9 Ways to Improve Sales Performance in 2021: Make This Your Most Successful Year Yet

Last Updated February 9th, 2021

The new year is still just beginning, and for sales reps, that means new targets to hit! If finding ways to improve sales performance is something you’re already prioritizing — you know that the work pays off. If you’re not working on upping your game to better your sales performance, it’s going to be a lot harder for you to hit those targets and succeed.

Because let’s face it; sales can be tough. Salespeople are always competing, and they’re competing to win. There’s always something to beat: last quarter’s numbers, or a new brand or product — to name a few. The only way to stand out from all of that competition, close more sales deals, and hit higher numbers time after time, is by continuously putting in the work.
sales performance

9 Ways to Improve Sales Performance

If you want to improve sales performance and play to win, there are a few things you need to do. Analyze your sales productivity, ask for extra help and feedback, sharpen certain skill sets, tap into your resources, and narrow your focus.

Keep reading for nine actionable ways to improve sales performance that will get you on the right track this year…

1. Overhaul Your Goals

Every new year is a chance to do better, to be better, and to sell better. The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to update your sales goals to increase sales and boost your overall sales performance.

Take some time to examine what you want out of your sales career over the coming year. Sure, you have new metrics you’re planning to achieve, but what does that look like for you? How are you planning to get there?

The best way to structure your goals is to follow the SMART goal framework. Your goals should be S — Specific, M — Measurable, A — Attainable, R — Relevant, and T — Timely. But, the number one key to overhauling your goals? Knowing where you start.

“Goals need to be measurable. And to accomplish this, every goal needs a baseline.”
-Daniel Hall, BombBomb Director of Sales and Enablement

Establishing baselines takes work, but there isn’t a way to measure your success without them. Below are a few examples of baselines you need to know when looking to overhaul your goals…

 Closing rates
Qualifying leads
Conversion rates
Appointment acceptance rates
Average response time
Referral customers
Average sales cycle length

2. Humanize the Buying Journey With Video

Human-centered selling puts your prospect first. It also helps to humanize you, so you can build meaningful relationships with prospective customers.

Using video is one way to create a more human-centered approach to your sales process because it puts you face to face with your prospects. It establishes a real human connection, helps create real conversations, and showcases your authenticity — all things that can’t be done over the phone or through plain-text emails.

In addition to humanizing the buying journey, using video will also help you enhance your sales performance because…

Video helps you reach prospective customers and busy decision-makers more quickly and efficiently.

Did you know that, according to recent statistics, writing emails takes up 21% of a sales rep’s day? But, what if you could spend that time establishing connections with these prospects face to face instead?

It takes less than three minutes to record and send a video to a prospective customer. Video sets you apart from plain-text email and spam because your recipients can see your face and hear your voice. As a result, using video reminds even the busiest decision-makers that you’re a real person, which makes you much more difficult to ignore. (Tip: Use a whiteboard with your prospect’s name to grab their attention and personalize your message.)

Video helps you to stand out from your competition.

While your competition is cold calling and sending plain-text emails, your prospects are connecting with you on a more human level. With video, you aren’t just a message on a screen — you’re a real person creating meaningful human connection. Video puts you face to face with your prospects. It humanizes you by demonstrating your authenticity and vulnerability. This human connection is what sets you apart from your competition and makes you memorable.

Video keeps communication clear.

Have you ever sent an email that other people misunderstood? We’ve all been there. When you communicate with video, your intent, words, emotion, and tone are present for your prospects to see and hear. As a result, video makes it much more challenging to misconstrue a message because you’re face to face.

If you want to learn more about using video to humanize the buying journey, and enhance your sales performance, check out this guide to video prospecting to help take your sales process to the next level.

linkedin video

3. Talk Less, Listen More

One of the biggest inhibitors to closing deals is when people don’t feel genuinely heard. In other words, if you do all of the talking while trying to make a sale, you’re going to learn very little about your prospects and their pain points.

When a prospect feels understood, they’re much more likely to trust the brand they’re doing business with. Trust helps close deals. So, how do you gain this understanding? By actively listening to what your prospects have to say.

Active listening is one of the best skills a sales rep can have. And sharpening your active listening skills is one of the easiest ways to improve sales performance. Below we’ve listed a few techniques to brush up on that will help you talk less, listen more, and close the deal.

 Listen to your prospect’s tone and consider emotion as it relates to their pain points.
Listen to understand, not to respond.
Ask open-ended questions that elicit more than a “yes” or “no” response.
Use empathy when clarifying or paraphrasing pain points. Such as, “I understand, that must be tough. What I think I hear you saying is…” (Check out this post to learn more about how to show empathy in sales.)
Summarize the conversation, but be respectful of your prospect’s time and keep it brief.

4. Get Organized

Being organized is key to sales success. If you find yourself struggling to manage your data, essential tasks, and keep track of leads and prospects, now is the time to change that.

“The best salespeople are the ones who are able to be incredibly organized,” says Daniel Hall, BombBomb Director of Sales and Enablement. “As your career in sales continues, your pipeline is going to grow. As a sales rep, your ability to organize that information is going to make all of the difference in your success.”

Organization is key to sales success, and there are numerous comprehensive customer relationship management tools offered by companies like Salesforce, Zendesk, and Hubspot available to help. As a result, using a CRM tool will improve your sales performance and productivity (as long as you use it continuously) because your data is stored in one place. Being organized is going to help you work smarter, not harder. Above all, it’s going to help you succeed.

5. Perfect Your Referral Strategy

For sales reps, referrals are just warmer leads. In fact, according to HubSpot, 47% of top sales performers request referrals regularly to help hit their sales numbers. Why work harder trying to drum up new business when you have a network of warmer leads at your disposal?

