It’s been shown that by the time you make contact with a prospect, they’re already at least 50-70 percent of the way through the buying process. That means customers are more informed than ever, and both businesses and sales reps need to be increasingly savvy about the way in which they sell. In addition, sales leaders must also think strategically to increase sales volume and maintain high performance from their team.
To increase sales volume, GlenGarry Glen Ross trained sales reps to “always be closing.” Tommy Boy taught reps everywhere that relating to people on a human level closes deals, and Pam Beasley of The Office showed us that determination and ambition goes a long way.
There are hundreds of famous tips to increase sales volume. Most commonly, it comes from your sales commission structure, but there are a few sales coaching techniques that also help. Below are some of the most meaningful ways to close more deals and motivate reps to continue peak performance.
1. Make all Conversations Customer-Focused
It can be tempting to start a conversation with all the amazing features your product or service offers, such as automation, real-time analytics, etc. After all, you’re proud of the product you represent and you can’t wait to talk about it.
However, if each conversation starts out with a customer-focused mindset, it sets reps up to increase sales volume. By shifting the focus of the conversation to the pain points the prospect faces in their everyday role, it's much easier to bring in products as a solution. This allows reps to set up their initial contact with a prospect as more of a conversation rather than a pitch.
If sales reps focus on the benefits of making a change (through the purchase of your product/service), potential customers may be more open to a discussion; thus, ideally, you can increase sales volume.
2. Set Strategic Goals to Motivate and Inspire Performance
Goals are an important part of successful sales organizations. If you aim too high, they can be discouraging and fail to motivate sales reps effectively. Set them too low and you run the risk of missing opportunities because goals were easily met.
One option is to set stretch goals. Stretch goals challenge, motivate, and inspire teams to achieve realistic results that will require them to work hard and innovate. This is especially important for goals that aim to increase sales volume and performance.
For example, let’s say a rep usually makes 20 calls a day and they set a goal to make 30 calls a day for one week. Hitting a stretch goal like that can improve your morale as an employee, and can increase sales volume without you making any major changes to your day.
3. Strengthen the Alliance Between Sales and Marketing
The Sales-Marketing divide exists at many companies, but the most successful companies work on building the relationship between the two departments so that they can work together to build and utilize powerful campaigns. Sales is on the front lines and knows what the customer cares about. Marketing is on the back-end, helping capture new leads and drive prospects to give the initial hand raise sales needs for that first call.
Marketing is in tune with the ways that information can be delivered to prospects to increase the likelihood of a deal closing. When sales and marketing are aligned, they become a well-oiled machine with a steady flow of content, campaigns, and leads that set sales up for success. This increased effort in alignment with Marketing can quickly increase sales volume.
4. Hire Self-Motivated Sales Reps
In any role, determination and self-motivation are key characteristics of top-performing employees. This is especially true in sales organizations. HR and sales leadership teams should be observant of applicant behaviors and ask questions that reveal the way interviewees think.
For sales teams, a self-motivated sales rep is more likely to ramp quicker and take the initiative to “go the extra mile” when it comes to prospecting and closing deals. If your entire team is made up of self-motivated “go-getter” individuals, it’s easy to see how this can increase sales volume and overall performance.
5. Make Data Your #1 Planning Tool
If you’re not using data to drive decision making, your decisions aren’t as strategic as they could be. Sales performance data provides a wealth of knowledge that is crucial for designing strategic sales plans, driving the right sales behaviors, and reaching company goals.
In fact, data should be at the core of each part of the sales performance management and planning process. It should inform and drive the strategy for everything from sales capacity and quota planning, territory alignment, incentive design, and performance analysis. That way every aspect of your sales plan is aligned from the start, and each decision is informed and backed by data.
6. Take a Closer Look at Ramp Time
A clear understanding of sales ramp up time is crucial to account for turnover and for effective sales planning. It’s important for leadership to nail down an accurate ramp time to ensure they hire at the right pace to hit company goals.
Getting sales ramp time right is a balancing act. If ramp time is too high, an unexpected departure of a top-rep might mean that new reps might not be completely ready to step in and fill the position. If reps ramp too quickly, you may have excess sales resources or reps might not be getting all the training they need to succeed.
7. Re-align Your Sales Territories
Mis-aligned sales territories wreak more havoc than unhappy sales reps. In fact, poor territory design can result in up to 30% lower sales performance than average. When territory mapping isn’t data-driven, leaders can’t guarantee that each area provides reps with equal opportunity to hit their quota. This, in turn, hurts morale, and performance suffers further—which is clearly not ideal for increasing sales volume.
