Most sales reps have a considerable number of tools at their disposal designed to help predict customer behavior, automate sales processes, and improve overall conversion rates. Yet 70% report not having mastery of the skills required for optimal success. This alarming statistic suggests sales managers and team leaders may overestimate their ability to identify, evaluate, and nurture effective sales behavior. With business profitability dependent on the capacity of your team to close the deal, it may be time to consider some of the solutions many other companies rely on to ensure sales process improvement.
Why Are So Many Companies Prioritizing Sales Process Improvement Strategies?
Sales processes are the template your sales team is expected to follow from the initial stages of identifying a potential lead to getting that prospect to sign on the dotted line. Ideally, every step would be orchestrated and implemented in a way that gives your entire team a detailed map to help guide their journey. Although sales managers and team leaders typically strive to ensure every member of their salesforce is well-versed in the best practices, it’s common for a small number of people to close most sales in their departments.
While some might see that disparity as proof that salesmanship is challenging to master, it’s been proven time and time again that selling is a skill nearly anyone can learn. But like reading, playing a musical instrument, or learning a sport, proficiency requires instruction, coaching, practice, and persistence.
Unfortunately, many well-intentioned sales managers (and their teams) fast-track their sales strategies, cut corners, and deviate from the fundamentals in trying to sell as much as possible. Instead of functioning like a well-oiled, success-driven machine, fewer sales close, coaching and training become less impactful, new hires have difficulty meeting their quotas, and top performers feel overburdened or unchallenged. That’s when most business leaders realize that a haphazard, disjointed sales approach is unsustainable.
Related: Guide to Hiring a Sales Manager
Which Process Improvement Strategies Are the Most Effective?
Before you can take steps to improve your sales processes, you need to define them. If you haven’t done so, take a few minutes to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) to ensure your team understands the people most likely to benefit from your product or service. Only then can you further explore how each step builds on the next and continue with the seven stages of the selling process. Consider using that ICP to have your team create a list of potential leads, research those prospects to determine which might be the best fit as a customer, then initiate contact. You get the picture. Starting at the beginning will help your team get back to basics by reinforcing the fundamentals.
After qualifying a prospect and demonstrating relevance, it’s time for your people to ask questions, actively listen, move the prospect along the stages of awareness, overcome objections, and ultimately close the sale. Once you’ve laid out a detailed sales plan based on the best sales practices for your industry, the rest will fall into place. Not only will each of your team members spend less time with prospects unlikely to buy, but they’ll also know how to refine their messaging based on customer feedback. In time, every team member will have the skills to approach each challenge with a renewed sense of direction, focus, and confidence. How can you make this happen? While there’s no single solution ideal for every team, consider fine-tuning your efforts with any combination of the following five sales process improvement strategies.
#1 – Develop a Conversational Sales Script
Taking the time to flesh out a sales script forces you to bring structure and clarity to your thinking. Although some sales professionals argue that working with a script dampens creativity, committing one to memory helps free the mind from listening, anticipating objections, and focusing on solutions while ensuring team-wide consistency. The most effective scripts are punctuated with rapport-building statements, questions that get prospects talking, and stories that establish creditability. Once you believe you have a compelling script, schedule periodic group discussions. During those group meetings, encourage your team to discuss what works, what doesn’t, and how they may improve each talking point.
#2 – Integrate CRM Technology into Your Process
Once your sales team is on the same page, consider investing in a CRM (customer relationship management) platform. A CRM helps ensure all crucial steps in the sales funnel are performed in order. The software also helps your team optimize their workflow with task automation, improve organization, boost overall productivity, and can be integrated across multiple platforms. Linking sales data to your CRM also gives you real-time monitoring capabilities. With the ability to track data in real time, you’ll always have an overview of individual successes, potential challenges, and areas of concern from an intuitive data dashboard.
#3 – Set Clear Sales Targets & Track Metrics
As you know, performance data is tracked via sales metrics based on a specific task or goal. Although sales managers generally use this essential information to evaluate overall performance, adjust business strategies, and award bonuses, you can also use this data to ensure you’re setting realistic targets and attainable goals. Every team member should know which metrics are tracked and how each number impacts team success. Your sales reps may also appreciate knowing how their numbers compare to their peers.
#4 – Review Your Sales Processes Regularly
Companies with a formal sales process tend to generate more revenue – that’s a given. But once those standards are well-established, many sales managers neglect to review or revise those techniques. Over time, sales can stagnate, and revenues plateau as markets evolve. To help keep your team on top of their game, ask for feedback, actively listen to frustrations and concerns, and consider where your organization could improve lead management, brand messaging, sales scripts or metric tracking to weed out potential weaknesses or inefficiencies.
#5 – Encourage Continual Learning
Identifying performance gaps and coaching best practices strengthens sales performance. But sales managers don’t always have enough time for one-on-one role-playing or scoring the performance of every sales rep in their department. If you’re concerned your people may need more feedback to close more sales, consider investing in an AI-powered sales coaching platform. With the right provider, you’ll create an atmosphere of continual, experiential learning while providing a roadmap to excellence. You can also use the information obtained from employee-initiated sessions for in-person, data-driven coaching.
How Does AI-Powered Sales Coaching Benefit My Team?
AI-Powered sales coaching helps business leaders close the gap between potential and actual performance. The technology evaluates your organization’s message content, vocal delivery, visual delivery, and other metrics. Your staff can often record practice calls using AI-generated prompts, upload a recorded call for evaluation and scoring, or assess their skills in real time. Within minutes, they’ll have a detailed analysis of their performance. Although you’re sure to find several platform options available, their features can vary. Most tend to focus on the same “hard” sales skills.
The best AI-powered sales coaching platforms also score “soft” skills, behaviors that are far more complex and also more difficult to measure. AI technology designed to prioritize soft skills “sees and hears” every nuance, behaviors and habits other software solutions, and even human observers, often miss. Once the submission is evaluated, the technology delivers dynamic, actionable, AI-generated guidance to improve overall scores and specific skills.
When the platform also has an AI-driven sales simulator, your team can interact with a digital representation of your ideal customer based on your product information and conversation data. If your salesperson asks a question, the avatar answers. With a realistic-looking avatar trained to react and respond as an actual customer, your sales reps have the luxury of practicing at their own pace and learning from their mistakes.
Could Your Team Benefit from AI-Powered Sales Assessments?
There’s a lot your organization can learn from the success of your top performers that could help your entire team close more sales. Consider investing in an AI coaching platform if you’re serious about sales process improvement. Although you’re sure to find several platform providers offering a range of services, Quantified sets the standard for measuring communication capabilities.At Quantified, everything we do is grounded in behavioral science. We analyze more than 1,400 behavioral signals and generate a score based on 24 attributes of effective communication. In addition to vocal and visual delivery, our AI platform evaluates your team on message content and audience perception traits in a highly effective, research-based method developed to assess and improve communication. To see how behavioral science, realistic simulations, experiential learning, and AI work together to enable better conversations, submit a contact form to request a demonstration.