Using Data for Informed Sales Coaching: Metrics that Matter

No matter how skilled, experienced, or flat-out amazing a salesperson is, there’s always room for improvement. For perspective, studies have found that companies that invest in informed sales coaching see 8% more annual revenue, a 28% higher win rate, and 88% more productivity.

But how do you decide which specific areas of sales coaching to focus on?

For this post, I’d like to share the three core areas we base our evaluation process on for existing sales employees to facilitate optimal coaching and development programs.

3 Core Areas for Informed Sales Coaching

Let me start by saying there are a nearly endless number of factors that can impact a salesperson’s performance. Everything from product knowledge to negotiation skills to sales technology comprehension plays a role in a rep’s results.

But to streamline sales coaching, there are three core areas that we zero in on:

  • Will to Sell
  • Sales DNA
  • Tactical competencies

Will to Sell measures an individual’s sales-specific drive to succeed, Sales DNA measures the core underlying beliefs and actions that either support or limit sales success, and Tactical Competencies measure skills and abilities necessary throughout the sales lifecycle.”

Within each area are individual competencies that go more granular. With Will to Sell, for example, there’s desire, commitment, outlook, responsibility, and motivation. Here’s a full breakdown.

The key to truly understanding where a rep is currently at and how to deliver the best sales coaching starts with assessing each of these core areas and quantifying the results. In other words, it’s all about the data.

Once you’re armed with this information, you can customize your sales coaching accordingly to address their weaknesses and develop better overall habits.

With that said, let’s fully unpack the three core areas for informed sales coaching and look at how you can objectively analyze an existing rep’s performance.

Will to Sell

Having a strong Will to Sell is an essential precursor to success. You could argue that regardless of how knowledgeable and skilled a rep is, they likely won’t reach their full potential without the Will to Sell.

Again, measuring this involves analyzing five main competencies:

  • Desire
  • Commitment
  • Outlook
  • Responsibility
  • Motivation

Here’s an example of how these competencies can be objectively measured using an assessment like the Objective Management Group Sales Assessment.

In this example, a rep scored:

  • A score of 86 for desire
  • A 70 for commitment
  • A 75 for outlook
  • A 67 for responsibility
  • A 72 for motivation

By these numbers, the rep meets or exceeds their target for each competency. However, considering that the rep barely reached their target of 75 for outlook, that would be the primary area of focus for sales training.

This is only a mock example, of course, but it shows which specific competencies are most important with the Will to Sell and how you could use data to objectively assess those competencies.

Sales DNA

The next core competency is what we call Sales DNA, “which measures a salesperson’s beliefs and actions that support or limit success in sales. Salespeople are often unaware of how their biases can negatively impact their interactions with customers.”

Under the umbrella of Sales DNA are six core competencies:

  • Doesn’t need approval
  • Stays in the moment
  • Supportive beliefs
  • Supportive buy cycle
  • Comfortable discussing money
  • Handles rejection

Here’s an example of how these competencies could be evaluated objectively.

According to the results, this salesperson exceeds their target in all competencies. However, stays in the moment, supportive beliefs, and supportive buy cycle are just barely above target, indicating that these could potentially be areas of focus for informed sales coaching.

Tactical

The third and final area is Tactical, which includes several competencies, including:

  • Hunting
  • Reaching decision-makers
  • Relationship building
  • Consultative selling
  • Selling value
  • Qualifying
  • Presentation approach
  • Closing
  • Sales process
  • Sales technology

Here’s an example of how you could measure a salesperson’s Tactical competencies.

Among the first six competencies, hunting is the only one that’s below target. That means it would be a critical area of focus for sales training. Otherwise, everything looks quite good.

As for the other four remaining competencies, closing, sales process, and sales technology scores are all lower than they should be. Therefore, those would also be important points of emphasis.

Putting the Pieces Together

Now let’s zoom out and come up with a tailored approach for the mock salesperson from this example.

According to the results, a sales trainer would want to focus on the following:

  • Will to Sell – Outlook
  • Sales DNA – Stays in the moment, supportive beliefs, and supportive buy cycle
  • Tactical – Hunting, closing, sales process, and sales technology

Keep in mind that the competencies from Will to Sell and Sales DNA were all on target or better, which means they wouldn’t be top priority. The four Tactical competencies, however, were all below target, which means they should receive top priority.

From there, the sales coaching team could come up with an individualized game plan to improve these areas of weakness and get the rep to where they need to be. Again, this is an arbitrary example, but it clearly shows which specific competencies you should analyze and how objective data can be utilized to fully understand a rep’s current abilities and figure out the best approach for enhancing their performance.

Optimizing Your Talent with Informed Sales Coaching

Sales coaching should never take a one-size-fits-all approach. Every rep is different, with their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and each is at a different stage in their sales career.

That’s why you need to 1) identify core competencies to focus on and 2) objectively measure how a rep is currently performing in those areas. From there, you can tailor your sales coaching to laser focus on the areas that need the most improvement. Also, you’ll know where a rep is thriving so you can refine those areas even more to help them reach their absolute peak potential.

To learn more about the sales skills assessment featured above, check out the Objective Management Group Sales Assessment.

The Science of Persuasion: Training Sales Teams to Influence Buyers

When you break it all down, selling is simply explaining how your product solves a problem and persuading a lead to buy. Of course, there’s a lot that goes into that, but if your salespeople know how to effectively persuade leads, their jobs become much easier. And that’s what I’m going to tackle in this post — training sales teams on the science of persuasion.

Below are the best of the best strategies using proven psychology to win over more customers.

Seek to Form a Genuine Connection First

There’s a Harvard Business Review article that’s nearly 14 years old but offers timeless advice about the importance of salesperson-lead connections.

