If there's one metric that measures the health of a sales department, it's sales volume. For anyone looking to increase volume and sell more in shorter periods, there is a wealth of opportunities and concepts that can help you motivate your team. However, you won't be able to inspire growth unless you embrace digital transformation and continually adapt to the modern environment.
What Is Sales Volume?
The sales volume definition is simple: How many units has your team sold in a specified time period? As opposed to total sales, which is usually measured in monetary value, sales volume is the number of products, appointments, solutions or services sold in a quarter or year. Drilling down further, gross sales volume includes all sales, whereas net sales volume is the number of units sold minus promotions, returns and cancellations.
There are no tricks or shortcuts to increasing sales volume. Consumers have more access to information and more options than ever when making purchasing decisions. To increase sales, you need to embrace technology, exhaustively train your sales team and foster an environment that motivates and rewards excellence with a carefully designed commission structure.
The following strategic planning tips can help you use sales volume as a KPI. It lets you gauge team performance, identify under-performing products and glean actionable insights into your sales funnel.
1. Build A People-Centric Sales Team
To inspire your team to increase sales volume, you should ensure your company culture is customer-centric. That means understanding your product from a feature/benefit perspective so that each team member fully understands the product and the various ways it can add value to a customer's life. Instead of using a hard-sell approach, salespeople should aim to learn about customers' unique pain points and find the angle that demonstrates how your company can solve them.
It's important that sales leaders and all senior managers speak highly of customers and prioritize approaching sales as problem-solving. Today's consumers are savvy and sensitive, and you must adapt accordingly to remain competitive.
2. Set Strategic Goals to Inspire High-Performance
The highest performing companies in the world know that the way you treat your team members is as important as how you treat customers. Being more employee-focused is a key element of being people-centric. Put simply, that means setting KPIs and broader goals that play to your individual team members' specific strengths.
This isn't realistic as a manual process, but automation makes targeted goal-setting easier than ever. Start off by clearly defining organizational goals, then collaborate with each employee to set individual goals. Use performance management software to seamlessly measure success, reward high-performance and identify bottlenecks and under-performance. Employee surveys can help you measure the effectiveness of any new strategy and boost engagement from the entire team.
3. Increase Volume by Connecting Sales With Marketing
If silos between sales and marketing still exist, it's time to eliminate them by increasing collaboration. One of the biggest mistakes companies make in today's economy is pitting departments against each other and shutting down communication. When the sales and marketing departments work in tandem, you'll attract more leads, convert more of them, and close more deals.
Let's look at some quick tips for collaboration between sales and marketing:
- Create buyer personas together and share stories about pain points
- Ensure sales and marketing messaging is aligned and consistent
- Set up weekly meetings for sales to let marketing know what customers are saying
- Work together on content marketing strategies
- Openly share analytics
4. Accurately Forecast Your Sales Volume
Forecasting lies at the heart of business success, from the moment you set up your company. Being able to accurately predict sales volume, total sales, cash flow and other KPIs is the difference between growth and failure for many businesses. According to Hubspot, it was found that approximately 2.5 hours each week are spent on forecasting, but predictions are typically less than 75% accurate.
Realistic sales forecasts translate directly to massive reductions in product unavailability and lost sales. Furthermore, admin, warehousing, utilities and even labor management costs can be slashed when you forecast accurately.
5. Be an Exceptional Recruiter
Training can go a long way in improving team performance, but no amount of education can fix poor recruitment practices. Work with your HR department to create employee personas and emphasize the importance of the following attributes:
Never rush the recruitment process, and ensure onboarding is thorough and indoctrinates new team members into your brand's way of doing business. Hiring the right people and ensuring they start as they mean to go on are essential strategies for increasing sales volume.
- Can-do attitude
- Passionate about learning and self-development
- Interested in your company's story and culture
- Exceptional communication skills
6. Rely on Data To Drive Sales Planning
Using data is arguably the most accurate and trustworthy method of approaching sales planning. To be truly effective, sales planning should be automated, continuous and collaborative to streamline operations and drive practical decision-making. Considering only 48% of organizational decisions are based on quantitative analysis and information, there's a good chance your company can improve in this area.
Armed with hard data, you can identify growth opportunities and allocate resources more effectively. And in such a fast-paced business environment, leaders must be able to pivot according to real-time market changes so they can adapt and remain competitive. Forget about relying on instinct alone or making overly complex, inefficient spreadsheets, and embrace AI and data to make better decisions and increase sales volume.
7. Speed Up Ramp-Up Time
For sales departments, perhaps the most crucial element of onboarding is ramp-up time. Getting new hires to the point where they can close deals and hit targets is a careful balancing act. While it's vital that you get them there as quickly as possible, taking shortcuts to do so will ultimately hinder success. Below are some tips for closing the sales ramp-up gap without compromising quality:
- Set clear KPIs and motivate your team to hit them
- Ensure easy access to customer and territory data
- Develop a consistent, standardized onboarding plan
- Use video training, role plays and shadowing
- Take an ongoing approach to training
- Ensure team leaders and managers are hands-on and coach each employee
8. Take a Preventative Approach to Rep Turnover
Rep turnover can be one of the most expensive elements of running a sales department. For years, predicting and managing employee turnover has been a major issue for leaders in any area. If you haven't yet discovered how AI can help you take preventative action, now is the time to act. Algorithms like the one Xactly's Insights uses can predict rep turnover and other essential insights based on nearly two decades of anonymized, aggregated pay and performance data.
9. Reallocate Sales Territories
If you're allocating sales territories based on nothing more than an arbitrary cycle, it's time to upgrade to a data-led approach. Poor territory design decreases sales performance and negatively impacts morale. As unhelpful as it can be, reps will compare themselves to their colleagues. If your system seems unfair because, for example, some people get better opportunities than others, employee effort drops.
