When you ask what makes a good salesperson, you’re likely to get responses like “They have to be assertive,” or “Extroverted people make better sales reps.” As the discussion continues, the conversation sounds a lot more like a debate on psychological disorders than a conversation about business practices.
This highlights a fundamental problem with how we assess the quality of sales teams. The focus is always on fostering some character or personality trait that is associated with sales stereotypes. Sure, it’s important to understand who the good salespeople are, but a more important question to ask is what makes them good?
The real differentiator between great salespeople and the middle of the pack isn’t a character trait or specific skill — it’s consistency in their performance. People who make a career in sales are the ones who find ways to meet or exceed their quota every quarter, without fail. Successful sales teams are, quite simply, the ones that have the most consistent sales reps.
More and more companies recognize that sales success is not driven by superstar performers, but by a well-designed sales process. That’s why Sales Operations teams have come to the fore in recent years.
Rather than pinning their futures on their ability to find and attract the “right type of salesperson,” businesses are investing resources on teams that assess the sales story that’s being told to prospects and match the team’s sales activities to suit the needs of buyers.
The Importance of Sales Process
Consistency in sales is simply another way of saying “lack of chaos.” The concept of sales processes have become increasingly important to sales performance in recent years because the only way to take the variability out of sales performance is to adhere to a consistent, measurable pattern of behavior.
(Chart Source: What Top Sales Teams Have in Common, in 5 Charts)
The members of the Sales Operations team are custodians of the sales process. Their job is to implement it, analyze it, and constantly improve it. They do this by developing ICPs and aligning the sales process to the buying process, which in turn enables every single rep the sales team hires to deliver a consistent sales message and consistently drive prospects down the sales funnel.
Of course, even companies that have a developed process in place have to invest resources in maintaining and improving it to maintain their sales performance.
Measuring for Improvement
The theory of a sales process rarely survives the move from whiteboards to implementation, so maintaining sales consistency also depends on your team’s ability to gather data on individual and team performances and use it to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Traditionally, crunching numbers and providing reporting to sales executives is the primary role Sales Ops fills. However, as sales processes become more automated and complex, it’s important for Sales Ops leaders to step beyond report building, and determine not only how the sales team should be measured and improved, but also decide what needs to be measured and improved.
This focus on measuring and improving the right functions in the sales process is core to performing well in today’s sales environment. Sales Operations is at the fore because data is widely available to sales teams, but most don’t know what pieces of data they should be paying attention to, and even fewer know how to use it to improve their performance.
The culmination of Sales Operations work is to structure the behavior of reps (both old hands and new hires) to spend 100% of their time performing the activities that have the greatest impact on buying decisions.
Companies that adopt a structured sales process and employ a dedicated Sales Operations team are able to constantly reassess what makes their reps successful and adjust their approach based on what they find out.
These are the companies that understand the subtle difference between who makes a good salesperson and what makes them successful. They spend time finding the right salespeople, but they build the foundation for sales success by investing in Sales Operations, designing an effective sales process, and focusing on the process to achieve smooth, consistent revenue growth.