What makes a high-performing sales team?

No doubt, these successful teams have uncovered the secret to closing deals faster, meeting incredible quotas, and growing quickly with ease.

But, how do they do it?

Steve W. Martin conducted a study in January, which he published in the Harvard Business Review, outlining distinctions between high-performing, average, and underperforming sales teams. The study analyzed responses from a 42-part survey with 786 sales professionals.

Based on Martin’s findings, as well as findings from Salesforce’s 2015 State Of Sales Report, surveying 2,300 global sales leaders, here’s what distinguishes high-performing sales teams from the rest:

1. They raise the bar and don’t back down.

Martin’s study found high-performing sales organizations were least likely to decrease their sales quota, or even keep it the same. Sixty-five percent of underperforming organizations and 48 percent of average organizations kept their quotas the same or decreased them.

Don’t be afraid to challenge your team by continuing to raise the bar. High performers thrive among challenges, they just need the right resources to conquer them. Give your team the tools they need to tackle those challenges head-on, whether it be a CRM that integrates with other tools, or a more efficient way to manage and send documents.

2. They hold team members accountable.

Martin’s study also found accountability to be a big factor affecting performance. Twenty-nine percent of high-performing sales team members strongly agreed they are consistently measured against their quotas and held accountable for results. But, only 13 percent of underperforming sales team members said this was the case at their organization.

Hold all team members accountable for meeting their quotas. When team members don’t experience or see others experience consequences for poor performance, such as a meeting to discuss how they can better meet their objectives, they may not take goals -- or the leaders who set them -- seriously.

To help keep in touch with your team, use a sales content platform that allows you to see the team’s workflow and actions that need to be taken on specific accounts. Communicate directly with team members by sending quick messages within the platform.

3. They embrace new tech.

High-performing sales teams -- defined as those who most consistently keep up with prospects’ and customers’ changing expectations -- use technology to accelerate sales processes, according to Salesforce. This creates more free time, which these high performers use to sell with nearly three times more functionality than underperforming teams.

Sales software has changed a lot throughout the last 15 years. Salesforce’s innovations have moved from the development of a service cloud, to customization capabilities, to a more recent launch of the Salesforce1 mobile app. What used to be “new tech” isn’t necessarily the newest, most efficient tool available now.

Look for new types of sales automation software to replace current, clunky processes and free up more time your reps can use to connect with new prospects.

4. They use analytics to get inside their prospects’ minds.

High-performing sales teams are three and a half times more likely than underperformers to use sales analytics, Salesforce’s report found. In fact, more sales teams are beginning to take notice of smart selling technologies like predictive analytics. Use of new analytics technology is expected to jump 77 percent among high performers within the next 12 to 18 months.

Analytics provide the insights sales teams need to be a better resource to prospects throughout their journey. When reps have tools that allow them to see when prospects open documents and what they read, they can better craft their strategy. Integrate analytics tools into your sales strategy to give your team a competitive advantage in engaging prospects.

5. They use mobile.

Nearly 60 percent of high-performing sales teams currently use or are planning to use a mobile sales app, the Salesforce report found. In fact, sales leaders expect mobile sales app use to double within the next two years.

With the impending rise of mobile, you’re going to want to adopt mobile-compatible sales technology, like Salesforce.

Within these best practices of high performers lies a common theme: fearlessness in owning goals and a willingness to adopt the tools to streamline accomplishing them. Provide your team with the tools it needs to reach its goals efficiently, and your organization will be among the high performers.

How would you define the performance of your sales organization? In what ways could implementing new tech improve your organization’s performance? Share in the comments below!

About the Author

Mikita Mikado is a software engineer, entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of PandaDoc, makers of all-in-one software that enables easier, faster delivery of high-quality, personalized sales proposals.

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