“The most product-knowledgeable salesperson is not necessarily the most persuasive one because it takes more than logic and reason to change buyers’ opinions. A personal connection must be forged.”

I think this hits the nail right on the head. A critical precursor to anything else is first establishing a solid connection. Otherwise, it’s going to be an uphill battle the rest of the way. If, however, legitimate rapport is made from the start, the rest will often fall into place.

It’s not rocket science. If the human element comes into play, it:

  • Makes leads open up to explain their needs and pain points so a rep can properly address them
  • Makes leads more open to a rep’s input
  • Lowers a lead’s resistance

So while salespeople obviously need to be knowledgeable, I can’t stress enough the importance of connection-building, and it should receive top priority in the psychology of persuasion.

Leverage Reciprocity

One of the leaders in exploring psychology within the context of sales and marketing is Robert Cialdini, who in 1984 published a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. One of Cialdini’s main principles in the book is reciprocity, meaning if you give a lead something unexpected, they will often feel inclined (consciously or unconsciously) to return the favor.

While the entirety behind this concept would take a long time to fully unpack, the gist is that there’s a natural tendency with human nature to repay someone. Otherwise, it creates what’s called an unequal exchange.

Say, for instance, when a salesperson reaches out to an early-stage lead, they provide them with free research report data and don’t ask for anything in return. This action would plant a seed and set the stage for reciprocity where the lead would likely feel compelled to return the favor.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean the favor will be buying, reciprocity taps into powerful human psychology that can be extremely potent for influencing buyers. Therefore, it’s something I strongly recommend training sales teams on.

Deepen Trust with Social Proof

“The principle of social proof states that people will look to the behaviors and actions of others to determine their own, especially when they are certain,” writes technology thought leader Rahul Vashneya. “This is extremely applicable to the buyer journey of your customers since at that particular stage, they’re looking out for social proof by all means to back up the decision they’re about to make.”

Say, for instance, a lead has moved through the awareness stage and is now in the consideration stage where they’re seriously thinking of buying your product.

This would be the perfect time for your rep to provide social proof and confirm that buying your product would, in fact, be a smart decision.

Here’s an example of how scheduling app Calendly uses social proof to win over more leads. First, they have concrete data that tangibly illustrates how effective using their app is.

Second, they reference leading organizations that use and love Calendly.

Third, they have multiple customer stories…

…as well as videos that give firsthand accounts of real customers using Calendly and how it’s been beneficial.

All a salesperson has to do is choose a relevant customer story to share with a lead in the consideration stage to reinforce Calendly’s value and help connect the dots of how it can help their company. As long as it’s the right social proof at the right time, this can have a profound impact, often raising the conversion rate substantially.

To quantify, one study found that social proof increased conversions by 15%.

Create a Sense of Urgency to Encourage Leads to Take Action

Let’s say that a rep has successfully moved a lead through the majority of the sales funnel. They’ve answered their core questions, addressed pain points, handled objections, and so on.

They’re now at the point where they can realistically close the deal. But how can they significantly increase the chances of a lead converting rather than taking more time to “think about it?”

One of the most effective strategies is creating a sense of urgency to motivate leads to go ahead and pull the trigger instead of mulling it over. A simple example would be offering a limited-time discount where a lead can save money by purchasing right away. However, you can use pretty much anything that provides added value and incentive.

Do this effectively, and you can leverage the powerful psychological concept of urgency that gets a greater number of leads to take action.

Just note that you don’t want to go overboard with it to the point that your reps become too pushy. When this happens, it may sour leads and do more harm than good. Creating a sense of urgency is a bit of an art, but when done right can have a huge impact.

Training Sales Teams with Proven Psychology

Regardless of what you’re selling or what industry you’re in, the same concepts of sales persuasion apply across the board. Properly training sales teams on techniques like connection-building, reciprocity, social proof, and sense of urgency should ensure they check all the right boxes as they attempt to move leads through the sales funnel.

That way, they can create a better customer experience end-to-end and should be able to ultimately close more deals.

Speaking of sales teams, if you’re looking to assemble a team of elite professionals, check out The OMG Sales Assessment. 92% of candidates recommended by this assessment go on to reach the top half of their sales force.

Overcoming Common Objections in SaaS Sales: Strategies for Addressing Customer Concerns

Objections in SaaS sales are inevitable. After all, buying a SaaS product is often a big decision, especially when it comes to robust packages that are costly and require extensive effort for implementation.

So it’s only natural that you’ll encounter resistance. It’s just part of the process, and objections should be anticipated, both when a lead is interacting with a salesperson or performing their own individual research.

A big part of overcoming SaaS sales objections, however, is to 1) identify those that are most common and 2) prepare a response for each scenario. That way, you can cover all the bases to keep more leads in the sales funnel and ultimately make more conversions.

Here are some of the most common objections in SaaS sales, along with the appropriate rebuttal.

The Product is Too Expensive

This is one of, if not, the most common barriers to making a sale. Many leads just don’t feel they have the budget to justify buying.

That’s why you should always be ready to tackle this objection head-on.

The best way to go about that is to help leads see the big picture, focusing on the overall value, increased productivity, cost savings, and long-term ROI. Even if your product is more expensive than a major competitor, clearly articulating the core value your SaaS product offers is essential to overcoming this objection.

At HireDNA, for example, we quantify the real-life results our users get from using our product as you can see here.

Why Should We Choose You Over a Competitor?

Let’s be honest. The SaaS industry is incredibly saturated. No matter what niche you’re in, you’re likely up against some stiff competition, with everyone battling for their slice of the market.

Modern SaaS buyers know they have tons of choices. So, naturally, most will examine at least a handful of products before making their final decision.

Further, many will ask themselves or a sales rep why they should choose you over a competitor. So this is an area you should put plenty of effort into — something that online appointment scheduling software Calendly does expertly on their website.

