As market analysts will tell you, many professional investors prefer not to invest when the market is on a steady incline, as much as when it’s on a steady decline. The reasoning is similar to the feeling of being on a roller coaster – climbing the first incline and knowing what’s in store once you pass the initial ascent.
For sales organizations, understanding what’s happening in the market can help calm concerns about what’s coming next, and decipher the bigger question of how to optimize sales performance.
I recently read a report by CSO Insights titled Sales Performance Optimization: 2013 Key Trends Analysis which looked at contributing factors and performance trends, as well as best practices for sales organizations. A look at some of the major findings of this report reveals important details about sales realities, beyond the roller coaster.
One telling fact revealed by the CSO Insights report was a 13% increase in the average annual investment per salesperson in 2012. In other posts, I’ve written about the impact that personnel development can have on sales performance. It’s greatly encouraging that companies are investing more in their teams so that they can reap tangible sales performance results.
The CSO Insights report also points to several best practices or attributes held by sales organizations considered best in class over the past decade. These attributes include:
- A deep understanding of, and focus on the company’s purpose in the marketplace
- Active definition of the attributes of their ideal sales team members, ensuring that when hiring, they choose people who are the right fit
- Incentivizing sales representatives to build strong customer relationships
- Ongoing assessment of training needs of sales force
- Making sure sales team members have the tools they need
Several findings in this report provide positive indicators about the potential for further sales growth. But even while turnover among sales forces is significantly lower than previous years and average deal sizes increased, the bigger picture is still mixed.
So while the roller coaster analogy may feel right, in times of uncertainty, perhaps we can aim for more of a guided tour approach. It’s times like these that organizations need to team with the right professionals and stay on top of performance trends, remembering that it’s as important to have a sense of what might lie ahead as it is to have a reliable guide to advise you on the best route to follow.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida