Part 1: Three Ways to Improve Sales Performance

November 14, 2017 Barrett Thompson

B2B sales performance

In this two-part blog series, Zilliant General Manager of Commercial Excellence Barrett Thompson shares his insights on how intelligent B2B pricing strategies can improve sales performance in three areas: on-boarding new reps, up-leveling current reps and empowering all reps to maximize customer lifetime value.

Navigating employee turnover and retention rates is a continual challenge. Particularly as the job market fluctuates, job roles are redefined, and work environments shift to far less analog activities and more technology-driven functions.

According to CompData Surveys, the turnover rate for the manufacturing and distribution industry is 14.8 percent on average, up 1.1 percent from the previous year. Could this amount of turnover be a good thing? Perhaps. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, famously said that the “bottom 10 percent” of an organization should be replaced each year to make room for new talent.

To me, this anecdote speaks to a more prescient issue. It really doesn’t differ if you are facing heavy turnover, or a sales team that could benefit from some up-leveling. Sales leaders, particularly in B2B, can significantly improve team performance in short order by empowering sales reps to make smarter pricing decisions in the field. Let’s start by looking at the challenges reps face at two key career inflection points: onboarding and up-leveling. 

Onboarding New Sales Reps

Companies experience significant fallout when onboarding new employees, particularly given the steep learning curve for industrial companies. Industrial complexes require vast knowledge of products, regulations, suppliers, customers, pricing, tools, reports, and much more. Many B2B companies estimate that one sales rep’s time to full productivity is anywhere between six months to one year or more, which results in months of low productivity until the rep is fully onboarded.

With increased turnover rates and the impending baby-boomer-to-millennial workforce shift, the load can be significantly lightened for new reps by automating just a few business activities, like pricing, in order to get them up to full productivity faster. Taking the guesswork out of the pricing process speeds up the onboarding process, and more importantly, minimizes disruption for customers as well.

Up-Leveling Current Sales Reps

The same opportunity exists with regard to up-leveling the performance of current sales reps. Consider what makes the best sales reps superstars – they are the most productive and efficient when it comes to quoting prices that are aligned with customer expectations and company margin objectives.

Imagine the impact of taking the middle set of performers on your sales team and bringing their performance up to the level of your very best reps. Improving your game takes time, and unfortunately, some of the best players have an inherent talent that can’t be taught.

Stay tuned for the next post in the series when Barrett shows how data can help identify opportunities to price smarter. 

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