On the Compare page, they provide links to eight separate product comparisons with leading competitors so leads can see firsthand how Calendly stacks up and why they should choose Calendly.

I recommend creating a resource similar to this that leads can browse, as well as having your salespeople fully familiarize themselves with each comparison so they can fire off the benefits of choosing your product at a moment’s notice.

We Need to Try Before We Buy

In the past, many SaaS companies strictly had paid versions of their products, and that was it. But in more recent years, offering a free version has basically become ubiquitous.

“If you’re a growth-stage B2B SaaS, there’s a 71% chance you offer some type of free version of your product—even higher if you’re a Cloud 100 SaaS,” writes Peer Signal. “Why? Removing friction increases growth potential; free is how people want to research and buy software products today.”

With a large percentage of leads wanting to try before they buy, the best way to accommodate them is to offer a free version of your product if you haven’t done so already. Even better, make it so no credit card is required, as popup builder Sleeknote does.

I Don’t Fully Understand How Your SaaS Product Works

Most SaaS products are loaded with features, integrations, and more which contribute to the value. And that’s great.

The only downside is that figuring out a new product can feel overwhelming. And whenever a new client implements a new product, they’re likely to encounter at least some resistance from team members because, after all, they have to learn something new and get out of their comfort zone.

Therefore, this is something you definitely need to address, and make sure you take steps to succinctly explain the fundamentals of how your SaaS product works and why using it is beneficial.

This is another area where Sleeknote excels, where they have a “Learn” section of their website that includes a help center, webinars, and more.

Besides that, they give leads the option of getting their own personal Sleeknote tour.

By clicking here, a person can “Get your tailored introduction to Sleeknote or tons of popup inspiration for your site and book a free personal call.”

The Contract is Too Long

While offering flexible, short-term contract options has pretty much become the norm, I felt this was an important SaaS sales objection to include. That’s because limiting customers to overly lengthy contracts (like annual contracts only) can really put a damper on your conversion rate.

If you’re one of the SaaS companies that only offers annual contracts, I would say it’s almost a necessity to have shorter terms available. While this will likely result in a higher churn rate, it should be beneficial in the long run, as it should get more leads to go ahead and buy.

I like how Zendesk approaches it by giving customers the option of choosing a monthly or annual subscription term and toggling between the two choices to see how much each option costs. For instance, here’s how much a customer will pay for different plans for the platform to support five agents with a monthly contract.

And here’s how much they’ll save if they opt for an annual contract.

Handling Objections in SaaS Sales Like a Pro

Again, SaaS sales objections are unavoidable, and that’s fine. Potential customers should be diligent about researching a potential product and make sure it’s the right fit for them.

Whether one of your salespeople is interacting one-on-one with a lead or a lead is doing their own research, having responses for the objections listed above should help you overcome a lot of resistance, make leads more comfortable with making a purchase, and ultimately boost your conversion rate.

Looking to assemble a team of elite sales reps? Use HireDNA’s cutting-edge technology to attract, retain, and recruit the best of the best.

How to Optimize Each Stage of the SaaS Sales Funnel

You’re probably well aware that very few SaaS leads are ready to buy right away. According to the RAIN Group, it takes an average of eight touches to get a conversion. To move leads smoothly through the SaaS sales funnel, you need to understand how the pieces fit together and optimize for each stage.

This is essential for 1) reducing friction points, 2) creating a positive customer journey, and 3) setting your sales team up for maximum conversions. Here’s how to do that.

The SaaS Sales Funnel I Use

First off, let me say that there is no one-size-fits-all SaaS sales funnel that works perfectly for everyone. There are multiple variations, with some longer involving several steps and some shorter with only a few steps.

But for simplicity’s sake, I like this one, which involves four key steps — awareness, consideration, conversion, and loyalty.

Note that not all SaaS sales funnels include a post-purchase stage like loyalty. But given how critical retention is to SaaS success, optimizing for a post-purchase phase is incredibly important.

With that said, here’s how to tackle each stage of this particular SaaS sales funnel.

Awareness

The awareness stage is at the very top of the funnel where potential customers first become aware of your SaaS product and brand. For the majority of prospects, they’re simply conducting some preliminary research, or as I call it, doing their “recon” on potential SaaS products that may address their needs.

Sometimes, they’re actively searching for solutions. Other times, they just happen to stumble upon them.

While there are numerous ways potential customers may become aware of a SaaS product, more often than not, it’s through one of three ways:

  • A search engine
  • Social media
  • Content marketing (this is often found through a search engine or social network)

Therefore, these are the three main areas you want to optimize.

Search

Start with on-site optimization and technical SEO, which includes creating a sitemap, increasing site speed, and internal linking. You can find a ton of great information on this here.

Also, follow best practices when creating content, such as performing keyword research and using proper headers (H1s, H2s, H3s, etc.). This is a great resource for learning about optimizing content for search.

Social Media

Leverage multiple networks that your audience is active on to boost your brand exposure and find targeted leads.

Content Marketing

This overlaps somewhat with optimizing content for search. Having a variety of content should help you raise brand awareness and pull in targeted leads from a variety of sources. Here’s what types of content perform best in 2023, according to Semrush.

Consideration

Once your brand is on a potential customer’s radar and they’re considering your SaaS product, they’re officially a lead. To optimize this stage of the SaaS sales funnel, you’ll want to focus on lead nurturing, which can be done in a variety of ways, including:

  • Email marketing
  • Product comparisons
  • Case studies
  • Webinars
  • Testimonials

And if you offer a free trial version of your product, you can tap into product-led marketing. When done correctly, this can have a tremendous impact, not only reducing the sales cycle and boosting conversions but also enhancing the customer experience and instilling deeper loyalty.

