That’s what selling is mostly all about. There are many ways to go about growing revenue and/or improving margins. When considering building capability of your sales team through a learning initiative, then here are some key tips to get the best outcomes of your sales learning initiatives, workshops or modular programmes to help grow revenue.
Before activating any sales skills development programme, the first step is to understand what you want to achieve. What is your goal? Make it a quantitative and qualitative in the areas you want to grow revenue and/or improve margins.
For example, are you going to achieve revenue growth by expanding your existing accounts, or bringing in more new clients, or increasing the average size of sale? Once you understand your goal and the details, you can determine which skills development solutions will lead you to your desired results. Don’t forget to add “mindset” as part of a change initiative and learning programme.
Here are five areas that could be your “focused objectives” when investing in developing your sales team and a programme. The areas below can be measured and a return on investment easily identified!
1. Growing current accounts: One of the most profitable ways to grow revenue is by selling more to existing accounts. It sounds obvious, but most companies don’t put an emphasis on this. In fact, research indicates 76 percent of companies believe they should be generating at least 25 percent more revenue from their key accounts. This represents a huge opportunity for most sales people. Organizations can turn these opportunities into account growth reality by obtaining the right knowledge, skills, tools, and action plans. Consider how many additional revenue opportunities are sitting within existing accounts that your sales team could be maximising.
Does your strategic plan and sales skills learning programme cater to maximising revenue opportunities within existing accounts or clients?
Action: Ask your sales team at your next meeting to think of one account and brainstorm where additional opportunities are. Think about market conditions in your industry, what are the current changes occuring in the markets that could impact change in your customers business and that might offer additional revenue opportunities in the medium to long term.
2. Increasing the size of opportunity: While growing your existing accounts can help boost your sales, there are other ways to do this as well. For instance, sales people can use more effective strategic questions during their discovery phase to uncover the buyers challenges and current problems.
When you have a clear understanding of a new client or customer opportunity you then need to be super-strong on building massive value around products or services you offer. Ensure your sales team have mastered the art of ” effective questioning” to uncover the broader set of needs/challenges, opportunities and then align with your solution offering.
Does your learning programme cater to mastering the art of asking “quality questions” to ensure “quality outcomes”?
3. Improving your win rate: Maybe you have a strong pipeline, but you’re not winning as often as you should. Perhaps your sales team are getting outsold by stiff competition or getting a “no-decision”. When talking to prospective clients, your sales team can increase sales by answering these questions in the context of the customer: why act, why now, why us, and why trust.
Action: Ask your sales team at your next meeting….. to reflect and brainstorm the four questions in the context of a prospective customer: Why act? Why now? Why us? Why trust us?
4. Bringing in new business: Although growing existing accounts is typically one strategic priority for sales leaders, bringing in new clients is equally important. Growth is achieved by bringing in new business. To win, your sales team must possess stellar prospecting and networking skills, know that they need to fill their pipeline with qualified leads, improve their discovery skills, and lead better sales conversations.
Does your learning programme develop skills that fill the pipeline with new prospects?
5. Negotiation skills: Are your sales people getting frustrated with constant knock backs on price? Are buyers spending too much time asking for discounts, better deals. Your sales team need to know how to negotiate when they’re pressured on price, delivery or service. The easy thing to do is to just give the buyer what they want and many sales teams do….. give in right? Sales people need to learn effective negotiation skills to ensure fair play so that each party create a win:win outcome.
Mastering negotiation skills is critical to sales success.
Within each of these areas are a number of skills your sales team need to continually develop and master, even those who have been in sales for a number of years. Client demands change, market trends change, political landscapes change, technology changes impact everyone and therefore your team need to be exposed to regular learning initiatives to refine and develop new approaches and thinking.
Ok so once you’ve established your goals for a particular training initiative, it’s time to decide how you’ll measure the program’s success.
Five Leading Indicators of Success
It’s also important to consider leading indicators of success. These measures indicate whether you’re on the right track with your learning initiative. Here are five indicators to monitor:
- Qualitative feedback: Get feed back about the training and observe changes in sales behaviour.
- Short to Medium term increase in activity: If the learning event itself isn’t relevant and tailored to the business and engaging it’s a good indicator that the initiative isn’t going to be successful. Results show up in the first 2 – 4 weeks of any learning initiative…. get a sense of this by spending time in the field with your team or monitoring metrics. Successful workshops aren’t the “magic pill” for behavioral change, a sales leader has to be involved to coach and provide feedback in field.
Why point 2 is important: over 75% of learning will be forgotten within 10 days
- Pipeline growth: The first indicator of success is pipeline changes. Whether it’s adding more new opportunities, larger opportunities, more opportunities with existing accounts, or decresed sales closing cycles, tracking changes in your pipeline can reveal whether or not you’re moving in the right direction.
- Post-learning engagement: Ensure your learning initiatives include reinforcement, such as virtual instructor-led webinars, e-learning, video bites, simulations, and coaching(as indicated above). Tracking your sales team engagement with reinforcement activities can indicate whether or not they retained the knowledge and if they’re changing behaviors.
Even initiatives that have well-defined goals, are focused on the right topics, and receive top ratings can fail. The companies that get the best results from sales learning initiatives focus on two areas that can significantly boost results:
Effectiveness of sales leaders: One of the greatest leverage points in sales success is the effectiveness of sales leaders. Leaders can boost the success of any learning by maximising motivation, re-inforcing learning at team meetings, hold their sales team accountable.
- Sales culture: A culture that supports sales motivation and achievement can be a real game-changer for your sales results.
As you develop your sales learning initiative, you must first define where you want to go and which metrics you need to move the needle. Then, track the leading and lagging indicators and adjust. With a clear path and goal, and a culture supported by sales leadership to get there, you set the stage for the best revenue and margin growth possible.