Tag Archives: sales management

Sales management best practices

Sales Leaders – Do You Qualify?

Just as qualifying customers and prospects is a critical step in the selling process, it is also a necessary component of prudent sales management.

Many believe sales management consists of leadership, management and a higher level of selling — that is, sales managers must often sell to the sales force.

And in so doing, so too must they continually qualify and assess members of the sales force, who, in these instances, take on the role of “internal” customers.

To point out a few parallels, consider that successful sales people qualify and assess their customers and prospects during the early stages of the selling process. While the qualification can cover a wide range of issues, key areas involve:

  • Confirming interest, motivation and urgency levels, and that the overall needs are real; this step might also involve determining if the buyer is giving us serious consideration
  • Identifying priorities or special needs, such as quick delivery or modified payment terms, that can often make or break the sale
  • Confirming that each customer or prospect has the budget and wherewithal to acquire the products or services
  • Confirming the basis on which decisions will be made and how the evaluation process will work. This includes identifying decision makers as well as other stakeholders who might influence the process.
  • Assessing each buyer’s knowledge level with respect to product and service offerings and his or her ability to properly evaluate proposed solutions

Now let’s look at the similarities that exist in a sales management scenario.

Prior to setting sales strategies or assessing a sales person’s portfolio of pending business, a sales manager must qualify the overall situation.

The first step will involve a discussion on how thoroughly the sales person has qualified his or her customers / prospects.

Next, regardless of a sales person’s tenure, he or she must be motivated; and self-motivation can only go so far. The prudent sales manager always checks motivation levels, and is ready to provide the necessary incentive, guidance, or inspiration.

Of course people’s attitudes and motivational needs fluctuate on a regular basis; so as part of the ongoing qualification process, sales managers must also determine the best motivational strategy for each situation.

And speaking of attitude, does the sales person have confidence in our solution? Does he or she have the proper sense of urgency? Do we have their buy-in on company policies and procedures? The company mission?

It’s also important for sales managers to confirm the actual steps that have been taken to facilitate the sales process. Have our strategies been properly implemented? Similarly, sales managers must continually assess the team’s knowledge level. Do we have the skills to carry out sales plans? Are selling skills consistently applied?

Do we need additional product or systems training? Are we focused on benefits and solutions or do our presentations simply tout features?

Do we know how to qualify and assess our customers and prospects? How about qualifying and assessing our sales people on an ongoing basis too?

Sales Leadership

The culture of any given enterprise is most often a reflection of its leadership, and the sales force tends to mirror that culture when interacting with customers and prospects.

“I’ve never seen a company that was able to satisfy its customers that did not also satisfy its employees,” said Larry Bossidy former CEO Allied Signal, Inc. “Employees will treat your customers no better than you treat your employees.”

Others suggest that an organization tends to sell in a fashion that is directly related to how the organization buys — in other words, if the organization evaluates suppliers and makes buying decisions based primarily on price, then they also tend to sell at lower margins; and vice-versa.

Either way, as leaders, we have a profound impact on how our sales people interact with the marketplace each day, because the direct and implied messages they convey to our customers are based upon their impressions of our position on a range of issues — from how we evaluate and buy things, to how we talk about and treat customers.

Similarly, if the sales force is not enjoying high-levels of success in the marketplace, our cultural approach to improving their approach — i.e., building upon strengths versus focusing on weaknesses — can significantly impact their success or failure.

So what can we do to positively lead or impact the selling process?

Here are 5 steps you can take…

Read more…

Sales Management & the Rear-view Mirror…

rearviewIn a recent LinkedIn Pulse article, sales behavior and productivity expert Robert Roseberry shared data indicating that over 40% of all sales people fail to hit their annual goal.

The three primary reasons given:

  1. Ineffective use of CRM systems
  2. Poorly trained sales managers
  3. Too much focus on trailing indicators

Balancing the Rear View Mirror
While we regularly encounter all three of the root causes, it is the third culprit that is the most prevalent.

Given the proliferation of “data” it is easy for managers and business leaders to focus on metrics. But managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month, quarter or year!

Circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing. While the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly in terms of lost opportunities if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

Instead, sales leaders can be much more effective if the develop and implement a managerial process that incorporates real-time awareness of performance and a systematic means of impacting that performance “before” its’ too late!

Read more…

Storytelling Can Be a Solution for Many Managerial & Leadership Challenges

leadership4Business leaders and managers often express their frustration when their directives, presentations, or other messages don’t seem to be heard or understood — or heeded!

Many report having to reiterate the same policies and procedures, only to have them fall on deaf ears again and again.

If this sounds familiar, there is a simple solution for today’s leaders!

As presented in a recent newsletter, storytelling has proved to be the key leadership technique for increasing understanding, buy-in, and compliance.

For example, in a recent Forbes article, author and consultant Steve Denning suggests, “Rather than merely advocating and counter-advocating propositional arguments, which lead to more arguments, leaders establish credibility and authenticity through telling their stories…

“When they [leaders] believe deeply in them, their stories resonate, generating creativity, interaction and transformation.”

“Stories can change the way we think, act, and feel,” says the editorial team at mindtools.com.

“They can form the foundations of an entire workplace culture, and they have the power to break down barriers and turn bad situations around. Stories can capture our imaginations, illustrate our ideas, arouse our passions, and inspire us in a way that cold, hard facts often can’t.”

Research by Paul Smith, a consumer research executive, indicates the following as being among the most common reasons for the use of stories by business leaders:

  • Inspiring the organization
  • Setting a vision
  • Training or teaching important lessons
  • Defining culture and values
  • Garnering organizational buy-in
  • Leading change

Proactive Sales Management: Balancing the Rear-view Mirror?

salesmgmt2A strategically balanced performance management plan is a key component of effective team or sales management. The most successful approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact future results.

Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month or quarter.

Circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing, and while the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly in terms of lost opportunities if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

Instead, a proactive approach to sales management and leadership will involve:

  • A systematic method of interacting with the team on a group-basis
  • A systematic method of interacting with each team member on an individual basis
  • Ongoing individual assessment via sales call monitoring and joint sales calls
  • Proactive field support
  • Team building & motivation
  • Ongoing engagement, training and improvement plan

Read the full article…

The 5 “I’s” in Team?

The business world has begun to see the deep connection between employee engagement and customer experience, productivity and profit.

Simply stated, highly-engaged employees try harder, make a stronger discretionary effort, and tend to drive business results!

They are twice as likely to work after their shift ends, twice as likely to do something good for the company that is unexpected of them, and three times as likely to make recommendations for company improvements, according to an Employee Engagement Benchmark Study by Temkin Group.

But despite the benefits of an engaged workforce, far too many organizations struggle to engage their employees, as evidenced by the fact that only thirty-percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged.

The 5 I’s
We’re all familiar with the quote, “There’s no “I” in team.”

Playing off of this adage, Temkin Group suggests there are actually 5 “I’s” in team…  and five key ways to engage your team.

Read the full article…

Balance the “Rear-view Mirror” With a Proactive Performance Management Plan

A strategically balanced performance management plan is a key component of effective team or sales management. The most successful approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact future results.

Balancing the Rear View Mirror
Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month, quarter or trimester.

Consider that circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing. While the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly (in terms of lost opportunities) if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

As an alternative, the best approach is to adhere to a comprehensive and proactive performance management plan.

Read the full article…

Another Viewpoint on Leading a Sales Force

leadership4As a follow-up to our previous post, a recent article published on allinnetworking.com asks, “Are You the Julius Caesar of Sales Management?”

The perspective is consistent with many of our sales management-related posts, and suggests that great leaders share the following three attributes that are key components of engaging and motivating a team:

  1. They understand the people who are being led
  2. They lead by example
  3. They possess and exhibit a belief in the ability of those being led

See related article…

A Few Thoughts on Motivation

teamMotivating a sales team is all about  communication, consistency, leadership, empathy and understanding the people involved.

A few good perspectives on the subject:

“People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be.” —Unknown

“No one loves the man he fears.” —Aristotle

“Some people say motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing; that’s why we recommend it daily!” —Zig Ziglar

“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” —Zig Ziglar

More on motivation: Money, Ego & Fear…