This may seem like a pretty obvious statement, but let’s get it out there:
A company without a high-performing team just isn’t going to be able to succeed—in any regard. This is especially true when it comes to building a successful sales team.
For starters, if you aren’t making sales, you aren’t earning revenues. Without revenue, your business won’t be able to sustain itself—let alone grow into something even bigger.
And, if your potential sales are falling apart at the decision stage, you’ll be wasting a ton of money and time chasing leads that don’t end up paying off for your business.
Then, we get to the customer experience—or lack thereof.
Basically, if your target customers don’t actually buy from you, they’ll never get the full experience your brand has to offer. Even if your products or services are highly valuable, you simply won’t be able to deliver this value if your sales team can’t get the prospect to convert.
Even when a prospect does convert into a paying customer, a subpar sales experience can heavily influence how they view your brand.
As the graphic above shows, nearly half of all satisfied customers specifically mention having a positive purchasing experience during their shopping session. On the other side of things, only 10% of unsatisfied customers have anything good to say about their purchasing experience.
(While not an exact correlation, it’s pretty clear that part of creating a satisfied customer is ensuring their path to purchase is as straightforward as possible.)
The point is:
Building a high-performing sales team is one of your company’s most valuable assets—and is one of the keys to ensuring your business continues to grow.
In this article, we’ll talk about what a high-performing sales team actually looks like, as well as how to actually build a sales team that is highly successful within your own organization.
Let’s get started.
What Does a High-Performing Sales Team Look Like?
You probably already have a picture in your head of what a high-performing sales team looks like in action.
Still, let’s nail down the key characteristics of a high-quality sales team to ensure we’ve covered all the angles.
High-Performing Sales Teams Focus on Quantity and Quality
The knee-jerk reaction to the above question is to say that a high-performing sales team is one that makes a lot of sales.
But, of course, not all sales are created equal. While sales numbers are important, there’s also the matter of sales value to consider.
The high-performing sales team understands that quantity and quality of sales matter.
They understand that making 100 one-off sales means much less than converting ten long-term, high-value customers.
And, they know that focusing on the quality of their prospects can lead to an increase in the quantity of their overall conversion metrics.
(Conversely, a subpar lead-qualification process can lead to lost sales. In fact, 67% of lost sales are due to a sales rep mistakenly or prematurely qualifying poor-fit prospects.)
Is it important for sales teams to hit their sales quotas? Of course.
But the sales team that outperforms their peers will be the one focused on converting not just any prospect, but only those who are a perfect fit for their brand.
High-Performing Sales Teams are Productive
Nearly 80% of sales executives agree that improving their team’s overall productivity is a driving factor in their ability to hit key performance indicators.
When we say that high-performing sales teams are productive, we mean two things:
For one, they’re effective. This means they:
- Meet—and exceed—their sales quotas
- Maximize the amount of revenue they generate per sale
- Continually improve their lead-to-close ratio
Basically, an effective sales team is one that always attains their goals—no matter how difficult it may seem to achieve them.
High-performing sales teams are also efficient.
In addition to achieving the goals they’ve set for themselves, they also do so at a minimal cost to their company. They close high-value deals in record timing without needing to invest heavily into the process.
It just makes sense:
If your sales team is closing more high-value leads without spending more than they need to, business is going to stay booming for some time to come.
High-Performing Sales Teams are Opportunistic
High-performing sales teams know there’s always more value to be created whenever they engage with potential or current customers.
Now, this doesn’t just mean they look to make the most money possible out of each sale they generate.
Rather, high-performing sales teams will actively look for ways their company can provide more value to the customer—which, in turn, will lead to more revenues for the business.
Similarly, a high-performing sales team is always able to find the exact product or service (and accompanying offer) to meet the needs of a given customer. This allows them to keep hesitant prospects heading toward conversion, and to keep at-risk customers from jumping ship.
Whether looking at a positive or negative situation, a high-performing sales team will always know how to make the best of it.
High-Performing Sales Teams are Connected and Communicative
The best sales teams know that operating in isolation just doesn’t work.
On the contrary, high-performing sales teams are constantly interacting with other departments within their organization.
By staying in close contact with marketing, customer service, and other internal teams, high-performing sales teams streamline their customer’s path to purchase. As we just discussed, this allows them to uncover additional sales opportunities that would have otherwise gone overlooked.
On that same token, high-performing sales teams understand the importance of engaging with prospects and customers on their terms. This means delivering the right message or offer at the best possible time for a given client, via the customer’s preferred and optimal channel. This leads to a truly personalized buying experience for every customer they engage with—which will almost certainly lead to an increase in revenues.
7 Key Ways to Enable Your High-Performing Sales Team
Now that we have a clear idea of what a high-performing sales team looks like, let’s talk about how to enable your sales team and get them running on all cylinders.
