What does a great sales function look like

A great sales function is not quite as simple as people might think. Many believe being good at sales means you can sell to anyone regardless of the product or service. But the reality is somewhat different. Being a competent seller in one domain doesn’t mean you can do everything. In fact, there are different skill sets suited to a wide variety of sales roles. These skills make up the sales functions of a department. Here, we look at what makes a great sales function and how your startup’s department should look as it aims to increase sales and boost revenue. 

1) Market research

How can you know your audience persona without in-depth research on your target market? A sales department needs relevant research to build a robust customer persona. Good research involves forecasting, intelligence and data to paint a better picture of your product or service fit. 

Failure to conduct the necessary research can lead to a poor market fit. So before your sales reps go about trying to win clients, make sure the company has done its due diligence and researched the market thoroughly to give your team the best chance of succeeding.

2) Prospecting

Many people get leads and prospects confused. A lead is warm – they’re someone who may have already shown an interest in your product or service after an initial call or when they interact with your content. A prospect, on the other hand, comes in much colder. These early-stage leads require marketing and sales to combine to create content designed to get them interested. 

From blog articles to email campaigns and real-life networking to asking for referrals from current clients, creating a prospecting list takes time and talent. You need to find people who can convert prospects to qualified leads, someone who meets the business’s requirements and can become a paying customer. 

3) The sales process

Without a watertight sales process, you can’t convert prospects into leads and clients. Your sales strategy is everything and forms the foundation of your sales function across the entire company. It includes aspects like sales scripts, a CRM and selling techniques that your team uses to make conversions. 

Essentially, the sales process is the team in action. You’ve done the research and created prospecting lists. Now it’s time to take them through each stage of your sales funnel, from the initial conversation to product demos and presentations and finally closing the deal. 

4) Customer success

What happens after winning a client is equally important as registering new ones. This function focuses on nurturing, from providing information about new features and services to troubleshooting where there are issues. It’s about building that customer relationship and showing a client how much you value them and their business. 

Other aspects include renewing subscriptions with existing customers and identifying additional sales opportunities. Excellent customer relationships lead to upselling and cross-selling opportunities and referrals. Each customer has a lifetime value, and the relevant customer success service can realise that potential, from stopping churns to providing new sales opportunities. 

5) Training and onboarding

Another ongoing sales function is the training and onboarding process. High-level sales managers organise training and onboarding for new clients to ensure they are given the best chance of success and hit the ground running. This includes training them on the company’s various sales methodologies to familiarise them with every practice.

But training doesn’t stop with new recruits. The best sales setups provide an ongoing learning environment where current employees can improve their skills and learn new ones. It sets a pathway to progression in the company and gets the team pulling in the right direction while offering growth opportunities within the company. 

Functioning the right way

A great sales function covers every aspect of the sales department and sets out a clear agenda for your team so they can succeed. From the initial research stages to nurturing already-won customers, the right type of sales function leads to a successful company where teams are not only meeting but exceeding their sales targets and expectations.

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