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Sales-i\'s top tips to make your sales performance doesn\'t suck! Expert insights on the tricks behind successful selling. For more information and to read our other ebooks visit\n

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Why your sales


and how data can help it suck less

An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors


An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors


Not only are you missing out on lost sales, you’re

also taking a hit by paying for a resource that

underperforms month-on-month. Research

shows that the average salesperson costs $500

per day to employ. That’s an investment not

every wholesaler or distributor can afford without

a solid return. But it’s not an easy problem to fix

either, especially when the cost of replacing a bad

salesperson is said to be an eye-watering $114,957.

39.9% claim to use technology to help with data

analysis, but 13.8% still sort through data manually:

some salespeople (6%) are still making decisions

based solely on gut instinct.

To cut a long story short: when salespeople (even

the really good ones) don’t use the right information,

they can’t perform as well as you need them to.

Some don’t have the information at all, some can’t

access it fast enough, and some just won’t use it.

of salespeople miss their

quotas. That’s two thirds

of your sales force failing

to do what you hired them

to do: sell. As problems go,

it’s an expensive one.

So what’s behind this costly sales performance

problem? We spoke with hundreds of wholesale

and distribution businesses in North America and

Europe to find out.

The result? Wholesale and distribution sales teams

are making junk calls and going into meetings blind,

and it’s hitting your bottom line.

One third (33.6%) say their biggest challenge is

acquiring timely information to help make a sale,

and 28.3% end up wasting time trying to gather

data from different systems, in multiple formats.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors


With only a 20 second window to raise interest,

salespeople need to be able to present clear,

relevant information to guide the sale straight

from the get-go.

Spend an hour listening in on your team’s sales

calls and ask yourself which of these is a better

representation of what you hear:


of all customer interactions

take place over the phone,

so it’s incredible to find

that so many companies

today still fail to make

every call count.










Analysis of the

perfect golf swing

Small talk

Discussion of

recent weather

Anticipating a

customer’s needs

Predictions for upcoming

sporting fixtures

Timely up-selling

that grows an account

Misplaced, mistimed or

misjudged sales attempts

Smart cross-selling that adds

new product lines to an account

If the first story sounds more familiar, your

salespeople aren’t connecting with your

customers where it counts. They’ve got a

customer insight problem, which in turn

means you’ve got a junk call problem.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors


Low visibility



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Some sales teams are

doomed to repeat bad

practices like making

junk calls for one primary

reason: they lack visibility.

49.5% of the companies we spoke with struggle

to spot which customers’ orders are dropping and

where the next sales opportunities will be.

“We were delivering top line information on

customer accounts to our salespeople in paper

packs monthly, so you can imagine the quantity

of paper being generated, posted and handled.

Wading through that much information to unearth

sales opportunities or changes in buying behavior

was simply impossible and the information was out

of date by the time the salespeople received it.”

Bathroom supplies distributor, UK

Of the sellers we spoke to, 16.6% reported that trying

to gain visibility into their sales team’s activities was

their most significant day-to-day challenge.

“We had a sales team writing long monthly

reports that offered very few benefits but took

a lot of time to create; they had little access to

sales data and were flying blind for a lot of the

time when it came to selling to our customers.”

Tile supplier, UK

It’s no wonder only 13% of customers believe that

a salesperson can understand their requirements.

So how do you turn this situation around and win a

customer’s confidence as well as their business?

That means salespeople are going into calls blind

without the data they need to make meaningful


The lack of visibility is compounded when managers

are unable to keep track of their sales team’s

performance; not just which customers they’ve

spoken to and when, but exact details about what

was sold and for what price.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors






An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

The first step in solving

your sales performance

problem is recognizing

that it’s not your sales

team’s fault.

A lot of salespeople are set in their old ways.

But wholesale and distribution sales is changing,

so even really talented salespeople are struggling

to perform. To sell today you need insight and

agility. You must deliver a smart, personalized and

predictive service that’s part sales, part customer

service. Which means if your salespeople don’t

have the information they need, they’re going

in blind. And if you can’t see what your guys are

doing, you can’t optimize their performance.

Restore sales clarity and you’ll unlock two

key advantages:

1. Total vision.

You’ll have visibility of your team in the field.

Where they’ve been and where they’re headed

(and where they should be headed, which isn’t

always the same thing).

2. Informed decisions.

When you can hold the numbers up to the light,

that’s when you turn insight into action. Discover

which customers you see the least but sell to the

most. Identify weaknesses in your product

portfolio. Track how targeted campaigns affect

uptake. In short, you’ll be able to use insight to

fuel your decision-making. You’ll sell smarter

and you’ll sell more.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Traditionally, when

wholesalers and distributors

wanted to improve sales

performance, they started

with everything but the

data: they hired new sales

reps, invested in training

or overhauled processes.

Now data is earning recognition as distributors’ and

wholesalers’ most valuable asset. By starting with

how you organize, use and display your data, you

can make a dramatic impact on sales performance.

And while you may come up against resistance to

change, remember it’s in your sales team’s interest

as much as it is yours. No sales professional wants

to work harder for longer reeling in little fish when

they can sell smarter and catch killer whales.

The difference is in the data.

We’ve identified five key areas where data can

help your sales performance suck less – so your

team can sell more, plug leakages and grow your

customer base.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Five ways

data can help

your sales


suck less



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Know your customers

“ “We weren’t able to know

each and every one of

our customers inside

out and we have lots of

independent accounts,

each spending a different

amount with us. It wasn’t

always the most efficient

to spend time preparing

individual reports for each

of them.”

Animal feed manufacturer, wholesaler,

distributor, UK

Delivering the kind of service that grows accounts

isn’t possible unless you really take the trouble to

know your customers’ buying habits. And simply

having this data isn’t enough.