1. Focus on CX First, Process Second
Before your sales team can improve their performance and reach higher levels of success, they may need to actually change how they define “success” in the first place.
This means paying less attention to internal metrics—and focusing instead on customer-facing key performance indicators.
Take a look at the following graphic from Salesforce:
Yes, you’re reading that right:
As of 2019, more sales teams are focused on improving customer satisfaction than on meeting their sales quotas.
By improving customer satisfaction throughout the sales process, it’s all but guaranteed they’ll meet (and likely exceed) their sales quotas as a matter of course.
(After all, if the customer is left completely satisfied with the overall experience, they have every reason to continue doing business with the brand in question, right?)
On the other hand, prioritizing sales quotas over customer satisfaction is quite shortsighted. Sure, you may be generating sales. But, if you fail to provide a positive overall experience to your new customers, they probably aren’t going to stick around—and they definitely won’t decide to become loyal to your brand.
All this being said, your sales team needs to understand that “success” doesn’t mean putting up big sales numbers. Rather, success in sales is about enabling the customer to move forward in their buyer’s journey as they see fit, and as they’re comfortable doing.
If your sales team can make this happen, they’ll have no trouble meeting their sales quotas—and then some.
2. Become Data-Driven
High-performing sales teams seem to always make the right decisions when engaging with prospects and customers.
This isn’t by accident, either. It’s because they’re constantly consulting their data to determine the best course of action to take at any given time.
As Salesforce’s State of Sales report explains, high-performing sales teams are 3.5x more likely to be data-driven. Those that focus heavily on data are, in turn, 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their lower-performing counterparts.
Now, becoming data-driven doesn’t just mean paying more attention to data to justify certain decisions or actions. Being data-driven means making decisions and taking action based on the data on-hand.
(There’s a huge difference between “I think doing X, Y, and Z might improve our sales performance...let’s check the data,” and “Our data shows that doing X, Y, and Z will improve our sales performance—so let’s make it happen.”)
With the right data on hand, you’ll have hard evidence of what works for your brand (and others in your industry), as well as what doesn’t. In turn, you’ll be able to make massive improvements to your sales processes, such as:
- Targeting more qualified and more valuable leads
- Optimizing the way you approach and engage with individual customers
- Creating new and exciting offers to meet the needs of your target audience
What’s more, becoming data-driven will allow your team to become more agile. Because they allow data to steer their every decision, they’ll be better able to respond to changes in your industry as they arise. This, of course, means your team will be leaps and bounds ahead of those who don’t keep their finger on the pulse of their industry on a consistent basis.
As we’ll discuss later on, automated technology (such as chatbots and the like) is heavily reliant on the data you collect on your customers. Basically, your team needs to be data-driven in order to get full use out of these tools.
Most importantly, becoming data-driven enables your sales team to give your customers what they really want—not what you think they want. Again, if you can consistently provide for your audience on their terms, they’ll be much more likely to continue doing business with you for some time to come.
3. Facilitate Team-Wide Communication and Collaboration
As we said earlier, in order to improve their performance, your sales team needs to be more communicative and collaborative by nature.
Of course, it’s important for all of your teams to communicate and work together for a variety of purposes. Overall, it leads to much more productivity—and many more benefits for your business.
Communication and team collaboration amongst sales team members is crucial to the customer experience. On an individual level, communication with others along the sales funnel can streamline the purchasing experience and avoid redundancies along the way. On a larger scale, increased collaboration and improved communication allows for the creation of new and innovative ideas—which can lead to any number of improvements to your team’s sales processes.
Interdepartmental communication as well as cross-team collaboration is also vital to your sales team’s success. Your sales team should be working closely with a variety of other teams, for a variety of purposes.
For example, improving communication and collaboration between marketing and sales can allow both teams to:
- Better align their messaging, content, and the offers they provide their prospects
- Define and identify high-quality leads from the get-go
- Streamline the buyer’s journey from beginning to end
Engaging with your company’s customer service and support teams can also benefit your sales team by allowing them to:
- Collect and act on customer feedback to make improvements to CX
- Anticipate and address potential concerns and hesitations of future customers
- Generate customer reviews and other forms of social proof to include in future sales content
Your sales team should also be in close communication with your development team, as well. For one thing, it will allow them to better understand your product’s features, benefits, and overall value—which they can then communicate more clearly to prospective customers. Your sales team can also communicate back to your dev team regarding the consumer’s needs—and how well your products align with these needs.
Overall, your goal is to create an environment and work culture that thrives on communication.
This means providing endless opportunities for your sales team to engage with other departments—in real-time and otherwise.
It means investing in the right employee communication tools and technology that will allow such collaboration to take place.
And it means keeping all team members focused on one thing above all else:
Delivering as much value as possible to your target audience.