Data-driven territories ensure each rep has equal opportunity and that teams have the right amount of resources needed to cover each area. Automated territory mapping takes this a step further by pulling in third-party data to eliminate the possibility of leaving money on the table in overlooked areas that have been deemed less important in the past.
8. Examine Your Incentive Compensation
Incentive compensation is extremely important when it comes to increasing sales volume. Because incentives drive sales behavior, they must be motivating enough to encourage reps to perform well. (It’s also important to make sure they align with corporate goals.)
For example, consider a capped commission plan—when reps hit their quota, what motivation do they have to continue performing if the incentives don’t increase the better they perform? A tiered commission structure, on the other hand provides greater incentives that increase as reps achieve different performance milestones.
9. Remember the Importance of Sales Rep Tenure
Each sales rep on your team has a different skill set, and recent research shows that quota attainment and performance peak at the three-year mark in a sales role. Understanding where your team stands experience-wise can help you better forecast performance and increase sales volume.
In addition, as reps gain tenure, it’s important to consider role changes and career progressions. Xactly Insights data also found that performance levels off and trends downward after five years in a role. This is the time to reassess career goals and consider moving reps into new roles to maintain high levels of performance.
10. Diversify Your Sales Organization
According to McKinsey & Company, diverse companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry means. The same is true for sales team structure.
Xactly Insights data shows that gender diversity improves sales performance as well. Female sales reps, on average, achieve higher sales quota attainment. In addition, Gartner reports that 62% of companies with 45% or more women on their sales team drive higher-than-average profitable revenue.
11. Get a Grip on Rep Turnover
Like we said above, it’s important to maintain sales capacity by hiring the right amount of reps at the right time. But wouldn’t it be more helpful if sales leaders could predict sales rep turnover and take action before it happens? Xactly Insights artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm helps teams do this.
In fact, Xactly leaders tried out the Insights sales rep attrition algorithm on their own sales team and discovered that some top performers were at risk for leaving (read more about that here).
12. Be Honest with Performance Feedback
Giving sales rep feedback is not always easy, but sales performance reviews are part of the job sales leaders take on. Managers should always be transparent when giving feedback, especially when reps are being asked to improve performance.
In these meetings, sales managers should aim to provide positive feedback that effectively addresses any situations at hand—whether good or bad. When in doubt, frame feedback in a way that is:
- Timely to address any problems quickly
- Specific to the issue at hand
- Objective and free from outside and personal influence
- Constructive and provides action items for reps to take
13. Coach Reps with Effective Training
In order for reps to perform well, they must be properly trained. Without the right knowledge, skills, and resources, sales reps can’t achieve aggressive goals that will help the organization grow. Effective training starts with sales ramping and should continue throughout the rep’s career with the company.
This means sales enablement and training teams must improve sales rep training to ensure reps are set up for success. Three easy ways training teams can do this is to:
- Making training continuous by providing timely refreshes and educational opportunities
- Adapt training for modern learning styles by making it more digital and breaking it up into smaller sections
- Repeat key information frequently to ensure reps retain the most important information
14. Consider a SPIF to Motivate Reps
If you’re a sales manager, adding a SPIF (special performance incentive fund) can light a fire under reps to improve their performance. These incentives work best when they aren’t used continuously. Rather, SPIFs are great for creative an energetic, competitive environment to temporarily increase performance. They work great for end-of-quarter or end-of-year pushes for sales reps to close out periods strong.
15. Gather a Group of Customer Advocates
The final step in the buyer’s journey is advocate. These customers are fans of your company and champion spreading the word of how much they love you and your products/services. While you should focus on developing strong relationships with all of your customers, these in particular, provide a win-win opportunity.
Customer advocates are great resources for case studies and other marketing content that sales can utilize in other deals. It also gives customers an opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise as well as connect with peers in their industry.
16. Improve Company Culture and Morale
Believe it or not culture and morale have a huge impact on the success of sales organizations. When culture is negative and morale is low, performance suffers. It’s important for executives and leadership teams to instill a positive work culture from the top down.
Again, this ties into strategic planning and data-driven sales plans. Managers must also take steps to ensure their team has the resources they need. Regardless, the goal is to make the office a place where all employees are motivated to work hard, believe in the work their doing, and achieve company goals together.
17. Unleash Your Team's Potential
As the sales industry continues to evolve into a more competitive, digital world, it’s important for organizations to realize one thing: the heart of your company is people—not processes.
Therefore, you must motivate and provide the means to unleash the potential of the people within your company. Businesses that fail to recognize this or aren’t adapting to this mindset are falling behind and honestly, setting themselves up for failure.
Want to learn more about how you can improve sales volume, drive performance, and empower your sales organization? Download our interactive workbook to “Unleash the Potential of Your Sales Team.”