How To Improve Your Sales Team
Don’t be fooled by overly-simplified business books…
Sales teams are¬†complex, multi-faceted machines¬†that require an innovative and open-minded operator.
If you expect serious results and growth, it’s not as simple as adopting a popular sales methodology and hiring some reps. You need to take a holistic look at the structure of your team and devise¬†smart management principles accordingly.
We’ve broken this down into a simple three step system¬†called Adapt, Evolve, and Grow.¬†Discover¬†how to structure your sales team the right way, and guarantee your success well into the future.
The first step: Adapt to your current situation.
Start by analyzing the structure of your entire sales division (including administration and management¬†all the way down to your door-to-door reps). This is your chance to identify long-term goals as well as any¬†current “bottlenecks” holding back your sales team.
Make sure you have formal documentation that covers:
- How you acquire sales reps (and what you are looking for)
- How you structure the compensation plan
- How the “chain of command” is organized¬†from¬†administration to sales representatives
- The communication channels¬†between sales reps and management
It’s important to have a standard operating procedure for almost every possible event. If you leave things to chance — and interpretation — it will lead to unmet expectations. That’s why you should start by examining your current sales structure, and make sure you have everything down on paper. (Also make sure this information is freely available to anyone relevant.)
Once that is accomplished,¬†you can begin to examine the situation.¬†What’s working optimally… and what’s not?¬†Are there any glaring holes in your documentation and procedures? Think:¬†What are the bottlenecks of your sales team? Communication, productivity, leadership, or something else?¬†If you can’t answer these questions, that’s alright; move on to the next step where you’ll learn a powerful way to discover hidden problems within your sales division.
Often, communication is a¬†major¬†problem area for growing companies. As the business grows in size, new layers of staff and “red tape” are added to the organization. These changes cause clutter and mis-management,¬†due to the ever-increasing¬†number of middlemen that stand between your sales reps and the upper-level administration.
Don’t underestimate the value of your sales team’s honest opinion and experience. They have the most intimate relationship with prospects — who are your¬†future¬†clients — and therefore have¬†an extremely valuable¬†point of view. Don’t be afraid to engage your sales reps on a regular basis to hear¬†their opinions and ideas.
In fact, if you¬†don’t know what areas of your sales division require improvement… this is a great way to figure it out.
Create a survey to extract vital information from your sales reps. Ideally, change the questions to suit your specific situation.
Here are some potential survey questions to give to¬†your sales team:
- Are there any inefficiencies, problems, or gaps in the sales process¬†that have gone unnoticed by management?
- What are the biggest bottlenecks in your workflow?
- What is the number 1 thing holding you back from higher numbers?
- Do you have any advice or ideas on how to improve the customer acquisition process?
You might be surprised: Frequently, these surveys will uncover problems (and potential solutions) that were completely missed beforehand.
You’re looking for responses to the survey that indicate a serious flaw in your sales team. This could be anything from a poorly designed pricing structure (that is scaring away potential clients) to a specific sales objection that is missed by the standard¬†pitch.
The most important part of this strategy is to take action on the information collected. Make sure you implement fixes where necessary, and¬†start working on¬†improved¬†company policies for the future. Similarly, once you have taken care of any glaring problems… start thinking about improving on your existing sales systems. What is the ideal set-up for your sales reps? Are there any responsibilities¬†management could delegate in a more efficient manner? What about sales automation?¬†
At the end of the day, your sales team should focus 100% of their energy on what matters (i.e. what drives sales… whether that’s cold-calling, going door-to-door, etc.) and 0% on “time-waster” activities.
Now it’s time to¬†plan for future growth.
Remember: The strategies, processes, and decisions¬†that got your business to where it is presently… are very different from what it will take to keep growing¬†in the future.
Think a few years ahead, and consider what your sales division will look at that point:
- The size of your sales team — Not only the number of sales reps, but also managers, and other “middlemen.”
- The goals, responsibilities, and standards — What will likely change in the sales team’s duties?
- Specialization — In the future, will you need sales people¬†to specialize in a certain market, product, or client-type?
The point of this exercise is to consider where you will be in the future. Don’t get caught up assuming the landscape of your market won’t change over time. Because it will… and it will negatively affect any¬†company¬†unwilling to evolve with the times.
The Hierarchy Of Your Sales Team
Developing an efficient and effective sales division requires serious time, experience, and information. There are no short-cuts when it comes to sales management, but taking advantage of a proven system can absolutely save you from making unnecessary mistakes.
Let’s take a quick look at the overall process:
1) Look at your sales division like an ever-growing and constantly evolving system.
2) Gather information from sales reps that are “on the front-lines” dealing with clients.
3) Identify and solve any inefficiencies or problems within your sales team. (Whether client-side or administrative.)
4) Envision the sales team that will be required to achieve your long-term goals.
5) Put measures in place to stay alert to¬†changes in your marketplace and adapt accordingly.
The key to this system is diligence. When it comes to managing your¬†sales team,¬†the decision-makers within your business need to consider not only the past and present… but also the future.