4. Provide Ongoing Opportunities for Training and Growth
The landscape of sales is constantly in-flux.
Consumer needs change, technology evolves...and what was once considered best practices eventually becomes ineffective.
The point is:
If your sales team isn’t consistently working to improve their product knowledge, skills, and processes, they’re going to fall behind.
So, it’s essential that you provide ongoing training opportunities for your sales team to learn and grow as time goes on. As data from Huffington Post shows, high-performing sales teams are 2.5x more likely to receive outstanding training than an average-performing team. What’s more, properly-trained sales teams generate an average of $29 per $1 spent on professional development.
Ensuring your training initiatives pay off requires that you:
- Get support and buy-in from all stakeholders—from the C-suite to the employees to be trained
- Identify the key areas to focus on during training sessions by assessing your team’s skills gap(s)
- Use various methods to communicate tacit knowledge and information, and to allow your team to practice what they’ve learned
- Using tools and technology to facilitate organizational learning in both structured and “on the fly” situations
You also want to get your sales team involved in the creation of training sessions and other educational content. You can then house this information within your internal knowledge base—allowing all members of your team to access your organizational knowledge whenever necessary.
5. Make the Move to Omnichannel Operations
Did you know it takes the modern consumer an average of six touchpoints to go through the buyer’s journey?
Or that 98% of US consumers use at least two separate digital devices on any given day?
It just makes sense, then, for your sales team to use as many channels as possible to engage with and sell to your target audience.
There’s no shortage of options, here. In addition to your company’s website, you can also sell on various digital marketplaces (e.g., Amazon, eBay, etc.), and also on a number of social media platforms, as well. Then there are the more traditional methods, from phone and email to in-person sales sessions.
But, more than just being active on these various channels, you also need to ensure each of these channels is in-sync with one another. This is in stark contrast to multichannel operations, in which all channels being used operate in isolation.
The goal of omnichannel selling is to allow the customer to pick up right where they left off in their buyer’s journey regardless of what channels they’ve been using. This not only provides a frictionless experience to the customer—it also allows your sales team to deliver optimal value to the customer on any given channel.
6. Personalize the Sales Experience
There’s no doubt about it:
Personalizing the sales experience for potential and current customers is critical for improving your sales processes.
Case in point, 40% of sales execs say enhancing personalization have had a direct impact on their sales and profits. Looking at things from the customer’s perspective, 75% of consumers say they’ll continue to make repeat purchases from brands that personalize their path to purchase.
Now, sales personalization goes well beyond the more simple, surface-level tactics (such as dynamically inputting the customer’s name in correspondences). Personalizing the buyer’s experience requires that you take everything you know about the individual customer into consideration, such as their:
- Demographics and other “on-paper” characteristics
- Beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors—both as consumers and as people
- Past engagements and purchases with your brand
The goal is to determine the best value to offer your individual customers at any given time based on their specific needs and preferences.
This may mean:
- Delivering informational content to help them find the best product or service for them
- Providing upsell and cross-sell offers to add value to each purchase they make
- Creating tailored offers, discounts, and other incentives to engage and nurture them to a decision
As we’ve discussed in previous sections, it’s also important to know exactly where the individual customer is in their buyer’s journey at all times. This allows you to contextualize your engagements, and to approach each engagement in a more personable manner.
By approaching your customers as people first, consumers second, you’ll increase the chances of them continuing to do business with your brand well into the future.
7. Automate Customer Engagements When Possible
With everything we’ve said so far, you might feel like your sales team will need to constantly be engaging with leads, prospects, and customers.
And, to some extent, this is true.
This doesn’t mean they always have to be hands-on.
In fact, the average consumer is about 60% through their buyer’s journey before they even reach out to a sales rep in the first place.
Of course, your audience can only get so far on their own if your sales team has put structures in place to enable them.
Which is where automation comes in.
By today’s standards, automation is all but necessary to attract and engage large volumes of high-quality prospects. In turn, your sales team can automatically deliver information, content, and offers tailored to your individual prospect’s needs. From there, they can jump into a one-on-one conversation when the prospect is good and ready.
Automation can be used at every stage of the sales funnel to nurture prospects through their buyer’s journey.
Conversational landing pages, for example, can be used to collect contact information from brand new leads:
From there, your sales team can develop email drip campaigns to introduce and immerse new leads in your branded experience.
As you collect more information on your customers (whether by analyzing their engagement behavior or by engaging with them directly), you can improve the delivery of personalized offers .
While your sales team should be ready to jump into a conversation with a customer at any given moment, you should also be automating as much of the buyer’s journey as possible.
For one, it allows the customer to quickly receive exactly what they’re looking for whenever they engage with your brand. What’s more, automation also frees up your sales reps’ schedules—allowing them to spend more hands-on time with leads and prospects who absolutely need it.