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Over the past 15 years, we’ve worked with over 1,000 sales organizations in pursuit of improving their performance and results. Here are three things that we’ve found really boost performance but are often overlooked by many: Define how you should sell. Not just what, where, and how much. Set personal competency goals and measure them. And establish ongoing coaching with each individual. That’s when significant improvements in results come.

Define how you should sell

The strategy and sales goals are set, the organization is in place, and initiatives are defined. That’s the case in most areas. But when we delve into how the sale should be executed, there’s often a lack of clarity. What does your sales process look like? What are the best practices before, during, and after customer dialogue? How do you handle customers far along in the decision-making process when you meet them? It’s worth being clear about.

On average, Sales teams and organizations with an adhered-to and transparent sales process have a 31% higher win rate on their pipeline than those who don’t have a sales process. And we all know how difficult it has become today to reach customers with offers, so a significantly higher win rate is a good boost in the process.

A sales process describes, at minimum, the steps sellers must go through with customers from lead to order and how they approach the task. How do your customers buy in, how do you handle them, and in what order? Once that’s defined, clarify what the next steps are. What behaviour and what standards should you adhere to?

We know a lot today about what behaviour makes a given seller a winner. So, structure what kind of experience customers should have with you and what your sellers need to do to create that experience. Research shows that sellers’ behaviour accounts for over 50% of what makes the buyer a loyal customer – the rest is products, prices, and brands.

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Leadership and Culture. Manager giving feedback to colleauge

Set competency goals and follow up on them

In sales, we’re used to working with goals and sub-goals. We’re used to predefined KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in sales, which we must meet. They’re often requirements for results in turnover, contribution margin, customer satisfaction, or efforts such as the number of calls, meetings, and offers. These kinds of goals are important, but they’re not good enough if there’s something you need to get better at.

Experience says that we all need to know what is expected of us, also on a personal level. What competencies are essential for my role? And which ones do I need to work on to improve?

The winning behaviour in sales comes from specific competencies. Of course, it’s important to be professionally competent. But it’s mainly about your ability to communicate, inspire, and handle customers so they get the optimal experience. Important behaviours in your organization could include building solid relationships, bringing new and relevant ideas and perspectives to the customer, or working systematically with the sales process.

So, define the core competencies you believe cover how sales should be done in your organization. Then, make them measurable and concrete so you can track development and help focus on where individuals need it. Focusing on the quality of sales work makes it much easier and more motivating.

Coaching ensures the anchoring of solid competencies

At Grape, we’ve conducted many organizational measurements on the most critical working conditions for good performance. There are almost always high scores on having clear goals but similarly low scores on having good feedback and recurring dialogues about one’s development. My experience tells me that this dialogue tends to drown in pipeline follow-up.

The annual development conversation doesn’t necessarily influence the day-to-day competencies and behaviours that create winning results. Feedback must be broken down into a natural part of our work throughout the year. If you go from 2 to 3 hours of coaching with sellers per month, their goal achievement increases by 17% on average. There’s a clear correlation between the time spent on seller development and their results. How much time do you spend?

So, I recommend creating a feedback and collaboration culture and establishing routines for feedback and dialogue about competencies. Come together in situations where competencies are at play and provide feedback afterwards. Make the activity measurable and essential, and make it a team discipline.

Then, watch what happens to the results.