All too frequently I’m asked what is the single “silver bullet” for improving sales performance. They may use slightly different words, but in essence they are asking for the same thing. My answer is always the same. There is no silver bullet for improving your sales performance. It doesn’t exist. So, stop wasting your time trying to find it!
Rather here is some practical advice…double down on the basics. It starts with a sound discovery and discernment framework. Have you armed your sales team with a deep understanding of all the stakeholders that they need to engage, influence and sell to in order to win new business? What do they need to learn through their discovery process from each stakeholder? What are some smart discovery questions they should ask? What are the real business drivers that your solution aligns well to?
Does your sales team know how to identify and cultivate a Champion(s) in an opportunity? You might be surprised how many sales reps (even experienced ones) struggle with this key sales capability. Are your sales reps mistaking the first person who engaged with them as always being the Champion? because more often than not, the first person who engaged with them tends to be a lower level project manager type person that was tasked with doing some preliminary research on technology solutions.
Can all of your sales reps find a path to the money? Are they capable of jointly building a successful business case that your Champion(s) can present to the power to get budget approval for your solution? Are your sales reps proficient at “coaching” up your Champion(s) on how to best pitch the business case for approval? You are being very naive if you think that your sales reps will always get the opportunity to present the business case to the ultimate decision maker. Experienced sales leaders know that when selling to large enterprise companies, your sales team will rarely get that direct in person opportunity to pitch the business case with the decision maker. You have to rely on your Champion(s) and that can be scary.
Does your sales team understand how to effectively navigate the IT Procurement approval labyrinth? For startups selling to large enterprise companies, this should almost be considered an entirely separate sales process with plenty of twists, curves and pitfalls that you can fall into and fail. Fortune 1000 IT Procurement agents are well seasoned expert negotiators that will chew up and spit out the uninitiated sales rep.
Can your entire sales team lead an effective Teaching Conversation tailored for each stakeholder? Does your sales team tell a consistent and compelling story? Do all of your sales reps know your customer case stories and all of the intimate details associated with your most successful customers even if they did not work the deals themselves.
I’m just scratching the surface with these questions. But the point is that smart and successful sales leaders don’t look for the non-existent sales silver bullet to improve sales performance. They focus on modeling best practices in the basic sales blocking and tackling. They practice and role play with their sales teams to hone their key sales capabilities and develop their sales skills. They are committed sales coaches that know how to motivate and inspire their team to levels of performance.