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Tips to Improving Sales Performance

By Dave Mather Created: November 3, 2012 Last Updated: November 5, 2012
Related articles: Business » Companies
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The majority of sales effectiveness initiatives involve deploying technology. However, technology alone cannot improve performance.

According to Accenture’s “2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study,” less than 15 percent of organizations achieved improved win rates from implementing technology-driven sales tools, and 85 percent did not increase revenue from technology deployments.

The one big factor for stagnant sales is still an inability to identify the most likely buyers of the products or services.

In recent years, more than 74 percent of sales forces fall short of annual quotas. This is a horrible track record.

The one big factor for stagnant sales is still an inability to identify the most likely buyers of the products or services.

I wonder if organizations will ever know how many sales are left on the table. Every time we work with salespeople on their performance, they increase sales from 12 to 80 percent or more. This indicates that missed opportunities are still an issue ignored by most managers.

Here’s a tip: If salespeople say, “These leads are no good,” then revisit their competency in converting leads to sales. It’s also a good idea to revisit your customer profile and help salespeople get connected to the high-value prospects in your market.

‘Gold’ Calls

If your organization requires salespeople to find new business, then you need people who love to uncover opportunities and are not afraid of making “cold calls.” It’s a good idea to frame new business as “gold” calls, not “cold” calls!

Hire people who want to connect with people they don’t yet know. Order-taking, ineffective salespeople often say, “You give me a good prospect, and I’ll make the sale every time.”

This indicates that they believe it is the company’s job to provide them with “good” leads.

Hire people who want to connect with people they don’t yet know.

Early in my sales career, one of my mentors told me, “Dave, do yourself a favour. When the organization provides you with a lead and you do not get business from them, tell yourself, ‘I failed to further interest them’ rather than ‘they’re not interested.’”

A person who visited our website or emailed our company was obviously interested in something. I was the one who failed to move the sale along. This kept my focus where it belonged—on my sales competency.

Hiring Priorities

In your onboarding process, observe if the candidate is as good a listener as they are a talker. Do they overpower the conversation? Do they listen impatiently, focused on when they’d next get their opportunity to talk? These are two of the many clues that poor listeners send out.

We hire people based on their thinking, then match them to the position’s behavioural requirements and their alignment to the organization’s values. We can teach people how to sell more effectively, but we cannot teach them to want to sell our products and services.

High on our list of hiring priorities is a candidate’s core values and ability to learn from coaching and feedback.

Hiring industry-experienced people is often desirable, but sometimes we’re just hiring our competition’s problems.

High on our list of hiring priorities is a candidate’s core values and ability to learn from coaching and feedback. Test candidates out by asking, “Are you open to some feedback?” If they are defensive or appear disinterested in learning their craft, be careful.

We live in an ever-changing world and staying stationary can be disastrous. It will be necessary in the near future for our associates to adjust to changes in the marketplace. If they are inflexible, we will lose prospective business we cannot afford to lose.

Most performance issues can be traced back to ineffective hiring, so it is imperative that we develop higher-level interviewing and onboarding practices. They will serve us well in the future.

Dave Mather is a Performance Improvement Specialist at Dale Carnegie Business Group in Toronto. His columns can be read at ept.ms/dave-mather

Find Dave on LinkedIn.

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