Sales Management

One of the most important driving factors in a sales organization is management. The systems, processes, people and overall effectiveness are keys in helping you reach your companies sales potential.

How does your Company’s sales Culture stack up against the typical company in a similar role?

It’s important to note that in most companies, management’s effectiveness in the area of sales is often more profound than that of the salespeople.  Management is the Sales engine of the company. Managements effectiveness is handicapped when Management is senior level – founder or partner.   The level of Managing encompasses the sales manager’s effectiveness at growing, coaching, motivating the salespeople as well as holding them accountable and recruiting effectively.

I use two primary areas in evaluating a company’s Sales “Culture”;

  1. Pipeline Quality, an important sales organization “health” indicator, is assessed by the confidence over whether opportunities in the pipeline will close or not. A majority of Pipeline data is skewed do the large vast amount of unqualified leads that are added to the system on a regular basis. Incoming leads are simply added as a proof of activity opposed to qualification do to the sales team’s need to show activity opposed to focus on results which often take time and don’t reflect well when compared to direct visual activity.
  1. Compatible Priorities in a sales organization are essential. Management Priorities must be clear, identifiable, easily assimilated, trackable, and accountable.  Most companies lack a clear sales mission, target, and accountability.

The primary goal when improving in this area will be having a greater impact on the performance of the salespeople. Improved coaching, motivating, recruiting and accountability will translate into greater revenues.

Success Elements

Success is earned by desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility. Desire illustrates passion for success in sales or sales management. Commitment demonstrates the level of unconditional commitment toward achieving that success. Outlook reflects overall attitude and includes factors like self-esteem and happiness. Responsibility shows the degree of responsibility a team member takes for results or whether excuses provided instead.

With the proper training, Sales reps should be able to overcome any and all obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential for success in sales. In order for this to take place, any isolated problems with Excuse Making must be eliminated.

Excuses are related specifically to the excuser’s experience and acceptance by management within the organization.

Commitment problems are more difficult to identify and harder to fix but they are usually the result of only a few factors; a poor work ethic; complacency among veteran salespeople; people who are misplaced in sales; lack of desire; people who don’t enjoy selling; and people who don’t have a goals management plan. If people have strong desire but lack commitment, then they aren’t currently as serious about their success in sales as they need to be.  Strong Commitment is essential for supporting most of the other elements.

Responsibility, referred to as Excuse Making, is an element where Your company sales do not meet the target levels.  Group-wide Excuse Making problems are usually the result of only a few factors. Some of the possibilities are: management doesn’t recognize excuses AS excuses because they hear justifiable reasons for failure; management fails to hold salespeople accountable for their actions and non-actions; excuse making is part of the culture; or management makes excuses too.  Responsibility is required in order for training and coaching to work.

Performance Factors

These factors are No Need for Approval, Supportive Buy Cycle, Supportive Record Collection, Money Issues and Ability to Control Emotions.

Need for Approval is a factor where sales does not meet the target sales level. People with Need for Approval are non-confrontational, have difficulty asking questions, often fear rejection and because of these problems will accept a tremendous number of stalls, put-offs, excuses, objections and sob stories from their prospects. One symptom of Need for Approval is that salespeople with this weakness often have full pipelines. The problem is that not much of anything ever LEAVES the pipeline. You’ll find that proposals aren’t closed and opportunities aren’t disqualified.  Need for Approval is difficult to overcome. It usually takes months of consistent training, coaching, affirmations and reprogramming.

Buy Cycle is also identified by not meeting sales targets. People with a Non-Supportive Buy Cycle will cater to the same close barriers as those identified in needing approval that center around a need to think it over, shop for price, comparison shop or perform additional research. One symptom of a Non-Supportive Buy Cycle is that salespeople with this weakness will justify the stalls and put-offs they accept because they tend to behave just as their prospects do when they are making purchases of their own.  Non-Supportive Buy Cycle is an easy weakness to resolve and when corrected, salespeople perform 50% more effectively.