If you’re not familiar with product-led marketing, I suggest reading this guide.

Conversion

Now is the fun part. After successfully moving potential customers through the awareness and consideration stages, you’re ready to pull the trigger and make a conversion.

There are three key strategies for optimizing the conversion stage of the SaaS sales funnel.

One is to use strategically placed, crystal-clear CTAs that encourage leads to buy. Here’s a good example from Zendesk.

Next, be transparent with your pricing so leads know exactly what they get, how much it costs, and what features each plan includes. Zendesk does a great job of this as well.

Finally, get in the habit of continuously A/B testing the content you use for conversions. You may, for example, want to experiment with different CTAs to see which gets the most clicks and results in the most purchases.

As you accumulate more data over time, you should be able to refine every aspect of the conversion stage and convert the maximum percentage of potential customers into actual customers.

Loyalty

The fourth and final piece of the puzzle is everything that comes post-purchase — the loyalty or retention stage.

As I mentioned before, retention is vital to the long-term success of a SaaS company. After all, it doesn’t matter how great you are at converting if you can’t retain customers for the long haul. And with an average annual churn rate of 10-14% annually, it’s something you need to be diligent about optimizing.

So what can you do to increase customer loyalty?

For starters, I suggest taking customer support seriously. This includes having a section of your website dedicated specifically to customer support like Zoom does…

…and making it easy for customers to get in touch with a support rep.

Next, it’s smart to send out period engagement emails to keep in touch with customers. For instance, you could provide them with tips on how to get the most from your SaaS product, information on new integrations or features, product usage reports, and more.

Third, always be looking to get feedback from users and implement that feedback to improve your product. This kills two birds with one stone because users want to know a company is listening, and it sets the stage for ongoing product improvement.

Lastly, you can use analytics such as churn reports to objectively track churn so you can determine what’s causing it and what you can do to stop making the same mistakes. Here’s an example from customer journey platform Woopra.

Fine-Tuning Your SaaS Sales Funnel

Optimizing your SaaS sales funnel end-to-end is of the utmost importance. By doing so, you should prevent major drop-offs from occurring, increase conversions, and generally make the customer experience more enjoyable. The formula outlined above addresses all four major steps and should get your funnel firing on all cylinders.

Looking to build an elite sales team? Use HireDNA’s cutting-edge technology to find the best of the best candidates.

The Art of Upselling in SaaS Sales: How to Increase Customer Value

We all know that retaining existing customers is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. But one of the best ways to really boost profitability without a lot of extra effort is using upselling in SaaS sales.

To quantify, research has found that “upselling increases revenue by 10-30% on average,” and “the probability of selling to an existing customer, with whom you have established a relationship, is 60-70%.” Those are some impressive numbers and show firsthand how big of an impact upselling in SaaS sales can have.

For this post, I’ll share with you some practical strategies, along with examples so you’ll know how to implement upselling in your SaaS sales properly.

Identify High-Probability Upsell Opportunities

Just like not all leads are created equal, neither are existing customers from an upsell perspective. By this, I mean that certain segments will have a high likelihood of converting to a more expensive product version while others will only have a low likelihood. So the first step to having success is knowing how to identify high-probability upsell opportunities.

There are a few ways to do that, but here’s what I feel are two of the best.

One is to use analytics to monitor SaaS product usage, behavior, and engagement and then target the segment of customers that rank highly in these areas. If, for example, one customer used your SaaS product daily and took advantage of most of the features, they would be a much better upsell candidate than someone who only logged into your SaaS product weekly and only used a feature or two.

After narrowing down your high-priority list, you could then have your SaaS sales team initiate outreach through each customer’s preferred channel (email, phone, text, etc.). This brings me to my next point.

Personalize Your Outreach

Once you know which customers to reach out to, you’ll need to tailor your outreach to ensure your offerings address each customer’s unique needs. Let’s look at Slack’s pricing options as an example.

Say one of their customers was using the free version. They used Slack consistently but were only running a small team where they could likely gain value from some additional features but didn’t need all the bells and whistles. When performing outreach, a sales rep would likely want to suggest the Pro or Business+ version of Slack, as it offers plenty of great benefits for small businesses.

However, they probably wouldn’t want to suggest Enterprise Grid because this is aimed at much larger companies with extensive needs.

This is a hyper-simple example, but I think you get the idea. The point here is that you should always make personalized upsell offers, as that’s going to A) increase your chances of converting and B) ensure your customers get the maximum value.

Automate Upselling with Triggers

Up until this point, the SaaS upselling outreach methods I’ve discussed have required a manual approach. But for this point, let me talk about automating your upselling.

One of the best ways to do this is by using upselling triggers that let high-potential customers know about relevant offers based on their behaviors. There are two main ways to go about this.

First, you can use native, in-app messaging to encourage customers to upgrade their plan by showing them the benefits they’ll get at the opportune time. This is something Slack does expertly by letting users know when they’re approaching the maximum amount of searchable messages.

While their policy has since changed, it used to be that free users were limited to 10,000 searchable messages. Once they exceeded that limit, some of a user’s older messages were no longer shown.

When a free user approached 10,000 messages, it would trigger Slack to automatically display this upsell that showed the limitations of their free plan.

Users who were interested could simply click “Learn more” and get the full rundown and upgrade.

Convey Value

Once an existing customer has been propositioned for an upsell, they need to understand at a glance the exact value they’ll get from it. The more concise you are about conveying value, the stronger your chances are of converting.

Most SaaS companies that succeed at upselling simply provide a side-by-side comparison so customers can see how one plan differs from the next. AI image generation platform Leonardo, for example, offers a succinct breakdown of different plan benefits.

