Satisfied and motivated employees are essential to a delightful customer experience which enables repeat business to flourish.
Lever 3: Train the Trainer – If people are the difference, then what makes them effective? The answer is knowledge and skills. Gaps identified in the competency assessment become the focus of training curriculum. But a key differentiator in world-class organizations is the way the content is delivered. More than half use a Train-the-Trainer approach. They empower their sales leaders with the educational tools and delivery techniques to transfer the knowledge.
Learning and development professionals describe learning content that is lost as “scrap learning.” An article by KnowledgeAdvisers, reports an average 38% scrap rate immediately after a training event and a scrap rate of 56% by the 6 month mark. The key to reducing scrap is reinforcement. After training, managers make training more effective by creating an environment in which the learner can apply newly acquired skills. The manager can also provide multiple opportunities to apply knowledge and constructive feedback so the learner can build and hone skills. The best way to engage the manager in the learning process is at the start, as the Trainer.
Key Take-Aways: The 3 Levers of Success are proven differentiators that separate The Best from The Rest. If your organization is relying on just one or two of the levers, you have a significant opportunity for sales process improvement. Click on the link below to find out more about taking your organization to the next level.
If you have ever used the Train-the-Trainer approach, or served as a sales instructor, please comment on your experience. Our clients find that it is the most difficult and most rewarding lever to master.