Improve Your Sales Force
An overwhelming amount of modern¬†sales strategies revolve around numbers and data analysis.
In many ways, it’s almost like¬†sales has transformed into a science. But let’s not forget that at the core of sales is human interaction. As a sales manager or business owner, you need to master the art of leading your team to success. Today we’re going to¬†explore five¬†actionable strategies you can use to take¬†your sales force to the next level.
1)¬†Less Managing, More Coaching
The title “sales manager” can be misleading. High-performing sales managers don’t treat their job like an administrative position,¬†but rather as a leadership role.
You are the guiding light for your team:
- Developing training programs to help new reps get up to speed as quickly as possible
- Having¬†a personal relationship with reps to help them succeed
- Knowing the most effective way to push reps to meet and exceed expectations
One of the best ways¬†to unlock hidden motivation and results from your sales staff is to improve your relationship with them. It sounds counter-intuitive (or indirect) but in reality this is one of the keys to being an effective manager. Understand “who” your sales staff really are, and you will have a much easier time finding the right way to motivate and manage the team.
2) Does¬†Your Team Have The Right Preparation?
Another common problem that holds back sales forces is a “hole” in the training program. Don’t expect your new reps to get up to speed with the new position¬†without needing¬†help. Every single new rep you hire and oversee will require some additional training or guidance to perfect their pitch. This depends heavily on the type of product being sold (and the corresponding sales cycle), but here are a few common sales training problem-areas to get you started.
Do your reps have a concrete guide to the following:
- How to overcome sales objections
- How to create and demonstrate a strong value proposition
- How to effectively compare and contrast against competitors
- How to understand and think like the ideal customer
- How and when to ask for the sale
These might seem like very basic sales tactics that any competent rep would already know, but that’s not the important part. Your reps need to have powerful sales skills in relation to your specific product. For example, it’s not enough to know “objection handling.” They need to know exactly what objections will come up during a normal pitch and the absolute best way to respond.
3) Trust Your Team And Your Sales System
Do you have complete faith in your sales system? It’s extremely important that the leadership (whether sales managers or other high-level staff) demonstrates trust in the sales process. If your sales reps notice doubt or uncertainty coming from the leadership, they will adopt the same viewpoint.¬†Obviously, this only works if you actually have a winning sales system, but it is important regardless. It’s important not to forget that your sales staff feeds off of the energy you put out.
Here are a few¬†actionable ways you can do this:
- Openly Praise Accomplishments – Go above and beyond: Make an effort to give praise for all serious accomplishments from your staff. Did someone have their best month? Congratulate them and let them know how much you appreciate their work. Even though you may think this gratitude is implied,¬†your reps will be significantly more motivated if they know someone is rooting for them.
- Be In Your Sales Team’s Corner – For all intents and purposes, you should share the same desires as your sales team. If there’s a problem, or your team asks for something, it’s your job to step in and speak on their behalf. Go to battle for your sales team, and they will notice and feel more motivated to reciprocate with hard work. Do everything you can to keep communication channels open, and make sure you are doing more listening than talking.
Demonstrate complete confidence in your sales team and¬†do everything possible to make their jobs efficient and enjoyable. You’ll be surprised, this pays off big-time when it comes to “on paper” results.
4) Streamline Management And Cut Out Excess
Nothing is more stressful and wasteful than unnecessary “management.” Keep in mind that it is possible to over-manage and take up too much of your sales team’s time. Remember, if your team isn’t taking action they aren’t making sales. Do what you can to cut down on unneeded meetings, reviews, and other bureaucratic clutter. Let your sales team focus on what they do best.
5)¬†Take Time To Reflect
This is another area that is often completely neglected by larger organizations. Don’t knock it till you try it: One of the most valuable uses of your time as a sales manager might just be reflection.¬†Once a month, once a quarter, or at the very least once a year… take time to think about what’s been working and what hasn’t.¬†There is an entire “intangible” side to sales management that is almost never covered by training programs, but that does not diminish its value or importance. If you’re trying to drive the highest results possible, it’s going to take serious self-reflection and awareness.
In regards to your specific organization and team, consider the following:
- What management actions have led to the greatest results?
- What seems to motivate your team the best? Worst?
- What is the most common feedback¬†given¬†by your reps?
Self-reflection is extremely important for sales managers and business owners. This is the best way to figure out the ideal “strategy” to accompany¬†your more structured management tactics. If you are trying to¬†increase numbers (sales,¬†revenue per sale, sales closing rate),¬†try something completely different than normal.
If you usually offer higher incentives¬†or some other type of monetary bonus, instead try talking to your reps and ask what would motivate them. Remember that effective¬†management (even when it comes to precise sales teams) is¬†heavily dependent on the relationships and human interaction that goes on “behind the scenes.”