How to Improve Your Sales Process Consistently with Taylor Jones
Taylor Jones, Director of Sales at Zip, an intake-to-procure solution to bring a consumer-grade user experience to B2B purchasing, joins Collin Stewart on the Predictable Revenue Podcast to discuss the different ways of improving your sales process and how to take that improvement into your own hands.
The Importance of Diagnosing and Focusing
In the sales world we live in today. We have access to a lot of data. It can be very distracting, especially with multiple sales leaders, department priorities, and the ever-changing landscapes (like a global recession and Covid, to name a couple).
The landscape is always changing, and there’s just so much access to data that it can be hard to figure out where to put your focus and how to improve. So how can you adapt to that that changing world?
It’s essential to be able to figure out which are the ways or the areas that you need to improve and how you get access to the data needed to figure that out, as well as how to put a plan forward to make sure you’re constantly improving and adapting to stay competitive as a salesperson or sales leader.
Figuring Out What to Focus On as a Sales Leader
As a sales leader, there are only so many tools at your disposal to impact your team’s success. But if you know where to put your focus and how to make the best out of those tools, you can dramatically impact revenue growth.
To find those areas of opportunity, Taylor recommends starting with a hunch.
A great example of this is realizing that your sales reps might not be doing enough activity to create a consistent pipeline.
The process could look something like this:
1- Go into your CRM to review all the data and validate your hunch.
2- Ask yourself some questions that can be answered with that data. Like:
a. What is the person with the most amount of activity doing?
b. Are they the top performer?
c. What is the person with the lowest amount of activity doing?
d. Are they the bottom performer?
3- From the data, create a hypothesis.
4- Determine what kind of data (if any) you need to inspect the situation further.
5- Build out a case and determine what steps to take moving forward.
This is a phenomenal way to figure out what the benchmarks are, who the best reps are (and what they’re doing), activity patterns, steps, sequences, etc., which you can then use to make sure your team is taking the necessary steps, and if not, help them improve their performance.
Taylor poses another great example:
Imagine you have ten sales reps on your team. You review the performance of the top two and realize they’re doing very different things. Now, as a sales leader, you want to figure out if they’re following any similar patterns (such as call volume, which days they’re calling or which time, what kind of touches, what type of emails or follow-ups they are sending, etc.) to maybe test them and prove that they’re positively impacting conversion rates and share those processes with the rest of the team.
It comes down to inspecting all the different elements, comparing a couple of people to find the similarities or differences, and figuring out which of these elements would be the most impactful to change or test. A great place to start would be inspecting your top and bottom two performers to see what they’re doing right or wrong.
Identify the positive trends (and even the low-performing ones), find the strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how to optimize your reps’ performance instead of comparing them against one another.
Need help coaching your SDR team to book more meetings? Reach out here to learn how we can help!
Taking Improvement Into Your Own Hands
If you want to become a top sales rep, you need to take accountability and reflect on your own performance.
It doesn’t have to take a ton of your time; maybe just spend a few minutes every week to check and register conversion data and reflect on what was done right and what needs to be improved or changed altogether.
A top-performing salesperson has the habit of always looking for growth. They don’t rely purely on the lists they’re given or the pre-built templates or sequences provided when onboarding.
A great sales rep will dig around social media, data sources, and the internet in general for new ways to prospect, better ways to find great-fit prospects/accounts, or the best ways to reach out to prospects on top of their other higher-volume outreach.
Taylor also suggests looking at the data in your CRM to find areas of improvement.
1- What’s the hypothesis? I.e: More activity = more meetings booked.
2- Based on the data, what’s the benchmark for this hypothesis?
a. What are the top performers doing?
b. What’s the optimal amount of activities they’re doing that have increased conversions?
3- Figure out the next steps and set SMART goals.
Self-reflection is often ignored. Seeking feedback and implementing the change to your process/technique is one of the hardest things to do.
