A sales fix in time…

Feel like sacking your sales team? Here’s how to turn their performance around.

A sales fix in time…

Would we expect Melbourne Victory or any other elite sporting team to enter a competition without a clear game plan, talent plan, fitness plan, business plan and action plan?

No, of course not. We expect them to be aware, organised, focused and determined to play their best and aim to win.

Well, more than 90% of sales people do not follow any logical process when selling. They are often left to their own devices and simply fly by the seat of their pants, relying on intuition and hoping for the best.

They often cannot articulate their value proposition or know how they compare to the competition. Nor are they clear about what activities they need to do on a daily basis to achieve sales success. Most make it up.

No wonder many don’t meet entrepreneurs’ expectations.

But sales people are not solely to blame. Too many businesses have not yet defined what they really want by way of talent when it comes to translating sales strategy into action.

Too many organisations have not done the work to build viable sales plans that allow sales people to apply tactical sales actions and achieve real results. And too many businesses do not give their sales people adequate training and in-field sales coaching support to enhance and improve performance.

Now you may be very tempted to move your low performing sales people on and find someone new. But often managers grossly underestimate what is involved in improving and/or changing a sales force. It can be faster to build efficiency, for example increase call rates or decrease expenses, than it is to consistently recruit, build and coach the levels of skills and effectiveness needed for selling today.

So how do you fix the sales force you have?

Start at the top. Start with management. Ask yourself:

  • What skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours do my sales people need to demonstrate to be competitive and successful in our market place today?
  • What activities do they need do, how often to they need to do them and how well do they need to do them to achieve sound sales results?
  • How do we compare to our competition and can we clearly articulate our value and competitive edge (in language the customer understands)
  • Is our formal training and infield sales coaching program set up to train and develop our sales people in the areas that can make us a success?
  • Do we measure the inputs (quantity of activity and quality of activity; that is, behaviours) as well as the outputs (results) that make up sales success?
  • Do we have an ongoing, in-field sales coaching program that helps sales people migrate to better levels of performance based on something they can see and measure?
  • Is our management team supporting the right behaviours skills and values to have a highly effective sales team?

Remember most of your sales people have at least some sales potential (maybe more than you think) and often can perform much better if given the right framework, plan, support and management.

And here is what you should have:

  • A clear up-to-date sales strategy (plan) that shows how to link real actions to real results (from the business, the team and the individual sales person).
  • A clear map of the kind of sales competencies (skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours) your sales people and business need apply consistently to be competitive and successful in your market place.
  • An actionable sales fitness plan that regularly trains your sales team in the skills and qualities needed to be fit and competitive today.
  • A sales coaching plan that allows your sales people to give and get feedback and communicate with management on a regular basis their findings in the field.
  • Clear, simple sales success performance indicators that allow individual sales people to measure, monitor and adjust their performance for success.
  • A business that philosophically and practicallly supports a proactive professional sales culture.

And strong, clear and focused leadership.

But that’s another blog.


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