The IT industry is undoubtedly one of the most competitive industries in the world. Companies are constantly fighting to be at the top of their game. From telecommunications to data storage and security, your company's technology is what keeps you afloat. If your technology isn't up-to-date or appropriately optimized, it could be detrimental to your company's success. That's why it's so important for owners to hire a dedicated IT sales team to help them grow their businesses by providing sound technological solutions without breaking the bank.
However, one area that often gets overlooked is optimizing your company's IT sales team. We often misconstrue that good sales reps are only concerned with closing deals. While they have to close deals to be successful, other factors are involved, like building relationships or understanding the customer's needs and wants before presenting solutions.
That said, creating a better IT sales team doesn't come easy; you'll need practical strategies for each step of your sales funnel. There are many ways to optimize your IT sales team, but here are some of the best tips for optimizing your IT sales team.
Assessing Team Sales Performance
While a plethora of information is available, it's still possible for businesses to be unsuccessful if their staff isn't working together effectively. Many organizations fail because they don't invest in employee development and training, allowing stagnating knowledge and opportunities.
They might have a competent and fully capable sales team contributing something to the sales pipeline, but they might not have the best sales performance because their sales reps are not trained enough to contribute a lot to the sales cycle.
The one aspect of business that these companies tend to neglect the most is sales. At the same time, many think that this business area is self-sustainable or doesn't require much additional input; these assumptions couldn't be further from the truth.
With customers only willing to pay so much for your product or service, you must get maximum value from every sale you make; ensuring that your sales teams continue to grow your revenue stream will also be sustainable long into the future no matter the sales cycle.
That said, in this article, we'll look at five ways to optimize your sales team for maximum growth and productivity:
- Define a clear path for new hires - ensuring they're adequately prepared to succeed in their role
- Ensure that time is used efficiently - every hour spent with a client should benefit them or your company in some way
- Breaking sales into smaller chunks - allowing individuals and teams to deliver consistent results
- Introduce rewards - being able to see the fruits of their labor motivates them to find ways to increase sales
- Track performance - this allows sales managers to identify areas of improvement and increase sales productivity
1. Define a clear path for new hires by investing in sales training
For any company, having the right employees is extremely important. This becomes even more essential when recruiting into an area where there were previously no jobs available. Hiring entry-level employees with potential and then providing them with the necessary training can be considered an investment rather than an expenditure because it allows businesses to develop the potential of new recruits at more cost-efficient rates.
By giving your employees the tools to improve sales performance and succeed in their field, you are more likely to retain them long-term (instead of simply hiring people who are desperate for work). Sales reps sell well if they are familiar with how the sales processes work and expected to contribute to the sales pipeline both as members and sales leaders.
Some of the benefits of having training programs for new sales reps are:
- There will be less downtime as the business won't have to spend time retraining staff repeatedly
- It also means that you'll need less headcount to do the same amount of work - making it easier for the business to stay afloat during economic downturns or periods where revenue is lower than expected
- It's easier to improve the performance of your sales teams if they are already well-versed with the basics of the sales industry and your sales processes
Ensuring that new hires are adequately prepared for success in their position should start before they even enter they talk to their first customer. You can't expect someone who has never done this type of job before to come into the position and immediately be effective; this means you'll need to invest some time in training them. One of the key performance indicators in assessing each sales teams' overall sales performance is the abundance of training opportunities and sales tools available.
This is crucial if you want to ensure that new sales team members are well prepared for dealing with rebuttals from customers and meeting their sales targets. Ideally, they should complete several units of study/training before taking up their job (if possible). An effective onboarding process paired with a good sales training program should only take two to three months.
2. Increase sales productivity
Your sales professionals will constantly be interacting with clients; this means it's extremely important to make sure that the time sales reps spend with each client is used as efficiently as possible. That means effective profiling of clients, a better understanding of the customer journey, consumer buying behaviors, and effective application of sales strategies.
Many companies already have built-in sales processes that outline their sales funnel, how sales reps should handle one-on-one meetings with clients, and ultimately, how to close deals. However, very few go a step further and actually measure whether or not these objectives are being met. If you want to achieve maximum growth for your sales team, you need to know that every hour spent with a client will maximize their value either by increasing revenue or decreasing costs.