But reps who take the time to look at their data, listen to their own calls and take notes of what’s working and what isn’t improve way faster than their peers and reach quota more efficiently.
Someone curious and wanting to get better will always strive!
Tips to Make Yourself Better as an Individual Contributor
- Find the reps with a similar prospecting style and see what they’re doing, what’s working for them, etc.
- What are top performers doing that produces better results? Take notes.
- Review and analyze data on your dashboards and CRM weekly. Reflect on this data month after month.
- Ask for feedback from your peers and manager.
- Review your own calls and/or performance.
- Look at the qualitative (industries, time of day you’re calling, personas, number of touchpoints you’re putting on an account, geographics, etc.). Do you see any patterns?
- Benchmark against top performers.
- Find the gaps.
- Make yourself accountable for your performance and growth.
Earning Your Way Off PIPs (Performance Improvement Plan)
A performance improvement plan (PIP) is typically brought in when sales reps and/or other employees are not meeting job performance goals, or in the case of sales roles, they’re not meeting quota.
PIPs aim to record specific areas that need improvement, identify skills or training gaps, and set clear expectations to help employees meet their goals.
The goals or objectives must be met within a certain period, and failure to do so may result in employment actions (such as termination).
There are two main reasons people end up on PIPs:
- They don’t have the will.
- They don’t have the knowledge.
JC, our Sr. Recruitment Manager, always says:
“If you don’t know how. I’ll teach you. If you can’t, I’ll help you. But if you don’t want to… I’ll miss you….”
This is a great way to look at it because if you’re a good leader, your goal should be to help employees earn their way off PIPs, teach them what they need to know, and help them find their way.
But of course, none of this is possible if the employee has a bad attitude; if they’re not interested in the company, their job, or their growth in general, it’s better to say goodbye.
The beauty of PIPs, though, is that if you’re unfortunate enough to get one, you have a concrete action plan right in front of you designed to help you get off it.
If the issue that brought you on PIP is a lack of skill or the ability to figure out how to do the job effectively, but you have the will, you now have this well-thought-out plan that your manager put together for you to be able to stay in the company.
So going back to taking improvement into your own hands, if you’re able to self-reflect on your own performance and review the data to find the gaps or find the activities that are lacking or that are not working well for you, you’ll be able to make much more informed decisions and improve your performance overall.
What Does a Good PIP Look Like?
A good PIP should have both qualitative and quantitative elements.
You may have great sellers with terrible attitudes. They are not team players, they lack the skills to be a part of an organization, and that’s a tough place to be as a leader when someone is performing well but they don’t have the right culture and are not elevating the rest of the team.
So what does a good team member look like?
- Are they giving 100% every day?
- Are they really trying?
- Are they coachable?
- Are they self-aware?
- Are they good team players?
- Are they elevating the rest of the team?
- Are they honest?
- Are they innovative?
- Do they have the grit to do the job?
If they are doing all these things, and their performance is lacking a little bit, that’s something worth working on. That’s actually the easy part.
Sometimes it’s just about having a really great attitude that makes the rest of the team also have a great attitude.
A PIP should encompass all of those things, and if you have the right people that just need a bit of direction, it’s very easy to put that plan in place.
- Here’s where you’ve been
- Here’s the average
- And here’s where I’d like you to be
Now there’s a clear path and a way to get there.
We actually follow a system called EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) here at Predictable Revenue. We created a scorecard and a development plan, which is a positive version of this to keep track of our sales reps’ overall performance.
The scorecard starts with the company values, and then, the one bit that we kind of stole from EOS, which I thought was super smart, was the “gets it, wants it, and has the capacity” section.
- Gets it = do they understand the role and how it comes together at this company, with this team?
- Wants it = do they have the will?
- Has the capacity = do they have the skills, the training, the hours, the knowledge?
It’s a great way to triangulate what specific area(s) might be lacking and take immediate action.
You can contact Taylor Jones on her LinkedIn if you want to learn more about improving your sales process based on data and benchmarks.
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