So if a customer wanted to generate more images per month (which is done with tokens), they may be interested in making the jump from the Apprentice plan, which only offers 8,500 tokens per month to the Artisan plan, which offers 25,000 tokens.

And for customers who are on the fence about an upsell, you can always leverage testimonials or case studies that show how other real-life customers have benefited by making the switch.

Incentivize Upselling Offers

Finally, you can often increase your conversion rate even more by offering targeted incentives, with two of the most popular being a free trial or discount. This is a technique that Leonardo currently uses where they’re giving customers a percentage off when they upgrade product versions.

And to encourage customers to take action right away, you may only want to make your incentives available for a limited time to create a sense of urgency.

Succeeding with Upselling in SaaS Sales

With companies routinely increasing revenue by as much as 30% through upselling in SaaS sales, it’s hard to argue with the impact this technique can have. As long as your customers are genuinely getting more value, it’s the ultimate win-win. It’s just a matter of fleshing out your upselling strategy and taking the right steps to maximize your conversion rate.

Want to find elite SaaS sales reps that can help you close more deals? See how the Original Sales Assessment can help you find the best of the best.

How to Enhance SaaS Sales Performance By Leveraging Key Data

I think we can all agree that efficiently using data is an asset. For perspective, McKinsey & Company reports that “data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable.” But what are some specific ways you can enhance SaaS sales performance by leveraging data?

That’s what I’ll tackle in this post so we can have a clear understanding of how to put SaaS sales data to use in a practical way. More specifically, I’ll cover core areas of SaaS sales that can be dramatically improved by leveraging key data.

Let’s jump in.

Audience Segmentation

Today’s customer is more sophisticated than ever, with most having incredibly high expectations. This is true in traditional e-commerce, and it’s especially true in SaaS.

One of the best ways to meet or exceed customer expectations is with audience segmentation, as it paves the way for personalization. For reference, “80% of audiences tend to do business with a brand that personalizes their experience with it,” and “80% of companies that use market segmentation report increased sales.”

For example, you could use SaaS sales data to break your audience down into different segments, such as demographics, purchase history, engagement level, product interest, and so on. From there, you could tailor your sales approach to address each segment’s unique needs, thus creating a more enjoyable lead experience and increasing your odds of converting.

Lead Scoring

Your SaaS sales team’s time is valuable. If they spend time pursuing the wrong leads with a low likelihood of converting, they waste time and money, often with nothing to show for it.

On the other hand, if they pursue the right leads — sales qualified leads — with a high interest in buying, your conversion rate can’t help but increase. And you can send leads that aren’t yet sales-ready to your marketing team to be nurtured.

But how do you quantify leads and know who’s sales qualified and who’s only marketing qualified? This can be done with lead scoring.

By assigning leads points based on behaviors like website pages visited, website interactions, and contact methods, you can assign each lead a score.

For instance, a lead that simply read a couple of your blog posts and visited your pricing page would receive a lower score than someone who visited your pricing page, signed up for your newsletter, downloaded a PDF, and contacted you through a web form.

Using lead scoring data like this can be invaluable for identifying which leads to prioritize, which to nurture, and in some cases, which leads will never close.

Customer Journey Analysis

Every customer journey consists of a series of touchpoints. From the very first time someone learns about your SaaS product to the moment they actually buy, there’s a customer journey that takes place in between.

The better you understand the customer journey, the smoother you can make it. In turn, this creates a better customer experience, which sets the tone for more SaaS sales. And in the grand scheme of things, this can factor into deeper customer loyalty because it creates a great first impression, which will make many customers want to stick around longer, renew their subscriptions, become brand ambassadors, and more.

Another key way to enhance SaaS sales performance with data is through customer journey analytics, which “is the process of identifying customer touchpoints and understanding how they affect customer experiences and business outcomes.”

Here’s an example of what that looks like using a customer journey analytics platform like Woopra.

Using data like this gives you a bird’s-eye view of each customer touchpoint end-to-end so you can understand the customer journey on a granular level. This brings us to our next point.

Identifying Friction Points That Lead to Drop-off

By having customer journey analysis data, you can see exactly where leads are dropping off in the sales process.

Say, for example, there’s a higher-than-average drop-off from the sales demo to the free trial signup. There’s a smooth transition from one touchpoint to another throughout the rest of the customer journey, but your data shows that not as many leads are signing up for your free trial as there should be.

This would signify that your sales demo could use improvement. As a result, you could zero in on your sales demo further to figure out what’s wrong and come up with a solution. Then, once you optimize your sales demo, this hiccup in the customer journey should be resolved, and an increase in conversions should occur.

Identifying Strengths in the Customer Journey

Besides spotting friction points, you can also use customer journey analysis data to determine what you’re doing right.

Say that a higher-than-average number of leads are moving from your pricing page to requesting a demo. This would indicate that the core elements of your pricing page like design, informational structure, layout, CTA, and so on are working well and leads are responding favorably.

In this case, you’d likely want to leave your pricing page alone, as it’s already getting results. Also, you could analyze your current pricing page so you can pinpoint precisely what’s working for future purposes.

For instance, you could take screenshots and share this information with new members of your sales team.

Using Key Data to Enhance SaaS Sales Performance

There’s no denying the impact that data can have on SaaS sales performance. Companies that use it intelligently have a much greater advantage over those that merely “rely on a hunch.”

By understanding tangible ways to put data to use and which areas to focus on, you should be able to get the most from your SaaS sales team and make everyone’s life easier, while simultaneously creating the best possible customer experience for the ultimate win-win.

To build an elite sales team, register with HireDNA today. This software uses cutting-edge, science-based technology to find the best of the best salespeople.

