Digital Sales Transformation Tactics
Your sales organization must evolve if it's going to grow and thrive. These six sales transformation tactics should help your business improve its strategy, planning and performance.
What is Sales Transformation?
Sales transformation is a business strategy that updates and reshapes a sales organization to achieve specific goals and boost revenue generation. It typically involves realignment of how assets, including human resources, are used within the organization. Sales transformation is intentional change launched to help a business grow efficiently.
But let's be honest. People don't like change. Think about how your sales team would react if you told them you're restructuring their regions (again). Chances are, your announcement might not go over well.
And you shouldn't expect it to. Change is difficult. Some people believe that any change is an admission of failure. That's not true, but here's something that is: in any business, change means downtime.
But change is all too often the first step to turning your business around. Change is what helps you turn the corner to success. You already know that your business lives, dies and thrives based on your sales performance. That means sales optimization matters more than change in any other department.
You may be considering sales transformation because you're facing any of several challenges: strategy misalignment, below average sales performance or elusive revenue goals. The bottom line is that you’ve recognized the need for a change in your sales organization.
A sales transformation initiative can create the change you need to gain meaningful results. But where do you start?
How Sales Transformation Starts — and Why It Matters
Sales transformation makes a difference through the changes it brings to your sales operations. When you're able to streamline your operational process, you increase productivity. Implementing appropriate technology can help make workflows more efficient, which in turn allows your sales reps to focus on sales, rather than on administrative trivia.
The updating of technology that comes with sales transformation also equips your sales reps with the resources and data they need, enabling their interactions with customers to be more effective. That up-to-the-minute data also delivers the metrics your team needs to make smart decisions and accurate forecasts, so they can reach the goals you're focusing on in your sales optimization initiative.
To formulate your sales transformation initiative, start by considering the results you want to achieve. Once you've determined your goals, you're well-positioned to design the sales transformation steps. Your primary focus will be, of course, to increase revenue. But you can add other goals to the mix when designing your initiative. These might include:
- Improving customer relationships through improved customer experience
- Aligning your sales and marketing teams, so everyone's focused on the same goals
- Acquiring new business
- Reducing customer churn and turnover
- Optimizing sales operations
- Entering new markets
- Aligning operations with your overall business strategy
Each of these lesser goals pushes your organization toward the ultimate success you're striving for. And once you've established your goals, you're ready to take the practical steps to execute your sales transformation plan.
Digital Sales Transformation
Integrating digital technology into your organization's sales operations is key to creating the sales transformation you're hoping to see. The technology you choose may do everything from automating data entry, marketing efforts and repetitive tasks to employing analytics, so you can crunch the data you're gathering about your customers.
The digital technology you offer your sales team enables them to provide greater personal contact with customers and prospects. The point of digital transformation in sales isn't to have shiny new tech at your disposal — it's to enhance your sales team's ability to make the meaningful connections that lead to profitable deals.
Through your digital sales transformation like AI for sales, you can better understand your customers' buying behavior. This in turn allows you to provide the right solutions for each customer through understanding their pain points and needs and answering their questions specifically.
The data you gather through your digital sales transformation also allows you to allocate your resources, including the members of your sales team, in the most productive way. You can determine what resources are needed for new customer acquisition and retention, and you can also easily see who on your sales team is making the best use of those resources, making appropriate changes in compensation as needed.
Digital tech is well-known for its ability to automate sales workflows, enhance prospecting, manage customer lifecycles and enhance the closing of deals. Everything from customer relationship management (CRM) systems and social media tech to online communications platforms and marketing automation tools can enhance your sales team's efforts. Most of these tools also collect data that provide the answers you need to enhance your conversion rates and overall sales productivity.
Six Sales Transformation Phases That Are Practical and Doable
As you move your organization through the phases of sales transformation, you need steps and tactics that meet your company's specific needs. Fortunately, you don't need to hire an expensive consulting firm to implement practical tactics to shape and inform your sales transformation strategy. We've tapped into our sales performance expertise to come up with six actions that incorporate digital sales transformation tools to turn your sales department around.
1. Leverage Your Sales Compensation Plan
Your sales compensation plan is at the heart of your entire sales organization. It's not just the cost of doing business. Your compensation plan drives your incentives, your revenue and your operating cost projections. It incentivizes your entire sales team to achieve the goals you've set, and it helps attract high-end talent to your team. Your sales compensation plan makes a statement as to just how important sales are to your business.
