How do I increase sales?

This five-word question is one I have been asked my advice on a lot throughout my years as a sales executive. It’s a short question. But I don’t always have a short answer.

In working with dozens of entrepreneurs and companies over my career, I’ve listened to founders and executives self-diagnose their sales pain points. Surprisingly, they tend to be very similar:

  • “My salesforce is lazy”
  • “Only 10% of my salespeople can sell/make their numbers”
  • “Sales refuses to use the CRM”
  • (And my favorite one of all) “My salesforce sucks!”

In hearing these repeated complaints, I came up with a three pillar sales productivity framework. Before sharing any recommendation on how to fix the exec’s self-diagnosis, I share this. It serves as a gross simplification of a complex problem and virtually unlimited potential actions one can undertake to improve sales effectiveness.

In the video, I put forward how to execute a successful sales effectiveness transformation utilizing this three pillar framework.

  1. People: Do you have the right ones and have you enabled them to be successful?
  2. Communication: Do your salespeople deliver conversations that are:
    • Important to the customer by leading to a potential better business outcome
    • Instill confidence that you have a unique proposition and can deliver the business outcome
    • Messaged in a concise, memorable and easy to understand manner
  3. Time: Do you have your entire “go-to-market” team spending time on the highest value tasks? Have you overburdened sales with inefficient “sales productivity” software or reporting requirements? Are you inspecting the right behaviors?

At this point in my conversation with executives they are typically nodding their head going, “Yeah, Ian, I agree…but how does that actually help me solve my problem and increase my sales?”

My answer tends to be the same over 90% of the time.

  1. Let’s agree on your unique differentiation. (Key for #2 above)
  2. Let’s get extremely focused on targeting through segmentation. Let’s identify the top 500-1000 companies that likely have a need and will value your solution. We look at your current client roster and perhaps your direct competitors to understand size, industry and other unique attributes of the Buyers. (Key to #3 above)
  3. Let’s organize your message through stories that have an emotional impact. (Key to #2 & #3 above.)
  4. Let’s organize your proof points which includes case studies and the right Customer references. (Key to #2 and #3 above.)

“But…my salesforce sucks…you didn’t do anything for #1 (People)”

The reason is simple. Until you deliver and enable sales professionals with A, B, C, and D, there is really no way to know for sure if your salesforce sucks! Plus, more often than not, you will find your top performing sales professionals are already doing A through D on their own!

So…is it really a salesforce that sucks? 9 times out of 10, I’d bet NOT!

Ian Levine
Ian Levine is the Chief Sales Officer at RO Innovation. Ian has a depth of experience building go-to-market strategies and has purchased and implemented CRM and other sales & marketing technology while leading sales and marketing for Fortune 500 and mid-market firms.