Sales are the lifeblood of any business – let’s face it, without sales, you don’t have a business! And, whatever you’re selling, knockbacks are inevitable – research suggests that it takes 5 follow-up efforts after the initial sales contact to close the deal! But many sales people give up after one or two knockbacks – and the problem is, once your sales team’s confidence has taken a hit, productivity can also stall. Uh-oh!
If your sales team has got lacklustre and targets are being missed, don’t panic. With a few changes to your management strategies and leadership approach, you can pull your sales team out of this rut and bolster their productivity. Let’s take a look at some ways of doing this.
- Review the management
The sales team relies on the management’s guidance to work efficiently. If the management is good and the team has a supportive leader, you can expect good results. If, on the other hand, your sales team is underperforming, review the management strategy before you look at your team members. If the team is over-managed or under-led, they won’t perform as well as you expect.
Over-managed teams are often stifled by metrics and narrow deadlines while under-managed teams aren’t offered enough support and guidance in order to perform efficiently. You need to offer the right amount of guidance without burdening them with regulations.
- Remember strategy but keep it simple
While excessive structure and rigidity is bad for your company, it doesn’t mean you need to discard structure entirely. A set of defined goals, targets, and milestones will help your team remain on track and continue to perform well. Make sure your team has a standard procedure for getting leads, qualifying them, delivering their sales pitch, addressing problems, and closing the sale. This structure will give them confidence to interact with the customers and get the work done.
However, it’s also important to keep the structure and process simple and easy to follow. A flexible and simple structure allows the sales person some room to breathe and respond to their client. This allows them to establish a more organic rapport with the customers and increases their chances of success.
- Consistency helps
Consistency allows the team to settle into a rhythm and work at a good pace. Once the consistency is established, the team can focus on their work and don’t need to check back on the process and review events. There are a number of tools available in the form of off-the-shelf or customised CRM software that allow you to keep track of sales in real time, provide immediate feedback, and set automatic schedules. Consistency and rhythm allows your team to focus completely on the job and the customer. The lack of distractions ensures they close sales faster and resolve any problems quickly.
- Don’t ignore coaching
Salespersons don’t have in-born sales skills. Like everyone else, they learn on the job and require guidance. This guidance should go beyond the initial training and must involve daily hands-on coaching for the first few weeks on the job. This doesn’t just improve the overall productivity of your team, but also helps you establish a good relationship with your sales team. Active coaching allows the new team members to acclimate to your work environment and become comfortable with the job. That allows you to build tight-knit teams that work like a well-oiled machine. If you don’t have anyone inhouse to implement sales training, consider outsourcing it to a specialist sales training agency who can deliver training at your office. Many leading businesses are also using online training with great success.
- Define KPIs to keep an eye on performance
Keeping track of performance is essential in order to maintain high levels of productivity. If you track performance regularly, you will know when there’s a drop immediately and some up with solutions to address that. One of the best ways to keep track of performance is to set Key Performance Indicators, better known as KPIs. Here’s how you can go about it:
- Determine what the key performance indicators for your team are.
- Once you’ve determined the indicators, set the averages and measurements to compare your team’s current performance to.
- Evaluate the KPIs regularly to see if there are any changes in the pattern and if the team’s performance has increased or dipped in any way.
These factors will help you keep track of your team and become aware of any downward trends early. That will help you stop bad habits from forming and minimise the impact of poor performance.
- Celebrate to boost morale
With the best will in the world, the sales process can become dull and monotonous over time. Any sales managers’ hardest task is to keep the team enthusiastic and motivated, while still meeting all the goals and targets. Your team will be in a better mindset if they have clearly defined milestones that mark their road to success. Milestones and targets give the sales team something to work towards, and celebrating these milestones can help boost morale.
Many managers dismiss the importance of celebrations because they consider them a waste of time and energy. They don’t realise that the time – and money – spent on them are compensated by increased productivity and better efficiency. Here are some creative and cost-effective ways of incentivising your sales team.
There’s always room for improvement and every sales team has hidden potential that just needs the right guidance go succeed. A great manager can turn the team around and boost the overall morale of the members. A success rate motivates your team members to perform better and helps them feel accomplished as well.
Ashley Andrews is an Inbound Marketing Strategist at Activia Training, a UK-based training provider specialising in improving delegates’ workplace performance in business skills, management development and IT applications. Ashley is passionate about sales and management issues, and regularly blogs about these – and many other topics – on the Activia blog.