Sales Agility Excellence: The Sales Infrastructure You Need to Enable Success

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The business of sales is as nuanced as sales industries, salespeople and buyers themselves, with some industries requiring in-person selling with plenty of touchpoints and follow-ups. These traditional businesses want to know the salespeople as individuals, build rapport and get their own personal sense for the salesperson’s credibility. In other companies, such as more modern, tech-focused firms, a few virtual meetings with compelling follow-up resources may be appropriate.

While sales processes vary, any sales organization can become more agile and nimble in how it reacts to a challenge—whether that’s a recession, a pandemic, a new competitor or low inflation. Think of a strong sales infrastructure like car insurance: You want good insurance before you get in a wreck so that if a fender bender occurs, you’re protected. The same goes for the health of your sales department. It’s much easier to shore up your sales infrastructure before hitting a roadblock rather than try to retroactively strengthen your sales organization.

For example, companies can operate for years without a diverse client base if a handful of large clients stick around. But when one major client leaves, the departure exposes a major gap. There are many trigger points, like client diversity, and it’s disconcerting to realize just how many businesses tread on the edge of calamity for their companies.

Strong sales infrastructures prepare organizations to adjust to any economic climate. One way we benchmark clients’ existing sales process and sales infrastructure is through a sales analysis.

 

How sales assessments increase agility

Key sales components critical to every organization to better support a client base can be synthesized across four main areas: sales strategy, sales methodology, sales analysis and sales organization.

These four areas provide a 360-degree view of companies’ sales organizations and related outcomes. They expose some of the dormant issues that a business may not have even known were causing problems to their sales infrastructure. Sales strategy proves why it’s essential to establish sales goals and quotas based on key metrics or the value of a sales pipeline dashboard, sales methodology can show the worth of documenting a repeatable sales process, and sales organizations give reason to defining and setting talent expectations that drive success and retention.

Business owners should be evaluating their own companies, and a sales assessment offers them a firsthand look at the way they view the health of their businesses from an internal perspective.

 

Putting sales assessments into practice

Assessment results are a powerful benchmarking tool to evaluate sales infrastructure before and after implementing specific changes. Here’s how sales leaders should respond regarding compensation, documenting sales processes, performance reviews, onboarding and training processes, and defining sales performance metrics.

 

1. Tie compensation to desired behavior

To properly motivate salespeople, begin by determining your company’s goals by product, customer and overall revenue. Then, break it down by department and sales rep. Only then can you determine what revenue and behaviors align with individual rep expectations. Finally, set compensation structures accordingly so your reps have reasonable base salaries but appropriate incentive compensation plans to keep them motivated and on track to reach company goals.

 

2. Align your sales process with the buyer’s journey

Next, document your company’s sales process and adjust it to fit both your internal process and the desired buyer’s journey. Tracking where the customer is at each step with key milestones helps increase the probability of closing. Write down the sales process, share it with the rest of your organization, and detail it in your customer relationship management (CRM) system and related workflows.

 

3. Set goals to create clear expectations

Still wondering how to improve sales performance? For your sales team to remain agile and optimized, set and enforce clear expectations. Everyone needs to know what is expected of them based on your compensation plan, key performance indicators (KPIs) and related company outcomes. Then, be sure to implement a performance review process that occurs at regular intervals, ideally quarterly.

 

4. Initiate onboarding programs immediately

The moment a salesperson accepts your offer, it’s time to implement an onboarding process. Otherwise, you lose valuable time getting the employee up to speed. Communicate the onboarding plan in writing, and make sure it’s understood by all parties. Then, check-in with new salespeople at 30, 60 and 90 days to ensure they’re adjusting well and understand expectations. Over time, this process will help to identify sales reps who are a good fit for the role.

 

5. Focus your sales performance metrics on leading indicators

Too often, sales performance metrics focus only on lagging indicators, or things that have already taken place, when they should center around leading indicators or metrics that suggest future results. Be sure to review sales performance metrics weekly to ensure your people and company are on the right track.

 

Conclusion

Very few, if any, trigger points can be avoided and several of them are not always a result of poor business or management. Their results, however, don’t have to affect business performance or sales infrastructure because of poor planning.

A sales agility assessment allows companies to understand whether they have a solid sales foundation. It could be the difference between your company crumbling from its foundation or finding effective, long-term success. The steps you take based on the assessment’s key findings are all about building the proper foundation before you get into trouble so that when trigger points happen, your business is protected.


Mark Thacker is the president of Sales Xceleration, a firm specializing in sales strategy, process and execution. Thacker has a 33-year history of sales leadership and success in diverse industries, and is the author of “Hope Realized: Finding the Path to Sales Success.”