How To Improve Sales Effectiveness In 3 Steps
by Carl Carell, on March 13, 2019
Sales effectiveness is a top-of-mind discussion point for corporate executives, especially those leading B2B companies where team-based and complex selling environments prevail.
According to CSO Insights, 41% of sales leaders say increasing sales effectiveness is their top priority.
But if you ask a room of 100 sales professionals, you’ll likely get 100 different answers on what sales effectiveness is! Some will talk about performance against goals, while others may refer to revenue or profit. Many say effectiveness has to do with making better use of one’s time.
The problem of defining sales effectiveness is an important one. Without a clear definition, it’s impossible to measure it. And without measurement, it’s impossible to improve it.
Unique To Every Company
Sales effectiveness can be defined as the discipline, including tools and techniques, of enabling a sales organization to maximize revenue while minimizing sales costs. So it refers to the average performance and output of each sales rep.
And for different organizations, this output could be improved profit, revenue, sales of a new product, or something else entirely — it all depends on how company strategy defines success. For instance, if your strategy calls for penetration into specific markets, expansion of certain products or services, or a shift in geographic footprint, an effective sales team will deliver sales to support that strategy.
So sales effectiveness is variable and unique to each company. And no matter how great a sales team’s numbers are if their work is not supporting company strategy, it’s not effective.
How Do You Measure Your Effectiveness?
To improve the effectiveness of your sales force, you first need to define what effectiveness means to you and how to measure progress. This comes down to having realistic goals for specific sales metrics and KPIs.
Depending on your organizational goals and the team’s structure, potential metrics for sales effectiveness include:
- Percent of sales reps achieving quota
- Average Quota attainment
- Average on-target earnings
- Average deal size
- Sales cycle length
- Vertical sales adoption
- Sales preparedness
Based on these KPIs, you can get a sense of sales effectiveness on a variety of levels, such as:
- Per product, territory, etc.
- Newer reps vs. more experienced reps (i.e. tenure)
- For buyers at different stages
- Individual vs. group average
- Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Annual
Sales Productivity, Effectiveness & Efficiency
Remember what Peter Drucker said: “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”
Sales Productivity is the ratio of the outputs obtained (effectiveness) versus the inputs invested (efficiency). In sales terms, your output could be the number of calls you make or demos you set in a day, whereas inputs could be the time you spent on those activities.
So sales productivity is all about maximizing time spent on the most critical sales rep activities (prospecting, client meetings, networking) and minimizing the resources needed to accomplish them (i.e. time, money, effort). Here is a simple formula:
[Sales Productivity = Efficiency x Effectiveness]
In short, efficiency is about knocking on as many doors as possible; and effectiveness is about what you do when the doors open.
Efficiency reveals how fast sales reps complete tasks, but it says nothing about whether you’re doing the right tasks. A highly efficient team performing all the wrong tasks will still be a highly ineffective team.
On the other hand, effectiveness relates to how well you use your resources to accomplish goals. Suppose two competing teams are equally efficient and split up their time the same way. On each team, all sales reps spend 80% of their time selling and only 20% on administrative tasks. If one team has higher sales effectiveness, they will outperform the other.
For example, ineffectiveness might occur when reps blindly send content to prospects and customers without knowing what works and what doesn’t or without tailoring content based on the persona or sales situation.
Improving efficiency is often the easier of the two tasks since it can be accomplished by simply shuffling tasks on the calendar to make room for more productive effort.
Effectiveness requires a lot more effort to improve because it involves the development of additional capability on the part of your sales team. Whether that incremental capability comes through training, or coaching, or the implementation of new sales tools, there’s almost always a period of learning and adoption that must be endured to reach higher levels of sales effectiveness.
How To Improve Effectiveness
Broadly speaking, there are best practices in four categories that if optimized in B2B selling will lead to improved sales effectiveness:
- People: Implement a sales effectiveness program to identify both the process and information needs of your sales organization.
- Process: Structure a sales process with a sales methodology, applying its grammar as the language of the sales team.
- Technology: Automate and optimize your sales process to minimize administrative and non-selling activities.
- Information: Simplify to access relevant sales content when assembling customer-facing materials such as proposals and presentations.
But how do you do that? Let’s dive in.
Step1: Enhance & Automate Your Sales Process
The most impactful way to boost effectiveness is by enhancing your sales processes. It might seem like your processes are working just fine, but by making assumptions and not working to make things better, you are limiting yourself and your sales representatives.
To improve effectiveness, you need to outline a consistent sales process and then set sales objectives around those activities or related to specific sales goals. And once you set these objectives, you continuously have to measure performance both on a group and individual level. According to Salesforce, companies that follow a defined workflow are 33% more likely to be high performers.
Optimizing your sales process is only one part of the game. To further improve your sales effectiveness, at the same time, you have to automate your sales process for email automation, lead scoring, lead distribution, call logging, lead enrichment, sales pipeline reporting, etc.
Step2: Align With Buyer’s Journey
Yes, the first step is to tighten your sales process. And the next step is to align it with your buyer’s journey. Because today, buyers don't want to be sold something. They rather look for additional information about your product or service that they can't find online.
For that reason, your classic sales process—of prospecting, qualifying, proposing and closing—no longer cuts it. Rather than centering your process on a scripted sequence of product-first messages, you have to focus first on guiding your buyers through their journey. For step-by-step instructions on how to do that, read our article.
Step3: Invest In Sales Enablement & Engagement
What good is a sales process if your people lack the skills to execute it? And what value does great sales collateral create if it's not found and used at the right time in the process? This is exactly why you need to invest in sales enablement. Modern sales enablement tools make sure sales content appear directly in the salesperson’s workflow, which helps to reinforce training, ramp-up new hires and ensure "learning on the job".
What about tracking the sales document you have sent? Sales engagement platforms like GetAccept might help you simplify this process by giving you clear, accessible sales engagement analytics. Having the ability to see definitive data on what works and what doesn’t, you can optimize your sales process, follow best practices, and target the right customers with the right sales content every time.
Alright, now it’s your turn. Which steps are you going to take to improve your sales effectiveness? For further information on how we can help you with this, watch our demo video.