The success of your sales team determines the success of your entire business. After all, without new business coming in, any company will start to fall apart. If you’re building a sales team and want to grow your business, your sales strategy must be spot on. You should plan and create the opportunity for growth, without over extending your finances.
Kernan Consulting has developed this checklist based on industry best practices and success stories around the country. They have worked with hundreds of high performance sales teams and below is what the best of the best are doing.
10 Best Practices of a Successful Sales Department
- The Sales Plan It is almost impossible to be successful in sales and marketing if you don’t have a plan along with goals. Like a business plan, all business development teams should have a Sales Plan. A primary reason companies are being held back from successful selling is the lack of a sales plan that is understood by all. Your sales approach and process need to be defined as part of the Sales Plan.
- Create Goals/KPI’s – Your Sales metrics need to be clearly defined, that is your scoreboard. Attention must be given to how a company is keeping score of sales activities and results. Measure: activity goals: #Phone calls, #Meetings, Quotes/Pipeline, MRR, Sales, Revenue, Gross Margin Revenue. Create monthly goals and KPI’s so you can educate the team what you expect of them. Then monitor their activity through our tools and weekly meetings. Consider creating dashboards to watch real time.
- The USP (Unique Sales Proposition) – Does your sales message differentiate your company from the competition? The company’s sales message must distinguish the company from the competition by communicating unique value from the customers perspective. How are you better or different from your competition? Your entire team whether in sales or not need to have this memorized!
- Compensation Plans. As mentioned in point #2, what gets rewarded gets done. Comp plans and Gamification go hand in hand. Your company must have a competitive comp plan to attract and retain professional sales people.
- Marketing Leads. Hiring a sales rep, then throwing the yellow pages at them doesn’t work any longer. Sales has changed. Marketing must be able to feed MQL’s (Marketing qualified leads) to the sales team to prospect. Once they become qualified by sales, they become a SQL (Sales Qualified Lead). We recommend having a written marketing plan including goals, campaigns and other lead gen activities that can attract market development funds from your key vendor partners and ties into your firms USP.
- Sales Skills Training/Mentoring. You need to have a sales training, mentoring and product training program in place. When employees are trained and highly skilled, they will make you more money! You can’t hold people accountable to goals, if you fail to train them. This will dramatically help the culture, productivity and longevity of new people.
- Communication Structure: Hold weekly meetings for sales. We recommend either on Monday morning or Friday morning. Never make them longer than 45-60min max! Quarterly performance reviews/feedback. Performance reviews forces a manager to sit down and evaluate performance. For sales people reviews rarely mean they get a raise, it simply is a formal sit down to explain to them how they can make more commissions and grow professionally!
- The Right Software Tools – CRM/PSA and Quoting software. You need to have a software program that tracks all your contacts and activities for your entire team. You also need a Sales pipeline and forecasting tool for tracking and predicting your sales. Having a strong tool in place will help you not only shorten the sales-cycle but will win you more business.
- Sales/Marketing Staffing Requirements. Most sales teams consist of 4 different people based on the size of the organization and team. 1) Outside Sales Person or what I call the “Hunter”; 2) Inside Sales Person aka “Farmer”; 3) Sales Manager – normally needed when you have more than 5 sales people to manage and 4) Pre-Sales Engineer. This person normally goes with the outside sales person on larger service related opportunities and will help design the solution for the sales person and customer.
- Documented Sales Process. Be sure to document your sales process. It is challenging to train and manage sales people unless the process is written down. Creating this would help everyone to understand and follow the sales process. This should be part of the written sales plan and something that you will want to train your team to follow. Doing this will also increase efficiencies and increase sales!
James Kernan has served as a Principal Consultant for Kernan Consulting and provides Coaching, Advising and Mentoring programs to IT business owners and leaders.