5 Ways Sales Teams Can Thrive During Challenging Times

As we’re all rapidly discovering, there’s nothing like a global pandemic to shift the way the world does business. The spread of the coronavirus has forced companies at all levels to implement changes they may not have wanted, and few were prepared to take on – at least on this kind of scale. Many organizations are scrambling to cope.

But amid the concerns and trepidations, new opportunities are arising. While some organizations are panicking and scaling back on budgets and staff, others are finding their services to be in greater demand, and their pipelines more robust than ever. The difference, in large part, comes down to sales leadership.

In a recent report on preparing for coronavirus-related disruptions, Gartner, Inc. suggested, “How CSOs lead now will set the tone and pace for a powerful and career-making experience for everyone in the sales function.”

As a leader responsible for the prosperity of your sales team, what can you do to ensure your organization’s success in this time of crisis?

Taking Action Right Now

1. Don’t Panic – This is always first and foremost, no matter what the circumstances are. The crisis won’t last forever. History is full of major economic turmoil and each time, the crisis has eventually passed. In its wake are stronger people and organizations, who emerge with a new perspective, more experience, and better tools to deal with the next eventual crisis.

The more ominous the headlines get, the more important it is to keep calm and remember that your best option is to focus on the things you can control, and let go of the things you can’t.

2. Stay Client-Focused – The heart of sales is helping clients succeed. In uncertain times like these, it’s important to remember that although we may change the way we do business, we shouldn’t forget the why we do it. As you look for opportunities to continue to grow your organization, don’t let your own concerns about your metrics, commissions, and goals cloud your judgment when it comes to how you serve your clients. Clients can sniff this out from miles away, and they’ll be quick to turn their back on it.

Take a moment to assess your clients’ concerns and their planned responses to the pandemic. Most clients are focused on employee and customer safety, and they may be experiencing immediate challenges like operational interruptions and cash flow declines. Reengineer your selling points to frame your solutions around your clients’ most urgent concerns.

3. Go Virtual – As entire countries are locked down under strict quarantine orders, virtual operations are a critical part of keeping business moving forward. While many companies were already starting to favor digital communications over in-person meetings, the current pandemic has pressed the fast-forward button on those plans.

If you haven’t already, move your face-to-face meetings to videoconferencing tools like Skype or Zoom, or stick with basic voice calls if that’s what your clients prefer. Expand the range of instant messengers your team uses, and use them to give your clients and prospects greater accessibility to your reps. Replace live events with creative digital solutions, like webinars, virtual office tours, and live demos using remote access tools or videos showing your product in action.

Moving Forward in the Upcoming Months

4. Reflect and Act – Change is always a good catalyst for reflection on what’s working, what’s not and what’s needed going forward. As sales leaders, we know that the key to improving our win rate – regardless of the current economic climate – is maximizing the effectiveness of our sales force. Once the immediate needs of the moment are addressed, the next step is to look at what that means for our specific organization.

A basic SWOT analysis can be a good place to start, to gain a better understanding of your overall business and how it now fits in the changing environment. From there, a more thorough sales team evaluation can provide a detailed look at your sales force and help you identify the weaknesses and skill gaps that are limiting your sales results. Those insights will allow you to develop an effective action plan for resolving them and ensuring your team’s ongoing success.

This kind of assessment is particularly important now, when the labor pool is about to expand as other companies cut budgets and workforce. Talented sales reps will become available, and savvy sales leaders are preparing themselves to make smart hires that will shore up skill gaps and create a well-rounded sales team.

5. Build Your Go-Forward Plan – When the dust eventually settles and we’re all allowed back out in public, we know that not everything will go back to the way it was before the pandemic hit. Activities like digital meetings and virtual sales training will continue to be used in greater scale after the crisis.

Companies may have been forced to switch to virtual options as a short-term solution, but reports have shown that virtual sales training can double sales reps’ confidence and increase pipeline creation by 23.2%, compared to reps who participated in live classroom training.

Partner with an Expert Team for Long-Term Success

Developing top sales talent is an ongoing need, regardless of the current sales climate. Using comprehensive, science-based sales performance assessments, HireDNA’s experts can help you identify both immediate and long-term opportunities for growth, and uncover skill gaps that may be holding your team back. We partner closely with you to create a high-performance sales culture, with a clear picture of what it will take to improve your people, processes, and systems.

HireDNA was also recently recognized as an emerging leader in corporate training and coaching. Our experts can assist with any questions about building first-in-class, on-demand sales training tailored specifically for remote sales forces.

How To Improve B2B Cold Calling Success Rates

Cold calling has been one of the major selling tactics over the years, requiring reps to approach complete strangers and win them over through excellent interpersonal skills that persuade the prospect to covert. Cold calling can be very challenging, but there are some tactics that could help improve your success. Here are some thoughts on how to improve B2B cold calling success rates.

At HireDNA, our sales evaluation and training systems are the results of 20 years of experience. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help to improve your sales team. Talk to an HireDNA expert.

How to Improve Cold Calling Success Rates

If done effectively, cold calling can yield great success. Take the technological giant Uber for example. Did you know what laid down the foundation of Uber and ultimately the entire trend of the sharing economy? A cold call.

According to founder, Travis Kalanick, he dialed a number of people he found on Google when searching for ‘San Francisco chauffeur’ out of which three replied. The rest, as they say, is history.

With so many organizations deriving great returns from their cold calling strategy, if it’s not working for you, chances are that you may need to tweak your strategy. Don’t worry! This article will offer tips that can help enhance your cold calling success:

Improve The Quality Of Your Data

62% of organizations rely on prospect data that can be inaccurate or incomplete by as much as 40%. Not only does this result in wasted effort, it also costs your business valuable resources. According to a report by Harvard Business Review, ‘bad’ data costs businesses more than $3 trillion each year in the United States alone.

