What Are The Top 12 Sales Best Practices You Should Follow in 2021?

Abhishikha Chatterjee
Published :
Nov 30, 2021
Updated :
Nov 30, 2021

Sales managers and leaders witnessed a few sales best practices gaining more popularity than others. These best practices haven’t emerged now but have taken precedence over other sales activities. Have you felt that too? So here’s a compilation of the sales best practices that the majority of sales managers feel are essential to them in 2021.

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Have you also noticed emerging trends entering sales in 2021?

We’re sure the answer is Yes.

The truth is, In 2021, every industry saw unprecedented trends making way. The increasing adoption to AI, use of video conferencing, rise in automation of processes, increased exposure to video, remote work methods taking precedence, workations making it big, and more.

But sales saw a different kind of change.

Sales managers and leaders witnessed a few sales best practices gaining more popularity than others. These best practices haven’t emerged now but have taken precedence over other sales activities. Have you felt that too? 

So here’s a compilation of the sales best practices that the majority of sales managers feel are essential to them in 2021.

Top 12 best practices you’ll learn today:

  • Prepare a sales enablement team and plan
  • Invest time in Sales Coaching
  • Make all sales activities measurable using analytics
  • Build an A-grade Sales Playbook
  • Invest in Conversation Intelligence 
  • Master Virtual Selling
  • Fill the performance gap
  • Work on asking questions
  • Make follow-ups a priority
  • Prepare for cold calls
  • Encourage Empathy and Creativity
  •  Build self-reliant sales teams

1. Prepare a sales enablement team and plan.

‘77.1% of firms with sales staff over 500 have dedicated sales enablement in place, compared to 39.3% of firms with 25 salespeople or fewer.” - G2

It is an intelligent decision to purchase sales enablement software for your organization. 

There is no guarantee that the software will result in business results, however. 

To build a winning sales team, sales enablement needs to be more strategic. 

To give you more perspective on making a sales enablement plan and building a competent team, you must figure out the 10 core things as a sales leader.

2. Invest time in Sales Coaching

“A coach helps you to figure it out on your own.” - says Jacco Van Der Kooij.

He also mentions building a smart and competent sales team starts with coaching.

The core problem is, earlier, coaching was regarded as an optional sales activity and often overlooked by sales leaders. But now, you can disagree with that mindset. 

As companies evolve their strategic sales plans, they recognize the importance of investing in sales coaching to develop proactive and prepared salespeople.

Let’s hear another seasoned sales professional and his views about sales coaching-

Sebastian Van Heyningen, President - Revenue Operations Consultant, says- 

Several sales experts can testify sales coaching is the future and it’s impractical to plan sales activities without including coaching. 

Hence timely adoption and acceptance of sales coaching are comparatively less. 

3. Make all sales activities measurable using analytics

More information is available to sellers and buyers than ever before. As a result, both find lucrative opportunities without relying on one another.

From an intuition-driven and relationship-driven process, sales evolved into a strategic process based on informed decisions. Rather than rely on customer sentiments, salespeople now rely on methods that continually suggest new sales opportunities with the same client. 

The above transition resulted to sales becoming a proactive function rather than reactive. 

Another turning point in the sales profession is the merging of customer data and sales analytics. It automatically improves customer experience and creates a new outlook on sales.

But to clear the air a little more, sales leaders must build a strategy that measures granular details like call quality to broad parameters like revenue generated. Everything should be measurable.

4. Build an A-grade Sales Playbook

A sales playbook captures sales best practices for a range of possible sales scenarios.

What is a sales playbook?

A sales playbook is a documented and stored guide with the following attributes-

Who can use it?- Sales and customer-focused teams

What does it contain?- Key sales information and best practices

Who’s in charge of the playbook?- Sales Enablement Team or Sales Operations

Where is it stored?- A sales repository in your system or a software solution 

What is the purpose of a sales playbook?- Improve business by making sales practices repeatable and accessible.

What does it capture essentially?- Sales scenarios & sales collaterals

For sales representatives and other team members, the playbook serves as the sole source of information before and after dealing with a customer. 

You must be wondering where this information is coming from.

Sales information stored by the coaches or managers is bestowed on us by

  • Grizzled veterans, 
  • Top-performing reps, 
  • Sales managers, 
  • Marketing team, 
  • And secondary research insights

Digital playbooks should ideally be available on the fly in the cloud.

Having established the importance of preserving and archiving sales best practices, the next step is to understand how to create an effective sales playbook with the minimum effort.

5. Invest in Conversation Intelligence 

In 2021, technology holds a critical position when it comes to sales best practices. You may not have the budget to afford something expensive now, but without dirtying your feet in technology it’s tough to expedite success. 

Investing in conversation intelligence is the same. You can win sales deals by adding more sales coaching and sales enablement opportunities.

Have you ever tried your hands on a conversation intelligence platform? No? Here’s you chance- Free Test Drive!

Interactive survey: Why is your company not using conversation intelligence?

Options: 

1. Unaware

2. Don’t have the budget

3. Senior management doesn’t approve

4. Is in the pipeline

5. Difficult to state the reason

Firms are becoming more adept at coaching and enabling sales teams with conversation intelligence. By leveraging Artificial Intelligence, CI software is able to offer meaningful insights to sales reps and higher management so efficiently.

By gaining valuable insights from the conversation intelligence tool, sales teams learn about their customers and gain industry knowledge.

The knowledge gathered during a call is a valuable asset, and it should be recorded and saved immediately. In addition, these conversations provide;

  • Quantitative feedback, 
  • Competitor’s update, 
  • Market movement, 
  • Trending pain areas, 
  • Common objections, 
  • And plenty of surprise elements.

