Rising to the Challenge: the 4 Core Practices of the Best Sales Teams
For the past two decades, VSA has helped hundreds of companies solve sales problems. Usually, we come in at the front end of the process: as a lead gen firm, we’re experts at delivering well-qualified leads to our clients’ sales representatives.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the top of the pipeline is all we see. Throughout a typical campaign, VSA’s leadership works closely with the executives responsible for overseeing the entire sales cycle— from finding new qualified leads to converting them into paying clients and to retaining them as satisfied customers. As a result, we often get a full view of the entirety of a client’s sales operations. In fact, over the years we’ve been able to review and analyze the sales behaviors of nearly 500 companies.
So what have we found?
While there are many ways to improve sales, we’ve discovered that the best-performing sales teams are those who focus on fundamentals. Interestingly, these fundamentals are consistent across all B2B firms, regardless of industry, size, geographic area and whether the company offers a product, a service, or software.
According to our observations, here are the four most prominent fundamental behaviors of successful sales organizations:
- They spend most of their efforts (at least 50%) on establishing brand credibility and finding and qualifying new leads. There’s a tremendous emphasis on top-of-the funnel sales activities—to a point that can seem excessive. However, the most sophisticated companies know that if they don’t find and qualify leads, the rest of the process can’t run smoothly. Qualifying leads is a time-consuming process; only a fraction of new leads will end up being qualified, and even the most skilled sales professionals will convert only a portion of these to sales. Simply put, it’s ultimately a numbers game.
Regardless of how many leads are generated, though, closing is exponentially more difficult if the company’s brand or reputation is not credible. No matter what sales process a company uses, a well-regarded public image goes a long way towards enjoying a self-replenishing flow of new leads. This too is a considerable investment of time and resources—but again, it almost always pays off.
- They create referral partnerships with companies who serve the same markets. When set up strategically, referral partnerships are one of the best sources of well-qualified leads. Referred leads tend to close at a much higher rate than cold ones—while also requiring less energy and fewer financial resources.
Thus, every successful sales organization recognizes the importance of maintaining several strong and ongoing referral sources so that not all sales require a steep investment. Their most valuable partnerships are usually with companies who serve the same market but aren’t direct competitors. Companies who survive largely on referral business often create a structured program, featuring regular communication and referral fees.
- They follow up on every lead—no matter how unattractive it first appears. As a lead generation and appointment setting company, we know it can take between five and 30 hours (depending on the level of need in the market) just to find a single qualified lead. All of the leads we deliver fit our clients’ basic criteria; still, though, some of our clients choose to pursue some and not others for their own subjective reasons.
This is usually a mistake! Our most successful, long-term clients pursue each lead we give them with equal vigor, almost never turning a lead away. Over time, they’ve learned that it’s impossible to know the value behind a lead without first having a meaningful conversation. While it’s true that many qualified leads don’t immediately convert to sales, clients who assume they can tell the difference before even reaching out almost always end up leaving money on the table.
- Be accountable. It’s always easy to blame others when sales don’t convert, but the best sales people look at their own behavior first. They monitor their own sales calls to determine if they listened carefully enough, asked the right questions, and truly understood their prospects’ concerns.
Likewise, a successful sales organization holds their teams accountable for achieving goals—and helps them make concrete improvements when they don’t. They look at overall behaviors and promptly put a stop to counterproductive activities. There is no room for excuses when sales are on the line!
Though VSA helps our clients find new, qualified leads, our clients ultimately drive their own success. Time and time again, we’ve observed what the fundamentals of that success look like—which is why we can often tell in the initial three months of a campaign if a client has the discipline, passion, and skill to achieve long term, repeatable success.
Ultimately, it boils down to whether or not a company has a solid sales foundation and is willing to hold themselves accountable to achieving sales goals. Because we consistently fill the tops of our clients’ funnels, VSA allows them to concentrate on the rest of their process.
As long as your organization is dedicated, strategic, and accountable, we can do the same for you!