Challenges - Every sales team has them. But high-performing teams know how to tackle them.
When we break down the sales opportunities, it becomes apparent that the high-performing teams focus on the sales activities that matter.
Before we understand those value-adding activities, let’s see what sales activities are?
In this article, we will discuss
- What are sales activities?
- Different types of sales activities
What are Sales Activities?
Sales activities are day-to-day actions of the sales team that leads to the achievement of sales objectives and business results. Some of the sales activities are sales planning, cold calling, sales management, and emailing.
The framework of sales activities, sales objectives, and business results has been aptly described by Jason Jordan & Michelle Vazzana in their book “Cracking the Sales Management Code: The secrets to measuring and managing sales performance”.
Read our summary of the Cracking sales management book.
Different Types of Sales Activities
There are several building blocks of sales activities for sales processes. These sales activities help the sales team to qualify, support, and nurture their leads and keep their sales pipeline moving.
Day-to-day sales activities are categorised into five groups.
- Call management
- Opportunity management
- Account management
- Territory management
- Salesforce enablement
No matter how technologically advanced your sales team is, nothing can replace the old-fashioned phone call. And so holds the importance of call management.
Call management is one of the sales activities that is intended to improve the quality of your sales calls.
We have listed the activities, sales metrics, and tools associated with effective call management for your better understanding.
The sales activities associated with call management primarily include meticulous planning, execution, and reflection. These sales activities can directly influence the outcomes, such as the success of sales calls.
- Pre-call planning: Most of the call management metrics track the pre-call planning activities. Some of such activities are adherence to the call planning process and call plan usage. The information for these is collected through salesforce surveys, sales manager observations, and reports that are generated from the sales planning tools. Some of the related metrics are the percentage of reps doing call planning, average talk time, call plan usage, and others.
- In-call: Some of the sales metrics measure the in-call performance of your sales team. Examples of such sales metrics are the number of questions asked, sales rep talk time, and other measures of salesperson behaviour during the call. These metrics are best obtained by observing the sales reps in action.
- Post-call: The metrics associated with post-call are the percentage of calls with debrief, the number of calls logged into the CRM. Often, this needs manual intervention for capturing these activities.
An effective sales call would need a set of questions to be answered by the sales reps. Some of those questions are:
- What are the call objectives?
- What are the customers’ likely needs?
- What information does the seller want to learn?
- What questions should the seller ask?
- Which offerings should the seller and the customer discuss?
- What objections might arise?
To summarise, effective call management can be a result of a collaborative planning effort between the sales reps and sales managers. This can exert control over the specific sales objectives and helps in attaining positive business results.
Take a moment and think about your company’s approach to sales opportunity management. Do you know if the opportunities in your pipeline are workable? Do you know the key opportunities your team needs to focus on? If your answer is "Not sure", you need a proper opportunity management system in place.
Opportunity management helps your sales team to qualify, plan, and analyse a single multistage sales pursuit.
The activities involved in opportunity management are various.
First, the salesperson gathers all the required information about the customers, your organisation, competition, and other environmental factors that can influence the opportunity. These can be collected from online services, conversations, annual reports, industry publications, etc.
As a second stage, qualify the opportunity to ensure that it is worth pursuing by judging the opportunity against the defined criteria.
The third stage is preparing a sales strategy. The strategy typically involves decisions about how to align selling activities with the different stages and different participants in the customers’ buying process. With a coherent strategy, the salesperson can close the deals faster and handle the opportunities efficiently.
The last stage is execution. The entire organisation is expected to abide by the strategy and execute it to create a winning opportunity.
Unlike call management, opportunity management is a circular process. Proper execution of strategy provides input on how the strategy for future sales can be improved.
The common metrics that are used to measure the efficiency of opportunity management are the number of opportunity plans completed, the percentage of qualified opportunities, etc.
The primary tool to support the opportunity management process is the opportunity plan. The opportunity plan is curated to help salespeople thoughtfully answer opportunity-related questions such as these:
- What is the nature of the opportunity?
- Is the opportunity qualified?
- Who are the participants in the buying process?
- What is important to them?
- Who is the competition?
- What are our competitive strengths and weaknesses?
- What will we offer the customers and why?
- What mise we do to win?
- What are the steps in sales?
- Who should be involved in the sales process?
- Where are their responsibilities?
Opportunity management and call management are a part of pipeline management. The only way to proactively improve your pipeline is to formalise these two processes and track their associated metrics.
According to Bain & Company, it is up to seven times costlier to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Transforming your existing clients into key accounts would need a proper account management strategy.
The objective of account management is to increase revenue and maximise the long-term value of a selected group of customers.
Account management activities essentially tailor a company’s go-to-market strategy to each chosen customer through careful analysis, planning, and execution at the individual account level.
A basic account management process will be as follows:
Assessing the customer’s business involves understanding the customer's long-range strategy and short-term objectives to which you can align your products or services or find innovative ways to help your customers. When you are aware of your customers’ needs and you have aligned your company’s needs with the customer’s, you can develop a plan outlining the required tasks. The last stage is flawlessly executing the plan.
In account management, there are two types of metrics. One group (Account-planning metrics) assures the plans are in place while the other (Account-facing metrics) is focused on tracking the interactions between the company and its customers.
Some of the account-planning metrics include percentage account plans complete, number of completed business plans. Some of the account-facing activity metrics include the number of activities per account, the number of interactions per account, etc.
An Account plan is a key tool for account management. These take a salesperson or the account team through a structured process of setting account objectives and planning how to achieve them. Some of the commonly asked questions are:
- What are the customer’s strategic initiatives?
- How can we help the customer accomplish them?
- What do we want to get from this account?
- What will we have to give them to get it?
- Who are the key stakeholders at the account?
- Do they consider us friends?
- What do we need to do in the upcoming month, quarter, year, or longer?
- Who from our organisation must be involved?
Territory management is instrumental in keeping the selling costs to a minimum while generating maximum revenue.
Territory management focuses on segmenting the customers based on a set of attributes or sales territory such as industry, size or geography.
While call management, opportunity management, and account management targeted the effectiveness of the sales process, territory management focuses on efficiency. In other words, while the first three building blocks of the sales process help salespeople improve what they do when they are face-to-face with a customer, territory management helps sellers get face-to-face with as many qualified customers as possible considering the time and resource constraints.
Territory management includes the following activities
- Prioritise your customers: With the help of the company's current customer focus objectives, determine customer prioritisation.
- Define the territory: Configure the territories to each sales representative.
- Design customer call patterns: This determines the type of customers to be called.
- Execute calls: Execute the designated call patterns as per the plan and adapt them according to the change in circumstances.
Some of the metrics that can be used to measure the territory management are: Number of customers per rep, Number of accounts per salesperson, Average number of leads given to salesperson, Number of sales calls made per rep, Activity volume per rep.
Unlike the previous management activities, the territory management activities are completed periodically and often by a centralised group. And these activities demand in-depth quantitative analysis which can be performed with the help of sophisticated analytical tools.
Sales force enablement
According to Aberdeen, the efficient sales force enablement strategies result in 32% higher team sales quota attainment; 24% better individual quota achievement; and 23% higher lead conversion rate.
Sales Force Enablement activities enable the sales team to perform their job efficiently. In other words, sales force enablement involves coaching, training, and resources to boost the capabilities of the sales force.
The sales force enablement activities include the strategies the salespeople employ, the processes they follow, the tools that support their activities, the expectations that are communicated to them, and many more. Simply put, sales force enablement activities are a variety of tactics that an organisation can use to increase its sales force’s ability to execute.
- Structure the organisation: To ensure that the salespeople can access the resources they need to perform the jobs efficiently and effectively.
- Recruit and hire: Recruiting and hiring can directly impact the objective of the sales force capability and on market coverage. Hence, hire the best and well-suited for the organisation.
- Train your sales force: to develop skills and knowledge that are necessary to capably execute its sales activities.
- Coach individually: Coaching helps in building a salesperson’s abilities based on the unique development needs.
- Equip your salespeople: with tools and job aids such as presentations, proposal templates, etc., that support their selling activities.
- Assess the sales force: This can be performed in different ways with the help of different tools and methodologies.
The metrics can be used to measure various aspects of sales force enablement such as organisation, recruiting, training, coaching, tools, assessment.
Some of the metrics to measure these objectives are the number of reps assigned per manager, Recruiting spends per FTS, Number of training hours, Percentage of time spent coaching, Percentage of salespeople assessed.
With shifting customer behaviour and competition growing fiercer, it is critical to ensure that your sales team is following sales activities to achieve your business goals.
If you need guidance on how to plan your sales strategies and activities for your business, book a free consultation call with Pepper Cloud.
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