Venkat Malladi on The Profitable Behaviours for Successful Sales
Sales leaders are always wondering how they can one up last year’s success. It’s not uncommon. Most successful sales teams have two things in common - a hunger for more and a forward facing outlook. There is a third, less common attribute of super-successful sales teams, which I want to talk about.
Sales teams that are able to consistently beat their quotas focus on profitable behaviours and not just goals or outcomes. Successful sales organizations know that assigning a quota to a salesperson is only the beginning of the journey - it’s akin to painting a bulls eye some distance away. They also know that discussing hits and misses is too late in the game to change anything. They focus on what happens in between.
If you have been selling for a while, and your product-market fit is reasonably mature, then you already know the input parameters of an ideal sale. These are your products, your salespeople and your prospects and customers. But, do you really have this data to use?
The surest way of understanding this is by asking salespeople and their managers, separately, about the number (and types) of activities salespeople engage in on a daily basis.
What we found was that there is a significant gap in terms of expectations and reality for the most basic data points. A good starting point to understanding why this is the case is to look at what are the primary systems used to capture sales data.
Organizations have been using CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems for over two decades now. CRMs acted as a source of records and enabled sales teams to store and retrieve sales data at will.
But, unfortunately, CRMs haven’t evolved beyond passive databases to proactively enable salespeople to sell more. Instead, they have only increased in complexity to accommodate all varieties of processes and stakeholders beyond Sales, ranging from Marketing and Service to Finance and Operations. It seems like salespeople exist to serve their CRMs and not the other way around.
Worse, salespeople think that CRMs distract from their top priority - engaging prospects and customers. Typically, salespeople report data onto CRMs when they find time away from their core activities at the end of the day/week. The data entered is neither accurate nor comprehensive, but there is no way of verifying this other than hearsay.
So, what can organizations do to collect and analyze clean, contextual data? One thing is certain - replacing existing CRMs is not the answer. We see this so many times across prospects and customers - organizations moving from Salesforce to Dynamics or vice versa, often driven by the comfort levels or past experience of people championing the CRM initiative, rather than any real data that proves one is significantly better suited to solve their existing problems. The result is an endless cycle of implementation, training, onboarding, and success (or failure).
Perhaps, it’s time we calibrate our expectations. In order for CRM’s to proactively drive conversions, organizations must adopt a different breed of applications, which are mobile-first and intelligent. Think Uber, Amazon, Airbnb, and the likes, that can collect contextual data seamlessly and provide necessary intelligence that results in highly engaged users.
Sales is possibly one of the hardest vocations. This year, instead of incentivising your salespeople endlessly and relying on miracles to see you through, invest in profitable behaviours to predictable revenue.