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Building a high performing sales team: finding opportunities

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When building a high performing sales team, you need to be able to sniff out an opportunity at any given moment.

A high performing sales team is like a well-oiled machine working at full speed. They’re motivated, empowered and have the necessary skills to sell effectively to their prospects and customers. This blog post is the first in a series of 5 steps to transforming your team into sales superheroes, beginning with opportunity spotting and qualification.

When you think of sales, what springs to mind? Countless cold calls, annoyed prospects and a manager breathing down your neck? In fact, one of the hardest parts of any sales job is simply spotting where your next sale lies. Seeking out new business is difficult, especially in the crowded marketplaces of today.

When building a high performing sales team, you need to be able to sniff out an opportunity at any given moment. You need to put in the legwork and effort sometimes, but opportunities can sometimes be hard to come by.

Here are 5 ways your sales team can better spot and qualify opportunities.

1) Define your target audience

Growing your pool of opportunities begins right back at the very basics of any sales process. Every member of your sales team needs to know exactly who they are targeting, otherwise they’ll be wasting time calling on the wrong people. Don’t be afraid to qualify leads out if they aren’t a typical fit for your offering, there’s little use wasting resources on a dead end.

You need to develop and refine a target audience for your business if you are to ever make any serious sales. Identify which markets you want to approach. What are their inherent challenges and how can you solve them?

Equally, you need to identify who your main competitors are. Be sure to take the time to look at how they are doing things and who their customers are. There’s no harm in taking inspiration from what they do and doing it better.

2) Forge an alliance

This follows on nicely from my previous point, forging a productive relationship between your sales and marketing departments can propel your sales team to superstardom almost over night.

With a clearly defined target audience you can, together with your marketing team, craft key messaging, campaigns, pitches and much more. If your sales and marketing operation are on the same page, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with and opportunities should be pouring in.

These two departments are a match made in heaven, but it is often a union neglected by many sales managers. We all know how much sales and marketing can lock horns at times, the battle between cold leads, missed opportunities and one taking credit over the other is a battle that is still ongoing.

But in a high performing sales team, marketing supports sales in churning out a steady stream of communications, designed to nurture your prospect from opportunity through to close. When the two teams play nice, opportunities are uncovered and seized, leads are warm and your sales team will be happily using the collateral produced by marketing to add value and enhance the sales process.

3) Ask for referrals

Sales opportunities don’t always have to come from new business, so spending some time tapping up your existing customers for opportunities is time well spent.

One of the easiest ways to grow your opportunities is to ask your existing customer base for referrals into new companies. A warm lead into a prospective company can be a huge stepping-stone in your sales process. Not only will you have more luck getting past the gatekeeper on the first call, but also your prospect should be more open to hearing what you have to say.

Being handed warm referrals makes the close a lot easier, too.

If they operate in the same market as your existing customers, you already know the challenges they face, what influences them and what matters to them most, so your sales process should revolve entirely around how your product or service can help. It’s likely that they will have the same problems as your current customers too, problems that you can solve. However, they do need to be willing to explore solutions and make changes to solve their problems in the first place.

Even let them talk to your existing customers if they can. You can reel off benefits until you’re blue in the face, but talking to their peers will add some genuine credibility to what you’re saying and, in turn, speed up the sales process.

4) Data, data, data

The amount of data your company produces is astronomical, and using it will be key for any high performing sales team.

Any up-to-speed sales team will be constantly monitoring their data for trends in their customers’ spend and preempting their next move. If they’re buying bricks from you but not cement (or any other complementary items), there lies an opportunity in itself. Sift through your customers’ transactional data and identify any easy to close sales that you may have overlooked before.

Spotting opportunities in your data however is not the easiest thing to do manually. It can soon eat into your day and while it is time well spent, many salespeople choose not to spend hours wading through a customers’ sales history. Software is available that can do all the legwork for you and automate this analysis, leaving you to concentrate on schmoozing your customers with well-thought out, personal sales calls that pack a punch and end with a ‘yes’.

5) Get social

Social media is often overlooked by many salespeople as a ‘nice to have’ when in fact the top performing sales teams are doing wonderful things with these relatively new channels of selling. They’re targeting key accounts, staying abreast of industry developments and news, interacting with their customers and picking up new opportunities every single day.

Social media can be a veritable goldmine of opportunities. Keeping an eye out for any customers unhappy with your competition, monitoring hashtags about your brand or even connecting with prospects online. Your sales team should be using social channels to engage with prospects in an informal manner that can often lead to warm introductions and easy initial phone calls into a prospect.

Social media is another powerful tool to add your sales armory as these channels become more and more prevalent in both a professional and personal capacity. It’s also worth noting that social media doesn’t all have to be about sales. The likes of Twitter and Facebook can be used as a support channel for your existing customers and a super quick response to any queries will be a huge boost to your customer service levels.

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