Because we sell CRM systems, we naturally deal with lots and lots of salespeople, and we consider our sales reps at heart. And we salespeople are an interesting lot.
A few of us like technology, others don’t. A few can sell just about anything; others are more specific and focused on what they sell. Some are highly-technical, while others are just more instinctive about their products. We have come across smart salespeople who are friendly, good-natured, and easy to talk and some are irritable. Sociable and unsociable. Hard-working and lazy. Positive and negative. For being a great salesperson there is no single recipe. So for a manager, it becomes challenging to manage this crazy group? How do you kick-start them to increase their potential? How do enable them to sell as much as they’re able?
To me, it comes down to three important strategies to achieve a specific goal.
Today’s many successful business owners know that important data is the driver behind their decisions. The more data, the better decision– as long it’s related. The same approach goes for salespeople. Before calling up a lead or meeting with a prospect we need information. Has this lead or prospect ever contacted us before? Has this prospect been on our website and where? What products would be of interest? Who is our competition and where are they located? What are the issues and who am I speaking to? Of course, there’s more. You can never have enough information.
This is the reason, managers are not afraid to share information with their sales teams. They normally do this through their online CRM systems. They are devoted to collecting as much data as possible – and keeping it up to date and factual. They’re focused on providing their sales force with as much information as possible to make their jobs easier. They invest in high-quality CRM systems that send reminders, alerts, and messages to their groups so that nothing falls through the cracks. They build workflows to support them close deals and build relationships. They make sure that information collected can be shared between sales, customer service, and marketing because they know that a sales force needs to know what they know.
Having the best accurate information and then sharing it is most essential for kickstarting your sales force. It’s a continuous and repetitive activity because the information always keeps changing. To build the right processes to ensure that your data remains up to date and reliable will contribute to the success of your sales team. The next important step is creating an atmosphere of competition.
Create an environment of competition.
Smart salespeople are always good competitors. They always want more and always keep hunting. They hate to lose whether by their competition or by another salesperson at the company. For then competition can be fun and they enjoy it. But more importantly, competition can be a highly productive way to kick-start a salesperson.
We worked and experienced with many clients who know this. Their sales managers pit their sales force against each other. They set targets that every salesperson is tasked with meeting. Each salesperson’s score – month and year to date are displayed publicly. They reward the sales force with the most sales, the highest average sale, the most improvement, the most activity. Also, they never punish or call out those that perform poorly – the numbers speak for themselves. The ones performing the best are offered gift cards, dinners, cash bonuses, and vacations, and a token of appreciation. These prizes are a nominal cost to the companies but the paybacks are usually significant.
This is not a new way. For the past many years we have been seeing this practice over and over. And it really works. Competition, particularly among sales force who value it, works. Creating this environment will work for you too, particularly if you include lots and lots of mentoring/guidance.
Be a guide.
The process of annual employee evaluations is in most of the companies. Growing organizations are realizing that their employees, particularly the half of them who are from the millennial generation are asking for more continuous feedback about their performance. Employees want to know how they’re doing at work. They want to ensure that what they’re doing is right and appreciated. And they also certainly want to know that if what they’re doing isn’t good so that they can take corrective measures.
That’s your job. As a manager and guide, sharing valuable information and creating an environment of the competition will produce better results from your sales force. And the best way to maximize those results is for you to get closely involved with the sales team. There are always going to be the star performers who sell products out of the box with their talents. However, like others, they also need feedback guidance to keep performing well.
For them, you are the guide and cheerleader. You’re the source of inspiration and the mentor. You need to take those numbers, along with the sales person’s attitude and work ethic, and together create personalized goals for salespeople. You should always make yourself available for the sales force to answer questions and check-in proactively. This can be by email or text but it will always require a little face to face discussions as well. The best performing executives are constantly mentoring their teams – both as a group and individually. All the data in the world can’t make up for this.
Just like there’s no silver bullet for getting the most out of your sales group there is no such thing as the perfect salesperson. However, there are few tried and true methodologies that have worked for years. Sharing data, creating an environment of competition, and being a guide is when combined is one of those. We have noticed it works again and again. There are a few things that time just cannot change.