Sales Team Performance - Which performance dials do you turn?
Sales team management might be the least professional of all business professions. There is no sales degree, no recognised standards and no certifications. Everyone just figures it out, usually after a (hopefully) successful personal selling career.
If you need your sales team performing better then what is the best approach? We believe there are two approaches and both have merit depending on your situation:
1. Incremental Improvement
If your sales team is fundamentally sound but you need to raise it to a higher level then here are some things that will work well for any sales team:
- Focus on Critical Core skills - New Business Prospecting, Closing, Persuasion with Story (We teach these skills)
- Product and Industry Training. You can't go wrong with this, customers always appreciate knowledgeable and insightful sales people.
- Sales Operations Support. Shifting sales administration tasks to a sales support role makes clear business sense if your team is large enough to afford the role and you make sure that the extra time is spent performing selling activities
- Regular coaching for Sales People (We offer this service). The advantage of regular coaching by an experienced sales coach is that in addition to developing competence it can be targeted to the exact activities needed to bring in the current target.
- Implement a Structured Sales Assessment and Recruiting Process (We offer this service). Here is an insight; most sales people (at least 70%) are not good at selling for you. But they may be good at selling themselves in an interview. You need a system to routinely access and develop the top 30% or you will have a revolving door
- Provide Easy to Implement, Suitable for All Sales Development. (We offer this service). Most sales training involves sitting in a two or three day class room environment and unless your team is all at the same level (such as a group of new hires), its likely to be ineffective. What is effective, is single purpose easy to assimilate training. Our Persuasive use of Stories is a good example, it is instantly effective and motivating for all participants regardless of experience level.
- Provide Customised Online Training. (We offer this service). This type of training has clear scheduling benefits. If combined with a skills assessment, you can be sure that the training is targeted. Growth in Focus online training comes with individualised coaching.
- Build a Library of Sales Collateral. (We offer this service). Easily accessible stories, call scripts, meeting plans and testimonials. Not to be confused with marketing collateral.
That's it for quick and easy incremental improvement ideas.
The following sales team 'tweaks' are unsafe to implement without first conducting a full sales process design (Option 2):
- Sales Commission and Incentives Changes. Making changes to the commission plan might seem like an obvious 'dial' to turn but it's fraught with risk particularly for new sales managers (I've made this mistake!). You run a high chance of making things worse!
- Territory and/or Channel Re-design. Another activity that could easily make the situation worse
2. Sales Process Transformation
A full sales process review and re-design starts with careful observation and analysis of your current sales process, your company, your markets and what your customers say about you.
From this information we perform sales experiments to see what new or different sales activities should be considered. These experiments are conducted with proven sales performers and may take weeks or months to perform.
The next steps are role design, activity/kpi design (per role) and reporting and management design. The result is sales team structured and managed in a way that will deliver repeatable, reliable, forecast-able results.
It is imperative that the correct sales role definition is made before any management metrics are implemented. Managing sales people with the wrong performance metrics is highly counter productive.
It all starts with a meeting ....talk with us about how things are and how you would like them to be ....