Today’s post is by Mark Magnacca, president and co-founder of Allego.
Watching and learning from the best in the business is a sound strategy for improvement in almost any endeavor – and sales learning is no different. In a recent survey conducted by Allego and ResearchNow, we asked sales leaders to identify the skills and training tactics they saw as most important.
We defined top performing sales teams as those that self-identified as achieving 100 percent of their quota, as well as having 74 percent of reps reach their individual quotas. Not surprisingly, we found that the highest performing sales teams have some things in common. Across industries, top performing teams share habits, best practices, and attributes that predict sales success. By looking at the qualities top performers possess, sales leaders and teams can incorporate these best practices into their own success stories.
Here are the top five traits of top performing sales teams.
Trait #1: Ramp Reps Faster with More Manager Coaching
Overall, our survey found that top performing sales teams were able to onboard new hires faster than peers in their industry. How are they able to do it? High-performing teams rely on the power of manager coaching. While ramp time depends on the industry and product complexity – reps selling more complex products take longer to ramp – increased manager coaching was a successful strategy to reduce new employee ramp time across industries and independent of product complexity.
For new reps, the learning curve is steep and training time is a precious commodity. Revenue opportunities disappear every day a new rep spends in onboarding. A faster ramp means better revenue performance more quickly, so accelerating time to sales competency is a must. Increasing and capitalizing on manager coaching opportunities gives new reps the benefit of an experienced sales professional’s perspective on the best ways to close deals.
Trait #2: More Peer Coaching, Less Boot Camp
Along with manager coaching, one of the most effective routes to sales team success is peer coaching. In fact, our survey found that high performers put at least 10 percent less emphasis on boot camps, replacing it with 15 percent more focus on peer training and 20 percent more focus on mentorship programs.
The value of learning from experienced peers is substantial. A colleague who has learned how to handle a tricky objection to a newly rolled-out product – or what language resonates best with a certain type of prospect – is an invaluable resource. Peer-to-peer coaching unburies the treasure trove of information each team member possesses and allows new team members to borrow nuggets of proven value rather than testing out new strategies on prospects.
Trait #3: Assess Sales Messaging to Improve Performance
Message consistency and competency in the field is a key component of sales success, and top performing sales teams make sure reps have their messaging down cold. Overall, high-performing teams believe that sales messaging is the most important sales competency to assess, with 80 percent of them assessing their reps on product messaging versus only 53 percent of the general population. The best teams create processes to ensure they capture and share the right messages. By clearly defining what “best” looks like in this context, the entire team can benefit from the experience and talent of the top performers.
Trait #4: Assess Continuously, Not Episodically
New information is best retained when it is reinforced regularly and continuously. The same holds true for assessment. The very best teams constantly take stock of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. The proof is in the numbers. When asked how often sales leaders are measuring their sales reps’ performance, 70 percent said they measure it regularly, in an ongoing fashion, with only 30 percent measuring quarterly or less. High performers, however, assess sales team competency more frequently, with 85 percent measuring weekly or monthly.
By objectively measuring performance at each stage of the sale, top performers can understand their own strengths and weaknesses and use that information to improve.
Trait #5: Address Competency Gaps with Training
When a manager identifies a gap in competency, the default reaction of many organizations – 50 percent, according to our survey – is to create a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Top performers, however, are three times more likely to use increased training to address gaps. This focus on training shows both the value of continuous assessment and how a commitment to training leads to improved achievement overall.
The Bottom Line: Habits Matter
The habits of highly effective sales teams are a blueprint for consistently achieving quota. These practical yet achievable best practices show the importance of frequent assessment, as well as manager and peer coaching to address competency gaps and improve performance. This continuous process of assessment and training enables organizations to be proactive, stay ahead, and create a culture of competency and success.