How to increase sales: 5 data-driven principles

What if you could increase sales without hiring new reps or spending any more money? More specifically, what if you could boost your revenues by applying a set of simple strategies?

To help you make more data-driven decisions for your sales process, we’ve compiled compelling sales statistics. We’ve also drawn valuable insights from Zendesk Sell’s CRM Customer Survey data — a survey of over 730 customers who use the Sell platform on a daily basis.

Based on this data, we highlighted actions you can take to ensure that your sales reps are doing their best work in key strategic sales areas. Learn how to increase sales with the following principles:

1. Stop tracking sales activities manually.

In order to know whether you’re meeting your revenue goals, you have to track your sales activities. There’s no way around it. Yet 38% of Sell survey respondents said that time spent doing just that was “wasted” and a major challenge for their sales department.

Especially if you’re a growing startup, manually recording activities such as your deal tracking, lead generation, and task completion is tedious and inefficient. Thankfully, there are better (and more efficient) solutions.

Action Item: Organize and manage sales activities through automations, activity reports, and sales activity metrics.

  • Automate sales tasks. Rather than reps wasting time on manual data entry and calendar consulting, automate repetitive sales activities such as follow-up emails. For example, you can use tools such as FollowUp to automatically send reminders to customers on a certain date.
  • Dig into CRM sales activity reports. Your CRM is rich with data insights on sales activities. You can view reports on things like call outcomes, email outcomes, and activity overview. Compare by team or by rep to check which activities are most effective and which need improvement.
Sales activity overview report

Check sales activities directly within your CRM

  • Follow sales activity metrics. Activity metrics can easily be used incorrectly. For example, a rep might be achieving a high number of calls, but are deals actually being made? Ground your activities in customer-centric metrics such as Lead Response Time and Lifetime Value, so you’re focusing on the quality of activities, not just the number.

While keeping up with sales activities is necessary to be a successful sales team, manually tracking your own sales activities is both a waste of time and a waste of valuable energy. You and your sales reps can spend more time on increasing sales by streamlining and automating your tracking process.

2. Know your customer.

Do you truly understand who you’re selling to? The majority of customers don’t think so — in fact, only 13% of customers believe a salesperson understands their needs. To properly convince a prospect to buy your product/service, you need to learn the prospect’s needs, concerns, and values. This is all part of building a quality relationship that will lead to a long-term sales commitment.

In addition, understanding customer information inside and out adds an extra layer to the qualification process and ensures that you’re selling to people who actually need your product/service.

Action Item: Coach your sales reps to learn everything they can about a potential customer. Use this information, so you can tailor your messages to the client’s specific circumstances.

  • Follow social media conversations. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are all excellent platforms to learn more about potential and current customers. Read their profiles and articles they post. Also, take advantage of integrations for social media management platforms such as Hootsuite to listen to and engage with customers.
  • View customer support tickets. Your customer support department has a finger on the pulse of what customers want. After all, they are constantly on the phone, sending emails, and messaging current customers. An excellent feature of Zendesk Sell is that it’s directly integrated with Zendesk Support, so sales reps can view support tickets and see what customers need.

Source quality leads through support ticket conversations

sales leads through support ticket conversations
  • Focus on customer conversations. Valuable insights about customer preferences, concerns, questions, and more can be gleaned just from paying attention to emails, phone calls, and support conversations. For example, during the “Quote” stage, refer back to specific concerns that you noted from a lead’s email conversation. Demonstrate that you recognize and care about their pain points.

The benefits of knowing your customer are twofold: 1. You are better able to speak to customer pain points, which can lead to qualified sales, and 2. You can personalize your messaging, which creates a better customer experience and heightens customer loyalty.

3. Nurture your existing customers to improve customer retention.

More companies look to customer acquisition over customer retention. However, it can cost 7x more to acquire new customers. Customer retention is a less expensive option. And according to Bain & Company, a “5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.”

Action Item: From the start, your reps should be building a relationship with each customer that is authentic, concerned with their needs, and focused on adding value to the customer’s business. Continue this relationship by investing time in nurturing your existing customers and building that relationship, so they’ll want to renew their product/service subscription when the time comes.

  • Offer valuable resources. Forward case studies, eBooks, and product videos to existing customers — anything to make the customer’s life easier as they use your product/service. Resources can also be industry-related, such as interesting reports or helpful checklists the customer could use. The point is to send something of value that will help the customer’s business succeed.
Zendesk email for sales

Send valuable resources to existing customers to improve their business

  • Check in on a regular basis. A sale should not be an open-and-shut transaction. Rather, it should be ongoing interactions and conversations. Schedule a check-in call or email reminder with your customer in your CRM. Also, plan to reach out to customers after any customer service issues with a quick note to let the customer know you’re invested in their experience.
  • Send personal thank you notes. Writing personal thank you notes is a competitive way to approach customer nurturing as many reps only send emails. Communicate via a written note (e.g., once a month) to demonstrate you appreciate your customer’s business.

