How do you improve sales performance?

By Bill Walsh | October 18, 2022

A note from Mediafly: We will dive into how to improve sales performance in a minute, but first (in case you missed it), we are excited to announce we have acquired Aptology, a leading talent intelligence solution that we will integrate into our Revenue360 platform. Most companies evaluate talent based on education, experience, and interviews. Aptology takes a different approach, allowing revenue teams to factor in coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation, temperament, and other unique criteria to ensure they match the right talent with the right role and coaching to be successful. Today, as we welcome the team, we’re excited to share their expertise.

Utilizing Behavior to Improve Sales Performance

In the highly competitive world of sales, every company needs even the tiniest advantage it can get. A slow economy amplifies that need, where, for some businesses, improving sales performance becomes a matter of life or death. That is why companies dedicate entire teams to figuring out how they can move the needle on sales performance. Businesses invest millions in sales training, tools, and technologies to keep up with the evolving landscape of prospects and competitors.

Many of these tools have had an appreciable impact on sales performance. Email automation, autodialers, call recorders, and other AI-powered customer engagement tools can free up sales reps from costly activities that diminish time to sell — and, therefore, sales performance.

Data: Quantity vs. Quality

But for all technological innovation has done for sales organizations, the impact is still largely superficial. According to the annual Field Sales Benchmark Report 2022, sales leaders report that only 62% of their sales team reliably hits quota — down from 64% in 2021. Why? Even the most sophisticated sales intelligence software alone cannot overcome the challenge of meeting revenue targets. Even with all the data available, a critical component is missing: people data.

The lifeblood of any sales organization is the people that make up the team. While technology and other performance drivers will help move the needle, the key to achieving peak performance is identifying the underlying seller behavior that drive positive sales outcomes. The best competitive advantage sales leaders and company executives can give their businesses is an unraveling of the behavior that drives their salespeople’s performance. The question is simple; how is my team performing, and how does it relate to their behavior? If Jennifer and Jane are both hard workers, why is Jane so much better at selling? What are the underlying behaviors ultimately driving Jane’s and Jennifer’s performance?

Let’s try to make sense of it. 

Team behavior and improved sales performance

What drives Jane’s improvement, and why is Jennifer’s progress static? It all comes down to underlying behavior. 

At the fundamental level, the most important predictor of sales performance is the behavior of salespeople. Several other things may come into play, but behavior holds the aces.

Unlike some performance drivers, behavior has a high face validity because it directly connects to how an individual approaches issues or responds to triggers in an actual work environment.

Today’s customer base is enormously different from what it used to be eight or ten years ago. Brute force techniques no longer work — it is best selectively used or left in the past where it belongs. To push past the complexity of the modern selling environment, you must take a more intelligent and intuitive approach. 

Sales leaders and company executives who want their salespeople to close deals must align sales rep behaviors with the behavioral requirements to win opportunities in their unique product space. These behavioral requirements vary depending on the industry, buyer, and the kind of product involved.

Different industries require different behaviors

Some industries and products require salespeople to be exceedingly great at earning customers’ trust, building rapport, and connecting with prospects. Other industries may need salespeople to be empathetic and good listeners. 

In the latter scenario, those two traits might work together to offer an immense sales advantage. Because a rep is a good listener, they may be better at getting data, turning it into insights, and using that information to proffer solutions or address customer pain points. Similarly, their empathy can help them better understand the pain points to match them with the most impactful solutions.

Of course, it’s not just about being able to listen, empathize or rapidly build rapport. The combination of behaviors or personality traits we can map to favorable sales outcomes is endless. Sales leaders and company executives can significantly improve sales performance by seeking the right behavioral profile necessary for salespeople within their industry. In other words, sales leaders must ask themselves, “what behavior is behind peak sales performance within my unique product space?” or, as we commonly hear from sales executives, “what does good look like?”.

Visibility requires people data tools

Sales leaders must employ tools to identify behavioral data that can increase sales performance with precision. These specialized tools will also help pinpoint specific “strong points” for employees and keep them focused when coaching and training. In 2021, experts listed empathy, active listening, emotional intelligence, and confidence as the primary skills salespeople must possess to excel. Of course, in your industry, a different combination may be necessary. People platforms will help you unearth those competencies and help you hire, onboard, and coach your employees to success.

That can have a massive impact on your company’s sales performance. According to Gartner, great sales coaching drives a 30-40% increase in revenue without adding headcount. 

Once you map certain behaviors to improved sales outcomes, you gain visibility into sales performance with considerable precision. But how do you unravel the underlying behavior behind improved sales performance in the first place?

A talent intelligence platform is critical. Aptology (now Mediafly Success profiles) understands what behaviors drive quota to help you get to the core of your employees’ strengths and gaps. Our behavioral intelligence offers a simple and practical pathway to achieving peak sales performance, and as of today, it is available as part of the Mediafly Revenue360 platform.

Interested in learning how you can leverage the combined power of sales enablement, value selling, talent intelligence, customer engagement tools, sales coaching, and revenue intelligence to better predict, coach, engage, and execute across the revenue journey?

Contact us to learn more about talent intelligence or the complete Revenue360 platform.

Bill founded Aptology in 2016 where he serves as President & CEO. His specialty includes building, leading, and retaining exceptional teams that transform companies through innovation and growth, restructuring and sale, M&A, and integration. His decades of experience include being the former President of International for PeopleSoft and COO at Epiphany.

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