30 Ways to Improve Individual & Team Sales Performance in 2023
Sales performance measures how effectively a sales rep or sales team works their sales pipeline over a specific period of time.
Sales performance management refers to the way sales reps and sales managers track, manage, and optimize sales activities and their results so that peak performance can be achieved.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about sales performance, including what it is, how to measure it, and how to improve the aspects of your sales performance that will have the biggest impact on your bottom line.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What Is Sales Performance?
- What Makes a Sales Team Successful in 2023?
- 30 Ways to Improve Sales Performance
- How to Measure Sales Performance
- How to Continuously Improve Sales Performance
What Is Sales Performance?
Sales performance refers to sales activities and their subsequent results, especially in regard to how those results compare to an organization’s sales goals and quota expectations.
This pyramid representation of sales performance does a nice job of demonstrating all the various factors that go into sales performance, and what results matter most.
All of the sales activities and their results build upon each other and ultimately contribute to the two main indicators of sales performance: revenue and profitability.
Sales performance is impacted by a wide variety of factors and can be improved with specific training, coaching, and mindset work.Accelerate performanceTrack, analyze, and standardize what’s working
What Makes a Sales Team Successful in 2023?
Sales performance can be measured on an individual basis, or on a team-wide level. Both are important to track.
Salespeople who want to increase their chances of successful sales performance in 2023 can commit to a few key initiatives that are likely to have a big impact on their efforts.
Any sales team that wants to be successful needs to prioritize the alignment of their sales, marketing, and customer success teams.
In fact, all customer-adjacent teams should work together to get on the same page about how to generate new leads, navigate and prioritize the sales pipeline, and ensure a seamless and valuable customer experience.
Studies show that teams who align these departments achieve 24% faster growth rates and 27% faster profitability.
Although it’s important to try to align all of your customer-facing teams, the two that require the most effective collaboration are sales and marketing.
For a consistently successful sales team, the importance of company culture cannot be understated.
Successful sales teams have managers and c-suite executives at the helm that make it a priority to equip their sales reps with all of the tools, training, and resources they need to effectively make sales. Sales reps are given easy access to appropriate content, effective sales coaching, and actionable guidance that can help improve performance.
Sales reps who feel supported by their management are happier. And happier employees are more likely to contribute positively to their organization.
Stay On Your Toes
Successful sales teams never let themselves get complacent.
Managers and sales reps should be involved in and held accountable for tracking sales metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) and be constantly strategizing about how to improve those results.
It’s also important for sales managers to ensure that all members of their team have access to this data, and the means of improvement. This will help everyone stay on track.
One thing that surprises many sales managers to learn is that middle performers can actually be huge drivers of growth. There is often an instinct in sales to focus all of the remediation efforts on a team’s underperformers, and allocate all the praise to top performers. But focusing on salespeople with average results can be a powerful way to stay ahead of the curve. Bottom and middle performers are responsible for 80% of sales.
Even more significant is the fact that a 5% performance gain from middle performers yields over 70% more revenue than a 5% performance gain from top performers.
Many sales leaders mistakenly believe that flashy top performers are what gives them an edge, but the reality is that average performers deliver the most bang for your buck, so to speak. They can be the ones to make sure the team stays one step ahead.
Sales Enablement Software
One of the best ways to ensure successful sales teams in 2023 is the adoption of sales enablement software.
Sales enablement platforms help sellers store, track, and manage the content, coaching, and other resources they need to effectively work the sales process.
Sales enablement software streamlines the many different resources they need to access throughout the sales cycle so that they can spend time performing actual revenue-generating sales activities, instead of managing content.
At the end of the day, the key to successful sales performance on a team-wide level is consistency.
Any sales rep can pull out a lucky month or quarter, but meeting or exceeding quota consistently over a longer period of time is what moves the needle of success. Sales reps need to be able to continue to demonstrate the ability to meet or exceed goals even as they adapt to increasing buyer needs and changing market conditions.
30 Ways to Improve Sales Performance
If your (or your team’s) sales performance is in need of improvement, the following action steps and strategies can help you get back on track for success.
Strategies for Improving Individual Sales Performance
Here are 12 specific strategies that individual sales reps can utilize to improve their sales performance.
1. Have the Right Frame of Mind
Mindset will take you a long way in sales — for better or for worse.
Your mindset directly influences your emotions, and emotions are often the drivers behind the kind of behavior that leads to growth — and failure, too.
When all else is equal, sales reps with a mindset that allows them to remain optimistic and pivot when things don’t go to plan can help them succeed in opportunities that more pessimistic salespeople might not. A growth mindset can be a powerful tool for successful sales performance.
