close sales performance gap

BI, Analytics & Reporting

- 4 min read

Three ways to close the sales performance gap for increased sales efficiency and to drive revenue

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of conversation around the sales performance gap across enterprises. On the one hand, there is the idea that everyone in the corporate world is ultimately a salesperson. While this may be true to a point, as all employees should advocate for their employer, core sales remain the responsibility of the professional sales team.  

High-performing enterprises are distinguished by having dedicated, high-performing sales representatives deeply entrenched into the organization. This realization has prompted more significant interest in Sales Performance Management (SPM) tools to improve the art and science of sales and enhance the processes that underpin the sales function.  

This article explores the tools and strategies that sales leaders can use to increase the efficiency of their sales teams and drive revenue, taking guidance from the recent Board and Selling Power sponsored webinar How to Close the Sales Performance Gap. 

How to Close the Sales Performance Gap 

The webinar – led by Taj Mian, Country Manager for Board Canada, and Gerhard Gschwandtner, CEO of Selling Power – enlightened participants by discussing concrete measures organizations can put in place to make their sales force more efficient, effective, and profitable. Underpinning this conversation is the idea of an SPM solution that will enact transformation across the sales function. Gschwandtner notes:

SPM systems eliminate the chaos and complexity that has historically come with managing sales performance. It turbocharges your organization – boosting performance to outrun the competition.” Over four times more reps at organizations using SPM met and achieved their quota than those not using SPM. 

Using the research offered in Selling Power’s research report, How SPM Enables High Performing Sales Teams, Taj and Gerhard were able to define three methods that businesses, and their sales leaders, should heed: 

Method #1: Commit to a high-performing sales strategy   

In an ideal situation, the tools at the fingertips of sales leaders would deliver several essential elements to increase the efficiency of their sales teams and drive revenue regardless of market volatility. These tools are typically inherent to an SPM system that will guide an efficient sales strategy to achieve the following:   

  • Create new business with well-defined territory planning and reasonable quotas 
  • Quickly adjust sales capacity to support account-based plans  
  • Simulate strategies before committing to them 
  • Balance compensation plans with revenue growth to incent the sales force while maximizing revenue and profitability 
  • Connect dispersed, disparate data, including CRM info, into an SPM hub to support decision-making 
  • Provide unparalleled and efficient planning and analytics.  

However, a commitment to creating and activating high-performing sales strategies, organizations, and workforces requires thoughtful research, planning, and aggressively utilizing the best methodologies and tools available. This is where powerful SPM platforms, such as Board, come into play.  

Method #2: Overcome the shortcomings of current sales strategies 

Not many firms are poised to realize a sales renaissance, as the joint Sales Performance Trends 2021 survey conducted by Selling Power (and sponsored by Board) reveals. This survey took place between June and August, surveying sales experts across various sales-dependent industries (including manufacturing, health care & pharma, business services, and technology). It garnered 156 valid, in-depth responses from senior sales executives.  

The survey’s findings reveal that critical gaps and barriers among sales organizations were commonplace for many global corporations. Putting the survey results together, they painted a picture of sales strategies falling short of business needs and expectations.   

Several significant shortcomings identified include: 

  • Almost two-thirds (61%) of respondents agree that the top barrier to revenue growth is sales reps spending too much time chasing the wrong prospects. Inaccurate data, used to find the right opportunities, is another crucial barrier (43%) to overcome. 
  • A relatively low number (14%) of execs use SPM tools to analyze rep behavior against sales performance. Most, instead, rely on a more hands-on approach with their sales team to understand these figures.  
  • A high proportion (73%) of sales leaders do not use software or tech systems to analyze sales rep performance. 
  • For those who use technology to manage sales operations, a slight majority (54%) used between two to four systems, resulting in a high number (81%) of sales leaders lacking confidence in the accuracy of their sales data. 
  • Perhaps most tellingly, a minimal number of respondents (just 9%) use an SPM system, whereas more than half (54%) still rely on spreadsheets and decades-old CRM systems to predict sales rep performance.  

Analyzing the last two points specifically, Taj writes (in a separate article) that your CRM cannot fix underperforming sales, but SPM can. He notes:

Using the wrong solution is just as problematic as using too many solutions. Trying to force one solution to solve every sales performance management issue plays a major role in the fact that on average, only 8% of sales reps have met or exceeded quota in the last 24 months.

CRMs have a significant role to play in the sales function. However, this role focuses on managing day-to-day sales team activities and capturing customer data, not how a sales team performs and the broader sales picture. Taj adds:

Many sales leaders are still trying – and failing – to make CRMs work for monitoring and improving sales performance…they have significant gaps when it comes to holistic SPM.” He continues, “A CRM will report what happened in a customer interaction, while an SPM solution will show the sales leader what actions they need to take to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their sales organization.

Method #3: Drive the five pillars of sales with the right SPM solution 

Just as Taj has noted, having too many solutions can be a dangerous practice for sales leaders. Top-performing sales organizations are the ones that recognize the importance of having a single source of truth around revenue operations. If everyone is on the same page, using the same data, and seeing the same results, things become much more aligned. The right SPM solution is the crucial piece to achieving this. 

At the core of this thought are five key pillars of SPM, which align and sync the sales organization to help achieve consistent and predictable revenue acceleration.  In short, these pillars are vital enablers to a modern, successful sales organization, as outlined below: 

  • Defined sales strategy  
  • Reliable sales forecasting  
  • Incentives and compensation  
  • Territory management   
  • Analytics and KPIs  

As we have already seen, with the statistics of the Selling Power survey above, many sales leaders either don’t know it is possible or do not correctly use one comprehensive platform that covers territory and quota management, compensation, and analytics. 

Instead, too many firms are using legacy, best-of-breed solutions to underscore each pillar. The results of this approach are typically inefficient and inconsistent. In contrast, a modern SPM system provides a holistic view across sales operations, uniting the five pillars into one version of the truth.  

How to close the sales performance gap: Exclusive research findings with Selling Power and Board 

Learn more in this exclusive on-demand webinar with Selling Power and Board. Explore the results collected from the opinions of 156 surveyed sales leaders questioned on quota attainment, how they plan and analyze sales activities, barriers to sales success, and how they measure sales performance. 

Are sales teams using technology to their full advantage to improve sales performance or are sales leaders at risk of being left behind? 

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How to close the sales performance gap webinar

Explore the results of a new survey exploring whether sales teams are using technology to their full advantage