- 12 Jan 2021
What do the best sales teams do differently? 7 tips for business owners
Every business has its own way of doing things. No two sales teams are quite the same.
But as a business owner, it can be hard to know whether your sales processes are the best that they can be.
We work with a lot of sales teams. In fact, over the course of our 10 years in working with B2B businesses, our part-time Marketing Directors have worked alongside sales teams from over 500 organisations across the UK. And over the years we’ve spotted a few common behaviours that the best sales teams exhibit.
You might be wondering why The Marketing Centre is talking about sales team performance. There are two reasons.
First, marketing and sales have to work together. You can’t separate marketing and sales performance. If one performs poorly the other does too.
Second, a good Marketing Director will help improve sales team performance. Especially when it comes to embedding the right processes and making good use of tools like CRMs and LinkedIn.
In this post, we’re going to run through some of those behaviours we’ve observed and why they’re important.
If you’re a business owner, you might want to forward this onto your Sales Director and see what they think.
#1 - They don’t let their sales funnel get blocked by old leads
Old or unqualified leads can start to clog up your funnel if you don’t stay on top of them. This makes it much harder to focus on genuine opportunities.
The best sales teams constantly review and clean out the top of their funnel. Every lead is reviewed, qualified and moved on to the next stage or closed down. This prevents things from stagnating and old leads from skewing your data.
This might sound like housekeeping, but it’s more important than that. The integrity of your sales data has a massive impact on performance and productivity. Keeping it accurate and up-to-date will help your sales team focus on real opportunities and give you a realistic view of your actual pipeline.
#2 - They have a plan for each of their top customers
The best sales teams know who their most important customers are and have a plan for how they’re going to grow the account.
This plan is rooted in a deep understanding of their customer’s business:
- What are their objectives now and in the future - and can you help them get there?
- How can you marry your own objectives to theirs?
- How can you grow your influence across their organisation?
- Who are the decision-makers and how can you build relationships with them?
- Are there upcoming projects that could unlock new revenue streams?
- How can you challenge their current thinking to help them grow?
As we’ve said before, the biggest opportunities are with your current customers. The best sales teams know their top customers inside-out.
We’ve also seen that a joint sales and marketing ABM approach can be effective. But it’s best used for complex sales when the customer is large and the product or service is high-value and long-term.
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#3 - They think about next year, not just next quarter
Salespeople will naturally focus on opportunities that are close to getting over the line. Pushing for the close is in their nature, not to mention the financial incentives.
The best sales teams also think long-term. Otherwise you end up bouncing between feast and famine, which is stressful for everyone involved.
High-performing sales teams that we’ve worked with are skilled at dividing their time between prospecting for new deals, progressing existing deals and growing current customers. They also embed processes and management systems for each of these things to make sure they get the time they deserve.
#4 - They build relationships with multiple decision-makers in target organisations
One relationship is rarely enough to make a sale.
In our experience, the best sales teams we’ve worked with identify and build relationships with multiple decision-makers inside organisations that are in their pipeline.
These relationships may contribute to the sales process or create new opportunities. Then again, they may not. But the mindset that one relationship will be enough is usually counterproductive.
#5 - They’ve embraced LinkedIn and Sales Navigator
Some B2B salespeople have got the memo about LinkedIn. Others are resisting it.
In either case, it’s clear that LinkedIn is a seriously powerful sales tool. The best sales teams know how to use it to its full potential for research, prospecting, relationship-building and keeping in contact with customers.
We’ve used LinkedIn to grow our business and we’ve helped business owners and salespeople do the same. Social selling is now a fundamental part of sales and marketing. It helps sales teams take ownership of their own prospecting rather than waiting for leads from marketing.
That said, you still need to strike a balance between LinkedIn and phonecalls or face-to-face meetings, which tend to be better for learning more about prospects and understanding their challenges. The best sales teams we’ve worked with make use of all available channels.
Note: if your sales team need a hand with LinkedIn, they should check out our 8-Week LinkedIn Training Programme
#6 - They focus on being front of mind
The average sale takes eight different contacts between a customer and a brand. This includes people visiting your website, opening emails and interacting with salespeople.
Basically, sales take time. If you target the right audience with the right message at the right time, a good proportion of customers will buy from you. But not always right away. This is why tools like LinkedIn are so important, because all of those regular interactions mean that when they are ready to buy, you’ll be front-of-mind.
Following up just once or twice with a lead is a missed opportunity. The best sales teams that we’ve worked with have a culture of coming back time and time again. And they put processes in place to support that.
They also work closely with marketing to identify the activities that will help move parts of the pipeline forward, or unlock specific opportunities with prospects.
#7 - They use (and appreciate) their CRM
When we start working with customers, their sales team often see their CRM as little more than a reporting tool. Or a glorified address book, somewhere to store contact details and make notes, but little else.
In our experience, the best sales teams understand the value that a well-maintained CRM can offer. And just as important, everyone on the team knows how to use it.
We’ve helped scores of businesses transform their CRM into a vital sales tool and a rich source of insight for sales to lean on. Here are a few of the common characteristics we’ve observed:
- Every interaction with sales or marketing is logged and recorded (emails, calls, meetings, marketing campaigns, etc.)
- The sales team have the CRM open almost all the time and use it to create tasks for themselves and regularly review their reporting
- CRM reports are used to provide genuine insight that helps decision-making and improves sales performance
We’ve worked closely with sales teams and their leaders across a wide range of UK B2B sectors. Every sales team is different - one person’s strength is another’s weakness. But in our experience, there are a few behaviours that mark out high-performers from the rest.
Can you think of any other characteristics the best sales teams exhibit? Or things that tend to hold them back? If so, don’t be shy! Come and join in the conversation on LinkedIn.
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