Sarah Weber

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Measuring the #1 Trait for Sales Success

The secret to ensuring every sales rep exceeds quota every time? Communication. And, for the first time, sales team leaders can measure every aspect of their reps’ communication skills, then use hard data to drive lasting improvement—and increase revenue.

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 Rule (also known as the Pareto Principle). It’s thrown around a lot in business and entrepreneurial circles, and it refers to the idea that, in any given initiative, 80 percent of your outcomes come from just 20 percent of your activities. Whether you’re looking at marketing efforts, professional development efforts, or even satisfaction in day-to-day life, just one-fifth of your efforts are contributing four fifths of your ROI.

80/20 isn’t Doing Sales Teams Any Good

When applied to a sales team, the 80/20 rule is particularly stark. Say you’ve got 10 sales reps bringing in $500,000 per month. If the rule of thumb is that 20 percent of sales reps are bringing in 80 percent of the revenue, then your top two reps are hauling in about $400,000 a month by themselves. Below them, maybe you’ve got 6 who are bringing in the next $90,000. And the bottom two are struggling to find the last $10,000 between them.

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The top two reps’ performance is stellar. But beyond that, it’s not exactly a pretty picture.

Existing Methods to Balance out the Rule Haven’t Solved the Problem

So you’ve got two reps bringing in $200,000 a month each. But what if every rep was bringing in that much? On our hypothetical sales team, bringing just three of the bottom 80 percent reps up to that high standard would double the overall revenue. Once all the reps hit that mark, you’ve quadrupled it

Doesn’t it stand to reason that the key to increasing sales revenue is to identify what exactly separates the top 20 percent from the rest, and then make sure every rep develops those critical skills?

A quick Google search for strategies to help low-performing reps improve yields pages and pages of advice, from loaning them books by Dale Carnegie and Stephen Covey to giving them remedial training on the products and services they’re selling to helping them develop thicker skin so they can more effectively get past “no.”

But how can sales team managers be sure the support they’re giving their reps will help them match the standard the top performers have set?

The Lynchpin for Sales Success: Communication

No matter how innovative a product or how revolutionary a service, a rep who can’t communicate its value won’t be able to sell it. And even more importantly, when reps are strong communicators, they can build a level of trust with prospects that leads to smooth sales, strong customer relationships, and buyers who become champions of the company. For poor communicators, on the other hand, closing deals is like pulling teeth, and the relationships they forge remain purely transactional.

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Sales leadership invests in a variety of tactics to improve effectiveness. But when reps actually get on the phone to talk to customers, it’s often a total black box. While most sales managers understand a rep who communicates well with clients when they see one, the ability to measure that effectiveness, much less train it, is highly lacking.

Consider a sales rep who is incredibly driven: he knows the product inside and out, keeps target buyers on the phone long after the first no, and never lets a lost deal darken his mood. But he misses quota every single month. On the surface, he’s doing everything right—his colleagues love working with him, and his accounts are consistently satisfied. But he’s just not bringing in any new business.

So what’s stopping him?

The problem lies in the way he’s communicating with his prospects.

Researchers have found that, when we mirror a conversation partner’s gestures, posture, or language, we build powerful connections with one another. This is true in personal relationships, networking scenarios, and even sales.

In fact, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, when salespeople mirror customer behavior, they sell more products and foster more positive opinions of their companies.

The key to persuading anybody to by what you’re selling—in the sales pit our out—is to earn their trust by speaking their language.

Training Communication: the Behavior that Drives Success

It’s likely that our underperforming sales rep is using data to make his case when his prospects are really looking for an emotional connection, or that the rapid clip of his voice is causing an already-hesitant buyer to falter.

But if he knew how to really listen to prospects, sussing out their personalities and needs from the way they communicate with him, he could, in turn, tailor his pitches to meet those needs. He could hook an emotionally driven buyer with a powerful story illustrating the product’s value—or ramp up the data for targets who respond better to logical appeals. He could slow his speaking rate to exude confidence and inspire it in the buyer.

What if this sales rep his team could be trained to hear the subtle cues in the way prospects communicate, identify and eliminate the aspects of their own communication that are turning buyers off, and tailor their styles to mirror individual prospect’s? They’d be masters at building lasting, trust-based relationships and communicating the value of their product or service in a way that truly resonates with every potential buyer.

Soon, the low performers on the team would rise through the ranks and join the top 20 percent. And with everyone on the sales team bringing in six figures of revenue per month—from loyal, satisfied customers—the 80/20 rule would become a distant memory as what used to be a middle-of-the-road enterprise sales team became world class.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Quantified Communications can use communication analytics to help your sales reps meet their quota every time, fill out the form below, and one of our experts will contact you to walk you through our platform and process.


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