Is Your Sales Team Engaged Enough to Sell Solutions?

Sales Team Engaged 4 business people cover their faces with "smily face" drawings

Sales Force Engagement
Too many sales leaders are reporting less enthusiasm from their sales force.  The real question to ask – Is your Sales Team Engaged Enough to Sell Solutions?  One study we conducted found that sales reps with high levels of conviction outperformed their counterparts by 12.2%.

It Is Harder To Sell
With each and every solution selling training workshop that we deliver, we hear tales of how much harder it is these days for sales teams to succeed – both internally and externally. Not only is the global economy more complex and intertwined but the local sales landscape has also shifted. More and more customers are buying differently – they are better informed, expect more and arrive farther along in their buying process when they finally connect with a sales rep.

Has Your Sales Team Adjusted?
Many sales teams have not adjusted well to this new way of selling complex solutions. As a result, their sales reps are having a difficult time differentiating their offerings and selling unique solutions or value. The lack of enthusiasm you observe in your sales force is the result of their becoming disengaged due to:

  • Unclear sales strategies
  • Undifferentiated value propositions
  • Increased internal and external administrative and legal hurdles

The sooner you can harness the full potential of your sales force by upgrading their ability to meet today’s challenges, the more enthusiastic and engaged they will be.  So, is your sales team engaged enough?

How to Measure Sales Team Engagement
Our employee engagement survey uses three main drivers to measure sales force engagement.

  • Advocacy – Does your sales team think and speak highly of the organization – its leaders, managers, employees, products, quality and future outlook?
  • Discretionary Effort – Does your sales team think of ways to do their jobs better, improve service delivery and operational efficiency?
  • Intent to Stay – Does your sales team want to be a part of the organization long-term?

Sales Team Are More Disengaged on Average
Would it surprise you to know that having your sales team engaged is not the norm?  Our employee engagement research shows that sales forces consistently lag behind almost all organizational functions in terms of advocacy, discretionary effort and intent to stay.  Why?  Because high performing sales professionals typically have exceedingly high expectations regarding:

  • Being highly rewarded for performance
  • Having clear product, pricing, and solution advantages compared to the competition
  • Believing in the future outlook of success for the company
  • Accessing effective and easy-to-use sales tools, processes and systems

If those expectations are not satisfied, salespeople are at a high risk for disengagement.

The Correlation Between Engagement and Sales
As the growth engine and face of an organization, companies cannot afford to have a disengaged sales force. For every drop in advocacy, discretionary effort and intent to stay, there is a corresponding and direct drop in sales productivity. While the rate of sales productivity decline varies by company and industry, on average, a 10% drop in engagement equates to a 4% drop in sales productivity. This does not even include the hard and soft costs associated with the related sales turnover.

Three Steps to Improve Salesforce Engagement
Sales leaders and managers cannot afford to disregard employee engagement as an “HR Thing.” It is a revenue growth, sales productivity and customer satisfaction thing. If you are concerned about sales engagement and performance, here are three steps we recommend you take:

1.  Revisit Your Sales Strategy
Effective sales strategies are aligned with the overall corporate strategy. Once that alignment is in place, effective go-to-market sales strategies clearly and compellingly outline four areas that should lead to superior sales performance:

  • Your ideal target clients where you should win the majority of the time
  • Your unique value proposition that sets you apart from the pack
  • How you will measure and reward success and failure
  • The specific goals, roles, processes and actions required for success

An unclear sales strategy blurs priorities and trade-offs for sales teams. Unfortunately, most sales teams have just enough of a game plan to stay in the game – but not to win it.  It is difficult to consistently meet sales targets without a clear and meaningful direction. Yet many sales teams are moving too quickly to create and clearly articulate the basics of a solid sales strategy other than quarterly revenue targets.

Some sales leaders say they do not have the time. Others think sales targets combined with pressure and hard work should be enough. But when you ask sales teams, strategic ambiguity reigns. Unfortunately the lack of strategic sales clarity not only hampers short-term sales performance and employee engagement but also long-term sales team health.

You will know you are on the right path when your sales team thinks that your sales strategy is clear enough, believable enough and implementable enough to move forward.


RELATED: Benchmark Your Sales Strategy to See Where You Stand


2.  Revisit Your Sales Culture
Once your sales strategy is clear, it is time to examine your sales culture – how things truly get done. We believe that it is a sales leader’s responsibility to create the circumstances that stimulate improved performance from their sales force.  So how does a sales leader create a sales culture that significantly improves revenue, margin, win-rate, deal size, etc.?

To create a high performance sales culture, be fierce about making sure that every customer-facing person and process knows how they are expected to behave to best execute the sales strategy in terms of customer intimacy, your approach to the market, risk tolerance, decision-making, and results.  Then make sure that the following high performance sales components make sense for your strategy and the plan to make it happen:

  • Performance Measurement: The way sales performance is measured must be clear, understood, credible, relevant, accurate, consistent, timely, transparent, fair and trusted at the organizational, team and individual levels.
  • Rewards, Recognition and Consequences: Each and every motivational component of your rewards and recognition program should have direct cause and effect relationships, be timely, be uniquely customized for your team and situation, be perceived as fair, be proportionate and consistent, be known in advance and be linked to a meaningful reason to stay and perform.  That also means identifying and rewarding top performers and identifying and taking compassionate action with under performers – i.e. improve with your support or leave in a way that makes sense in approximately 90 days.
  • Approach: Your sales structures, processes, practices and technologies should make things better, faster and cheaper for your clients, not be a hindrance to helping them, or your sales force, to succeed.

3.  Revisit Your Sales Talent
Once your sales culture is aligned with your sales strategy, it is time to attract, develop, engage and retain the top sales talent that fits your unique culture and strategy by:

  • Attracting Top Sales Talent: Identify what constitutes a high performer and never settle for less. Always look for high performers who fit your sales culture and strategy. They are worth the wait.
  • Develop Top Sales Talent: Make sure that you identify and quantify the top few sales scenarios that matter most for your unique value proposition and sales strategy along with the critical few sales skills, behaviors and attitudes most correlated to client success. Then use experiential-based solution selling training, targeted sales performance coaching, and training measurement to drive sales performance.
  • Engage and Retain Top Sales Talent: Frequently measure the levels of employee advocacy, discretionary effort and intent to stay within your sales force and visibly take the steps necessary to become a highly engaged sales force.

If you liked reading Is Your Sales Team Engaged Enough to Sell Solutions?, download How to Optimize Your Sales Force in the Face of Increased Performance Pressure 

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