As consumers become increasingly aware of sales tactics, they tend to only respond to products and services that are tailored according to their needs. If your sales reps are reaching out to prospects based on incorrect, inaccurate, or incomplete data, you are bound to get underwhelming results.

Consider investing in solutions like SalesIntel that allow you to analyze your database and identify any lacking information that adversely affects your quality. Additionally, optimize your prospect data collection strategy. Adding relevant questions to your forms and allowing prospects to express their answers in detail can significantly improve the quality of your data.

Talk Less, Ask More

The art of converting prospects through cold calls is heavily dependent on what you do after the prospect picks up. You can have the most suitable product that can solve your consumer’s problems, but if you don’t have the right tone, chances are you might not close the deal.

The number of questions and the relevancy of your posed questions also play a big part. An extensive survey that analyzed 519,000 cold calls found a directly proportional relationship between the number of questions posed by the sales rep and the percentage of closed deals. To put it simply, it was found that asking 11-14 questions over the course of your call significantly increases the chances of your success.

However, be careful to not overdo it. Sales reps who asked 15+ questions only fared marginally better than sales reps that asked 7-10 questions.

HireDNA offers advanced training tools and customized content-based training methods to enhance your sales performance. Learn More.

Take Rejection As A Learning Opportunity

Regardless of how much value your product can add to your prospect’s business, the fact remains that cold calls often result in rejection. And over time, rejections can become demoralizing. The hallmark of a successful sales representative, however, is their ability to take these things as part of the business and continue to tweak their sales strategy to counter such rejections.

If you are giving up too easily, then cold calling will never bear fruit. You need to be motivated to pick up the phone with a defined purpose every time. Whenever a prospect hangs up on you, ask yourself, would it be any different if you hadn’t tried calling them?

Focus on the key takeaway: why did they hang up? Did your opening statement fail to catch their attention? Did you not address their pain points adequately? By learning from such challenges, you can quickly turn such prospects into paying consumers.

Explore our blog on How to Motivate Your Sales Team When Sales are Down for strategies to inspire your team even in the face of defeat.

Hire Top Talent

Beyond training your existing reps, bringing in highly skilled sales reps can be a quick and easy way to improve your team’s overall B2B cold call success rate. When you hire top talent, they will often have a track record of success. If cold calling is a priority for your business, be sure to make that known in the hiring process, and consider including interview questions or posing scenarios centered around cold calling when vetting candidates.

HireDNA predictive sales candidate assessments allow you to predict success before hiring with proven data and science, not impressions and instincts. Learn more.

Train Your Sales Reps For Unprecedented Success

Cold calling is far from dead. But many organizations need to work on their strategies to enhance their effectiveness. That’s where HireDNA comes in.

We offer sales performance evaluations to uncover skills gaps in your team, and we deliver advanced training through a customizable cloud-based learning platform to improve performance. Not only do we customize our learning offerings according to the skill gaps found in each individual salesperson, but our interactive approach ensures your team absorbs every bit of it with quizzes, role play scenarios, guides, and action plans.

Get in touch to learn more about our sales recruiting, evaluation, and training offerings. Create your winning sales team today!

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Assess Sales Training Needs: Find & Resolve Performance Gaps

In a demanding sales environment, identifying the real problem behind low productivity is crucial. Uncovering performance gaps is often the first step to assess sales training needs. This process can help decision-makers to identify real factors that influence the performance of their sales team and fix them through high-quality training. In this article, we’ll help you understand how to identify and resolve performance gaps through training.

If you prefer to speak directly with a sales training expert, set up a consultation with HireDNA today. Contact Us

Why Perform An Assessment?

A sales training assessment is a crucial step to improving the performance of any sales team. The Objective Management Group (OMG) provides some promising statistics on the use of assessments vs the lack of assessment:

Use Assessments

  • 61% Quota Attainment
  • 14% Attrition

Don’t Use Assessments

  • 49% Quota Attainment
  • 19% Attrition

The comprehensive, science-based OMG assessment, which HireDNA uses in our evaluations, has proven to be even more successful. With the OMB assessment, organizations have achieved 88% Quota Attainment and only 8% Attrition. Learn more about HireDNA sales staff evaluations.

How To Find Performance Gaps In Your Sales Team

When laying the groundwork for your training program, there are several questions that need to be answered:

  • Does it do a satisfactory job of highlighting areas that need improvement?
  • Does it sufficiently address the performance issues that hinder employee productivity?

Proper analysis of training needs can unravel such answers, leaving you with precise data on how to proceed with your sales department. Here’s how to perform a sales training assessment to uncover these gaps and create a plan of action.

Conduct A Preliminary Analysis

Before you identify the barriers to your sales rep potential, you need to assess their current standing. You can then use that information to establish the desired outcomes of a sales training program.

In order to meet the organizational objectives, managers and supervisors must have a clear understanding of the current level of knowledge and skills their sales team possesses. The initial analysis also sheds light on the existing barriers to growth, which can be used to ascertain a realistic set of desired outcomes.

Determine Your Organizational Priorities

In order to come up with effective performance drivers, organizations need to prioritize their learning objectives. This provides insight into what actually matters for the organization and allows experts to prioritize goals/learning outcomes when designing the training regimen. For instance, if your priority is to improve your customer satisfaction scores, your training procedure should specifically include ways to deliver a better customer experience.

This step particularly requires the input of senior management and top-level executives, as they are typically responsible for determining the company’s priorities.

Identify Your Sales Growth Bottlenecks

Once you’ve laid the foundation for a sales training needs assessment, the next step is to identify key factors that are hindering your sales team’s performance. In order to bridge performance gaps, you first have to identify them.

HireDNA offers comprehensive sales staff evaluations and assessments to help you identify KPIs, uncover skill gaps, and discover opportunities for growth. Learn more.