For instance, one technique that can help you control meeting durations is Timeboxing. This involves setting a fixed timeframe for discussions so everyone knows how much time is available.
This can make it easier to eliminate waste and ensure that people don't spend more time talking about something than is required (as there will be a hard stop at the end of the session). You can also use this technique with your clients. For example, let's say your sales team has a maximum of 20 minutes to discuss strategies for increasing sales conversions with each client. Once the time is up, you know that your team needs to wrap up the conversation and schedule another meeting for later.
Maximizing your revenue comes down to having highly engaged employees who are constantly developing their skills through on-the-job learning and formal training programs - preparing them for success sometimes, even before they start working for you.
3. Break the sales process into smaller chunks
In a sales environment, you need employees who are constantly striving towards achieving their sales goals and displaying a high level of engagement and productivity. And for these individuals to be able to perform at their best, they need bullets and not blanks.
A good way to motivate and engage your team is by breaking the sales process down into smaller chunks that can be completed in a shorter timeframe. Of course, you will still need to have a larger goal in mind, but by breaking down the different milestones and steps of the sales process into smaller pieces, employees can see that they're making more tangible progress towards achieving their goals.
For example, using the Timeboxing approach mentioned above, you could break your sales team's weekly quota into smaller units that they can manage on an hourly basis. For instance, let's say each salesperson needs to meet or exceed five qualified leads per week - you could give them four hours every day (or 20 hours over the course of a week) to find and cultivate these leads.
Therefore, split these goals down into smaller chunks instead of imposing a single target on your entire team or making unrealistic promises about the amount of money they can make. For instance, if you want someone's monthly sales transactions to reach $100,000, then break this down into chunks of $25,000, so they have 4 separate targets to work towards. This will also stop employees from becoming too complacent once they've hit one of their targets. It can also build healthy competition among sales teams.
4. Introduce rewards to motivate your sales team
One of the best ways to keep employees motivated is by showing them how their hard work has paid off. If you have a sales team working toward increasing revenue, they should be rewarded each time they've made a significant sale that contributed toward this goal. Rewards and incentives are integral parts of healthy company culture, and it also helps improve sales performance across all teams.
Additionally, it's also important to make sure the rewards are worthwhile; for example, an employee who has increased revenue by $50,000 in a month might be rewarded with something they want but not something that's beyond the budget.
Sales leaders should also be proactive in setting up healthy competition among sales teams. For instance, if one of your sales representatives has performed better than the rest, they could be given a more prominent role or position within the team, a bonus, or a token of appreciation for their excellent work.
5. Track sales performance to check productivity and ensure that sales goals are being met
While it can be useful to track progress toward sales targets, this isn't going to be nearly as effective if you can measure performance beyond just a quick review. Through performance management, sales managers can identify areas where their team members need to improve while also providing the right coaching and training to ensure that they can meet their sales goals.
At its core, performance management is about establishing sales KPIs, measuring performance through sales data, and finding ways to boost sales performance through consistent coaching and training. By implementing performance management tools, managers get detailed reports that provide an overview of an employee's performance; they can use this information to provide the proper guidance and motivation when needed.
For example, when you track the progress being made toward targets, then you can get a much more comprehensive overview of how well an employee is performing - seeing if they're surpassing their targets or falling behind. From there, you can provide them with feedback, so they know what areas of their performance need to be improved upon.
Optimizing Sales to Improve Business Growth
A well-tuned sales team is central to business growth. As a matter of fact, according to a survey by Forbes, a vast majority of sales executives surveyed believe that a larger workforce leads to an increase in revenue.
Here are some other benefits your sales team will gain from proper optimization:
More sales made. As you know, more sales equate to bigger profits and higher revenues for your company.
Improved productivity. Sales reps won't have to spend time on menial administrative tasks like scheduling interviews and requesting clients' information. In turn, they can focus more on closing sales and generating leads, pushing them to work harder and be more productive over the long term.
Improved job satisfaction. With more freedom to be creative with how they want to improve productivity and achieve higher revenues, employees can do their jobs more effectively and feel more fulfilled in their careers.
Overall, sales optimization is about finding the right balance between productivity and profitability.