No sales manager wants to hear that his or her team is losing sales. For some companies, customers jump ship — or don't give them a chance at all — because of a negative experience with an individual sales representative.
"The outcome of a bad in-person sales experience is more dramatic than just a delay in the sales cycle," said Pieterjan Bouten, co-founder and CEO of mobile sales presentation tool Showpad. In fact, according to a recent survey by Showpad and research firm Demand Metric, 70 percent of marketing and sales professionals said a bad sales call results in a loss of revenue, and 70 percent noted that it can take months, or even years, to recover from it, Bouten said.
But for many organizations, lost revenue doesn't just occur because of bad sales calls. Often, small inefficiencies in the sales process add up to a lot of wasted time and, by extension, wasted opportunities.
"Sales teams spend 30 to 50 percent of their time not selling," said Gary Ambrosino, CEO of appointment scheduling software TimeTrade. "They're calling, chasing and waiting, trying to get the customer to agree to an appointment. When you change this behavior and drive it down, sales go way up."
How can sales managers solve these issues that stand in the way of growth? Gathering customer feedback may seem like the obvious answer, but before you do, try seeking internal feedback from your team about where they're struggling. [5 Common Sales Mistakes to Avoid]
"Managers should look at underperforming sales reps and inquire about the obstacles that are keeping them from being successful," Bouten said. "For example, is it training or the enablement material? Can they find the right material for each stage of the sales cycle? It's important that managers understand both the positive and negative patterns so they can provide critical feedback to marketing on content effectiveness and help salespeople orchestrate better conversations."
Another effective strategy for collecting useful feedback is to ask employees what tactics are helping them to succeed, said Michael Papay, CEO of employee feedback and engagement platform Waggl.
"Ask them for the single best thing they're doing relating to sales," Papay said. "Questions that ask for just one thing generate the best results. It's easy to act on those answers, and it's valuable and engaging to share them transparently [with the rest of the team]."
Once you've asked your team about their process and figured out what's working, there's one last question you need to ask yourself as a sales manager: What do you need to stop doing as an organization to free up more time for the tactics that actually work?
If, as Ambrosino said, your team is wasting a lot of time on nonselling activity, the best thing to do is eliminate that "dead time" of waiting around for the phone to ring.
"Sales teams confuse making 70 phone calls to prospective clients and leaving messages with selling," Ambrosino told Business News Daily. "That activity is not selling. Get prospects engaged in a productive conversation the first time you pick up the phone or meet them [by] finding out what the customer's problem is, and if your product or service can solve it."
Originally published on Business News Daily.