By Marty D. Blake, Chief Operating Officer, Optimé International Inc.
As a sales leader, you are well aware that you need to build as many proven best practices and processes as you can into your sales organization – if you want to meet and exceed all of your objectives. (I think I’ve mentioned that once or twice!) I’ve written a lot about processes – but what about best practices? I want to look at the five that I believe to be critical to any high-performing sales team.
Having a clearly defined business strategy and an efficient sales force is only half the battle. You need to make sure that you have clearly defined objectives that tie directly into the broader company goals. Make them challenging for you and your team. (Usually, your C-level organization or your Board will have already done this for you!) Ensure that each and every member of the team knows what they are and what element of them will be their responsibility.
2. Value Proposition
Knowing your competencies, customers and competition will help your business to create its value proposition. A value proposition is important for every sales organization, because it helps your prospective and existing customers understand what separates your product or service from that of your competitors. We recently went through this exercise with our own Optimé leadership team and it’s a lot more difficult than you might think. Ensuring that everyone in your organization understands and can effectively articulate the value you offer, will make everything your team does look professional and succinct and help set the conversations that will lead to strong sales.
3. Sales Philosophy
Every successful sales organization will have a sales philosophy to drive very specific outcomes. Some companies will employ aggressive closers that will stop at nothing to secure the sale, while other companies believe a low-pressure consultative approach can garner the same results with the added bonus of referral customers and a long-standing relationship. Whatever your line of business, your company must adopt a specific sales philosophy and stick to it. Your sales force and in fact, your entire company, should fully understand your philosophy and implement it into everything that they do.
4. Sales Compensation
This one needs careful attention. If your sales organization doesn’t offer some sort of variable pay to your sales force in addition to a base salary, your structure may be more of an exception than the rule. Incentive plans are fairly common across a wide array of sales organizations, because they encourage your sales force to strive toward higher levels of productivity. Sales, by its very nature – is competitive. Not all incentive plans are created equal, and you must take care to motivate behaviors and activities that are in line with your organization’s goals and values in addition to meeting sales or revenue targets.
5. Strategic Customer Management
In my blog post back in April, I talked about this critical aspect of selling. It’s virtually impossible to run a sales organization without being familiar with the value that strategic customer relationship management can provide. As a refresher – Strategic Customer Management (SCM) is a company-wide initiative, focusing on building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with a company’s most important customers and partners. Effective SCM programs create loyalty, stimulate growth, enhance profitability, and lead to innovative solutions. A successful program requires a commitment from senior management to ensure the necessary corporate and organizational shift has time to establish itself. Building a strong foundation for a top sales organization is not easy – but knowing where to start and how others have achieved success will set you and your team on the right path.
Check out www.optime.com to find more tools and tips to take your sales organization from good to outstanding.
Good luck and good selling!