Tag: <span>Sales Performance Traps</span>


The Problem with Sales Performance Programs

11Blog: The Science of Sales, FeaturedTags: , , , , , , , December, 19

Whether you’re a numbers person or not, advances in technology and data management are continuously creating new opportunities for transforming and improving an organization’s sales effectiveness.

To understand how sales managers can improve their teams’ sales performance, we spoke with Mike Kunkle, founder of Transforming Sales Results, LLC and Vice President of Sales Enablement Services for the recently-rebranded SPARXiQ (formerly SPA and SPASIGMA). Mike is an internationally recognized sales force transformation expert with over 20 years experience designing sales learning systems and guiding companies through all aspects of sales transformation.

The Problem with Performance Management Programs

Mike points out that sales managers often lack an analytical approach to management which prevents them from seeing the forest for the trees. This should be of particular concern to sales leaders of fast growing companies as often the need for sales analytics increases with the size of the team. Research suggests that poor tracking of individual and team metrics is often the primary cause for low sales performance.

To achieve its full potential, a sales team needs to have reliable data available for analysis. While simple in theory, this is often trickier in practice, particularly for teams in which CRM adoption is relatively low.

For those teams, Mike recommends they make the move from CRM to DRM, from “Could Really Matter” to “Does Really Matter,” by ensuring that the CRM implementation, policies, and usage benefits the sales reps, as well as management.

In addition, most B2B sales organizations track team performance by focusing on low level activities such as the number of calls made or emails sent by sales person. And while the quality of these activities is often hard to measure, they can have a direct impact on how sales managers assess their team’s performance.

To address declining team performance many organizations turn to performance management programs. Dealing with performance improvement initiatives can often be challenging for certain sales organizations. When presented with more scientific approaches to sales management, sales leaders tend to stick to their tried and tested ways.

Spend More Time Coaching and Less Time Reporting

To help a sales team achieve its full potential, sales managers need to spend more time coaching and less time reporting. This can be complex at a collective level when a company has a culture that values “managing up” more than getting things done. This can also be challenging at the individual level because sales managers are typically gifted at selling, but not necessarily at managing and coaching.

Part of this, explains Mike, involves getting to know your team members better by measuring not their results vs. objectives, their activities (what and how much), and their sales methodology (how they do the activities – or the quality of the activities). Mike calls this the ROAM method (Results, Objectives, Activities and Methodology), which is a key part of his sales coaching system.

To improve team performance, you need to identify who needs coaching and what type of coaching is needed for each person, to close key performance gaps.

A simple way to do this is to measure conversion rate across the different pipeline stages. Create a dashboard of the recent historical averages of top, middle, and bottom producers and compare the conversion ratios to a specific sales team or individual. This will allow you to see how each rep on a given team is doing at each stage of the buying process and identify the biggest opportunities for improvement, whether it’s help with generating leads, moving deals from stage 2 to 3, or closing.

Management Needs Coaching Too

Sales managers often get caught up focusing on ‘making the numbers’ when sometimes it’s their very own skills that need improvement. Management coaching often gets neglected because senior leaders tend to operate with a specific playbook in mind that was developed in the past. But the right thing for a sales team to do yesterday may not be the best way forward today.

The biggest risk in sales management is failing to recognize that contexts, people and businesses change.


Use AI to Identify What Works

Sales leaders need to rethink how they support and enable their teams. Supporting an effective learning system is one way sales leaders can improve their team’s productivity.  Another way is to implement AI and machine learning to help isolate each factor that influences the sales process.

While there are a lot of tools to help sales reps be more productive, few are geared at helping sales teams as a whole. Implementing new sales tools and training salespeople to use them is far from trivial, emphasizes Mike. The key is to incorporate the tools and training into a coherent and usable process that helps sales professionals rather than drags them down. If they can achieve this, sales managers can make better business decisions and their teams can enjoy greater levels of effectiveness and success.

About Mike Kunkle

Mike Kunkle is an internationally recognized sales transformation, sales training and sales enablement expert.

Mike has spent 35 years in the sales profession and 25 years as a corporate leader or consultant, helping companies drive dramatic revenue growth through best-in-class training strategies and his proven-effective sales transformation methodologies. At one company, as a result of six projects, he and his team were credited with enabling an accretive $398MM in revenue, year-over-year. At another, within 9 months, newly-hired sales reps with 120 days on the job were outperforming incumbent reps with 5 years with the company. Mike is the founder of Transforming Sales Results, LLC, and today, works as the Vice President of Sales Enablement Services for SPARXiQ (formerly SPA & SPASIGMA), where he advises clients, writes, speaks at conferences, develops and leads webinars, designs sales training courses, delivers workshops, and designs sales enablement systems that get results.

You can connect with Mike on Linkedin and follow him on Twitter.


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3 Sales Performance Traps to Avoid

00Blog: The Science of Sales, FeaturedTags: , , , , , , November, 19

While selling has never been easy, it hasn’t become harder either. Selling has become a more refined process where efficiency is key. Increasing sales performance requires operational awareness of the quality of leads generated from marketing as well as the performance of individual salespeople.

With artificial intelligence (AI), your business can understand the deeper dynamics of the sales process, and make it possible to see the incremental value created by sales and marketing activities. You can then better allocate time and resources to unlock the performance gains within your organization. There are pitfalls to avoid, however. Here are three of the biggest, and what to do about them.


#1: Misallocating Sales and Marketing Resources

One of the biggest performance traps that organizations fall into is not understanding sales’ contribution to the revenue generation process and failing to allocate resources accordingly. This comes from recognizing the true revenue contribution of each salesperson and understanding the actual role that marketing and sales develop activities play in generating quality leads and opportunities. A mistake that many firms make is assuming that the people generating the revenue are the same ones who are closing the sales. This is not always the case.

The best sales person on the team isn’t necessarily the one who has signed the most contracts. Instead, it’s the one who has added the most value to the leads and opportunities received by the marketing and sales development teams. It may appear that sales professionals sell more because they’ve received more valuable leads from marketing, or they work a territory that has greater demand than another representative. An external market factor, such as a local competitor leaving the market, can also distort the picture of sales person’s performance.


#2: Assigning the Wrong Leads to the Wrong Salesperson

Many firms have inadequate awareness of the true dynamics of the sales process, because they don’t understand which sales professionals are actually producing the most value. This skewed assessment leads to many firms assigning some of the best leads to salespeople who are less likely to convert them into won deals.

With a better understanding of sales performance, organizations can optimize sales performance by allocating the best leads to the most productive sales professionals or those who can maximize the sales volume for a lead. This is accomplished by having the best product knowledge or closing effectiveness, generating incremental sales value without increasing marketing expenses or sales headcount.


#3: Inefficient Training for Your Sales Staff

As counter-intuitive as it seems, sales professionals can actually destroy value when marketing activities have produced a quality lead. Negative sales value often arises when a rep has insufficient product knowledge, a low work ethic or inadequate closing skills. Having the right operational intelligence, makes it easy to train the right sales professionals on the right skill.

With better awareness of the true contribution of each sales professional, implementing spot training for those who need it can have a huge impact on overall sales performance.


Avoiding Performance Traps

While improving sales performance requires better operational intelligence, most firms do not have the time, skills or resources to analyze their sales data comprehensively enough to generate this insight.

The good news is that advances in statistical science, machine learning, natural language processing and AI now allow businesses to analyze their sales and CRM data for new levels of understanding that were not possible before.

For a deeper look at improving your company’s sales performance, check out Cien’s Guide to Solving Sales Performance Traps.


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all reps can achieve quota - cien