Sales Best Practices

Proven Sales Department Leading Practices to Adopt

  • Best Practices (#62) / Sales / Lead Generation & Research

    Best Practice (Good)
    Conduct product positioning research (early during the product development life cycle) around the same time as the segmentation analysis to improve and enhance the validity of the segmentation.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Conduct segmentation analysis after the product positioning research has been done. Doing so, however, can lead to the creation of wrong customer segments.
    Benefits: When combined with the product positioning research, customer segmentation is more effective; marketing/product development analysts will be aware of how the product appeals to different customers.
  • Best Practices (#63) / Sales / Lead Generation & Research

    Best Practice (Good)
    Create a standardized lead scorecard for lead qualification that matches the prospect's behavior to activities that are known to indicate the intent to buy.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Assess leads based on individual expertise and ‘gut-feelings’; no standardized sales prospect scorecard is needed to formally qualify leads.
    Benefits: Creating a standardized lead scorecard reduces the sales cycle time, increases the likelihood of a sale and ensures that a Sales representative time is spent on high-quality leads.
  • Best Practices (#64) / Sales / Inside Sales

    Best Practice (Good)
    Give representatives a qualified list (call list) of prospects to call with all necessary information about the prospect available to them. Prospects will be rated so representatives give preference to those with higher ratings.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Have representatives choose whom to call at their own discretion with no guidance provided by management. Preference is given to the number of calls made rather than the quality of calls made.
    Benefits: Drastically increases the quality of calls made while still allowing for a high number of calls to be made. Call list tracking allows management to see which representatives follow and do not follow the process.
  • Best Practices (#65) / Sales / Outside Sales

    Best Practice (Good)
    Book first meetings for 30 minutes or less and start with a pitch followed by a conversation. Genuinely try to get to know the sales lead during this first meeting, but most importantly, try to identify the key player at this company -- the person who will make the final decision on whether or not to buy the product/service.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Book a first meeting for an hour or more and use that time for a product demo to educate the prospect, in detail, on your products or services.
    Benefits: Increases engagement and lays the foundation for an actual relationship with a sales lead, as well as ensures the Sales representative is focusing energy on connecting with the right individual needed to make the sale. Demos are easy to shrug off and are often despised by sales prospects. If they want to learn about your product they can go to your website.
  • Best Practices (#66) / Sales / Outside Sales

    Best Practice (Good)
    Identify customer 'pain points' that are relevant to your product or service by collecting customer feedback during sales calls. Acquire as much information about the prospect's situation as possible to identify cross-sell opportunities.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Rely on the customer service and marketing teams to relay information and data related to common customer complaints to the sales team.
    Benefits: Allows the Sales representative to take on a consultative role in addition to a sales-oriented one, which gives them an added layer of authority regarding the product/service and frames their pitch as a recommendation related to overcoming the customer's issue.
  • Best Practices (#67) / Sales / Sales Support

    Best Practice (Good)
    Stratify order reviews by the size of the orders to focus on the highest-value orders with the greatest bottom line impact.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Dedicate the same amount of time to review large and small orders.
    Benefits: Stratifying order reviews by the size of the orders reduces the cycle time of order review for the smaller orders, while ensuring that large orders receive a proper amount of attention and time.
  • Best Practices (#68) / Sales / Sales Support

    Best Practice (Good)
    Observe top sales performers to understand what they do that is different than mid-low level performers. Document their practices and suggest that the entire sales force use the same methods when possible.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Informally observe top sales performers, but do not suggest that other mid-low level sales performers use the same methods or practices.
    Benefits: Observation, documentation and standardization of methods improves overall performance of the sales force and develops process standardization within the organization.
  • Best Practices (#69) / Sales / Pricing & Quotation

