Whitepaper: How to Consistently Hit Sales Targets
17.07.2017

Whitepaper: How to Consistently Hit Sales Targets

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According to research by CSO Insights, over 45 percent of salespeople miss their quota, and perhaps this isn't surprising given the challenges facing sales professionals in these modern times. In fact, 35 percent of salespeople state that closing deals has become more difficult, as shown in the graph below from HubSpot's State of Inbound 2017 report, which also reveals that sales staff are finding it increasingly harder to connect with prospects across all channels, and, hardest of all, gaining a response.

Clearly, the need for companies to invest time and resources into their sales strategy is now even more vital if they are to have a hope of reaching their targets. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when getting your strategy up to scratch, and ultimately it is down to you to decide which areas your business is lacking in and therefore need to prioritise.

USE YOUR ANALYTICS

Your first port of call when it comes to ensuring your targets regularly get met is to pay close attention to your previous analytics. If your team has been consistently behind, your metrics can provide insight into exactly why this is. Look at which individual staff members and try to ascertain what those that are hitting their targets are doing differently to those who aren't.

You should also look at your sales cycle in order to determine at what stage the majority of your customers converted, so that your team can focus their attention on these leads in the sales funnel, and ensure that they're not giving up on potential purchasers too soon. Finally, pay attention to the sales activity at particular times; are you noticing increased sales at a certain time of year? If you experienced an unprecedented number of sales in one month, what events lead up to it? Once you've collected and thoroughly analysed all of this data you will have a much clearer idea of how efficiently your sales department is currently working, and the areas that you need to address.

SET REALISTIC GOALS

Failing to set proper sales targets can have a very negative effect on your company for a number of reasons. If your targets are too vague or not specific enough, your team is likely to end up frustrated and demotivated. Similarly, if they are not realistic enough you risk alienating your staff and creating a lack of faith in your management skills across the board. Setting targets that are too low will see your team becoming bored and uninspired, while aiming too high is likely to create a culture of failure within your company; your employees will simply come to expect not reaching their goals and will be unfocused as a result.

Setting sales targets isn't just about pulling numbers out of a hat; there are a number of factors to consider. Psychologist and goal-setting pioneer Edwin Locke came up with the SMART strategy to help when planning your objectives:

Specific - Be clear and exact when coming up with your goals; leaving your sales team with guesswork to do will only lead to frustration and hinder your success. 

Measurable - Make sure that whatever you goal is, it is something that can be easily measured. This is particularly important in identifying individual successes in your sales team; how will you keep track of who has sold what?

Attainable - As mentioned earlier, creating goals that are either too easy or too difficult for your team to achieve will only have a negative impact. Choose a target that is appealing but within reach and will inspire your employees to work hard.

Realistic - Don't get carried away if you've had some good numbers lately; be optimistic but make sure you have a realistic view of what your business can achieve. Stressed and overworked employees are no use to anyone.

Timely - Always include a timeframe when giving your team targets, and be as specific as possible.

REACH THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Having the means to contact the people with real purchasing power in a company is vital to giving your sales team the greatest chances of success; simply having a generic email address for a company is not enough; you'll likely be met with gatekeepers or those who have no authority to make buying decisions.

This can often prove to be difficult for many businesses; in fact, according to Forrester Research, nearly two thirds of B2B marketers identified engaging key decision makers as their top challenge. However, it is a challenge that if overcome, can be very lucrative; 78 percent of decision makers polled have taken an appointment or attended an event that came from an email or cold call, so says DiscoverOrg.

It is also worth remembering to ensure that your sales staff are personable and engaging when reaching out to potential clients; 86 percent of our communication via the phone is tone; only 14 percent is the words we use, according to ContactPoint. If you do get met with your lead's voicemail, resist the temptation to tell them too much about your company/product or give them the hard sell; the optimal voicemail message is between eight and 14 seconds long, according to The Sales Hunter.

USE CONTENT WISELY

Investing resources into the creation of a large amount of content is another way to help ensure your team consistently hit their sales targets; research from HubSpot found that businesses with websites containing 401-1000 pages get 6 times more leads than those with 51-1000 pages.

Given that nowadays, much of the buyer's purchasing decision is made before they have even made contact with your company, it is vital that they can easily find information about what you offer. According to Forrester Research, 82 percent of buyers viewed at least five pieces of content from the winning vendor, and a study by iMedia Connection found that 68 percent of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it.

