When you’re in grade school, participation badges help every student feel like a winner. If you grow up and end up working in sales, however, you’re going to need a lot more to turn into a true top performer.
The best sales teams are driven by managers who coach based on what they know to be the traits that align with excellence. That doesn’t just mean hitting a quota but keeping customers from straying to competitors, helping them speed up the time to a decision or getting customers to agree to a case study. Top performers often only represent a fraction of the entire sales team, and they still have bad days occasionally.
Rather than over-relying on those superstars — and risk having them burn out — the best managers have a sales team structure with a mix of reps. They’ve also learned to look at the rest of the team as potential top performers. Much as you develop a pipeline of opportunities to sell to a lead or prospect, coaches look for windows of opportunity that could encourage a rep to up their game.
Sales team building activities don’t have to happen at an offsite or as some sort of semi-annual activity. You can actually build it into your day-to-day. If you’re already using a CRM solution such as Salesforce’s Sales Cloud, some of these strategies may be even easier to put into practice:
How might a top performer have prepared for that all-important pitch meeting in the past? Maybe by reading up on the firm in the business section of the newspaper, or poring over the company’s annual reports and filings. More recently, they might have searched around for news and updates on search engines and social networks.
Coach your potential top performers to better anticipate what should go in their pitch deck by looking at how a lead has been nurtured through marketing automation such as Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud, from the awareness stage onward. The more prepared they are, the more confident they’ll be.
Top performers can not only sense what their customers are going through but also demonstrate a level of caring and concern that wins trust. Many reps have a high degree of empathy already, but you can amplify it by making strategic use of information.
While empathy might kick in particularly strong during a face-to-face meeting when a customer shares their pain points, leveraging data before the meeting enables reps to already walk a mile in their customers’ shoes, so to speak. Customers will be quick to respond to sales teams that treat them like human beings, not just a stepping stone to closing a deal.
Not every deal is going to close, even for a top performer. Reps who show promise can get easily discouraged if, for one reason or another, things don’t go their way.
The value of a CRM solution, however, is that it offers a way for the entire team to deepen its understanding about a customer or prospect, regardless of whether they buy or not. By encouraging the team to contribute to the collective knowledge about an account their latest failure might be perceived as just another step towards long-term success. Good coaches help team members see the long-term outcomes of a particular play. It’s no different when you’re trying to motivate a sales team.
Top performers often look beyond the targets they are assigned by their organization or their manager. They are naturally competitive and look to achieve a personal best as well as doing better than others on the team. Some coaches are content to simply sit back and let that happen, but here’s an alternative:
The analytics within tools like Sales Cloud allow you to have a much better sense of what the future might look like in terms of closed deals. Meet with a top performer or a rep on the rise to look at what the data is telling you, and set a goal with more than just innate desire to succeed behind it. Even if they don’t reach the goal, they’ll develop their skills as they measure against what the analytics tells them.
When you have a lot on your plate, you can feel overwhelmed, or you can get serious about getting things off it. Top performers consistently do the latter, but that doesn’t mean they’re always making the best use of their time.
During your next sit-down, have a conversation to explore what’s keeping them busy, and look for where automation, artificial intelligence such as Salesforce Einstein and mobile tools could take away some tasks so they can focus even more on the areas they love best: connecting with customers and growing the business.
“No, no, no.” Salespeople hear the same thing all day long but they still manage to remain upbeat and continue pitching. Top performers may breeze past the negativity ore than some of their coworkers, but coaches can play a strong role in keeping everyone’s morale high. How? By providing access to the complete picture of how customers are being served — from the sales and marketing stage to ongoing support — they’ll be more aware than ever before of the difference they’re making in other people’s lives. That matters more to sales teams than some might realize.
No one starts out as a top performer, but many more sales reps could turn into one with the right coach standing behind them. With the right technology tools to assist with the process, this is a perfect moment to get started.
Learn more ways to help your sales team succeed with our ebook, “4 Steps to Transforming Your Sales Process.”