Michael Cymbrowsky / Consultative Sales Enablement
In today’s hyper-competitive economy, inside and outside sales teams must be actively managed and coached if they are going to perform at their highest level possible. The role of sales leaders is multi-faceted and includes:
- Setting territory and account level financial goals
- Insuring proper alignment and structure in the organization
- Establishing a regular, recurring review process
- Providing ongoing coaching and mentoring
- Making “mid-course corrections” as needed in quotas and account assignments
Sometimes the real secrets to unlocking sales team potential are less obvious. The following are four tips progressive sales leaders might consider in the coming new fiscal year.
1. Analyze Sales Structure
Because structure influences behavior, it is imperative that sales territories, quotas, and compensation are frequently analyzed. Specifically, markets need to be sized by both geography and industry to ensure territories are fairly assigned. Market and territory trends need to be identified and validated to confirm quotas are set at optimal levels. And sales compensation and variable incentives need to be reviewed to determine if compensation plans are competitive and easily understood.
By reviewing the sales structure first, management can then assess individual performances with additional insight and respond appropriately. In doing so, the best sales people will be retained, a carousel of hiring will be avoided, and the focus will be on value driving revenue generation versus time draining candidate interviewing.
2. Measure What Matters
With the abundant amount of granular sales data that can be input into modern CRM software tools there are dozens of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be quickly calculated and measured. But with so much information it can sometimes become difficult to see the forest for the trees. However, by just taking a few steps back, valuable management perspective can be gained.
KPIs tend to fall into two categories; lagging and leading. Lagging indicators, although good to know, are by definition based on history. They have little impact on a salesperson’s performance. However, more strategically important leading indicators can help drive positive results into the future.
Three measurable leading indicator activities that directly drive revenue are the following:
- The frequency a sales rep. and sales manager interact
- The level of collaboration between the sales rep. and internal stakeholders
- The number of face-to-face meetings with prospective customers.
Measuring these not only determines whether a sales person is genuinely engaged it will also drive preparation, product knowledge, and business relationships; three activities correlated to exceeding sales targets.
3. Encourage Team Selling
“Just Do It”….the legendary Nike tag line that motivated a generation of average consumers to embrace physical sports and exercise.
We have all heard it. Whether from a CEO or sales manager it is often a rallying cry for action. And in many cases, it needs to be said. However, when it comes to meeting with prospective customers, sometimes the phrase, “Let’s Do It” yields better results. This speaks to the important practice of “Team Selling”.
Team selling has several advantages. Complex issues are addressed quicker, discussions are broader and deeper, forecasts are more accurate, and rapport within and across internal departments are strengthened. As a result, sales cycles are shortened and incremental revenue is generated.
4. Ask For Help
There are situations when only a CEO can close a deal.
Unfortunately, many Sales Managers, Directors and Vice Presidents either fail to realize this or are unwilling to ask a CEO to help with the sales process. The consequence can be weeks, months, quarters or years of foregone revenue.
Progressive organizations encourage open and ongoing dialog between the most senior management of the firm with a focus on key sales and revenue issues. A best practice is to hold bi-monthly or quarterly “check in” sales reviews. These are not a time to represent the annual territory sales plans, but rather a time for sales managers to update management on key issues, challenges, and competitive activities that can impact top line revenue production in their sales territories.
By engaging senior management in the process there is a natural opportunity to “ask for help”. This help can come in many forms including management customer visits, incremental sales funds being channeled to address a customer/prospect issue, or top-to-top customer sessions with participation from senior managers to add measure of importance to the dialog.
Progressive sales managers today understand these four tips. They work to keep their fingers on the pulse of activities in their territories. They act as general managers and accept full responsibility for the financial performance of their business.
Successful sales managers think beyond the quota. You should too!