Mindset is also important because buyers are drawn to sellers who position themselves as experts in their fields. Confidence and expectation of success can help sales reps present themselves as trusted advisors.
2. Study Your Vertical Market
All salespeople know how important it is to keep the beat of their competition. It’s equally important, though, for them to have a thorough understanding of how their offer fits into their vertical market.
Sales reps should take time to understand how their vertical market operates. This doesn’t have to be complicated or take you far out of the scope of your regular sales responsibilities. You can often improve your business acumen simply by reading business publications and publicly-available financial reports of companies in your vertical.
3. Get Organized
Any salesperson will tell you that there are simply too many sales tasks to complete in a single day.
With the sales pipeline having so many moving pieces, sales reps need to be proactive in creating and maintaining an organizational system that will help them stay on top of their activities and results. Their system needs to help them stay motivated and prepared to pursue and close new deals.
Organization is highly personal and will look different for each individual sales rep. Organizational strategies are not one-size-fits-all, so be aware that it may take some trial and error to determine a structure that works best for you. Whatever methods you choose should create order, routine, and predictability for your sales activities.
If organization isn’t your strong suit, seek out someone who can help you create some systems. Being organized is a non-negotiable for successful sales performance.
4. Get To Know Your KPIs
Salespeople should make an effort to keep their finger on the pulse of their most important sales metrics and sales KPIs.
Both individual and team-wide progress toward goals should be tracked when you’re trying to manage or improve sales performance.
5. Create SMART Goals
One of the most reliable ways to improve sales performance is to create SMART goals. The SMART goal framework helps sales reps and managers set targets that are both realistic and ambitious.
For extra accountability, share your sales goals with teammates and managers, or post them somewhere public where others can monitor your progress.
Push yourself when setting goals. Your targets should be achievable, but they also need to drive progress forward.
6. Focus on Professional Growth
Reps with good sales performance often work for organizations that value training and professional development.
Regardless of the resources available to them through their organization, though, the most successful sales reps are self-starters who take initiative in improving their own sales skills. They don’t wait for training or mentorships to become available to them; they seek them out and become actively involved in activities that will help them improve their sales performance.
7. Get a Sales Coach or Mentor
If your organization doesn’t have a coaching program, you might consider pursuing a coaching or mentoring relationship with someone outside your company. A fresh perspective can be just as beneficial as feedback from someone close to you.
8. Track Leading and Lagging Indicators
If you want to improve sales performance, you’ll need to analyze both your leading and lagging indicators.
Lagging indicators refer to results-based metrics. These data points show the results of specific actions. Revenue and profitability are both lagging indicators.
Leading indicators, on the other hand, refer to the actions sales reps take in order to get results. Sales productivity metrics, like number of calls made and follow-up attempts, are leading indicators that eventually lead to results like generating revenue and increasing profitability.
Only with both of these data pieces will sales reps be able to hone in on their strengths and make any adjustments needed. Make sure you have a plan in place for tracking both kinds of metrics on a regular basis.
9. Be Creative in Problem-Solving
Excellent salespeople know that, as important as sales training is, there’s nothing that can replace creative and out-of-the-box critical thinking skills.
Sales is a field that’s constantly changing according to market trends and buyer preferences, so salespeople need to be flexible, adaptable, and creative in order to succeed.
10. Celebrate Your Wins
There’s a lot of focus in sales on improving areas of growth and resolving bottlenecks in the sales pipeline. But it’s equally as important to celebrate wins and highlight what works well.
Part of great sales performance is being vocal about success. It’s always okay to share triumphs and achievements with your sales manager and teammates. Just make sure to stay humble, too, and don’t go overboard with bragging.
11. Explore Every Channel
Make sure that you’re aware of and well-versed in how to approach buyers in each of the channels utilized by your market.
12. Improve Sales Productivity
Nearly 80% of sales executives report that sales productivity has a direct impact on sales performance.
If your sales productivity is below average, consider the following common culprits as you work to improve your activity metrics: Oftentimes, sales productivity can be improved with just a few simple tweaks. Automating repetitive sales tasks, for example, is a straightforward task that only needs to be executed once in order to reap the benefits.
Strategies for Improving Team Sales Performance
Here are 18 strategies that sales reps and managers can use when they’re trying to improve team-wide sales performance.
13. Put the Person First
It may seem counterintuitive, but driving great sales performance isn’t all about sales metrics and KPIs.
Managers need to first and foremost cultivate an environment in which sales reps feel safe, valuable, and trusted enough to push themselves to new levels of success.
