5 Simple Ideas for Driving Sales Success

As companies dive into 2016 and consider new approaches for hitting their revenue targets, they will need to consider what has changed over the past year—with a particular focus on evolving trends in sales enablement and strategy—to help ensure a successful year ahead.

Based on our work with market leaders across a number of industries, including tech, financial services and life sciences, here are five simple ideas guaranteed to boost the impact of your sales enablement efforts in the coming year.

1. There's more to sales analytics than CRM data. While CRM systems are important for measuring sales processes and productivity, they consistently fall short when it comes to managing and monitoring the core capabilities of sales reps. However, by viewing activity and knowledge/skills-based data in tandem with sales opportunity metrics, sales managers can gain real-time insights to assess behavior as well as actual capabilities. Sales teams using real-time analytics to drive both short-term productivity and long-term development will be more effective in 2016.  

2. Sales tool adoption and engagement should not be overlooked. As the list of sales enablement platforms and applications continues to grow at a record pace, enterprises now have more options than ever. But this year, keep this truism in mind: The best tools for sales teams will be the ones they actually use. By ensuring that sales tools are relevant, are not encroaching on time spent selling, and are easy to use, organizations can keep reps engaged and coming back for more.

3. When it comes to sales channels and content, one size does not fit all. Most enterprise sales organizations have an array of supporting teams and channels, including sales development representatives (SDRs), inside sales or account managers, partner managers, business development, and field-based reps. And each group has unique requirements when it comes to consuming content. For example, field reps may prefer using their smartphones, while SDRs, who are more likely to be HQ-based, may prefer accessing content on their laptop browsers. Other reps may elect to use the CRM interface, since they spend most of their time there anyway.

Assuming that one modality fits all can be detrimental to sales performance. Instead, organizations must make all options available to the sales force and let each group choose the one that’s right for them.

4. Strategic objectives equals sales enablement goals. In order to set goals for the sales enablement team and understand whether or not they've been achieved, organizations need to first understand their strategic business objectives. It's important not only to align these goals and manage and measure their progress but also, with the help of data analytics, ask—and answer—very specific business questions. (Such as: Why are sales of new products failing to meet their targets? What are the core competencies of top salespeople, and how does the rest of the team stack up in terms of those skills?)

By addressing the business goals and challenges management cares most about, organizations can deliver significant value to the business and acquire additional resources along the way to expand their programs even further in the new year.

5. Sales on-boarding is a continuous process. While increasing the speed and effectiveness of sales on-boarding has always been important, organizations in highly dynamic markets must now also be concerned with "re-boarding" their team months down the road. As buying cycles and competitive landscapes continually change, on-boarded reps—as well as tenured ones—need to stay sharp on evolving messages, competition, differentiators, etc.

For many global market leaders, continuous on-boarding is being achieved today (at scale) through an efficient and ongoing sales reinforcement strategy designed to ensure retention and the application of key product and competitive messaging following new-hire "boot camps" and annual sales kick-offs. Additionally, by mapping specific coaching actions to individual skill and knowledge gaps, front-line sales managers can get a complete picture of how to help accelerate their reps' time to close while gaining insight into what each rep is prepared to bring to the next client interaction.

As 2016 progresses, adopting these five strategies to better sales enablement will ensure sales teams are performing at their best, increasing revenue performance and meeting dynamic market challenges head-on in the new year.

Duncan Lennox is cofounder and CEO of Qstream, the makers of mobile enterprise software for building smarter, more confident sales teams at scale. Under Lennox's leadership and strategic vision, the company has captured the attention of some of the world's largest enterprises. A recognized expert, he lends his knowledge on sales force performance, mobile technologies, and entrepreneurship at industry conferences.

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