If it’s spread across multiple systems and

applications, it won’t give you a comprehensive view

and you can’t act on it. When you know what you

sold – and what you didn’t sell – at all times, you can

meet your customers’ needs more exactly. Take

the luck out of right-place-right-time sales: find the

patterns and anticipate the need.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Make better margins

“We were very reliant on

manual reporting and

counting stuff up on your

fingers just wasn’t feasible


Soil supplier, Ireland

Arguably the most important indicator of sales

performance and certainly a massive contributor to

successful growth, margins are where your data can

really make a difference.

Sales opportunities wait for no man, so don’t let

data hold you up. Have the right information on hand

when you need it to make the right offers at the

crucial moment.

And as well as individual sales, keep an eye on the

bigger picture. Do you know which customers you

meet the most and sell to the least? And which ones

you meet the least and sell to the most? When you

do, you’ll know where to focus your efforts next

month, next quarter and next year.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Act fast

“We had no ability to dive

into our sales data, I was

going to IT to get reports

that were outdated within

24 hours. We needed to

be more in tune with what

our customers were doing

with us.”

Restaurant supply, design and fabrication

company, USA

Whether you’re lining up a new lead or closing a deal,

speed can be the difference between a great sale

and a missed opportunity. Foresight helps you plan

strategic attacks that shorten time-to-sale and

data gives you that foresight.

Empower your sales teams with mobile solutions

so they can act on new information whenever

it comes, wherever they are, and close deals faster.

With the right systems in place and an organizational

culture that treats data as a serious selling tool,

you can be agile enough to turn real-time insight

into sales.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Spot the sales gaps

“Our area sales managers

weren’t always up to date

with information on their

customers and we found

it difficult to keep on top

of who was ordering what

and when.”

Natural stone importer, UK

This is all about broadening the range that you sell

and improving the quality of the return: up-sell to

higher margin alternatives or cross-sell to new lines

not bought before.

To do it well, you need an intimate knowledge of

your customers’ requirements and buying habits.

Here, what you’re not selling (but should be) is as

important as what you are selling. Identify the gaps

and use your familiarity with a customer’s behavior

to fill that gap with a complementary sale. This is

the zone where sales meets service and customer

relationships strengthen.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Run smart campaigns

“Having information is not

an issue, it is the ease and

speed with which you can

slice, dice and access that

information that makes

the real difference.”

Information management company and

contract stationer, USA

So you’ve found a cross-sell opportunity by

searching your data to see who has ordered a

printer from you but not yet bought ink or paper.

But identifying a new sales opportunity is only the

beginning. You need to run tailored sales campaigns,

powered by aggregate and customer-specific data.

Even the best-planned campaigns can fail without

buy-in. Give your most important initiatives the best

chance of success by involving your sales teams

from the start and creating some excitement

around the campaign.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Quick-fire tips

Start with the data

In sales today, insight is currency. With the right

information at your fingertips, every meeting will be

valuable and everything you learn in that meeting is

recorded as potential insight for future use. With

this information in a CRM system, and analytics

software that can manage large volumes of data,

you can generate simple reports that give clear

answers on what to do next. Record, manage and

action your data and you’ll kick start a virtuous cycle

of insight and reward.

Look back to move forward

Let past experience guide future efforts. Find the

patterns that will help you predict where your team

can really boost performance in future – then invest

resources in that direction.

Answer six key questions

Even when they use smart sales software, too

many sales teams have a one-sided view of their

customer relationship. They get the contact data

(soft data) but they can’t see the hard metrics that

lead to decisive action. Make sure you can answer

six questions easily.

Without an eye on your customers’ past behavior,

you won’t be able to spot the orders that shrink

or drop off, and you won’t be able to intelligently

anticipate future growth opportunities or fill sales

gaps as they emerge.

Not just:

• When did I see you last?

• What did we talk about?

• When am I seeing you again?

Mash it up

Data is no good in isolation. To make it actionable,

create a single view of your customer that you can

manipulate and scrutinize from desktop and mobile

devices. Bring together information from your CRM,

ERP, billing system, customer data files – wherever

it’s stored – and mash it all up into actionable sales

insight. Make it findable, accessible, searchable and

usable by the people who need it, when they need

it – in the office or on the road.

Automate the hard work

The more data you gather, the harder it will become

to keep hold of the ball. No-one can keep track of

everything, so let technology do the hard work for you.

But also:

• What have I sold to you?

• What haven’t I sold to you?

• What should I be selling to you?

Make your life easier with triggered notifications

that tell you when opportunities arise so you can

act fast to capitalize on them. Likewise, program

notifications when any red flags go up. For example,

if a long-standing customer fails to make one of

its regular orders this month, you can receive a

notification straight to your mobile.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

But data is only

the beginning



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

The wholesale

and distribution

business is


To keep pace, sales

teams need to deliver

a more personalized,

data-driven service.

Just having all the right data isn’t enough to make

your sales performance suck less. Your sales team

needs to know how to access it, manipulate it and

put the data to work. If they don’t know, they’ll keep

making junk sales calls and missing their targets.

For too long this valuable asset has been neglected.

It’s time to turn data into insight and use it to drive

sales. Could data help your sales performance

suck less?



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

Further Reading

For more on why

wholesalers and distributors

need business intelligence

to stay ahead of the

competition, download

our white papers now.



An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

About sales-i

We are the world leader

in sales performance

management for

distributors and


Our sales performance software integrates

transaction data in your ERP and billing systems with

information on your customers, so you can discover

new sales opportunities, up-sell to higher margin

alternatives and cross-sell to lines they haven’t

bought before. And because we make it all available

on any mobile platform, the insight is used where it

makes a decisive difference – with your sales reps on

the phones and on the road. The result: insightful

selling that’s personalized, profitable and always

fuelled by data.