With this in mind, it is not surprising that the majority of B2B businesses plan on increasing their budget for content marketing over the next 12 months, as is shown in the pie chart below from Fusion Marketing's Trends in B2B Marketing and Lead-to-Revenue report.

FOLLOW UP

Some marketers may be hesitant to regularly follow up with leads - indeed, according to Scripted 44 percent of salespeople give up after one follow up - but in many cases it is not only a good idea, it is completely necessary. Research by RingLead found that 80 percent of calls go to voicemail, and only 10 percent of first time voicemails are ever returned, and the Marketing Donut states that 80 percent of sales require five follow-up phone calls after an initial meeting.

Clearly, there is a desperate need for sales staff to check in with prospects, and failing to do so can hit your sales targets terribly; companies that excel at lead nurturing have 9 percent more sales representatives meeting their quota, according to CSO Insights, and The Annuitas Group revealed that nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. 

FAVOURITISM IS ESSENTIAL

As much as you would like to treat all of your customers equally, the reality is that some will naturally be more valuable to your business than others. Those who are familiar with economist Vilfredo Pareto's principle will know that when applied to marketing, around 80 percent of your profits come from just 20 percent of your customers. Of course, this isn't an exact template and the real ratio will vary from business to business, but the idea remains the same; it is your top customers who keep your business running smoothly.

With this in mind, it is vitally important that you prioritise the needs of these customers; give them special rewards, discounts and bump their orders to the front of the queue if needs be. It is also a very good idea to segment these clients in your communications; your best customers are different to the majority of your other customers, so it is logical to target them in a different way.

FOCUS ON PRODUCTIVITY

Perhaps rather shockingly, only 33 percent of sales staff's time is actually spent actively selling, according to CSO Insights. Instead, reps are spending large amounts of time on tasks such as lead research and data entry. This certainly hasn't gone unnoticed among the staff themselves; 71 percent say they spend too much time on data entry, according to Toutapp. The graph below from HubSpot's State of Inbound 2017 report shows that 57 percent of respondents spend up to an hour every day on data entry, and 13 percent spend upwards of two hours.

Putting the systems in place to enable your team to work efficiently is imperative when it comes to getting enough sales; according to Qvidian, 88 percent of missed opportunities were caused because sales couldn’t find or leverage the internal resources.

USE THE RIGHT CHANNELS

Ensuring that you utilise the right marketing channels when contacting leads is another important step to sales success. This will vary depending on factors such as industry and, as evidenced in the graph below from HubSpot, seniority level of the person you are reaching out to. However, generally when it comes to marketing email and phone are the top choices across the board.

Knowing when to reach out can also be the difference between success and failure in sales. According to GetResponse, the best times of day to email prospects are 8am and 3pm, and Experian notes that emails sent on a Tuesday have the highest open rate compared to other weekdays. Obviously this is no hard and fast rule however, and ultimately it is down to you to study your metrics and determine when your optimum time for messaging will be.

KNOW WHEN TO GIVE UP

Though it may seem counter-intuitive to give up on a potential lead, sometimes it makes better business sense to cut your losses and move on. Chasing dead-end leads could end up costing your company dearly; lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budget costs companies at least $1 trillion a year, according to The B2B Lead.

Given that, according to Gleanster Research, only 25 percent of leads are legitimate and will advance to sales, it is important for your team to know when to give up on a lead.  Potential deals that are very valuable should always be given more time, but for those that are likely to be less lucrative, ensure that you set out clear guidelines for your staff so that they do not end up wasting precious time on contacts that just aren't interested.

There are a number of factors to consider in order to give your sales team the best chance of consistently hitting their quota. Putting all of these parts into practice can take some time, but it is essential to having a smart and actionable sales strategy.

If your business is looking to gain in efficiency, our team at Global Database can help. As one of the market leaders in business intelligence we provide company contacts across a range of industries worldwide. Our contact lists can save your business valuable time in several ways:

-The right people - Avoid gatekeepers and contact key decision makers directly.

-Ready to go - Drastically cut down on lead research and start contacting potential customers immediately.

-Easy exports - Quickly and easily export a database to excel, with no limits.

If you'd like to know more about what we can do for you, contact us on +44 203 640 6006 or info@globaldatabase.com

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