Sales Performance 2019

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R A C O N T E U R . N E T 03 /sales-performance-2019 hether building a high- performing sales team or expanding an existing one, ensuring you have the right technol- ogy and talent in place is crucial. But when resources are limited and time is short, which takes priority and how can you ensure you get the bal- ance right between the two? In the view of Richard Hilton, managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at sales training provider Miller Heiman Group: "Talent always comes first." Even in an increasingly sophis- ticated digital world, he believes the old adage that "people sell to people" still holds true and, while appropriate sales technology is important, its key role is that of "an enabler" rather than a deal-closer. In other words, the classic profile of an effective salesperson being someone who has good social skills, is naturally inquisitive, brave, crea - tive and driven, is as valid now as it has ever been. As James Rix, co-founder and chief executive of marketing agency Crowdify, points out, when building a sales team: "You can't teach some- one how to sell if they're not a nat- ural sales or people person. You can teach someone to sell better and you can give them product and industry knowledge, but they still need a cer- tain natural ability." Interestingly, Mr Hilton believes that over time as analytics tools start to play a progressively impor- tant role in supporting the sales process, this focus on emotional intelligence, or EQ, will be supple- mented by a growing need for IQ in the shape of increased data literacy skills. Put another way, the techni- cal expertise required to make the most of sales technology will stead- ily grow in value. Should the decision be taken to expand an existing sales team, it makes sense to create a profile of an ideal candidate by devising a competency framework and com- bining it with a talent assessment. Competency frameworks lay out the core skills and characteristics required based on the type of sales approach used, while talent assess- ments explore what it is that makes an individual a high or low per- former in your particular business. When building a sales team from scratch, however, the considera- tions are often quite different. In this instance, according to James Ewing, sales director at robotic process automation startup Digital Workforce, it is all about taking on "experienced people with a level of weight and gravitas as you only get one chance to make a good impres - sion" with new customers. Such sales talent must be well rounded and have experience of all aspects of the sales cycle, ranging from working on complex bids to account management. While many startups fall into the trap of taking on young, inexperienced sales staff in a bid to keep costs low, Mr Ewing advises that "building out the pro - file" in this way should only take place after the first three hires. The same goes for purchasing sales enablement technology. "Good salespeople can operate using a notebook and email, so supporting technology is about scale out," he says. "And you can't scale out with- out technology because once you have more than three or four peo- ple, you need better reporting and, ideally, tools that support the sales cycle in a frictionless way." Key software in this context includes demand generation engines, online collaboration tools, email automation and sales intelligence applications, which sit on top of the more traditional customer relation - ship management (CRM) systems. Yuri van der Sluis, founder of sales training company YuTrain, points out: "Technology isn't just a hygiene factor. It helps your sales team to be more competitive. If you can use it to engage 50 per cent more qualified customers at a 10 per cent higher conversion rate and close them 25 per cent faster than your competi - tors, the difference it makes to your results is immense." Mr Rix agrees. "If we turned off our technology today, the company would be about 60 to 70 per cent of the size, but the same would be true if we lost all our sales talent and ended up with people who don't have any natural ability," he says. "So the one feeds into the other: good people complement good tech - nology and good technology com- plements good people." Nonetheless, how effective such software is generally depends on how it is employed by managers and can, in fact, be actively counter-pro- ductive. For example, in too many companies, CRM systems are simply used to capture and analyse finan- cial data without any thought for how it could be deployed to enhance the sales process, or worse. Mr Ewing explains: "Some systems are so cumbersome, they almost immobilise sales activity. In larger organisations especially, you have countless executives wanting to understand what's happening and it just paralyses salespeople by bog - ging them down in minute detail they don't see the value in." Therefore, to use technology effectively, it is important to employ it as a motivational tool rather than as a stick with which to beat your sales talent. Crowdify's Mr Rix, for example, records each sales call and keeps an eye on the CRM system to understand key activities, such as where leads are coming from and what conversion rates are looking like. "It gives me a bird's eye view of performance and helps with train - ing," he says. "For example, good salespeople are often not so good at time management, but if I can show them how it's affecting their perfor- mance and, therefore, their com- mission cheque, they tend to make decisions around changing their behaviour themselves." Ultimately though, the real secret to success is in hiring engaging, ambitious people and surrounding them with complementary tech- nology to help them become more efficient, achieve client goals and benefit themselves as well as the company. "So tech and talent are both important, just in different ways," Mr Rix concludes. Empowering the best people with the right tech SALES PERFORMANCE @raconteur /raconteur.net @raconteur_london The quality of your sales team will always be important, but even your top reps can't perform to the best of their ability without the right tools Tom Andrews Operations manager at Raconteur, he specialises in business performance, technolog y, data and revenue operations. Cath Everett Journalist specialising in workplace, leadership, organisational culture issues and the impact of technolog y on business and society. Charles Orton-Jones Award-winning journalist, he was editor-at-large of LondonlovesBusiness. com and editor of EuroBusiness magazine. Nicola Smith Freelance journalist, she writes for various national papers and specialist publications, such as The Drum, Marketing Week and Drapers. Dan Thomas Writer and editor, he has contributed to the BBC, Newsweek, Fund Strateg y and EducationInvestor, among other publications. Finbarr Toesland Freelance journalist, he specialises in technology, business and economic issues, and contributes to a wide range of publications. Emma Woollacott Specialist technology writer, she covers legal and regulatory issues, contributing to Forbes and the BBC. Distributed in Cath Everett Published in association with Contributors Publishing manager Ben Bruce Digital content executive Fran Cassidy Head of production Justyna O'Connell Design Joanna Bird Grant Chapman Sara Gelfgren Kellie Jerrard Harry Lewis-Irlam Celina Lucey Colm McDermott Samuele Motta Head of design Tim Whitlock Associate editor Peter Archer Managing editor Benjamin Chiou Although this publication is funded through advertising and sponsorship, all editorial is without bias and sponsored features are clearly labelled. For an upcoming schedule, partnership inquiries or feedback, please call +44 (0)20 3877 3800 or email info@raconteur.net Raconteur is a leading publisher of special-interest content and research. Its publications and articles cover a wide range of topics, including business, finance, sustainability, healthcare, lifestyle and technology. Raconteur special reports are published exclusively in The Times and The Sunday Times as well as online at raconteur.net The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources the Proprietors believe to be correct. However, no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior consent of the Publisher. © Raconteur Media raconteur.net Caiaimage/Tom Merton/Getty Images T E C H N O L O G Y W THREE BIGGES T BARRIERS TO DEPLOYING NE W SALES TOOL S UK and US survey of professionals in sales and business development Cost Security concerns Complexity 36% 34% Sugar CRM 2017 48%

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