A major advantage of a CI tool is that it gives you an integrated view of all of your sales deals and accounts. A Conversational Intelligence solution increases the chances of spotting multiple improvement areas and capturing more sales opportunities.

Would you want to know what impact Conversation Intelligence has on the productivity of sales reps?

6. Master Virtual Selling

We are in agreement with what Nick Capozzi, Founder of Salespitching, when he narrates today’s situation.

He says- ‍

“The world we live in now is not going back, there’ll be some hybrid but not like it was, so the sooner people master virtual selling skills, the better it is.”

Although we know virtual selling is here to stay yet the preparedness is poor and makeshift in nature. Here’s the situation:

  • The virtual selling industry is brand new, and skillsets are lacking.
  • Getting the prospect's attention takes just a few seconds.
  • Virtual selling is still in its infancy, but it's expected to grow in the future.

Considering the above facts, it is safe to conclude that we should prepare and accept the future sales landscape. 

Now let’s reveal the secret sauce-

Virtual selling and the desired skill sets intersect at the same point- Improve Customer Engagement!

If you don't have good engagement skills and preferences, it's impossible to keep the customer happy and welcome new prospects. 

In order to get prepared, you team will need to get coached on the right skillsets to keep your buyer and audience engaged during the new normal.

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7. Fill the performance gap

2021 also saw a major decline in sales for many companies. 

A few firms even witnessed sales teams’ layoffs and furloughs. 

Yet, companies are finding ways to increase the sales now and compensate for the past. 

To do a sales best practices that gave results is reducing the performance gap.

If you look closely at your sales team, you’ll notice three buckets. 

  • Achievers- nailing quota after quota. 
  • Average performers- Hitting the target once or twice.
  • Low performers-Barely performing and adding to the cost of acquisition. 

The magic can happen in the center. Sales enablement strategies and software applications effectively push the average performers forward. The low performers are usually misfits or non-salespeople. Investing in them is not advisable. You need to attend to the third bucket, however, if you have the bandwidth and the technology, but at a later time.

You can get going and start enhancing your average performers by adding the a few skillset.

8. Work on asking questions

You may not receive business now, but business comes later if you have the right rapport. 

And what do sales experts say about building rapport?

Ask questions. Questions that are interactive and questions that help in knowing the buyer better.

Seasoned sales leaders will testify- Even though all sales conversations don’t turn into winning deals or the perfect closure, they are learnings that help crack the next sales deal. 

The more questions you frame and ASK, the more insights you gain from your buyer.

You got to learn the magic of asking the right questions.

9. Make follow-ups a priority

You can’t stop at one email or one sales meeting. 

You’d be shocked to learn it takes 5 follow-up calls after the meeting for 80% of sales but 44% of sales reps give up after 1 follow-up.

Maintaining contact with your prospects is critical and important for your business.

Get to know them. Talk about exciting ideas with them if you can. Try not to be too intrusive. Don't be a stalker, follow up with grace and sincerity.

10. Prepare for cold calls

Cold calling is a legit weapon that is often underestimated or pushed by customers. 

The reason clients don’t want to entertain a cold call is because it’s annoying and adds no value to the customer. 

In The Stay Paid Podcast on The Art of Cold Calling, Luke Acree says that sales guys need to emulate radio DJs. Learn their tricks. Figure out ways to make the prospect feel the enthusiasm on the mic without appearing in front of the prospect. 

Just like radio DJs, your prospect should know you are smiling.

Luke says reps need to work on:

  1. Cold calling script
  2. Attitude
  3. One-call close mentality
  4. Response time
  5. Excellent follow-up 
  6. Holistic communication approach

11. Encourage Empathy and Creativity

A strange misconception is that sellers shouldn’t be too friendly or witty with their customers. 

While you would say it’s debatable and depends on the industry and stakeholders, let’s keep it simple.

Let’s start here- you’re not the only vendor your buyer evaluates. 

Hundreds of business players are vying for the attention of buyers.

If you wish to stand out in the crowd, you have to; you must be creative in your sales approach. Regardless of how or what you do, you need to be creative. As long as it’s making an impact and leading to a higher conversion rate, that’s fine.

Be as funny as possible and use analogies, everyday examples, witty sales scripts, and personal experiences.

So, where do you start?

Sales coaching must encourage sellers to think outside the box and explore new possibilities. While there are proven methodologies, sales coaching should press on innovative selling techniques. (Templates are great, but customization is better.)

As per research conducted by the Aston Business School in Europe, “Sales professionals with a higher level of creativity generate more sales.”

Sales coaching has to grow out of the traditional ways of selling. So, how would you help your team educate and replicate ways to stand out from the crowd? 

Below are a few tricks you can encourage your sales teams to use:

  • Pinch of humor
  • Problem-solving techniques
  • Empathetic selling
  • Celebrate your clients

12. Build self-reliant sales teams

In a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, it was revealed that many sales leaders merely tell their employees what to do when they should be coaching them.

Would you like to maintain the same level of rapport with your reps?

You wouldn't. 

With the self-diagnosis method, reflection and review lead to faster results. 

Ask targeted questions to guide the rep through the self-diagnosis process, such as:

  • What are the problems you face in the sales process?
  • Do you face any challenges during your sales meetings?
  • How could this be improved?

Discuss these questions one-on-one with the reps, learn about their day, and help them determine the performance gap.

You must have absorbed a lot of information here. But haven’t you seen the same sales best practices revolving in your organization (or industry)?

The faster you adopt the best practices the sooner you can  see changes in your business performance. 

Well, don’t wait. Start today and start now!

Like this blog? Here's a podcast that might interest you:
Sales Gambit Podcast
Host : Ashish Santhalia
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