When you're ready for sales transformation, you should start with your compensation plan. You can tie your reps' goals to rewards for their achievement in the most direct way possible: their paychecks. Healthy compensation inspires your sales team to boost their productivity and work collaboratively toward their common goal.
2. Start Small With Changes, Then Grow
Any change you make to your sales organization as part of your sales transformation strategy will create a ripple effect across other departments. Your marketing department will certainly be affected, as will finance and even HR.
Because of this, it's smart to start small. You may want to begin with just a couple of components in your organization. Perhaps you'll implement that new compensation plan to motivate your sales team. You might choose to focus on your digital transformation by beginning to train your sales reps on the tech tools that will help them take selling to a new level.
By starting small, then growing, you're best able to test what's working, track the impact of the changes you're implementing and make any adjustments. When your team can provide feedback on the implementation of your transformative changes, they'll feel empowered and grow as your transformation also scales.
3. Reshape the Customer Experience
When was the last time you evaluated your customer experience? Consumer habits have changed dramatically as digital technology has moved into the marketplace, and customers' expectations have changed as well. Your customers are likely to rate you based on their experience as much as or more than they care about your products. Understanding the changing customer journey can make a big difference to your sales transformation.
Make sure your sales teams are well-versed in both the latest in digital tech and tried-and-true techniques. For example, "challenge" selling, which places the sales rep in a position to teach customers something they don't know, is a straightforward technique that still works beautifully in the digital age. You can also encourage and train your team to build relationships with customers, even as your marketing team leverages digital tech to provide targeted messages that drive customers to your products.
4. Pay Reps What They're Worth (or Not Worth)
Are you paying your best sales reps what they're worth? If you're underpaying your best people, they'll take their skills with them when they join one of your competitors. Conversely, are you paying too much for poor performers? Do that, and you'll find yourself operating in the red.
Your sales reps' pay should always be linked to performance. You can certainly rely on past performance data to guesstimate the appropriate rates — or you can use an empirical source such as Xactly Insights®, which aggregates cross-company and industry data directly from the source. This data lets you drop poor performers, reward your best people and incentivize those who could be doing more. By blending salary, commissions and bonuses, as well as other perks and benefits, you can create a strategic compensation package that provides a true incentive to your team.
5. Give Your Sales and Finance Teams the Right Tools
Back in the day of paper spreadsheets, you may have run into what some people call "shadow accounting." The term refers to the ultra-detailed commission records your sales reps had to keep to make sure there were no discrepancies between what they expected to earn on a deal and what they were actually paid.
Thankfully, those days are gone. Now, thanks to tools like Xactly Incent™, which automates the compensation process, you can do away with all those confusing paper records. For your finance department, working with Xactly means no spreadsheets, automated calculations, accurate payouts and happy sales reps.
On the sales side, Xactly’s other products provide real-time data on your team's progress toward their objectives, as well as commission calculators, not to mention peace of mind that they'll be paid on time and in full. Your reps don't have to waste time being secondhand accountants anymore. The digital sales transformation involved with making the switch frees up your team to focus on selling — which is what you want them to do.
6. Incentivize Your Sales Reps to Meet Specific Goals
The right incentives can make all the difference when it comes to meeting specific sales challenges. Yes, you want to offer incentives for your team to hit their quotas, but often you need your sales reps to overcome very specific obstacles. For example, your churn might be high. In this case, compensation that's tied to reducing churn provides the incentive your team needs to focus on customer retention.
You can also link incentives to other business goals, such as earning new business, acquiring customer marketing material or upselling. It's easy to tell your sales team what you expect them to achieve. When they know they can also expect rewards for those achievements, they're more likely to stay engaged and focused.
The size of your incentives should be tied to the size of the specific goal you want team members to hit. A goal that takes multiple months to hit should have a significant incentive tied to it. Remember that for many people, recognition is as important as money (but don't forget the money!). In some cases, you'll want to offer a sales performance incentive fund, or SPIF, which is essentially a short-term bonus offered to encourage a team to meet a small, very specific goal, such as achieving a specific type of upsell, over a defined period.
Put These Sales Transformation Tactics Into Practice
True sales transformation leverages digital tools to bring out the best in your sales team and help them focus on boosting revenue and productivity. As you improve your compensation plan and provide helpful resources to your sales reps, you position your organization for a new era of growth.
Learn even more tips for motivating sales employees and amping up overall sales performance in our Ultimate Guide to Sales Compensation Planning.