According to CSOinsights.com less than half of inside sales teams make their revenue goals each month. If you’re a business owner or sales manager of an inside sales team, then I’ll bet you can relate. So what differentiates the half that makes their numbers from the half that doesn’t?
Obviously there are many factors and each company is different, but there are 5 common mistakes I regularly encounter whenever I work with companies who are struggling to consistently make their revenue goals. If you can avoid these mistakes from the beginning – or correct them now – you can immediately begin to get better results, and that means you can begin to make your revenue numbers.
Here are the 5 mistakes to avoid when building or developing your inside sales team:
1) Not having a clearly defined sales process (DSP). Nearly every struggling sales team I work with lacks a clear definition of what defines a successful sales cycle. While they may know they have to cold call or prospect to generate a lead and then call that lead back and close the sale, what is missing are the exact benchmarks (best practices) of what defines each step. Without this clarity, it’s difficult to teach your reps how to consistently close sales (which is why they don’t half the time).
Not having these benchmarks – and so not being able to identify, verify and teach each step successfully – leads to many of the problems inside sales teams have. If you haven’t taken the time to identify your DSP, then this is job #1 for you.
2) Not having a training program that teaches your sales reps exactly how to succeed in the selling situations they encounter day in and day out. Think for a moment about your Top 20% sales reps. Isn’t it true that they seem to intuitively know what to say and what to do to close sales faster and more efficiently than the other 80% of your team?
Many sales teams I work with may have a structured training program in place (and I say ‘may have’ because some don’t) but most of them don’t have a sales training program that teaches their sales reps exactly what to say and what to do in every selling situation to be successful (think scripts here). In other works, the best practices of their DSP are not the focus of their sales training, and this is why their teams struggle to win sales.
Job #2 for you is to script out your best practices and make sure every member of your team has the core selling skills needed to succeed in the selling situations they face every day.
3) Measuring the wrong metrics of your sales team. While most managers and business owners can tell me how many calls their reps are making, how many opportunities they are getting, what their close rates are, etc., what they can’t tell me is what really matters: What their reps are saying during their calls. Don’t get me wrong, those other metrics are important to know and track, but they do not drive sales! How your reps are qualifying their prospects, how they handle objections and what they are doing and saying to move a sale forward is what drives sales. And that leads me to number four:
4) Not recording calls. This is perhaps the most important thing a sales manager can do – record all sales calls and listen to both sides of the conversation. Knowing exactly what is happening during a call is the only way to know what’s wrong and to know how to fix it. This is the first thing I ask for from a company who hires me to help them. If you are not recording your calls, then you need to start today. Trust me, you’ll learn more in an hour of listening to calls than you will in a year of trying to figure it out without doing this.
5) Not hiring the right sales reps to begin with. Not everyone is cut out for inside sales, and that includes reps with inside sales experience. You absolutely have to have criteria in place that will help you identify who is likely to succeed in your sales environment. That includes profiling your top producers, but it also includes assessing the level of sales skills your hiring candidates have.
Also, one of the biggest determinates of future sales performance is past sales performance. That’s why it’s often a better choice to hire reps without experience and put them into a structured program (see items one through four above) and training these new reps to succeed in your environment. Also, get in the habit of slow hiring and fast firing – most companies do exactly the opposite!
By avoiding the five mistakes above, you can save hundreds of hours of frustration and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales and unnecessary expenses.