Get to know your reps on an individual level, and allow them to do the same with you (being careful to remain within professional boundaries, of course). Sales reps will always put forth their best sales performance when they have authentic, trusting rapport with their leadership.
14. Encourage Different Perspectives
To that same end, it’s also important for managers to ensure that they’re allowing for a wide variety of perspectives, skills, and working styles.
As long as reps are maintaining expectations around your team’s non-negotiables (more on these next), it’s perfectly okay — and even beneficial — for salespeople to have some individuality in their approach.
Diverse teams are shown to perform better, so managers should take care to make room for different perspectives. Creating an environment where differences are encouraged requires intentionality from leadership.
15. Establish Your Non-Negotiables
In order to implement a culture of accountability, you may want to collaborate with your team to develop a common set of core workplace values and non-negotiables to which everyone will be upheld.
This isn’t meant to encourage micromanaging; actually, the opposite. Common language around big-picture ideals helps ensure that everyone stays on the same page about the major stuff, while keeping their freedom to do their work in a way that’s most comfortable for them. This kind of culture creates consistently outstanding sales performance.
16. Analyze Team Data
Sales managers should regularly review sales data in order to help sales reps prioritize pipeline deals. Special attention should be paid to kinks early in the sales process.
Sales dashboard software can help sales professionals visualize multiple up-to-the-minute data points, as well as how those data points relate to one another.
When looking at team sales data, it’s also important to make sure that everyone is looking at the data from the same perspective. Take time to standardize your team’s definitions around deal stages and transition points.
17. Make Time for One-On-Ones
Sales coaching is an important component of sales performance management.
Even sales managers who aren’t “officially” in the coaching role should carve out time for one-on-one meetings with each employee on their team. Sales leaders need to be very proactive about checking in with sales reps and their pipeline progress.
One-on-one meetings are also a great time to motivate and encourage your reps for everything they’re doing right. Knowing the “why” behind a sales rep’s performance goes a long way in improving it.
Tip: Grab our free ebook on running strong and productive one-on-one meetings.How Sales Managers Can Maximize 1:1 Meetings (Backed by Data)Proven strategies for 1:1 meetings that’ll give reps confidence in their day-to-day and drive higher revenue across the team.
18. Review Results as a Team
Sales data is meant to be shared.
Although sales managers bear the responsibility of using sales data to strategize, everyone on the team should be kept apprised as to how the team as a whole is performing, as well as how they’re doing individually.
Remember, great sales performance is born out of trust. Creating dedicated time to dig into data together demonstrates transparency, solidarity, and shared responsibility for the team’s sales results.
19. Encourage Mentorships and Coaching Between Peers
For many sales reps, there’s no better way to improve their sales performance than by learning from someone on their team.
Don’t be afraid to pair members of your team according to ability, strength, or level of experience. Top-performing reps benefit just as much from working with a low performer as the other way around. Coaching or mentoring someone less experienced can help high-performing reps develop more confidence, empathy, and creativity.
20. Create Effective Operational Objectives
No sales team can achieve their big-picture goals in a quarter, or even a year.
Instead of focusing mostly on huge, long-term targets, help your team instead create smaller, incremental targets. These are called operational objectives, and should be compartmentalized, achievable, and foundational to the bigger goal.
The SMART goal framework can help you determine an appropriately-sized goal.
21. Be Involved — But Don’t Micromanage
For sales managers, there needs to be a distinct line between staying up-to-date on each rep’s progress, and being overly involved in their day-to-day activities.
Sales managers who cross into the latter territory will quickly lose the trust of their sales team.
Sales managers need to be consistently available, and provide direction both subtly and explicitly. That being said, leadership should avoid micromanaging at all costs.
22. Be Selective With Hiring
The hiring process is often undervalued as far as its impact on sales performance, but it actually can be quite significant.
Sales managers should take care to avoid hiring based solely on a candidate’s results at their last job. There are other factors that are equally, if not more important in determining how good of a fit a given candidate is for the team.
For example, hiring managers need to take into account how a new hire will fit into the company culture, and whether their experience represents a good complement to the existing talent on your team.
Many top-performing sales teams actually hire for qualities mostly unspecific to sales. Hubspot, for example, ranks work ethic, coachability, and passion in the top five criteria of their hiring matrix.
For the most part, top performers become successful through training. Hiring people with the right attitude will go a much longer way in building a team with outstanding sales performance than hiring only flashy, lone-wolf style smooth-talkers.
