It’s 4:30 on any given Friday afternoon. The entire office is buzzing with weekend excitement, everyone sharing what they are going to be doing tomorrow. You are looking over your weekly representative reports, seeing who was at the top of their game this week. As usual, your top three salespeople are jockeying for the top spot: typical overachievers. You’ve got about 10 right in the middle, but you happily notice that their numbers have been rising steadily. But it’s the three at the bottom that take the smile from your face. Jason has come in last again: that’s his third straight week of not hitting anywhere near his numbers.
If this sounds familiar you’re not alone. Studies show that roughly 10% of your salesforce are the top, 70% are the middle performers- the ones who aren’t the best but they aren’t the worst either. These middle-of-the-road salespeople are the backbone of your organization. The other 20% are the bottom tier, the ones who always seem to struggle no matter what the sales manager does.
There is a way to improve the 90% of your sales organization that is struggling- a method that is not only proven but that you can do in a single afternoon that is guaranteed to boost your performance. The best way to improve the efficiency of your lowest-selling reps is to let data help you pinpoint the problem as well as the way to fix it. These 6 tips outline how you can use data to pinpoint your low-performers’ most urgent problems and fix them right away. Follow these steps with your under-achievers and we guarantee you’ll see an improvement that will help your bottom line.
First tip- communicate with data. Nothing is more frustrating to a salesperson than being called in to the sales managers office to get reamed for poor sales performance and then leaving that office with no actionable steps that they can take to improve. These meetings need to be more than just “you need to try harder.” Your sales managers need to print out a performance report with the following KPIs and methods and discuss them, one by one, with your low performing sales reps. Use data to communicate and you not only avoid miscommunications but you will also provide your low-performing reps with the insight they need to improve.
Activity Efficiency Ratios
Salesforce is tracking which activities were completed for every successful closed deal. To discover the activity efficiency ratio for your organization look at the past year of your successful closed deals and average out which activities were completed, how often and in which order, for each successful closed deal. This will tell you which activities are most efficient for your particular product.
Now, compare that data with what your low-performers are doing. Odds are you will discover that these underperformers are simply completing the wrong sorts of activities at the wrong stage of the sales process. But now, with data in hand about which activities are best for your organization, you can coach them to complete more efficient activities early on and they will have a higher chance of success. Keep tracking their performance with this new direction over the next week to make sure that the lesson has sunk in. For more on this KPI and exactly how to track it, check out our eBook.
Sometimes the problem with a low-performer isn't that they are completing the wrong sorts of a activities at the wrong time- it’s that they simply aren't motivated. How can data help with a problem that is so deeply rooted in personality?
Simple: data can help you gamify your sales data in a way that will motivate your reps through natural, healthy competition. Thomas Steenburgh and Michael Ahearne of HBR call it “program-induced social pressure” and say “when designed well, programs heighten laggards’ sense of responsibility to the team and motivate stars to help laggards out.” How can you design a social pressure program well? Do it with data. Place sales KPIs for process, activity efficiency and lead response time on TV screens throughout your sales floor for everyone to see. This will help your low-performers to know, at all times, where they are ranking according to their peers and will help them raise their performance to match their peers.
Lead Response Time
Leads that are contacted within 24 hours are 20% more likely to result in a sale, and the odds are even better if they are contacted within an hour. If your sales reps are not contacting leads within that time period then that could very well be the reason that they are lagging behind.
Gather data for how long it took the sales rep in question to contact the last 10 leads that they received. If they have not contacted them within at least 24 hours, ascertain why and make that a new goal for the underperformed to do. Incentivize them with perks wherein if they contact a lead within 24 hours they will earn recognition, but if they contact the leads within an hour they will receive something better. Consistency is key with this KPI, however. Track their performance for the next 10 leads they receive to gauge how well the lesson has sunk in. This is especially important as lead response time is one of the simplest ways to improve performance.
Salesforce is currently tracking how long a representative’s opportunities are spending in each stage of your sales process. Often times lower performing sales reps will be effective at the early stages of prospecting and moving a lead through the sales process but will get hung up on one particular stage.
This is where data can help your sales managers pinpoint and solve the problem. First, you will need to filter your salesforce data by the # of opportunities, both won and lost, that an underperforming rep has been tasked with. Once you have that data in hand apply a second filter to discover which stages took the rep the longest. Finally, see which opportunities were won or lost based on how long they spent in each stage. With just a few simple data filters and layers of analysis you can discover exactly which stage of the process is hurting this rep’s performance and pinpoint your coaching to help in that particular stage.
If your low performing sales representative falls in the 70% of most sales teams, i.e. they are not underperforming but they are not performing particularly well either, the answer to bring them up to the next level might not be a matter of a 1:1 coaching meeting or gamification, but simply seeing and observing the behavioral habits of one of your top performers. To do this, you should pair the underperformed with one of your top performers for a few days- at least 3 days for optimal training.
The best way to make these partnerships is to use data to discover which step in the sales process your underperformed is struggling the most with. Then, compare that data with your top performers to discover a foil- a top performer that is particularly strong where the underperformed is particularly weak. This way your partnership will be tailored to meet the needs of the person that needs training, coaching them through exposure and experience to the correct way to do things.
The simplest way to monitor these KPIs and implement these methods is with a solid sales performance platform that can make activity efficiency ratios pop, gamify data, notify you when your lead response time is slow, make the slow steps in the process easily identifiable and help you make efficient partnerships. VisualCue’s sales performance platform accomplishes all of these objectives and more. Try it out with a free version today!
You can also learn more about improving your sales and marketing performance with our eBook "The War is Over: The ultimate guide to aligning sales and marketing."