Up Your Game in 2017

blog156_upyrgame2017_1-1With 2016 behind us, it is time for sales organizations look back to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needs improvement. If 2016 was anything like 2015, chances are a whopping 45.4 percent of salespeople missed quota. In the CSO Insights 2015 Sales Compensation and Performance Management Study, only 54.6 percent of sales professionals produced enough revenue to meet quota. This deficiency raises an important question: Do 45.4 percent of salespeople fail to reach assigned goals because of lack of professional capabilities?

In my discussions with sales leaders this past week, I heard the same answers I heard at the end of 2015:

  • Not enough qualified leads
  • Lack of sales training
  • No formal sales process in place
  • Managers cannot effectively coach reps
  • Ramping up reps is too slow
  • Lost opportunities to no decision
  • Competition beating us on price
  • Sales burdened with administrative tasks
  • Sales team not properly led
  • Reps assigned unrealistic quotes
  • Deals not closed, but still in pipeline
  • Salespeople not properly hired

Each reason could be the cause for not making quota. But what’s the number one reason?

What if the real answer is how to make sellers more productive. Sales leaders know that if they can move the sales productivity needle, it will have a major effect on performance and revenue. Of course, it is easier said than done. Many sales organizations struggle with priorities and sales enablement. Here’s some key questions that sales leaders should consider:

  • What do your salespeople do well when they close new opportunities?
  • Where are the gaps?
  • What do the sales enablement drivers your organization address?
  • What best practice solutions do leading sales organizations employ?
  • What are new ways to increase sales effectiveness or efficiency?
  • Which sales enablement opportunities should become a priority?

blog156_upyrgame2017_1-2While not easy to answer, the right answers to these questions could mean the difference in hitting your 2017 numbers.

The best place to begin: Conduct an audit of your current performance against the key drivers of optimal sales performance. The CSO Insights Sales Optimization Study Sales Force Demographics Analysis helps sales leaders accomplish this important measurement, as well as find ways to improve sales performance─the ideal kick-off to your new year.

Another area to evaluate is your salespeople’s High-Payoff Activities (HPAs).

In my experience, top salespeople, sales managers, and sales leaders stay focused on HPAs. Once they have defined those HPAs, they zero in on completing their HPAs daily or, at least, weekly.

When you lead a team of salespeople, it is smart business to use HPAs as guideposts to coach your team because you more naturally pay attention to what matters. However, I see a problem.

Company executives constantly ask their salespeople to do things that are not HPA-related, diverting their teams into non-revenue building actions. To illustrate my point, take a few minutes to compare your team’s daily sales activities against the High-Payoff Activities Checklist. Every sales organization is different. Let this checklist guide you to building a customized checklist that suits the unique characteristics of your team.

Now, if you were honest with your responses, you can already see some areas that may be wasting the selling time of your team. Consider one or two. Updating the database. Completing sales reports. Well, you can hire a sharp intern at $20 an hour to do that. Or you can put pre-programmed iPads in the hands of every team member to do their sales call report online in real-time. Seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised how manual operations die hard.

My humble advice for 2017. Use an HPA checklist faithfully.

blog156_upyrgame2017_1-3Re-evaluate what doesn’t work. Reassign non-revenue building tasks. And recommit to the best practices of world-class sales teams.

I read a provocative statement recently on LinkedIn by a fellow entrepreneur and author, Kathy Finnerty Thomas, that sums up the spirit of this post:

“Mediocrity exists all around us. The greatest danger of mediocre is that it is highly contagious and spreads quickly. In a company with mediocre managers you have to work hard to fight it – there is no known antidote available once your organization becomes mediocre.”

Settle for more in 2017.

See you on the upside,

Bill

For more information, go to www.pleinairestrategies.com
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700

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