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Sales Management

The 5 Components of a Winning Sales Team

As sellers, it’s our responsibility to stay abreast of the latest sales trends and best practices. So when we read the Harvard Business Review article “The Sales Playbook of Successful B2B Teams”, we immediately wanted to share it with you because it really resonated with us.

Right at the onset, the article, which was written by four Bain & Company partners, mentioned one of the most common problems that sales teams face: underutilizing the tools at their disposal.

“Every major B2B company invests millions each year in sales technologies, yet 62% of 167 companies surveyed recently by Bain & Company said the return on their investment fell short of expectations. What companies hoped would be an intelligent CRM system ends up being used as a simple accounting and workflow management system. They’ve bought a high-octane car but lack driver training.”

At Sales for Life, we’ve also encountered a lot of companies with this same problem. Solving it isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s not just a matter of installing the tool on everyone’s computer or browser and enforcing its use. All the technology in your roster should work together seamlessly to achieve your organization’s goals, and there has to be an overarching strategy governing their usage.

The 5 Factors of a Winning Sales Team

Revenue teams need to develop different sales strategies for different occasions. Similar to how sales teams these days use data and statistics to select their players and create training routines and game plays, all of your revenue team’s moves should be based on proven facts instead of relying on gut feel or following what’s popular.

While different revenue teams have different priorities, thus having different strategies, the article’s authors observed that the highest-performing sales teams have certain distinct commonalities. These factors, described below, enable them to surpass their peers in terms of revenue growth and market share gain.

1. Detailed, specific data and sales signals that lend insight into an account’s priorities and spending habits at the individual customer level.

These data should go beyond contact information and surface-level company and financial data. Sellers should likewise know their target accounts’ priorities and goals, ensuring that their communication efforts address these.

Sales reps should also take note of Compelling Event Signals, which are specific, time-sensitive insights and events that can be leveraged to gain a competitive advantage. Compelling Event Signals give sellers a heads-up when there’s a particular situation that the seller can capitalize on, such as the installation of a new C-level executive that used to work at one of your existing customer accounts. If such a Signal comes up, the seller should act fast and play the appropriate sales strategy.

2. A sales play factory that can churn out a variety of plays that can be used for every conceivable occasion: Securing new accounts, upselling and cross-selling to existing accounts, renewing expiring accounts, and winning back former customers.

Selling isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. Different customers have different priorities and situations, and they will naturally have different ways of responding (or not responding) to your outreach efforts.

That’s why it’s important to have a selection of various sales plays, ready to be deployed if a particular situation calls for it. By applying a variety of themes, messaging, engagement strategies, your sellers would have a higher likelihood of providing value to your customers during the activation cycle.

3. A command center that tracks and manages sales plays, pushing out the most effective plays to the rest of the team.

In the same way that sports teams analyze their games and continuously refine their strategies and training regimens, sales teams should keep working on their most effective sales plays in a strategic manner, at the same time shelving sales moves that failed to produce favorable results.

In addition, the best sales teams also have a global command center for their sales signals. All their signals are aggregated on one platform, which is easily accessible to the entire revenue team. This way, sellers can take note of the hidden links connecting all the accounts in their total addressable market, allowing them to see the sales opportunities and risks that might be present. When all the information is centralized, they can roll out the best sales plays for any situation.

4. Consistent, intensive coaching like what Sales for Life offers, which delves into specific areas of improvement and requires actual results.

Sales training and coaching give your team the knowledge and skills necessary to keep growing and supporting your client base. It also fosters accountability in your sales leaders, allowing them to guide their sellers to produce better results.

Remember, building the best B2B sales team doesn’t just entail hiring the best sellers and investing in the best sales tools. While these could propel your revenue team to the top, you’ll need to invest in regular sales training and coaching in order to stay there for a long time.

5. An array of interconnected sales technology tools that are integrated within your existing sales system and are fully utilized by your whole team.

Even if you have all the best sales tools at your disposal, they wouldn’t make a difference if they are not maximized.

“One software-as-a-service (SaaS) company had invested in technologies for customer relationship management, marketing automation, sales enablement and cadence, and call recording, but it was barely using them. By taking the time to embed these technologies properly into its sales processes, the company was able to increase revenue growth by 200 basis points within a few weeks.”

Conclusion

These five factors are essential for revenue teams that want to succeed in today’s cutthroat sales environment. With these systems in place within your strategy, all the departments within your sales and marketing teams work better with each other.

These five components also allow you to address your customers’ needs efficiently. You’ll be able to provide more value at the right time, benefitting your customers and giving you more opportunities to successfully close a deal.

