3 Key Pillars to Uplevel Your Sales Team’s Performance
By Jamie Anderson, Chief Sales Officer, Xactly
At one point in his career, Tiger Woods, a prolific PGA golfer, made almost 10 times more pay than his peers on the tour. And, of course, people were interested in narrowing down exactly why there was such a prominent gap. After extensive analysis of his skills, including swing, shot accuracy, and all-time shots researchers determined Woods’ performance was (approximately) four percent better than the closest competitor. Yet, this small margin of only four percent resulted in his paycheck being 10 times higher than his colleagues.
In sales, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve individual and team performance. We adopt innovative digital tools and software or the latest sales strategies, striving to drive more revenue. As I reflect on my career, I know these are crucial areas to constantly evaluate and evolve. However, in pursuit of the latest and greatest, we often neglect to see how the smallest changes in our approach can generate that extra four percent.
At first, you may feel four percent is a minute amount, but what if you can achieve this performance bump by simply making shifts in your team’s current mindset? What if four percent can mean 10 times more compensation, like in Tiger’s case? That should be enough incentive to ignite your sales reps — and think of what that extra motivation could mean for your business.
To achieve that added four percent productivity and success across your sales organizations, I’ve identified three key pillars that have entirely up-leveled my team’s performance: lead with value, compete with integrity, and simplify everything.
Lead with value.
When connecting with a customer, whether for the first time as a prospect or as a long-time client, it’s crucial to clearly showcase your value during every interaction. However, many salespeople make the mistake of drawing out a pitch by starting with a speech about the company’s long history, listing an extensive roster of clientele, or a number of flashy metrics.
Instead, cut out the fluff. Get to the punchline — your value statement — fast. Customers aren’t looking for the most polished presentation — they want to immediately learn the value you’ll bring to them, and how your company will help them meet their urgent needs. At the same time, it’s not only about leading with YOUR value: it’s about framing that value in the context of the problem that the customer is trying to solve. By doing so, you create value for the customer and, in turn, become a valued and trusted advisor, rather than simply a supplier.
Compete with integrity and believe in your team.
I always tell my sales team to believe in their abilities and skills. This translates primarily when they’re competing for clients. Even outside of sales, it’s easy to build a narrative in our heads about our competitors in comparison to ourselves. We get wrapped up in their recent large wins and work ourselves up that we simply cannot compare.
This immediately places sales teams at a disadvantage. You believe the things you tell yourself, and if you tell yourself you’re never going to win, you roll over and consistently lose.
As a kid, I played football (soccer for the American readers). I regularly went up against guys who were bigger than me, faster than me, and stronger than me, but I never cared if they were “better.” Before a match, if I sensed anxiety from my team-mates, I’d remind them why we were playing this team and, despite their perceived advantages over us, we had (by virtue of being in the same league as them) earned the right to compete.
I’d also remind the team that if we wanted to show our opponent the respect they deserved and earn their respect, then we must compete to the absolute best of our ability, fairly, and let them feel like they were in a game every time they played us. I always said that you only need one chance, and the same is true with sales — you only need one chance to impress the client and win the deal. It’s not about what looks best on paper. It’s about your team’s ability to be scrappy, to rise to the challenge, and punch above your weight.
At Xactly, we have almost two decades’ worth of customer and benchmark data that can completely transform a client’s business. But, most of the time, customers come to us with existing plans, systems, and expectations that we need to reconcile.
The most powerful way to show our value is to demonstrate that we can simplify the customer’s business processes. At the end of the day, most customers are looking to reduce risks and lessen costs, and it’s the salesperson’s job to prove they have the tools to accomplish it. Instead of trying to push an idea or plan onto them, find a way to streamline the systems and processes they already have in place.
That is the essence of “simplify everything.” Over the course of my career, I’ve come to realise that the biggest inhibitor to organizational agility, and subsequently innovation and growth, is a creeping, institutionalized complexity that tricks a business into thinking it’s simply ‘too hard’ to change. As a seller, it’s your job to bust through this myth, to listen with empathy, to challenge the status quo, and to demonstrate a simpler way for your customer to run their business. It’s not easy: getting simple is hard. But when you free a customer’s business, and, most importantly, their people from the complexities of “business as usual,” you open their door to a world of possibilities they simply didn’t see before. And, when you do that, you have a customer for life.
By adopting and teaching these pillars, sales teams can more effectively win new business and deliver value to customers that stands out far above the competition. With only a small bump in core performance, your team could see a tremendous increase in motivation, producing stronger results and fueling exponential growth in the long haul.
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