Here are some ways you can assess and pinpoint areas that need improvement:

Analyze Periodic Reports

As far as your sales team is concerned, a glimpse of the monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual managerial evaluations can lend important insights into the performance of the sales department.

  • Was the team able to meet their monthly targets?
  • What was the most commonly cited problem among sales representatives?

Following up with team leaders can offer up a different perspective, while allowing you to understand performance issues from an inside perspective.

Closely Monitor Sales Representatives

One of the most effective methods of identifying performance gaps is by observing employees during their on-job hours. You can even go as far as formulating a task-based scenario or simulation and carve out the areas that exhibit inefficiency.

Live observations can reveal some real barriers faced by your sales representatives:

  • Is their unfamiliarity with the technology you are using leading to extended call times, and subsequently increasing call-drop rates?
  • Does conflict resolution continue to present an unsurmountable barrier to your sales department?

Observation is one of the most effective ways to extract actionable data that can help you to create a plan of action. The direct exposure to the problem helps experts create a sales training solution tailored to the exact scenario.

Conduct Employee Surveys

Surveys provide an excellent platform for employees to reveal performance issues that are hidden from management. From ineffective online training forums to company policies that are proving to be an obstacle, surveys can reveal what otherwise would not make it to the surface. There are several methods to try, including surveys, polls, focus groups, and live webinars.

This feedback is highly valuable, as it comes directly from the sales representatives that you’re trying to train to be more productive and efficient.

Tailor Your Training Strategy

Having assessed sales training needs, including current capabilities and the blockages that have hindered your sales potential, it’s time to formulate a training plan that can increase the performance of your sales team.

An effective training strategy revolves around the needs and performance issues of every individual sales representative, while also catering to the organization’s macro-goals. The key takeaway is for organizations to understand that every individual represents a different knowledge-base, a different skillset, and therefore, a unique challenge when required to train and improve.

Build Your Winning Sales Team

Time is money. Businesses cannot afford to train their salespeople for weeks. This is where the sales recruiting and training experts at HireDNA step in. Whether you need to assess and train an existing team or quickly ramp up a new hire, we offer a suite of innovative sales training tools and strategies to help turn your staff into a winning sales force.

Why Choose Us?

  • 20 years of invaluable experience
  • Training time decreased by 50%
  • Our training enables organizations to leverage 33% more sales opportunities
  • Our partners experience 25% top-line revenue growth

Ready to train your sales team to be the best? Get in touch today.

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Using Assessments to Develop Your Sales Team

When you have a high-growth business plan, you need a sales plan that can match it – one that will equip your reps to handle shifting market trends, meet evolving customer demands, and maximize effectiveness.

Creating that kind of winning sales plan starts with an in-depth understanding of the current-state of your sales people, process, management, and tools. Using a sales team assessment tool can help you identify critical skill gaps in your sales force, assess how your sales structure aligns with your business goals, and identify key strategies to keep your sales team competitive and ready to drive next level results.

The sales assessment should also answer crucial questions like, Are we reaching the right decision makers? Can we close more sales? Do our systems and processes support a high-performance sales organization? What must we change to improve? How long will that take? And what will the impact be?

Not All Sales Assessment Tools Are Created Equal

The most effective tools, like Objective Management Group’s Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis (SEIA), use proven, scientific processes to collect and analyze data about your people, processes, systems, and management.

A recent Harvard Business Review report demonstrated that a scientific approach to sales force effectiveness – emphasizing data, analysis, processes and tools – can create dramatic results, including increasing rep productivity by as much as 200%. Our Science Behind Sales Success white paper provides a more detailed look at the effectiveness of this scientific approach.

The Benefits of a Sales Team Assessment

The results from a sales team assessment will not only help you better understand how your team is performing, but will also provide a prioritized game plan to help you improve. For example, if your sales team assessment reveals that your salespeople seem to hit their goals consistently but narrowly, this could indicate a need for a more consultative selling approach, or adjustments to your overall sales process. On the other hand, inconsistent sales and routinely missed sales goals could indicate a need for more training and coaching, as well as improvements to your sales recruiting and hiring process.

Your sales team assessment results should provide you with accurate data on your strengths, clearly defined weaknesses, and help you identify key opportunities for growth.

Identifying Weaknesses and Capitalizing on Strengths

One of the biggest benefits of a comprehensive sales team assessment is identifying the areas of your sales force that may be hindering your overall success. Tools like the Objective Management Group SEIA and Improve use the data collected from individual evaluations to reveal hidden problems in multiple areas, including weaknesses common to your salespeople, problems with your hiring criteria, and business being lost as a result of these challenges. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the changes that must be made to your sales management systems, and what steps you should take to help your salespeople reach their potential.

A sales team assessment tool will also inform you about your team’s greatest strengths, and show you how to capitalize on those strengths to meet your overall sales and business goals. It’s no secret that people are more effective and productive when they’re able to tap into their natural talents and abilities. Your sales team assessment results will help you uncover those unique individual abilities, learn what motivates your team, and show you strategies for developing a strong sales culture that encourages people to bring their very best.

Developing Goals for the Future

Businesses change rapidly in the modern market, and you need to stay focused on your business strategy while also monitoring your sales team for inconsistencies, declines in performance, or shifting customer trends that may be causing them issues. Do you hire top talent regularly? What type of recruiting strategy do you use to find the best sales representatives? What type of compensation structure do you use to attract and retain top-performing sales reps?

Making business decisions backed by solid data is a great way to move your business forward with increased confidence. If you are curious about potential ways to enhance the effectiveness of your sales team, use our online Sales Readiness Assessment tool for a quick snapshot of your current status. Ready to go deeper? Schedule a consultation for our in-depth Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis service to get a detailed playbook for driving sales effectiveness and performance.