Your company is ready to grow — all you need are the sales to prove it. If you have big dreams for 2020 and beyond, check out these six essential tips to ensure the success of your sales team:
1. Focus on your people — all of them.
Do you have a sales superstar who brings in the numbers but doesn’t get along with the team? If so, your reliance on that person could end up costing you more than a headache.
Research published by Harvard Business School found that results achieved by toxic employees don’t offset their negative behavior, even when the toxic employee performs in the top percentile. Your company would sell more if you fired that toxic “best employee” and employed a team of average people who know how to work together.
The longer you let the bad dynamic go unchecked, the more trouble your team will have. “Behavior is contagious … we find that when a toxic person joins a team, others are more likely to behave in a toxic fashion,” says Dr. Michael Housman, co-author of the Harvard study.
2. Show some love to the marketing team.
The sales team celebrates the final reward, but no sales department lasts long without marketers pulling in qualified leads. Align your sales and marketing teams more closely to ensure both sides do all they can to ensure mutual success.
Get your salespeople to talk to the marketing team about the questions prospects ask most frequently, then make sure the marketers deliver content that matches the need. Build a demand generation strategy that frees up your salespeople to spend more time closing and less time qualifying. When marketers and salespeople work in harmony, good things follow.
Better yet, make use of a sales coaching software to analyze effective strategies, identify areas that need improvement, and monitor progress weekly. This software uses artificial intelligence to listen to your best sales reps, learn from them, and imitate their behavior. You can think of it as a self-service training coach.
3. Appreciate your current customers more.
While nothing beats the thrill of earning a big new account, your current customers deserve love, too. Communicate more frequently with your existing clients to hear about their experiences with your products and find opportunities to upsell.
Even if you only offer one product, don’t sleep on the value of your customers as lead sources. A good relationship with a small customer could lead to a massive partnership with a new client down the road. You never know how social circles connect, but by treating everyone with respect, you can boost your word-of-mouth marketing and up your chances of earning new business.
4. Check out chatbots.
Chatbots allow prospects on your website to ask questions without the pressure of a human salesperson on the other line. Take advantage of this dynamic by using chatbots to qualify leads through your website and on social media. With a little robotic help, customers who were “just browsing” could end up speaking with a salesperson in a matter of hours.
“The decision to deploy virtual agents can be complex,” says P.V. Kannan, co-founder of AI company 7.ai. “Even so, we think this sort of conversational interface to companies is destined to displace the current app and web interfaces over the long term, simply because it’s faster and in many cases, better for the customer.”
5. Evaluate your products and markets.
Provide customers with options to deepen their engagement with your company before you lose momentum from your existing line of products. Your niche may be successful for now, but every niche grows more crowded over time. To maintain your position at the front of the market, you must either offer something new or offer the same value to a different group of people.
Look at your current buyer personas to find similar groups who might enjoy your products. Could someone else use your product for a different purpose? With a few small tweaks, you may discover an entirely new marketing opportunity. Regularly evaluate your best markets, and think about how you could provide more value to current and prospective fans.
6. Experiment with email.
Email is a double-edged sword for small companies. Yes, it might be your best lead source — but how many hours a week do you spend in your inbox? Try techniques like time-boxing to keep email from eating up your schedule, but also consider your copy. Could less formal emails take less time to write and boost conversions?
“Change the length, change the focus, try sounding cheeky instead of polished,” suggests TJ Macke, who handles go-to-market strategy for sales enablement company Regie.io. Although Regie uses AI to recommend copy that’s likely to resonate with your audience, Macke makes it clear that there’s no substitute for manual experimentation.
The 2020s will be here before you know it, so don’t waste time on sales tactics that belong in the 2010s. Use this opportunity to evaluate your sales strategy and achieve your sales goals next year — and the years beyond.