It’s getting late in the year, summer is over, and autumn is settling in. The stretch drive has begun in baseball, and if you’re watching football on TV, you’ll hear a lot of talk about teams going for a drive. Are you and your sales team ready to go for a drive? If you’re not, it’s high time you prepare to go on a long drive to deliver your revenue and margin goals…
Sales Management – Let’s review. Last December your company settled on a revenue goal and margin goals, and the course of a successful 2016 was laid out. You agreed to the goal, having had input into the targets. You got the team together in January for an energetic sales kickoff meeting, and the team rallied to commit to delivering those targets. You made certain that every sales team member understood the team goal, their individual goals, and began to develop a plan to deliver those results. That was then, and this is now. Over the course of the year, you’ve started to become increasingly distracted with CRM reports, sales campaign updates for partners, administrative tasks, and meetings designed to cover someone’s behind. WARNING! You have been lulled into a trance, following someone else’s agenda, and it’s going to lead to you and your sales team missing your revenue target and margin target!
What To Do? – It’s not too late, you still have time to correct your course, but you don’t have much time to make the changes. Please understand this, your primary role as a Sales Manager is not CRM reports or information sharing with the sales team. Your primary role always was, and always WILL be leading the sales team, developing their sales chops, and driving revenue and strong margins. It’s your job to make sure that the sales team understands their goals and knows EXACTLY what they’re going to do to hit it and accelerate through it. You need to prioritize YOUR time on developing excellence on your sales team so that they can more efficiently develop and close more new and existing business. Forget about email, forget about updating your partners with updates designed to cover their butts. Spend the vast majority of your time selling and teaching. Spend the majority of your day coaching your sales team so that they can serve customers better than anyone else so that they can provide solutions that drive revenue and margin.
Communicate Effectively and Lead! – Too many Sales Leaders are obsessed with communications, assuming that if everyone knows what’s going on, sales will happen auto-magically. Sadly, that usually doesn’t happen, does it? They set up their weekly sales meetings so that every member of the team can spend 1-2 hours listening to minutiae about other sales people’s deals. When was the last time Sue needed to listen to the next steps of Bob’s sales campaign so that she could determine how to move forward with her top five deals? How about never! Your communications and sales meetings ARE important, but they need to be focused on your Sales Team, not on getting details of the deals so that you can impress your boss with how much you know about each deal in the pipeline. Focus on helping your Sales Team to win, and how to become more effective as sales professionals. Set up your sales meetings so that 80% of the meeting is about helping the Sales Team to WIN more often, and 20% is about communications (keeping everyone informed about corporate goings on, etc..). Go ahead and communicate to the team the goals, and that you WILL find a way to achieve those goals, and then get busy winning sales deals!
It’s About Your Team! – Don’t set yourself up to be the Company Messiah, and swoop in to help the sales team close all of the big deals. Trust me; there is a time and a place for you to engage and help to close a big deal, for certain. However, if the sales team needs to call you in to close the tough deals, how will Sue and Bob, and Justin learn to close a big deal WITHOUT your magic? TEACH the team how to position themselves and how to earn the business by differentiating themselves as superior customer problem solvers. Coaching your sales team on how to become better sales people is the most important work you can invest your time in. Get to it!
We’ll be going on a drive of our own, talking about Sales Management and Sales Excellence for the next several blog articles. We do a lot of development work with young aspiring sales leaders and developing sales account executives. We believe that most struggling sales people are only struggling because they are spending their time foolishly on the wrong activities. That is a sign of inferior Sales Management and Leadership first and foremost. Don’t let that happen with your team. Be the Sales Leader who actually earns the right to have loyal followers from your Sales Team. With a bit of effort, we regularly see struggling AEs move from the middle or the bottom of the leaderboard to the top echelon. It’s always about priorities and action. Get the priorities right, and get the action right, and the Sales performance will inevitably follow.
Michael works with Sales Leaders and their inside and outside sales teams for a number of high technology sales and service organizations. Michael enjoys helping Sales Managers and Account Executives to gain awareness of how they’re spending their time and how with a change of focus they can substantially improve their sales results. Year after year, the goals always get bigger and tougher to deliver, but by focusing on what will help you to get to the target, and by establishing a systematic, scientific approach to selling, you will significantly improve your performance. If you’d like more details on how to get your sales team turned around and going for a wonderful end of the year drive, give Michael a shout. Send an email to email@example.com, and Michael will send you his 25 Best Practices for Sales Professionals.