A good referral strategy is vital to tap into that network of warm leads. Below we’ve outlined the essential steps to follow when you’re asking for referrals.

 Under-promise, over-deliver: When you exceed expectations, people are much more likely to refer you.

Stay engaged: Keep your prospects engaged by providing something of value when they don’t need you (like between appointments). For example, consider hosting educational webinars or creating video email campaigns to keep your prospects engaged with content that’s relevant to them.

Use multiple channels: Not everyone uses the same mediums of communication. Make sure to meet people where they’re comfortable (like on social media or via text). And take it one step further by reaching out with video. (Here’s how you can do this easily across multiple channels.)

Just ask: Referrals don’t need to be complicated. Explain why you’re asking, who you’re in the best position to help, and then ask for the referral.

Say, “Thank you”: When people feel appreciated, they’re more likely to do what you need them to do. Remembering to say “Thank you” makes your connections feel valued. And this feeling of value makes people more likely to refer you.

6. Reformat Your Workflow for Maximum Productivity

Productivity is essential when you work in a fast-paced sales environment. Just a few hours can make the difference between landing a promising prospect and losing them to your competition.

Sales productivity is essential to outstanding performance and big wins, and there are some strategic ways to make sure you’re making the most of your workday.

Dial in your tech stack: Make revamping your workflow easier by putting the tech at your fingertips to good use. Up your day-to-day productivity with apps like Evernote (note keeping and task organizer with Salesforce and Google Drive integration), RescueTime (time tracking), BombBomb (video communication for email, text, and social media), and Calendly for Sales and Marketing (real-time calendar with automatic scheduling and Salesforce integration).

Develop boundaries: Stop the interruptions and distractions by creating boundaries for yourself. For instance, make it a practice to screen your calls, turn off your notifications, and shut your office door when you’re working on specific tasks that require more focus.

Use time blocking: Assign individual tasks to set time blocks throughout your day to increase sales productivity. For example, block off one hour each morning to record prospecting videos. During this time, the only task you should complete is creating videos. Time blocking helps minimize distractions and ensure tasks get completed from start to finish (without jumping around).

7. Request More Feedback From Your Sales Manager

It’s up to you to advance your career. Taking charge of your success means being proactive and asking for more guidance. Don’t be intimidated by asking for feedback or help. Sales managers are there to support you and guide you to success.

For example, it’s usually easy to figure out where difficult sales calls went wrong. But what about those times where it seems like everything went well and you still weren’t able to close?

Ask your sales manager to listen to at least three sales calls you felt went well but ended without a deal.

When you ask your sales manager for feedback, make sure to ask for both positive and negative insights. It’s essential to professional success to know what you do well and where you fall short. Knowing this will help you understand which sales techniques to hang on to and which to part with.

8. Level Up With Peer Coaching

Your peers aren’t your competition. They’re your teammates and your biggest cheerleaders. The success of your brand relies on overall sales team performance, not just individual success.

Your peers are an invaluable resource. Take some time to learn from them, collaborate, and foster meaningful, mutually-beneficial relationships. Let’s take a look at some ways you can collaborate with peers to improve sales performance as a team:

Role-Play: Frequently practice cold calling, demos, and follow-up calls. Role-playing helps everyone prepare for a variety of situations.

Ask for honest feedback: Your peers share similar responsibilities, stressors, wins, and losses. Ask them to take a few minutes to analyze your sales process and listen in on a few calls. Their feedback will inevitably help you find ways to improve sales performance.

Ask about their sales process: There is no “I” in team, and most peers are happy to share what works for them. Consider asking your high-performing peers questions about their sales goals, new sales plans, outreach process, and workflow to understand their path to success better.

9. Focus on the Customer Experience

Sales is fast-paced, and sometimes that means sales reps skip important steps so that they’re able to close deals as quickly as possible. But if you think about it, those times you rushed the process, and you didn’t make a sale — there may have been a different outcome if you had just slowed down.

Instead of moving on quickly to the next promising lead, take a few extra minutes to focus on your prospect’s customer experience journey. Customer experience is everything. The way you make your customers feel directly correlates to sales success because a positive customer experience makes you memorable and builds loyalty.

So, what are some ways you can slow down and create a positive customer experience?

 Use video to establish a connection, share emotion, and showcase your human side. (Here are some tips to help!)
Respond to questions and concerns with honesty and empathy.
Personalize the buying experience for your prospects.
Say, “Thank you” often to create a feeling of value.
Focus on human-centered selling by putting your prospect’s feelings and pain points before your product.

On an episode of “The Customer Experience Podcast,” Jim Rembach, President of Influence to Action and Founder of Call Center Coach, explains the biggest differentiator in the customer experience. “It’s the emotional connections that are really the differentiators,” he says. “We are human beings, regardless of whether it’s at work or at home.”

Your prospects are real people, with real emotions and problems. Investing in the emotional connection you develop with them will differentiate you from the competition. It will also help create an exceptional customer experience because your prospects feel connected to you.

Taking time to foster a good customer experience will help you close more deals (with prospects you’ve already started to connect with).

Are You Ready to Learn More About Improving Sales Performance?

You’ve got a list of surefire ways to improve sales performance this year, but success in sales doesn’t stop there. Investing in yourself and your career is a continuous process. (And, it’s something only you can do.)

Now it’s time to take your sales performance one step further!

Check out this list of the 15 best sales podcasts for any sales pro to grow (and thrive) to help drive success and learn from the best sales professionals.

Kayte Yerga Grady

Kayte Yerga Grady | About The Author

Kayte is a writer from Chicagoland who thrives on encouraging both people and companies to present the best version of themselves through creativity. She's a sometimes runner, raising three wildling boys while trying to enjoy everything the great outdoors has to offer. When forced inside, she uses any remaining creativity to dabble in very average floral design. | BS Purdue University