    Best Practice (Good)
    Ensure that there is a live feed of pricing data within CRM systems to ensure visible and up to date price points so quotes can be made in an accurate and timely manner. Conduct spot checks to validate the accuracy of feeds. Inform the sales team of this methodology for universal company awareness.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Generate sales orders without taking into account the most accurate, up-to-date pricing information. Corrections to sales orders must be identified and made by sales staff.
    Benefits: Ensuring that pricing data is available to sales staff decreases likelihood of discrepancies between quote results and sales orders and bridges the gap between the Pricing and Quotations Group and Sales representatives, reducing total order cycle time by minimizing the chance of rework on orders.
  • Best Practices (#70) / Sales / Pricing & Quotation

    Best Practice (Good)
    Maintain accurate CRM system information with notes regarding Varied Special Pricing Agreements and Trade Agreement expiration dates, making the information easily accessible.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Handle Varied Special Pricing Agreement (SPA) and Trade Agreement expiration dates are manually when developing quotes, causing delays and customer dissatisfaction.
    Benefits: Maintaining accurate CRM system information improves the overall performance of the Pricing and Quotations Group by minimizing quote completion time, quote accuracy and total order cycle time.
  • Best Practices (#71) / Sales / Performance Management

    Best Practice (Good)
    Define and continuously measure a standard set of Sales representative performance metrics and provide frequent (weekly/monthly) updates on performance levels across the sales organization.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Decline to use standardized Sales representative performance metrics to identify performance issues and distinguish high and low performers.
    Benefits: Measuring a standard set of performance metrics allows for improved visibility of individual Sales representative performance and allows sales managers to identify key differentiators between high and low performing sales staff.
  • Best Practices (#72) / Sales / Performance Management

    Best Practice (Good)
    Conduct objective and goal setting using strategic market performance data, new product plans, competitor analysis and intelligence, as well as wholesaler and retailer forecasts.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Base sales objectives and quotas on competitor performance only. Goals are not set for what is possible, but rather to attain "just enough."
    Benefits: Sales objectives and goals that incorporate well-rounded sets of data and strategic market plans will increase market presence, increase wholesaler throughput and improve bottom line revenue.
  • Best Practices (#73) / Sales / Performance Management

    Best Practice (Good)
    Develop a standard set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to judge not only Inside or Outside Sales representatives, but also Sales Support and Operations employees. Allow all team members to view these metrics at any time through a cloud-based dashboard.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Use a small set of KPIs (quota, revenue generated, average profit margin) to measure sales force performance, and allow sales team members to view them only during performance reviews.
    Benefits: Developing a standard set of KPIs aand allowing members to view these metrics allows sales team members (including sales management staff) to monitor their performance continuously, increasing accountability and driving internal competition.
  • Best Practices (#74) / Sales / Performance Management

    Best Practice (Good)
    Create strict requirements for Sales representatives, which emphasize salesmen having up-to-date certifications and education to improve overall knowledgeability and performance.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Hire Sales representatives who only meet the minimum number of requirements needed and tend to view further education and/or certifications as an unnecessary hassle.
    Benefits: Creating strict requirements for Sales representatives increases the number of certified salesmen while promoting continuous education and overall knowledge about the product and market landscape.
  • Best Practices (#75) / Sales / Performance Management

    Best Practice (Good)
    Use short-term incentives (in addition to commissions and bonuses), such as immediate bonuses for a sale (sometimes called “spiffs”), to further motivate the sales force.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Use traditional commissions (which sometimes are not paid out until a month after the sale is closed) and bonuses to motivate the sales teams.
    Benefits: Using short-term incentives creates immediate excitement about sales and improves sales force motivation by providing instant gratification for successful sales.
  • Best Practices (#76) / Sales / Performance Management

    Best Practice (Good)
    Encourage sales staff to share best practices and information on individual accounts by creating a forum and mechanism to capture this sort of 'tribal knowledge.' Retention and dissemination of this knowledge will continuously improve sales force productivity.
    Typical Practice (Bad)
    Lose accumulated knowledge related to sales success (experience) and major enterprise accounts due to turnover and/or from a lack of formal information collection protocols.
    Benefits: Collecting and sharing information through a central hub improves sales force performance and reduces the risk of losing valuable accounts due to turnover or a simple lack of communication.

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