Last year, a research colleague and I took a deep look into one of the most pivotal trends occurring in the sales industry– the shift from field sales to inside sales – what we found was that nearly half of the sales organizations surveyed were making a shift to inside sales. In the midst of this research, however, we also uncovered major discrepancies between high-growth and average- or declining-growth sales teams. As companies made the shift to an inside sales model there were a few key things that separated the very best sales organizations from the rest.
As a result, my research colleague, Steve W. Martin, sales expert, UCS professor and author of the “Heavy Hitter Sales” series and I got to work. We dug deep into the attributes that are common among the highest performing sales organizations in a new study called “The Sales Organization Performance Gap.” Let’s dig into the top four traits of a high performance sales team:
- Team mentality: There are a lot of key insights in this new study, but one of the most significant findings was the team-based culture that the very best sales teams seemed to possess. Rather than focusing on super-star sales performers, top organizations are focused on the team as a whole. In fact, high-performing sales teams were twice as likely to describe themselves as a “cohesive group of like-minded individuals” than people at lower performing-organizations. Additionally, the best teams also viewed individual talent as a lesser factor for sales success but were less likely to have below average salespeople.
- Aggressive about goal setting: When I was running a sales organization myself, I was always questioning how high to set quotas. It’s an ongoing dilemma for every sales leader. So this year, as we were going through the quota setting process at Velocify, our own sales leader was the lucky beneficiary of our latest research that found your chances of hitting and achieving sales quota actually increase the more aggressive you get. In fact 64% of high-performing sales organizations set quotas 10% or higher above what they are responsible for.
- Decisive about termination: Another ongoing dilemma for sales leaders are the rules of termination. While there should always be some ramp time that varies based on the complexity of the market and product, our study validated that sales leaders should be very clear on expectations for the rep and be quicker to terminate low performing reps. In fact 18 percent of high-performing sales organizations indicated that salespeople will be terminated for poor performance after one quarter, compared to only 2 percent of average and 5 percent of underperforming organizations.
- Process driven: Under-performing sales organizations seem to be operating under the myth that only a few super stars can achieve quota – therefore creating an environment of heroes and zeros. On the flip side, sales leaders at high-performing sales organization are documenting the processes of their best reps and implementing and enforcing those processes across the organization using technology. In fact, our research found that high-performing sales organizations were almost twice as likely as underperforming organizations to describe their sales processes as “closely monitored” or “strictly enforced or automated.” Additionally, high-performing sales organizations ranked “disciplined sales process and systems usage” as the second most important factor separating great from good sales organizations.
The bottom line – a high performing sales team creates a culture that is focused on winning as a team. This trait is inherent throughout our research. To get more key findings download: “The Sales Organization Performance Gap.”
Also, tell us what you think. Does your organization display these high performance traits? What other characteristics do you think are critical to building and growing an inside sales team? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
About the author: Nick Hedges is president and CEO of Velocify and a 15 year veteran of the Internet and SaaS industries. Nick has spent the last six years helping organizations accelerate sales performance and recently became an advisory board member for the Association of Inside Sales Professionals. Nick is a Fulbright Scholar, holds an MBA with Distinction from Harvard and a bachelor’s degree from Manchester University.