23. Optimize Your Sales Structure
The three main kinds of sales structures are the assembly line model, the island model, and the pod model. It’s important to be aware of which kinds of sales processes will best suit the needs of your team and target market.
Each has benefits and drawbacks, and not all of them will be the right fit for all teams.
Sales managers should carefully analyze which structure and processes best play to the strengths of your team and the needs of your buyer.
24. Refresh Your Sales Strategy and Methodology
Buyer needs and market trends change quickly, and sales managers need to stay on top of these shifts if they want to maintain good sales performance.
At least every quarter, refresh yourself and your team on the specifics of your sales strategies, as well as the sales methodologies you’re expecting them to use in the field to ensure that they’re still relevant and effective.
25. Invest in Great Training
Sales training is one of the things that sets top-performing sales teams apart from the rest — but it has to be the right kind of training.
Studies show that effective sales training resulted in 54% of forecast deals won, versus 44% of forecast deals won by reps trained with a subpar program. Similarly, reps with highly effective training lost 5% fewer deals than those who experienced lower-quality training.
This is one area where spending more usually means getting more, so take the time to learn about which training offerings are most effective for the particular needs of your team.
26. Coach Your Coaches
Speaking of training, it’s also important that anyone in your organization that holds a sales leadership position should be thoroughly trained in their role. Sales managers and sales coaches need their own coaching in order to be most effective.
27. Level up Your Customer Experience
For great sales performance, don’t forget about customers after they sign on the dotted line.
Customer satisfaction is directly tied to a strong referral network, and increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits anywhere from 25% – 95%.
An excellent customer experience will help improve customer retention and make it more likely that existing customers will recommend you to others.
28. Amp up Your Tech Stack
Your sales tech stack includes all of the technology-based tools your team uses throughout the sales process.
All sales teams in this day and age have at least a bare minimum tech stack. That being said, not all are created equal. Many tech stacks are poorly utilized for a variety of reasons.
Effective tech stacks should consist of tools that each serve a specific purpose and, ideally, integrate seamlessly with one another. Popular tech stack tools include customer relationship management (CRM) software, sales dashboard platforms, and sales enablement suites.
29. Incentivize With Compensation
Your sales compensation plan should have some component that’s tied to sales performance.
Many sales teams appreciate the flexibility of the base salary + commission and bonuses model. The commission and bonuses can be used to encourage specific sales behaviors that managers are hoping to achieve.
30. Improve Your Lead Generation Machine
If your sales and marketing team haven’t recently updated the ideal customer profile (ICP) or buyer personas, now’s the time to do that. You’ll also want to look at the profiles in the context of your existing lead generation campaigns. Consistently auditing how your target market reacts to your marketing material will help ensure that a steady flow of quality leads enter the pipeline.
How to Measure Sales Performance
If you want to manage sales performance, you need to measure it. It’s important to track specific metrics at regular intervals over a long period of time; this is how sales teams accurately gauge their sales performance.
There are a number of sales metrics and KPIs that can help shed light on an individual or team’s sales performance. Common ones include:
- Win rate
- Quota attainment
- Sales cycle length
- Pipeline coverage
- Sales content usage
- Sales training completion
- Conversion rates
- Sales revenue
- Customer acquisition rate
- Retention rate
- Average order value (AOV)
There may also be additional sales metrics that indicate your sales performance as it relates to your specific organization’s goals.
Sales dashboard software or a sales enablement platform can help sales professionals track, manage, and visualize a number of data points that indicate sales performance.
How to Continuously Improve Sales Performance
Ideally, all sales professionals and teams will strive to continuously improve their sales performance. Once goals are met, bigger and better targets can be created and achieved so that organizations can reach their maximum potential.
Sales teams that hope to cultivate a culture of continuous improvement should focus on three key things:
- The Right Mindset: Sales professionals who are committed to improvement need to have an open mind and an optimistic approach to achieving their goals.
- The Right Training: Remember that sales training can make a huge impact on sales performance, but only programs of a certain caliber are shown to make a difference. Be selective in which kinds of training you offer your team. When you identify the right programs, offer generous access to them.
- The Right Follow-Up: Improving sales performance requires careful data tracking and analysis. Sales professionals need to be diligent in the way they reflect on their successes and challenges in order to continuously make improvements. Accountability and follow-through are huge components of successful sales performance.
Ultimately, a sales professional’s or team’s sales performance is a reflection of their management and leadership. Sales leaders need to routinely reflect on how to consistently improve their team’s and individual reps’ sales performance.
Do you track your sales performance? What factors have you noticed are most influential in your or your team’s sales performance? How can you improve your sales performance this quarter?
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