How do you measure sales success?
Is it all about making quota or is it about having customers that like to work with you? If you were to judge by the way that most sales people are managed, goaled and rewarded, you would say that the only thing that matters is the achievement of quota. What you measure is what you get! So it is little wonder that many companies find it very hard to manage the difficult dichotomy between making the sales number and maintaining happy and delighted customers.
Do your customers need to like you?
There are many businesses that might focus on delighting the customer, and use ‘customer sat’ as a key measure of success. But customers can be very happy and not buy anything. That doesn’t enable sales success does it? Of course the reality is that both are important. But there’s the conundrum. How does a sales leader manage the joint goals of sales quota and customer satisfaction? On the positive side we can see that happy, delighted customers are more likely to be loyal, and thereby more likely to be returning, to be repeat-buy customers. Happy customers will be more likely to provide good references and even introductions to potential prospects. But do happy customers actually ‘like’ the vendor sales people? Presumably they grew to trust them, otherwise they would not have bought from them, but do they need to like them?
The importance of trust
“TRUST – LIKE – DO THE JOB” these are the 3 key tests of any partnership and a buy/sell
partnership is no different. Customers must trust the vendor. They must like the vendor (meaning their people, especially the sales people). And the vendor must be able to do the job that they promised to do
when they sold their solution. The problem for sales teams is that in an increasingly competitive marketplace there are many, many different providers who are actually perfectly capable of ‘doing the job’. Providing the solution just gets you a seat at the table.
How customers decide to buy
Customers make buying decisions based on the sales team and the service, support, implementation team that they feel they can trust and the one that they feel they will actually enjoy working with.
If you are selling a complex solution, or a solution which will involve a long-term vendor/customer relationship, being ‘liked’ is as important as providing a win-win solution. You’re going to be in this together for the long-term. It’s not enough just to be able to say you made quota this year when you made the sale if you lose all the other sales in the future. Or is it?
The answer probably lies in whether you work for a company or a manager who only cares about the quarterly numbers, or one with an eye on long-term, sustainable success.
The importance of customer satisfaction
With so many companies changing their typical go-to-market model to focus more on ‘software-as-a-service’ and other similar service-based delivery models, it will become increasingly important to measure, motivate and incentivize sales teams to deliver long-term customer-satisfaction, not just short-term business results. Many sales teams are ill-equipped to be successful in this new market because they have spent their entire careers chasing the monthly or quarterly target with little regard to the next 2-3 years.
It’s no wonder that so many companies are focused on trying to improve the consultative selling skills of their sales teams.
With so much focus on trying to help sales people to develop a consultative sales approach, to help them move from a product-led approach to a more consultative, solutions-led approach, what are the qualities which are most important to success in sales?
What makes a sales person successful
He/she is a born sales person' – we hear that all the time, but what does that mean to you? What is it that makes a sales person successful? Is it really just based on some magical innate ability, or is it based on hard work and determination?
There are certainly many, many different types of sales person. If you look at the cadre of sales people in any large enterprise you will find many different types of personality. You will also find many different types of background (in terms of career experience and education), not every sales person is cut from the same mold. So why do some people succeed and other’s do not?
Qualities of a successful sales person
Having a great product to sell
Some people would argue that it’s all about the product. If you have a great product, it’s easy to sell. That might be true up to a point but it’s rare to find a sales person, or company, who has the luxury of having the best product in the market all the time. The nature of the competitive market means that other players get involved and create differentiated solutions.
Having good luck
Some people might say it’s luck. Being in the right place at the right time. Having an account which just happens to be in the market for a major upgrade. If you’re lucky in sales, you take over the account just as they are about to spend big!
Following a process
Some people might say it’s all about following a sales process. Sales is a numbers game. The more sales calls you make, the harder you work, the more hours you put in, the more successful you will be. Focus on analyzing the customer, plan and prepare methodically. Follow the process, do what’s required and the results will follow.
Some people might think it’s all about relationships. Successful sales people are the ones that are able to build and maintain great relationships with their prospects and customers, and business flows as a result. It’s all about people. People and relationships are all that matter.
Others might argue it’s all about skills, sales skills. Sales people who develop their selling skills will be more successful than those who rely on their so-called ‘innate’ ability. Successful sales people have developed better questioning and listening skills, they are better able to articulate value to the customer, they can close deals effectively because they have good qualifying and closing skills.
What do you think?