Also, use your current client base as a source for new prospects by asking for referrals and testimonials. Every successful sale can contribute to further improvement in your pipeline.

Interactions with customers should be viewed as relational over transactional. The more time you invest in your customers and meet their needs, the more satisfied they’ll be. And a satisfied customer will contribute up to 2.6x more revenue as compared to an unsatisfied customer. You’ll also increase your chance of an upsell.

4. Create a well-defined, actionable sales process.

It’s difficult for reps to move customers through the pipeline if they don’t have a sales process with clear sales steps (e.g., after the Prospecting stage, reps should move potential customers to the Qualified stage). In the Zendesk Sell survey, 16% of customers cited an inconsistent sales process as a major challenge for their sales department. One study also found that, “40% of teams do not have a playbook. Companies that do have a playbook are 33% more likely to be high performers.”

Action Item: Create a sales process roadmap with clearly defined, repeatable sales stages for reps to follow — from the Prospecting stage to Won/Lost. Sales managers can better track reps’ performance and determine which areas need support. Sales reps can better manage their sales activities and ultimately improve their sales results.

  • Define your sales stages. The most commonly used sales stages are Prospecting, Qualified, Quota, Closure, and Won/Lost. Clearly outline what should happen in each stage and what steps reps should take. For example, in the Prospecting stage, reps should have buyer personas handy to determine if leads are actually qualified.
sales process roadmap

Common sales stages in a sales process

  • Customize sales stages in your CRM. Your CRM acts as the vehicle that moves customers from Point A to Point B in your sales process. Ensure that you select a CRM where you can customize your sales pipeline stages. Your sales process might require a stage to move Unqualified deals, for example. Or you might need to reorder stages depending on your business.
  • Get your team on board. A well-defined sales process is meaningless if your sales reps aren’t following it. Offer training to sales reps about steps they need to take throughout the pipeline. Explain the reasoning behind each sales stage and the benefits of the overall sales process.

Companies like Museum Hack have found the combination of a CRM and a well-defined sales process invaluable. After adopting Sell and creating a more defined and measurable sales process, the company successfully doubled its year-over-year revenue.

5. Improve your sales team’s productivity.

Despite the fact that sales is a sales rep’s primary responsibility, the average sales rep spends only 22% of their time actively selling! Too often, they’re bogged down with other administrative tasks (e.g., manually inputting contact information) — necessary but not exactly the most productive or likely to have a significant impact on sales results.

If your own team is having productivity problems, there are effective ways to become more productive — individually and collectively.

Action Item: Implement initiatives that will improve your sales team’s productivity. These initiatives don’t have to be complex or expensive. Better lead qualification, creative motivation strategies, and using your CRM’s automations are all viable options.

  • Generate quality leads over quantity. Too often, sales teams seek to source as many leads as possible. Instead of focusing on the number of leads, emphasize the importance of the quality of leads to your sales team. Align with marketing to ensure that MQLs are qualified. Also, take advantage of lead scoring and buyer personas.
buyer persona

Clear buyer personas ensure that leads are qualified

  • Motivate in creative ways. When reps lack motivation, they’re likely not productive. Increase productivity with simple motivational strategies. For example, one strategy is to focus on customer-centric metrics such as LTV or lead-to-conversion rate (rather than metrics pushing for quick wins). Motivational emails, monthly lunches, and celebrating wins (e.g., a bottle of champagne for reps who meet their quota) can also be effective.
  • Maximize CRM automations. One report found that 36% of managers spend 3-4 hours every day on administrative tasks. Use your CRM to automate repetitive tasks that take away from core selling activities — tasks like manual data entry and email reminders. Your CRM should have a built-in call tool that records calls and sends certain emails automatically.

There’s a direct correlation between low sales productivity and meeting quota. The less time a rep spends selling, the harder it is to meet his or her targets, which then affects the sales revenue of the entire company. Implement the above tips to turn your sales reps into productivity pros.

How to increase sales

Determining how to increase sales within your own company will ultimately depend on your product/service, but these principles offer a solid foundation to build on.

The best part of these principles is that they don’t cost a lot of money to implement (especially important if you’re an SMB short on funds). And when you combine outstanding products/service and killer customer service with proven sales strategies, you pave the way for increased sales. Take advantage of your CRM’s capabilities to help increase sales. Try Sell for free today!

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