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Why your salespeople aren't reaching their full potential

September 2, 2021

Not reaching your full potential in sales - does this mean failing? 🤔


But it does mean that you need to be doing more if you want to succeed.

In order to understand why your salespeople aren’t reaching their full potential, you need to assess why salespeople fail.

And the number one reason salespeople fail?

Simply not knowing.

Not knowing what “good” looks like, or not knowing what their sales career can offer.

Ben Riall, author of The pillars of an Elite sales career: How to build a six-figure sales career in tech, fills us in on how you, as a sales leader, can:

  1. Build your team’s awareness
  2. Enable your salespeople to reach their full potential

Scroll through 👇 for Ben’s insights on equipping your reps with everything they need to succeed.

What is sales potential and how is it measured? | Company or personal goals - what’s more important? | 6 steps to reaching sales potential | Key takeaways | Cognism and sales success

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What is sales potential and how is it measured? 📏

As you can imagine, defining sales potential and where salespeople are trying to get to is not one-size-fits-all.

But, it is safe to assume, particularly in the UK, that the goal of your sales reps is to break through the six-figure earnings market.

Ben explains:

“When your reps go into sales and they’re committed to the career path, a lot of them want as much money as possible and to live a great lifestyle.”

“When they look up to people who are already living a very affluent lifestyle, a lot of them continue to perform. So, at surface level, it really is quite binary and monetary driven for your reps.”

But, beyond that - you need to delve into what your reps want to achieve in terms of career milestones.

Some of your reps will want to be sales leaders.

Some may have more of an entrepreneurial mindset and want to start their own businesses.

For others, it could be something completely random.

Whatever it is, their individual measure of success and the milestones they want to achieve will vary.

However, keeping these core ideas in mind is key to helping your reps achieve their potential.

So, how is this potential measured?

Well, you’ve got to consider the benchmark you’re going to use yourself or the benchmark you’re going to encourage your reps to use when measuring their success.

What does that look like?

Keep scrolling to find out 👇

Company or personal goals - what’s more important? 🥅

There isn’t an objective view of what potential in B2B sales looks like or how it’s defined.

You’ve got to look at other ways in which you can measure your reps’ success if you’re going to get them to fulfil their potential.

Obviously, your reps need to be meeting target and booking a certain amount of meetings each month.

But, beyond this - should your reps be measuring their success against company benchmarks, external influences, or other goals?

“A lot of people might just follow the company because that’s their world and their view and sometimes it's hard to look outside of that.”

“However, the reps that get much further ahead, use that as a mechanism to move their own agenda forward.” - Ben Riall

Essentially, you’ve got to get your reps to combine the two.

What’s the best way of doing this??

By creating their own agenda of what success looks like.

Get your reps to think about:

  • Hitting their monthly goals.
  • Getting those marks on their CV.
  • Whether there’s a company ceiling they may need to break through.
  • Whether stepping into management is the next step for them - ensuring that they’ve assessed whether it’s too early to step into this role.
  • Getting an idea of the bigger picture - networking outside of your organisation and doing their own research.
  • And most importantly, getting them to objectively assess whether they're stagnant in their growth.

Once you’ve got them focused on their goals, you’ll be able to guide your reps along the path of reaching their full potential.

How do you do this?

It’s good to set out steps for your reps to follow. Ben laid out the 6 steps below 👇

6 steps to reaching sales potential 🧗

It’s one thing to get your reps to set themselves goals. It’s another to be able to show them what their sales career path could look like.

And while you can’t pave the way for them, you can explain the steps they can take to get there. Starting with:

1 - Assess

The first thing your reps need to do is assess.

“You’ve got to get your reps to ask themselves the following questions: how far could you go? How far do you want to go? And, is this even the right career for you?”

2 - Work backwards

Once they’re committed to their SaaS sales career and climbing the ladder, you’ve got to get your reps to work backwards.

Get your reps to think of the end goal in the form of their ultimate job title. Then, they have to work backwards and see what roles they need to move into in order to get there.

“If your reps want to be a CRO one day, they’ve got to consistently be a top-performing enterprise AE. And, they need to show that they can lead and develop AEs, and also lead strategy.”

“So, it’s really about getting your reps to think about what the path ahead looks like and using the building blocks they need in order to move through them.”

3 - Pace yourself and find your niche

Next up, your reps need to think about the pace at which they want to move through these building blocks.

In order to move through them at pace, your reps need to identify their niche and specialisation.

“Once they’ve established their specialism, they need to identify that specialism in a hot market, where investment is happening, and where innovation is taking place. If they’re not focusing on these markets, there will be fewer sales opportunities, making it incredibly hard to move forward on their career path.”

“Your reps need to understand that the faster they can get the velocity moving forward with sales opportunities, the more experience they’re going to get, the more they’re going to make, etc.”

4 - Become an expert

Once your reps have established where they put themselves in terms of their niche and specialisation, you’ve got to encourage them to really get into it.

Your reps need to understand the space they’ve placed themselves in and to become an expert in it.

Not only because this is what clients expect, it’s also because having expertise in your sales field is how your reps will get ahead.

And, if they want to continue to get ahead, your reps must...

5 - Take training seriously

Your reps need to push through various layers of their sales career in order to get to where they want to be.

The importance of upping their game by improving their sales skills can’t be stressed enough.

“Encourage your reps to take training seriously and develop their skills along the way. Your reps have got to be reading and developing their knowledge, constantly. And, most importantly, they’re got to learn their role. Every role comes with a different set of skills that are required, your reps must know what they need to do, master this, and then move on.”  

6 - Identify a mentor

This is absolutely crucial to accelerating their career and reaching their full potential.

Your reps need to identify a mentor, even if that’s not you, and learn as much as possible from them.

“They mustn’t overthink this. Sometimes a mentor could be someone who helps a rep write an email - it doesn’t always have to be someone who heads up sales or is in a high-level position. It could be anyone who can help them and offer advice.”

Key takeaways 🥡

Although the path to sales success and the potential your reps can reach looks different for everyone, the most important things you’ve got to drill into your reps are:

  • Looking ahead of where they really want to get to - this is absolutely where they need to start.
  • Then, they’ve got to find their niche, but make sure it's in the right place with strong investment.
  • They’ve got to continuously develop their skills.
  • And, most importantly, never get comfortable - when they're comfortable and things are great, that's when they need to shake things up.

Getting your reps to navigate their career path in this way is incredibly important in enabling them to reach their full potential.

Cognism and sales success 🚀

Looking for actionable tips to build a sales strategy that truly works? Check out our No Stone Unturned Guide!

Learn how to set, meet, and exceed your sales goals; build and maintain a strong sales pipeline; get actionable cold outreach tips with scripts, templates and cadences; and a whole lot more! 👇