The Essential Tools Of Sales Management
Given the choice I would always back a sales team led by a exceptional sales manager and average sales people over a sales team led by a mediocre sales manager and good sales people.
People are shocked when I say that but that is my experience. After all a mediocre sales manager can only create and lead a mediocre sales team.
Sales teams don’t fail because of bad sales people. Sales teams fail because of bad sales management…
What do exceptional sales managers have that mediocre sales manager don’t?
1) Exceptional Sales Managers help their sales people sharpen their sales story.
The best sales teams have a plan. Success does not happen by chance. Above all I find the best sales teams have regular training and their best sales managers are exceptional sales trainers. They train sales teams to follow a sales formula for converting raw leads into happy satisfied customers.
The first sales company I ever worked for had a 10 point plan. Follow it correctly and there was only one possible outcome – a Sale!
All sales formulas follow a similar path. Typically it involves building rapport, customer qualification, getting minor yeses/commitments as you go and asking for the order.
One of the best known in recent years is the Straight Line Persuasion system – from Jordan Belfort (aka The Wolf of Wall Street)
The 3 keys to success with the Straight Line Persuasion system are:
- Developing rapport with the customer
- Asking specific questions to gather intelligence and to understand the customers needs
- Controlling the sale by keeping it on the straight line (every time the customer tries to take the conversation away from the sale by talking about something irrelevant you quickly bring it right back)
As a Sales Manager it is part of our job to encourage our sales team to sharpen their sales story. This is a daily task – not a once in a while task.
2) Targets, Targets, Targets.
Sales leaders are fixated by targets and they share these targets with their sales team daily.
They acknowledge and praise the sales people who are hitting and exceeding target. They coach and mentor those who are not.
Top Sales Leaders do not apologise for this fixation. When performance is below par, they don’t ignore it or excuse it. They accept they are responsible for the sales team results no matter the market outlook or the quality of the leads.
They believe there is always something that can be done to improve on the team performance. There are always phones calls to be made and customers to visit. They have taught their sales people to not be reliant on one source of leads and to not expect the company and the marketing department to always get the leads numbers they believe they need.
They “mine” their database of sales leads. When leads are slow, they contact past customers with a new offer and/or ask for referrals. They call back leads that have gone cold. They will ask cold leads for referrals…
3) Sales metrics
Sales leaders know their sales metrics and use these metrics to manage their team.
They don’t collect data for the sake of collecting data and to make themselves look smart. They collect data so they can manage and motivate their sales team better.
On a monthly basis the sales manager / sales leader will sit down with each sales person individually. (1 to 1 meeting)
Each meeting starts with a review of the previous months performance followed by a YTD review and a Pipeline report from each salesperson. [A pipeline report details prospects that sales people feel are likely to book in next month]
At the end of each meeting, objectives will be agreed for the coming month. For extra clarity I recommend the sales leader has the sales person repeat back to them what has just been agreed.
4) Exceptional Sales Managers have authority.
Great sales managers hold their sales team to account. Their sales team know they will be called out when they offer excuses. They encourage the sales team develop a “no excuses” philosophy.
But they are not bullies. Their goal is to create a team where sales people continually seek to prove themselves. Sales people over target are praised and giving recognition among their colleagues. Those under target are in no doubt that they are under target – remember we are creating a no excuses sales team philosophy. A team where under performance is tolerated will not succeed.
5) Exceptional Sales Managers hire great sales people.
Sales managers should always be recruiting, even when there are no sales vacancies.
Great sales leaders always have an opening for someone to replace their lowest performing salesperson. They have what I call an ABR Policy (Always Be Recruiting Policy)
In our advertising we are always trying to beat control. Which Advert performs better? Which headline or copy converts best. It should be no different when it comes to replacing your lowest performing salesperson. That sounds harsh and of course you should mentor and coach your lower performers so they perform better. However it is ultimately up to the individual salespeople to take advantage and apply their new found knowledge. Failure to do that means you are replaced in the real world.
6) Exceptional Sales Managers have great sales skills
Great sales people don’t always make great sales managers – but all great sales manager have been great sales people.
They display their intimate knowledge of sales to their sales team on a daily basis. When appropriate they will sit along side members of their sales team and assist them in sales calls. Importantly when they do that, any sale registered will be credited to the sales person rather than the sales leader.
When a decision is made to implement a sales performance metric, it is important to persist with it.
Being in sales means being accountable and being measured, but for whatever reason sometimes salespeople will push-back at this new approach, which in its self is a bad sign. In these situations I have known sales managers and companies to not persist with this new approach and in a week or two “forget” about it.
This in turn creates a reputation within the sales team of…
“It is just another of their daft ideas, I am not going to pay attention, because it will soon be forgotten.”
Don’t make that mistake!
Regular measurement and reporting keeps you focused, remember…
“What gets measured gets done.”