Record Collection is also identified by not meeting sales goals. People who have a Self-Limiting Record Collection have their outcomes predestined for them based on the way they believe. One symptom of a Self-Limiting Record Collection is that salespeople who possess this weakness will not follow your directives when your instructions conflict with their belief systems. Self-Limiting Record Collection must be overcome. It usually takes many months of one to one coaching to overcome this barrier.

Money Issues were not identified as a sales barrier.  Money Issues are typically associated with a discomfort talking about money, a low money tolerance (small amounts seem large), an inability to consistently identify with actual costs and the value of money as it relates to products/services, resources, and time management. Salespeople with Money Issues often generate quotes or proposals for products or services that prospects can’t afford or that are for significantly less money than prospects expect to pay. Resulting in proposals that are not appropriate and are often rejected.

Emotion Control is identified by not meeting sales goals.   Salespeople will usually not hear all the things you (and your prospects) tell them because they are so busy thinking about the part they did hear. The problem is that when they think, they talk to themselves and begin the cycle again. The Tendency to Become Emotionally Involved is not something that can be unlearned or often changed and will continue to undermine any techniques that Your company tries to implement.

Training

Does your company lack a formal training program or expectation for the sales team?   This unfortunately is typical with most technology manufacturing or service organizations.  Formal training is essential in successful sales organizations to build specific skill sets, strengths, a culture, and enforce expectations.

Skills are simply the average number of selling skills a sales rep possess. Skills are often overrated because techniques by themselves don’t help salespeople succeed. Strengths are the most important assets that salespeople can have and when abundant they support skills. When skills fall short, there are a great number of problems that salespeople will routinely encounter. As strengths and skills are developed, those problems will gradually disappear.

Focus on strength building. When strengths are abundant they support learned selling skills. In the absence of supporting strengths, skills are little more than a knowledge base that can’t be used effectively or consistently.

Growth Potential

Sales growth is typically associated with income potential.  As a company grows top sales performers are sought after to take on senior position roles but often not without sacrifice to the bottom line until such time that new top performers step up the plate.

Has your company consistently demonstrated growth in the past, but little opportunity has been awarded to the internal sales team members outside of compensation?  This is typically compounded by two factors;  a small sales team and recent and frequent change over in sales management.

Growth Potential is an essential desire element in the sales culture.  But when you start from a broken system and lacking resources it’s difficult to create or present a growth opportunity.

Implementation Summary

Is your company is at an important stage in growth with pending account opportunities that highly outweigh actual sales resulting in vast month to month sales uncertainty.  Does this look familiar?

  1. small team
  2. no current identified marketing budget
  3. no formal training
  4. no direct management
  5. lacking a packaged product focus

What should you do first?

  1. Raise Your company sales expectations as part of your business culture;
  2. Create and start a training process for those people in whom it makes sense to invest;
  3. Stop accepting excuses;
  4. Start an accountability program;
  5. Work closely with sales team members on the changes that they must implement;
  6. Implement coaching even if external;
  7. Plan for necessary personnel changes if appropriate and create a detailed Recruiting System Process to hire stronger, qualified salespeople moving forward.

Specific areas of recommendation – Short term

CRM

Sales reps should be in the field meeting with potential client and closing leads.  This requires remote access to a CRM to keep the sales team accountable and efficient.

Lead development & management

Acquire targeted lead lists.  Require sales team members to participate in publishing industry information for distribution to targeted leads while seeking opportunity relationships with qualified leads.

Sales Training

Implement a formal ongoing sales training program that includes product/service training access by; resellers, consultants, partners, and customers.

Sales Resources

Define sales team member positions, expectations, and available resources.

Bring in a professional sales coach 1x a month to meet one on one with each sales representative.  Typically off site one to one 1 hour meetings that go over personal goals, expectations, barriers, and solution driven focus points.

Define a sales budget specific to just Sales activities to support sales team objectives and provide accountability to expectations.  Typically this is defined within the sales team itself.

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