Sales Advice You Can Take To The Bank

Sales management, qualifying prospects, compensating a sales team and building sustainability in a changing world.

Education at this year’s RetailNOW 2019 featured a sales track with sessions full of valuable information that RSPA members could use to fill their pipelines, incentivize sales reps, and build long-term relationships with customers.

Speakers took deep dives into their topics on Wednesday at RetailNOW, providing practical and actionable takeaways that sales managers can implement to make positive impacts on their organizations, now and in the future. Here are some of the highlights from this year’s sales track presentations.

Implementing an Effective Sales Management Program

In his presentation, Dave Menton, RSPA Sales Strength Coach, detailed key factors in sales team productivity, beginning with identifying a target market. Using data from the D&B Hoovers sales platform, Menton highlighted the insights a market potential index can provide, such as addressable market for a company’s products or services, the company’s current market share, target ship share (the percentage of the annual buying decisions in the market that the company wants to capture), and target market share.

Menton points out that with this data, it’s possible to more realistically project revenue and to make informed decisions about your sales team. “Historically, managers deployed sales reps based on cost, revenue goals — or because it’s what they’ve always done,” says Menton. “Working backward from market opportunity you can make good decisions and investments based on data.”

Menton adds that sales managers can give each sales rep a cover sheet with similar information on their areas, showing potential, the forecast and any gaps. “They can manage their own area like you’re managing the overall view,” he says. Cover sheets can also include the top targets and top references in an area, which you can share with your entire team, so they can direct calls, share references, or help the sales rep connect through their networks. “Sales is a team effort,” Menton points out.

Menton advises sales managers to measure these key metrics:

  • Engagement ratio: the percentage of prospect engagements that lead to a needs assessment
  • Proposal ratio: the percentage of engagements that lead to a proposal
  • Closing ratio: the percentage of proposals that lead to a win
  • Average sale: Average rep-specific revenue per new win

He recommends holding half-hour weekly meetings to keep reps on track and to help them see how their activity aligns with progress toward sales goals.

Menton also presented information on how personality profiles can help screen candidates during the interview process, helping you determine whether they are a good fit for a sales role and your management style.

RSPA member benefits include a discount on personality profiles and assistance with market potential indices, sales rep cover sheets, and commit sheets. “We’re happy to help you set them up,” says Menton.

Best Practices for Qualifying Prospects

To maximize their productivity, sales teams need to make the best use of their time. Phil McCarthy, Vice President of Business Development for DUMAC Business Systems, reminded RSPA members attending his RetailNOW session, “Bad news early in sales is good news. Find out early if you need to disqualify a prospect so you don’t waste your time or give them free consulting.”

McCarthy says part of the qualification process is identifying the prospect’s pain — not symptoms, for example, that their current service provider doesn’t respond quickly enough, but the bottom line, such as a system that isn’t working means lost revenue. “For us, no pain, no sale,” he says.

It’s also crucial to determine early if the prospect has the budget for your solution. He urges sales teams to become more comfortable talking about money and dealing with price objections, which will help to qualify a prospect more quickly and effectively.

You also need to ensure you’re talking to a decision-maker and understand the prospect’s decision-making process. He advised RSPA members in the session not to view qualification as a rigid, linear process, but to be flexible enough to ask prospects how they want to be sold. “They’ll be much more receptive,” he says. 

How to Create an Effective Sales Compensation Plan

PJ Tierney, Vice President, ISV Sales for EVO Payments, Integrated Payments Division, says few people will dispute the fact that good sales representatives are hard to find. To retain top talent and incentivize your sales team, it’s essential to establish an effective compensation plan. “You need to give reps quarterly and monthly goals. Keep them engaged so they can see the short term, and bundle in residuals and monthly SaaS revenue so they can see the long term,” he says.

Tierney also discussed the importance of sales accelerators. He says he uses a tiered system in which a sales rep receives a base salary for making par, but incentives if they exceed that level. “If they do better they get more. If they aren’t interested in that, then why are they in sales?” he comments.

Setting levels of attainment also provides indicators that can help you keep your sales organization on track. Not reaching goals may mean you need to focus more on training your team, consider your product line, or consider that a specific rep isn’t a good fit for a sales position.

Having a concise report of all revenue streams, your costs, margin, and fees and sales rep compensation is vital. “You need to track proper metrics and set achievable goals,” Tierney says.

Building a Sustainable Sales Team in Times of Change

Chris Lybeer, Chief Strategy Officer at Revel Systems, suggest changes in the industry are also requiring changes to the sales process. Drivers are the pace of disruption, declining margins, the shift to the as a Service model — and the “consumer digital tsunami” that puts pressure on your customers to adopt new technologies faster.

Something that hasn’t changed, says Lybeer, is that retailers and restaurant owners aren’t technology experts and they don’t want to be. They need solution providers to teach them and train them. Lybeer advises RSPA members to bridge the gap between transactional sales or “hunter” roles and consultative “farming” roles to create a hybrid model. He says as time goes on, fewer profits will come from selling hardware and software. “Your weapon is people on the ground who know the business and can deliver consultative services,” he says.

“Sales reps shouldn’t be talking about only the current sale and implementation,” Lybeer says. “They need to frame the relationship from day one that you will help them make their business better over the next few years and keep up with all the changes that are happening.”

The shift in focus will take a company-wide effort, emphasizing customer retention and revenue growth per customer versus new customer acquisition. “Prioritize building on your current ongoing services stream,” he says. 

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.


Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.