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Blog Sales 2.0 Sales Advice Sales Enablement

Sales Glossary: What Is a Buyer Persona for Sales?

Know your buyer.

Whether you’re in marketing or sales, it’s important to keep this in mind when targeting customers and crafting messages. Emails, phone calls, and even face-to-face interactions become infinitely more valuable when you consider the needs, fears, and goals of each customer.

But your buyers aren’t cut using the same cookie cutter. The priorities of a VP for marketing, for example, would be different from those of an operations manager—even if they’re both from the same company. In fact, according to advisory firm Corporate Executive Board, a buying decision requires, on average, the input of 5.4 decision-makers, champions, and influencers. That’s a lot of different ideas, perspectives, and knowledge to consider.

This is why a buyer persona (also called prospect persona) are so important in sales. They help sellers better understand their customers, allowing them to book more meetings, generate more pipeline, and increase revenue. The number of personas your company has depends on how many different personalities or roles you sell to.

So what exactly is a buyer persona?

HubSpot’s definition of a buyer persona applies to both marketing and sales:

“A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. While it helps inbound marketers like you define their target audience, it can also help sales reps qualify leads.”

But though both sales and marketing follow the same definition—the process of building a profile for your ideal customer—each department’s goals vary.

  • Marketing wants to craft resonating messages, increase traffic, and improve conversion rates.
  • Sales wants to book more meetings, grow pipeline, and generate revenue.

An effective buyer persona will allow your team to achieve these three objectives:

  • Identify commercial insights that will create an impact by driving behavioral change
  • Save time and effort by only creating content tailored to your customers’ needs
  • Generate useful customer information in a more efficient manner
buyer persona creation

Planning Your Buyer Persona

The first thing you need to do is to identify the information you need in order to create a buyer persona template. In “The Sales Development Playbook” by Trish Bertuzzi, she outlines sections to address for prospect personas.

  • Target Title: What role does your prospect currently hold? Is your prospect a VP of Sales? A Chief Marketing Officer? A Sales Enablement Manager?
  • Role and Responsibility: What does the job entail for each of these positions?
  • Challenges and Obstacles: What are some of the major challenges specific to each role?
  • Professional Success Metrics: What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) relevant to each position? For the sales team, performance is usually measured by meetings, revenue, and year-over-year growth, margins, and P&L. On the other hand, marketing measures success according to impressions and views, as well as the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) that were created, converted and have subscribed. 
  • Risks and Fears: On a more psychological level, what are some risks and fears that relate to each person’s position? For example, a VP of Sales might worry because others in his position only last 18 months, so he feels like he has very little time to make an impact on the bottom line.
  • Consequences of the Status Quo: To make a difference, you first need to know what needs to be changed. What are the old tactics that aren’t working? Are the sales and marketing team encountering recurring issues?
  • The Big Win We Deliver: How does each position contribute to the success of the company? Do they generate pipeline and revenue? Do they facilitate alignment? This helps you objectively determine if it’s worth it to invest in regular training for your team.

Putting It Into Practice

Different companies have different ways of creating a buyer persona. We’ll show one way of doing so in the situation below.

The Scenario:

Company X wants to target the heads of human resources (director or above) of companies with 250 or more employees.

Step 1: Identify your target prospects’ titles and roles. Map out everyone that sits in the buyer committee—you need to form relationships with as many of them, not just the main decision-makers. This sets the stage for the kind of content your team will create—your outreach efforts should appeal to as many of the buyers as possible.

Step 2: Gather demographic and firmographic information about your prospects. Determine what each prospect wants to accomplish at the company, and how you can help them achieve their goals. Generating great commercial insights will debunk myths and paint a clearer picture of the opportunity cost, so it’s critical to understand what your buyers need.

Step 3: Strategize how you’re going to help your prospects. Remember to speak the language of your buyer, and to craft messaging that addresses their pain points.

Step 4: christen your buyer persona with a name like “Marketing Mary” or “Fred, VP of Sales.” Include a photo to further humanize this abstract persona. As trivial as it may seem, this gives your sellers a more complete picture of who you’re targeting.

sample buyer persona for sellers
A sample buyer persona.

Salespeople, like marketers, can use buyer personas to better understand both current and prospective customers. The best personas are based on market research, but they can also be built from interviews and trends based on their own database.

As Bertuzzi maps out in her book, creating a grid of your ideal buyers’ thoughts, fears and values will help you to not only better understand them, but to also leverage insights accurately, efficiently, and consistently to book meetings and close deals. Good luck!