A 3-step sales strategy for a top-performing team

Your top performers aren’t successful because they have a magic closing technique or some special relationships. They aren’t privy to a secret sales strategy that eludes the rest of your team. And they may not even work that many more hours than their peers.

A 3-step sales strategy for a top-performing teamWhat your top reps do is perform the right selling activities day-in and day-out that lead to closing business. This means they balance productivity efforts across the entire sales funnel. They call leads every day to make sure the pipeline stays full. They nurture opportunities with new information and ideas. They close business with urgency and constantly ask for referrals.

This is the premise of activity-based selling, a methodology that defines sales as the result of a cascading chain of activities that lead to a defined outcome. Your top reps are already using this sales strategy. But what if you could turn their intuitive goal management into a repeatable process for the rest of your team?

You can. And doing so could have big payoffs for the middle performers on your team. Here are three simple steps to build your own top-performing sales strategy.

The simple sales strategy to create a team of top performers

1. Identify key behaviors of top-performing reps.

Observe your top-performing reps. What activities do you see them consistently perform that lead to closing deals? Salespeople often get lost in the noise of responding to emails, performing admin tasks and handling support requests. But you’ll likely notice that top performers dedicate most of their working time to activities that aid the selling process like prospecting leads, nurturing opportunities and communicating value.

Identify the top 3-4 key selling activities of your top-performers. Those for an inside sales rep might include product demos, ROI discussions and writing proposals. But a top-performing field sales rep probably spends the most time on face-to-face meetings and senior buyer connects. (Check out our expert recommendations for key activity metrics based on your type of team.)

2. Interview team members and track activities.

Take your hypothesis for key selling behaviors and interview your team. Pull a few top performers aside. Ask them a questions like:

  • What are the key activities you focus on that lead to closing business?
  • What activities should your peers do more of to be successful?
  • What is the critical activity in the sales process that tells you a deal is most likely to close?

Then take a few of your middle performers and ask them similar questions:

  • What activities do you perceive make top performers so successful?
  • What activities do you know you need to do more often, but just don’t ever seem to have the time?
  • What is the critical activity in the sales process that tells you a deal is most likely to close?

Finally, sit down with some of your sales managers. Get their opinions on these questions:

  • What activities make top performers so successful?
  • What activities should the rest of your team do more of?
  • What is the critical activity in the sales process that tells you a deal is most likely to close?

Take everything you’ve gathered into account, and select the final 3-4 activities that you want to make your key performance indicators. Use a sales scorecard or sales activity management system to track how many of each activity reps typically perform on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

3. Assign goals and manage progress.

Here’s what an average month might look like for an inside sales rep:

  • 40 Meetings
  • 20 ROI Discussions
  • 5 Proposals
  • 1 Deal

Take your team’s average activity levels and calculate conversion rates between each step of the sales process. (i.e., If it takes five proposals to get one deal, then there’s a 20 percent conversion rate from proposal to closed deal).

Use conversion rates to calculate the activity levels needed to hit revenue goals. Start with each rep’s quota and average deal size, then reverse-engineer their sales process. The activity levels you come up with become individual KPIs, and they might look something like this:

  • 80 Meetings / month
  • 40 ROI Discussions / month
  • 10 Proposals / month
  • 2 Deals / month

Assign these activity goals (along with quota) to your reps. By providing reps with specific activity goals, they know exactly what they need to do to be successful. This goal management exercise breaks through the chaotic work schedule of a salesperson and helps reps focus on the activities that matter.

This is the formula for success used by your top reps. They’re already performing these day-to-day activities that lead to closing business. All you have to do is create a process based on their strategy, and coach the rest of your team around it.

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