By Alison Brattle

When it comes to establishing the key elements of increasing sales, the best source of information is surely successful salespersons and teams. A study undertaken by Achieve Global reveals interesting findings, which companies seeking to boost their sales performance will undoubtedly find useful. The study focussed on two main areas.

First, sales professionals were asked to identify the activities in each phase of sales that they felt were most influential on their success. The sales process was identified as follows:

  • Preparing to sell (understanding the products or services being sold, building and maintaining a network of contacts, studying the competition, etc.)
  • Developing business (obtaining referrals from existing customers, using the phone to obtain new clients, etc.)
  • Establishing relationships (building trust with clients, communicating with clients to elicit their needs, listening and asking questions…)
  • Presenting a solution (offering ideas clients may not have previously thought of)
  • Closing the sale (resolving price issues, closing the deal at the right time, etc.)
  • Following up after the sale (ensuring the client obtains what they signed up for, establishing continuous contact post-sale, etc.).

Secondly, the study looked into the type of support salespersons received from their respective companies in terms of sales training, customer support and technology.

Below are some of the most interesting findings the study revealed:

High performers were most likely to select the following factors as being most influential to their success:

  • Understanding the product or service being sold and the customer’s industry,
  • Finding new opportunities in existing accounts,
  • Conducting comprehensive research into potential clients,
  • Ensuring clients receive what they signed for and showing tenacity.

Lower performers selected very different success factors:

  • They placed greater importance on building a network of contacts,
  • Aggressively approaching leads,
  • Sharing anecdotes to illustrate arguments,
  • Providing customers with continued advice and looking for new ways to meet client’s needs.

High performers were more likely to receive support from their companies via sales training and sales coaching. Companies offering training were also more likely to support the sales team in other ways.

Salespersons who focused more on serving existing clients well commanded more sales than those who placed greater effort on acquiring new clients.

Most respondents of the study said they found ‘establishing relationships’ and ‘uncovering needs’ to be their most successful undertaking, while ‘developing new business’ was found to be the most challenging activity.

Respondents almost unanimously agreed that when it comes to personal sales attributes, successful activities included being direct and honest, treating others respectfully and showing a high ethical standard.

The findings indicate that those wishing to improve the sales performance of their team should focus on providing quality opportunities for sales training and coaching, and ensure sales persons receive support from non-sales staff. Moreover, the poll shows that sales employees should have a clear idea of their company’s objectives, receive fair treatment, use metrics or a dashboard effectively and be trained on how to meet operational requirements.

The study also reveals that sales training is highly related to sales performance and support. Those who received little training and coaching support, reported significant declines in sales revenue. Satisfaction with the coaching and training received resulted in larger deal sizes. Moreover, those who received due support from their company were more likely to cite factors like goal setting, predicting sales results, uncovering client needs and creating a call strategy before meeting a client, as influential. Since coaching was cited as such an important factor of success, it is vital that leaders also obtain sales management training that will teach them to motivate and inspire others.

Alison Brattle is a Marketing Manager of AchieveGlobal, a global leadership development and sales management training firm based in the UK. It specialises in providing exceptional sales training courses and helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Alison enjoys sharing her insights and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership. You can connect with her on LinkedIn