Without performance standards and real sales metrics your sales organization may be at the mercy of a "Shoot From the Hip" sales approach and negative attitudes that come with the negative economic conditions we currently face.
Does your sales organization cry out for help for one of the following reasons?
• Your sales team functions like it is a secret cult or fraternity
• Your sales manager was a great sales person but they don't know how to coach and mentor the sales force encouraging them to build the pipeline while helping them finalize major deals.
• Your sales team has more than one member who has just hunkered down not being proactive in the selling process- not targeting and action planning and failing to call on the right people.
Sales people all do what they do with good intent and because they believe... it is the right thing to do! However is it the most productive thing to do? Remember, sales people will sell what you pay them to sell. If you want them to sell shovels but their incentive is based on selling hammers --- they will sell hammers. We as human beings are habitual; and habits form routines. As sales people we all form a subconscious sales approach or routine. During tough economic times sales people do not change. Instead they become extreme in their behavior. They may run faster but not work smarter.
The solution is not simple but it's obvious that doing more of what isn't working is not the answer. The answer is to go back to basics and focus on best practice. Usually this means introducing change. Profit covers many sins and when the fish were jumping in the boat it is easy to become complacent. Things were just easy. The answer is to revisit your entire sales management and sales effectiveness process. Is your sales force doing the things necessary to create success. Remember, you must manage activities not results.
Follow these steps that focus on success:
1. Evaluate your sales manager and sales management process
2. Review all your sales incentive plans - are they appropriate - do they need to be revised
3. Evaluate each sales person - do any belong to the "Lucky Territory Club" that are not maximizing territory potential.
4. Weed the garden
5. Create a formal "Sales Effectiveness Process" that starts with both a Top Down & Bottom Up forecast
6. Perform a GAP analysis from the Top down and Bottom up comparison. Determine how each territory will close the GAP by requiring documented action plans by territory
7. Make sure that the sales manager requires each sales person to perform targeting, goal setting and action planning to cover 80% of their forecast.
8. Insure that target accounts are based on potential for growth and not current revenue.
9. Insist upon a face to face monthly territory review with action items listed to help each sales person improve territory performance.
10. Create territory scorecards that can be used as a platform for coaching and mentoring the sales force.
All sales people are human beings; people that face rejection on a daily basis as part of their job. Emotions stirred by rejection become magnified when times are tough. Sales people may begin to do less ignoring the things that are required to develop new business.
Unfortunately CEO'S, Presidents and even Sales Managers often don't understand why sales people resort to extreme behavior when conditions become extreme. Rather than reviewing best practice and recreating a company sales effectiveness process they harp at their sales people to put in more effort, more time, more cold calls, more meetings, and more proposals to bring in more business! This often results in increased pressure leading to termination of sales people or sales people just quitting.
Don't fall into that trap. Your sales people are the driving force for creating company success. Make sure they know you know that and show some appreciation. Quit focusing on top line revenue and gross margin and start focusing on market share and net profit. Don't abandon sales training. Managed Sales Effectiveness Program once implemented can create a new mindset in the sales force and provide the tools and resources to improve sales performance and grow market share.