On the other hand, if you automate territory mapping using Xactly Alignstar, you can effortlessly harness third-party data and make accurate decisions. According to research from Forrester, 77% of companies prefer making sales territory decisions based on data. And that's because optimized, balanced territory allocation leads to an increase in opportunities and increases productivity.
10. Upgrade Incentive Compensation
While money isn't everything in life, people go to work to earn. Salespeople are often more financially motivated than other workers, and leaders can use incentive compensation to tap into this and increase volume. With territory allocation, forecasting and other key functions automated, leaders have a crystal clear picture of the resources they have and how best to allocate them.
Historical data demonstrates which incentives have the biggest impact on sales and puts you in a position to prioritize these types of commission structures. Getting the sales compensation strategy right and directly connecting pay to performance motivates and inspires team members to do their best.
11. Understand the Importance of Rep Tenure
Rep tenure is the amount of time a salesperson stays in a particular role, and there are some surprising consistencies to learn about that can help you increase sales volume. Data from Xactly Insights shows that, on average, rep performance peaks at the three-year mark and begins to decline after five years in a role.
Automated software can help you keep track of which stage of the cycle each rep is at and alert you when performance levels are likely to start declining. This allows you to be proactive and offer new opportunities to high-performing reps to ensure they remain engaged and productive.
12. Embrace Diversity and Inclusion
The world is a completely different place than it was 15, 10 or even five years ago, when many leaders entered the workforce. Outdated attitudes toward D&I can be extremely harmful to your business and prevent you from maximizing performance and revenue. Consider sending senior leaders on D&I courses so they can learn the value of actively increasing diversity, identifying unconscious bias and recognizing the importance of diversity to upcoming generations. In other words, the trend toward D&I is only going to ramp up, so now is the time to get onboard.
There's plenty of data that shows D&I initiatives driven revenue growth and employee satisfaction. McKinsey found that employees in organizations with higher (versus lower) scores on our inclusion assessment are 45 percent more likely to stay at their organization and 90 percent more likely to go out of their way to help a colleague.
13. Make Feedback a Priority
It's essential that you have a standardized system whereby leaders offer each team member one-on-one feedback about performance. Aim to give sales performance reviews every quarter as a minimum, and frame every interaction positively, using insights gleaned from data rather than hearsay. Being positive doesn't mean lying; it means being authentic about praise and constructive criticism.
For example, rather than saying: "You didn't perform very well in that meeting."
Be as direct as possible without shutting the rep down or making broad judgments that could impact motivation, such as: "How do you think that meeting went?"
By letting them tell you the meeting didn't go so well, you put the power in their hands. As a follow-up question, ask what the employee thinks they could do to improve in future and offer suggestions and tips. Providing solutions such as training, coaching or offering an opportunity to shadow a high-performing coworker is much more effective than chastising or showing your disappointment.
14. Use Training To Reach Organizational Goals
The worst thing a sales leader can do is expect a team to thrive without providing the resources necessary to do so. The more specific you are about expectations and the more tools, resources and knowledge you give your team, the more aggressively they'll meet sales targets.
Training should be assessed and updated as regularly as possible in line with the increasingly fast-paced economy all companies exist within. Learning and development are two of the most important employee benefits to modern workers, and investing in your team is one of the best ways to ensure they fully invest their time and effort in their role and your brand.
15. Deploy a Special Purpose Incentive Fund (SPIF) to Motivate Reps
One of the most effective methods of increasing sales reps' productivity during critical periods is with an SPIF. The short-term incentives it offers are highly effective when used infrequently and unpredictably. SPIFs can help you adjust sales reps' behavior to provide essential boosts in productivity when you need them most.
16. Utilize Customer Advocacy
Another key strategy when it comes to increasing sales volume is using customer advocates in the final step of the buyer journey. Customers have always been reliant on word of mouth, but with social media, review sites and endless access to information, it's more essential than ever that you show social proof.
Customer advocates are loyal, happy customers who regularly use your product or service and are happy to share their experience with others. You can set up a formal program or simply reach out to customers who love your products and ask them to write testimonials, blog posts and case studies, and link to your products in their social media.
17. Get Serious About Company Culture
If you're skeptical about the notion that company culture can drive financial results, it's time to learn about The Great Resignation. Employees are quitting their jobs in droves to find workplaces that care more about them on a personal level. Top reasons for people quitting in the past year or so are:
- Low pay
- No opportunities for career progression
- Feeling disrespected at work
As upcoming generations prioritize purpose and meaning, they're less tolerant of authoritarian leadership and inflexible company culture. Of course, unfair pay is the biggest factor, and by increasing sales volume, you can pay employees more and retain your top sellers.
18. Eliminate Intuition Bias
In today's business world, guesswork is a thing of the past. To remain competitive and continually drive results, you need to use hard data, automation and AI. A majority of businesses are still relying largely on instinct to drive results, and the economy is suffering as a result.
When you make decisions using gut instinct, you're inevitably making extremely limited decisions, no matter what level of expertise you have in your field. Your personal experiences and past lead to a phenomenon called intuition bias, which makes instinct alone significantly less effective than basing decisions on a mixture of third-party and historical data.
19. Unleash Your Team's Potential
Digital transformation is changing the world at an unprecedented rate, and sales teams are at the forefront of that change. Nonetheless, people, not processes, lie at the heart of your company's performance. To drive financial results and boost your bottom line, you must unleash your team's potential.
Broadly speaking, people-centric management practices, in combination with AI and automation, can increase sales volume, retain top-performers and help your company remain competitive in an ever-evolving landscape.
Now is the time to invest in the right strategies, data and people, to drive performance and increase sales. Xactly is here to help you do that.